A Celebration of Jackson Mac Low's Thing of Beauty

Posted 2/1/2008 (link)

Curated by Marshall Reese, and held at New York's CUE Arts Foundation on January 18th, this celebration of the publication of Jackson Mac Low's Thing of Beauty: New and Selected Works brings together a roster of impressive talents to read and discuss the poet's work. Foremost among them is Anne Tardos, Mac Low's partner and collaborator, who edited this ambitious volume, and opens the evening with a wonderful story about the poet's "Forties" series and a selection from it, "Forties 42." She's followed by Joan Retallack, Drew Gardner, Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge and Charles Bernstein, among others, who each share a favorite poem from the volume, along with memories and observations. Clicking on the title above takes you directly there.

Once your appetite is whetted, you can also visit PennSound's Mac Low author page, where you'll find a wide array of audio materials, from a Segue Series reading at the Bowery Poetry Club just months before his death in 2004, to the CD included with Doings: Assorted Performance Pieces 1955?2002 (published by Granary Books), which documents nearly thirty years of recordings. From there, you might want to check out Tardos' "Among Men" on her PennSound author page, or watch Henry Hills' 1982 film, Radio Adios, both of which feature Mac Low. Taken together, and with the new anthology, these recording serve as an excellent introduction to one of the 20th Century's most influential poets.

Robert Duncan Author Page Relaunched

Posted 2/3/2008 (link)

February 3rd marks the twentieth anniversary of the death of Robert Duncan, and to properly commemorate the occasion, PennSound is relaunching a much-improved and augmented Duncan author page, featuring nearly seventy new recordings which span the final three decades of the poet's life.

In addition to the materials previously available on PennSound — a recording of "Often I Am Permitted" from 1959, and Duncan's performance at the Berkeley Poetry Conference in 1965 — you'll find eight new readings, many from the tape archives of Fred Wah and Robert Creeley. Three of these (Vancouver, 1963; Albuquerque, 1964; and San Francisco, 1972) have been segmented into individual poems, allowing listeners to compare versions of poems like "Witch's Song" (from Faust Foutu: A Comic Masque) or "Often I Am Permitted," however, there's startlingly little overlap between these recordings, which is both a testament to Duncan's prolific talents, and an opportunity for listeners to enjoy a wide array of his works. The depth of this archive is also considerable: you'll find an hour-and-a-half performance from Buffalo in 1982, a two-hour reading from the University of British Columbia in 1963, and almost ten hours of recordings (three very long readings on three consecutive days) from Vancouver in 1961.

"There seems no limit to the breadth and scope Duncan envisioned as a poet's project," Charles Bernstein observes in "Two Minutes for Robert Duncan," a eulogy for the poet originally read at an October, 1988 memorial at The Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church, and posted today on his blog. This sentiment holds true for the readings presented here, but is even more acutely exemplified by the series of lectures, which round out this collection. Here, Duncan holds court on the work of Ezra Pound and H.D., along with presentations on topics as diverse as "Romeo and Juliet as a Mystery Play" and "Physics and Literature." Throughout these recordings, one is struck by both the gentle effortlessness of Duncan's brilliance, as well as his candor, as he discusses issues such as his childhood, his aesthetic development and his homosexuality.

Indeed, in addition to being an important figure in pre-Stonewall gay culture, Duncan cast a long shadow across 20th Century poetry, playing an integral role in the Black Mountain and San Francisco scenes, as well as fostering a nascent Beat Generation. We're grateful for the opportunity to share these recordings which, we hope, will serve as a reminder of his tremendous talents, along with his continued influence in contemporary poetics — delighting newcomers and serious scholars alike. Click on the title above to start exploring the new Duncan author page.

PoemTalk #3: George Oppen's "Ballad"

Posted 2/5/2008 (link)

The third installment of the PoemTalk Podcast Series (a joint production of the Poetry Foundation and the Kelly Writers House) has just been posted. This time, panelists Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Linh Dinh and Jessica Lowenthal join PennSound co-director Al Filreis for a discussion of "Ballad," by the great American Objectivist George Oppen.

Writing about this latest program on his blog, poet Tom Devaney notes, "[E]ven though I've read the poem numerous times, I feel like I've just discovered it today because this conversation (and recording of Oppen) sent me back to it. Above all, what I like best about the conversation here is its openness." Indeed, PoemTalk's guiding ideology — to provide "a close (but not too close) reading" — allows for a friendly multiplicity of interpretations, and even though, as Oppen himself notes, it is "[d]ifficult to know what one means / —to be serious and to know what one means—," this collaborative environment inevitably yields enlightening results.

To listen to this broadcast, as well as read further commentary by Filreis and Louis Cabri, click on the title above. You'll be taken directly to the PoemTalk" blog.

John Ashbery: A Complete "Litany," read with Ann Lauterbach

Posted 2/7/2008 (link)

This new addition is a truly a rare delight. In 1980, John Ashbery recorded his epic poem "Litany" in its entirety — reading the left-hand column himself, while Ann Lauterbach read the right. A brief excerpt (approximately four and a half minutes) from this session surfaced on the Giorno Poetry Systems album, Sugar, Alcohol and Meat, however, to our knowledge, this is the first time that the complete recording, running nearly ninety minutes long, has seen the light of day.

"Litany" shines in this recorded setting, its separate columns finally achieving the necessary simultaneous transmission which is practically impossible on a printed page. Reminding listeners of Giorno's own tape-delay performance pieces, or the ambitious live stagings of Hannah Weiner's Clairvoyant Journal (not to mention the Velvet Underground's stereophonic experiment, "The Murder Mystery"), the poem washes over listeners in competing waves of polyvocal, ambi-gendered syntax. Moreover, the musicality of Ashbery's composition becomes acutely evident here, as he orchestrates vital pauses and lulls within the long-form poem, providing moments of rest before launching back into full complexity.

