Featured resources

From "Down To Write You This Poem Sat" at the Oakville Gallery

  1. Charles Bernstein, "Phone Poem" (2011) (1:30): MP3
  2. Caroline Bergvall, "Love song: 'The Not Tale (funeral)' from Shorter Caucer Tales (2006): MP3
  3. Christian Bôk, excerpt from Eunoia, from Chapter "I" for Dick Higgins (2009) (1:38):  MP3
  4. Tonya Foster, Nocturne II (0:40) (2010) MP3
  5. Ted Greenwald, "The Pears are the Pears" (2005) (0:29): MP3
  6. Susan Howe, Thorow, III (3:13) (1998):  MP3
  7. Tan Lin, "¼ : 1 foot" (2005) (1:16): MP3
  8. Steve McCaffery, "Cappuccino" (1995) (2:35): MP3
  9. Tracie Morris, From "Slave Sho to Video aka Black but Beautiful" (2002) (3:40): MP3
  10. Julie Patton, "Scribbling thru the Times" (2016) (5:12): MP3
  11. Tom Raworth, "Errory" (c. 1975) (2:08): MP3
  12. Jerome Rothenberg, from "The First Horse Song of Frank Mitchell: 4-Voice Version" (c. 1975) (3:30): MP3
  13. Cecilia Vicuna, "When This Language Disappeared" (2009) (1:30): MP3
  1. Guillaume Apollinaire, "Le Pont Mirabeau" (1913) (1:14): MP3
  2. Amiri Baraka, "Black Dada Nihilismus" (1964) (4:02):  MP3
  3. Louise Bennett, "Colonization in Reverse" (1983) (1:09): MP3
  4. Sterling Brown, "Old Lem " (c. 1950s) (2:06):  MP3
  5. John Clare, "Vowelless Letter" (1849) performed by Charles Bernstein (2:54): MP3
  6. Velimir Khlebnikov, "Incantation by Laughter" (1910), tr. and performed by Bernstein (:28)  MP3
  7. Harry Partch, from Barstow (part 1), performed by Bernstein (1968) (1:11): MP3
  8. Leslie Scalapino, "Can’t’ is ‘Night’" (2007) (3:19): MP3
  9. Kurt Schwitters, "Ur Sonata: Largo" performed by Ernst Scwhitter (1922-1932) ( (3:12): MP3
  10. Gertrude Stein, If I Told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso (1934-35) (3:42): MP3
  11. William Carlos Willliams, "The Defective Record" (1942) (0:28): MP3
  12. Hannah Weiner, from Clairvoyant Journal, performed by Weiner, Sharon Mattlin & Rochelle Kraut (2001) (6:12): MP3

Selected by Charles Bernstein (read more about his choices here)

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Charles Reznikoff reads from "Holocaust" for International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Posted 1/27/2022

January 27th is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the day Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz seventy-seven years ago. In acknowledgment of the day and the six million European Jews who perished senselessly, we revisit one of the more remarkable and harrowing recordings in our archives:

In late 2009, we were fortunate enough to be contacted by filmmaker Abraham Ravett, who offered us a treasure trove of rare recordings he'd made of poet Charles Reznikoff reading from his final collection, Holocaust, along with a number of photographs. Recorded December 21, 1975, these eighteen tracks — which include a number of retakes and an audio check — were originally recorded for inclusion in the soundtrack to the recently-graduated director's debut film, Thirty Years Later, which he describes as an autobiographical document of "the emotional and psychological impact of the Holocaust on two survivors and the influence this experience has had on their relationship with the filmmaker — their only surviving child."

In addition to the recordings themselves, Ravett graciously shared his recollections of that day — noting, "Mr. Reznikoff's West End apartment was located within a high-rise apartment complex reminiscent of where I grew up during my teens in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, N.Y. He was very kind and gracious to a rather nervous young filmmaker fumbling with his Nagra tape recorder and Sennheiser microphone who hoped that everything would work as planned" — along with a series of eight photographs of the poet, including the stunning image at right.

While Holocaust, as a text alone, serves as a viscerally pointed indictment of Nazi atrocities during the Second World War, not to mention a marvelous example of documentary poetics, in these selections, the auratic resonance of these appropriated testimonies are amplified dramatically, particularly when framed by the frail yet determined voice of the seventy-nine year old poet — who would pass away a month and a day from the date of this recording session — lending the work a gravid anger, a grand sense of monumental enormity.

You can listen to these tracks by clicking here, where you'll also find a link to a separate page housing Ravett's photographs, and don't forget to visit Reznikoff's main PennSound author page, where you can listen to the poet's 1974 reading at the Poetry Center at San Francisco State University (where he was famously introduced by his Objectivist compatriot, George Oppen) and his 1975 appearance on Susan Howe's Pacifica Radio program, "Poetry Today," among other recordings.

Congratulations to USA Fellowship Winner Dawn Lundy Martin

Posted 1/26/2022

We send our heartiest congratulations to poet Dawn Lundy Martin, who was recently announced as a recipient of a United States Artists Fellowship. This $50,000 award recognizes "the most compelling artists working and living in the United States, in all disciplines, at every stage of their career." Martin joins poets Chen Chen, Emmy Pérez, JJJJJerome Ellis, and Leroy F. Moore Jr. as 2022 honorees, which also included musician Jeff Parker (of Tortoise) and author Kiese Laymon among many other worthy artists.

This is a great reason for our listeners to revisit PennSound's Dawn Lundy Martin author page, which is home to a variety of recordings from 2006 to 2016. The earliest pair of recordings come from an April 2006 visit to New York City, which yielded sets for both Belladonna* and the Segue Series; Martin would return for another Segue reading at the Bowery Poetry Club in December 2008. Our first recording from A. L. Nielsen's Heatstrings Theory archives is an October 2009 reading at Penn State University, and Nielsen was also kind enough to share a March 2016 appearance by the poet as part of a reading celebrating What I Say: Innovative Poetry by Black Writers in America, held in Brooklyn for that year's National Black Writers Conference at AWP. Then, from Andrew Kenower's A Voice Box archives, we have a pair of Bay Area readings: a 2010 reading at David Buuck's house and a 2013 reading at Tender Oracle held as part of the East Bay Poetry Summit. Finally, we have "On Discomfort and Creativity," the 2016 Leslie Scalapino Lecture in Innovative Poetics, held at Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. Video of that event is available, along with a link to the text in Something on Paper.

Four of the earlier readings mentioned above have been segmented into individual MP3s, providing listeners the unique opportunity to listen to multiple iterations of the same poems — including "The Undress," "The Morning Hour," "Bearer of Arms 1775-1783," and "The Symbolic Nature of Chaos" — read at separate events. Taken together, they also provide an interesting document of Martin's evolving style from her first publications up to just before her most recent collection, Good Stock, Strange Blood (Coffee House Press, 2017), which earned Martin the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award in 2019 for "creating 'fascinating, mysterious, formidable, and sublime' explorations of the meaning of identity, the body, and the burdens of history along with one’s own private traumas." You can experience Dawn Lundy Martin's formidable voice by clicking here.

Tuli Kupferberg: "No Deposit, No Return" (1966)

Posted 1/24/2022

We begin this week with one of my favorite recordings from our archives and one I'm very proud that we can share with our listeners: Tuli Kupferberg's 1966 ESP-Disk release, No Deposit, No Return. While many know the late Kupferberg for his inimitable contributions to poetry-rock mavericks, the Fugs, this ambitious solo album is far more obscure, though not without its dedicated fans.

Subtitled "an evening of pop poetry" on the record sleeve, which devolves into "a nightmare of popular poetry" in Kupferberg's opening track, No Deposit, No Return is comprised exclusively of found texts performed with musical accompaniment "by Gary Elton on the various": "Real Advertisements," as the back cover explains, "As they appeared in newspapers, magazines, in direct mail. No word has been added. There are genuine ads. Parts of some ads have been repeated. Parts of some ads have been omitted. But these are the very texts. These are for real!" The end result is quite poetic, yet also drifts into the realm of pure comedy — albeit a comedy rooted in social critique — along with the golden age of radio, thanks to Elton's musical backings and sound effects. The invocation of sixties pop sensibilities and appropriative aesthetic also adds an element of the visual arts, creating a truly hybrid electric form that neatly parallels the contemporaneous sound poetry of John Giorno in building upon the foundational work of Charles Reznikoff.

"Everyone I suppose has always wanted to write his own commercial." Kupferberg notes in the introductory track, explaining the album's origins. "I have resisted this temptation strenuously, especially for this album, but when a certain well-known shampoo company came to the Fugs last summer, proposing that we do our own commercial for their new summer product, I countered with my own suggestion for a new product" — namely, Pubol, a pubic hair shampoo — and thus the project was born.

Aside from consumerism and America's culture of violence, No Deposit, No Return's major preoccupation is sex and sexuality, as Kupferberg performs advertisements for timid swingers, not-so-timid swingers, fetish photos, an erotic novel (Violations of the Child Marilyn Monroe, attributed to "Her Psychiatrist Friend") and a scary-looking penis pump,"the Hyperemiator," whose ad is one of two reproduced on the record's back cover. In a Foucauldian sense, particularly in the midst of a period of revolutionary sexual exploration, the poet reminds us that societal curiosity about sex and atypical sexual interest are nothing new. Regardless, there's a startling difference between the hidden, repressed and clinical nature of the poems on No Deposit, No Return, and the joyous and liberated carnality celebrated in Fugs' songs like "Supergirl" and "Coca Cola Douche." Thus, the album serves as both a strident cross-generational critique and a statement of shared beliefs, targeted at young audiences through one of their most popular media. In a fashion not dissimilar from what Kupferberg parodies in tracks like the heartbreaking "Social Studies," or the Fugs' "Kill for Peace," No Deposit, No Return is very effective propaganda.

We're grateful to Kupferberg's daughter, Samara, for her permission to share this groundbreaking record, which you can listen to in its entirety here. By clicking on the thumbnail images you can view large-format scans of the album covers and liner notes as well.

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