PennSound is both thankful and excited to be able to present "Litany" in its complete and proper form. Click on the title above to experience it for yourself.

The Line Reading Series: Two New Readings

Posted 2/11/2008 (link)

We've just added two new events to our page for The Line Reading Series, which typify the broad and ambitious scope of both the series itself, and its curator, Lytle Shaw.

The first reading, from October 9, 2001, features Alison Knowles (whose performance as part of the Six Fillious was posted a few weeks back), fast-talking Brit Tom Raworth, and a performance by Kenneth Goldsmith, which includes a reading of his (in)famous manifesto, "Uncreativity as a Creative Practice." Originally intended to be the second Line Reading Series event of the Fall 2001 season (the first was scheduled for September 11th), Shaw's introduction for the evening and the season touches briefly upon the after-effects of that day on the creative process, however, he wisely keeps his focus on the future, embodying Bernadette Mayer's credo, "[l]et?s get on with our non-paying work as always.?

Our second new addition, recorded January 28, 2003, begins with a reading by UPenn's own Thomas Devaney, who's followed by Lisa Jarnot and Thomas Sayers Ellis. Taken together, these six authors demarcate very wide boundaries within contemporary poetry, and it's a credit to the Line Reading Series that it can bring such diverse voices together to make a cohesive whole. Keep your eyes peeled for more installments from the series, as we eventually post its entire run.

Nick Piombino: Three Newly Segmented Readings

Posted 2/13/2008 (link)

Our PennSound author page for Nick Piombino has just been greatly expanded with the addition of more than thirty individual MP3s from three segmented readings.

The first reading, from the University at Buffalo in December 1990, prominently features poems from 1988's Frozen Witness (Sun & Moon), along with works that would eventually appear in 1996's Light Street (Zasterle Press). The reading itself, from December 5th, is complemented by a three-part seminar from the following day, which runs over two hours long. You'll also find a second Buffalo reading from a decade later, which again showcases "The Broken Angel," from Light Street, along with poems from Theoretical Objects (Green Integer, 1999), Poems (Sun & Moon, 1988) and the journals Rhizome and Kenning.

The final reading, a 2006 Segue Series reading from The Bowery Poetry Club is largely comprised of entries from Piombino's blog, fait accompli, (also the source of his latest book, which bears the same name). These three newly split readings join a pair of radio readings (on New York's WKCR and San Diego's KSDT), along with a 1990 Segue Series reading from the Ear Inn, and a Close Listening conversation with Charles Bernstein from 2005. Click on the title above to begin listening.

Johanna Drucker: Two Recent Lectures at UPenn

Posted 2/14/2008 (link)

Poet and book artist Johanna Drucker is currently visiting the University of Pennsylvania for a number of events, including the 2008 Bernheimer Symposium Lecture — "Writing Books: What Writers Learn From Making Their Work Into Books" — which she delivered at the Kelly Writers House on February 13th. In this hour-long recording, Drucker discusses the benefits and challenges that result when writers shift their mindset from producing texts to producing books (i.e. no mere collection of assorted writings, but a creative project conceived specifically as a concrete book, bringing with it numerous constraints and inspirations). A second lecture from February 14th — "Combo Meals: Why/How This Book Now?" — has also been added. This discussion of her latest forthcoming book was part of the PennDesign Visiting Artists Lecture series.

You can hear both of these recordings, along with a pair of Segue Series readings from 1988 and 2006 (the latter with artist Susan Bee, celebrating their collaboration, A Girl's Life) and several other recordings on Drucker's PennSound author page.

PennSound Podcast #9 Featuring Robert Creeley

Posted 2/15/2008 (link)

The latest installment of the PennSound Podcast series, hosted by Al Filreis, has just been posted, showcasing a conversation with Robert Creeley, recorded during his April 2000 visit to UPenn as a Kelly Writers House Fellow. Filreis begins by noting some of the highlights available on Creeley's PennSound author page, including an intimate recording from his Bolinas home and his performance at the Berkeley Poetry Conference in 1965.

The conversation itself begins with a discussion of Creeley's use of enjambment throughout his career, and William Carlos Williams' influence upon it, concluding with the poet playing a voice-synthesizing program's rendition of one of his works, which elides the line breaks. Creeley responds to questions from Bob Perelman, Marjorie Perloff and Stuart Curran, and discusses, among other varied topics, the effects of the internet upon poetic communication and his love of hip-hop. Click on the title above to listen to this program, and the rest of the PennSound Podcast series.

Robert Creeley is one of many innovative poets — along with John Ashbery, Adrienne Rich, June Jordan and Lyn Hejinian — who've visited the University of Pennsylvania as Kelly Writers House Fellows, since the program's inception in 1999. This year's program kicks into high gear with two events featuring Art Spiegelman at the Writers House next week, and poet Jerome Rothenberg will be visiting UPenn in late April.

A New Author Page for Barrett Watten

Posted 2/18/2008 (link)

We've recently added a new author page for West Coast Language-writing mainstay Barrett Watten, combining materials already present on PennSound with a handful of new recordings — the most exciting of which is his October 2007 Segue Series reading at the Bowery Poetry Club. That reading joins two recordings from November 1999: a reading at the Kelly Writers House, along with an episode of the PhillyTalks series (also featuring Rachel Blau DuPlessis), which showcases an early excerpt from Watten's "experiment in collective autobiography," The Grand Piano.

You'll also find a 1993 excerpt from Under Erasure from the Live at the Ear CD, as well as Watten's contribution to a number of MLA Offsite readings from the past few years. We're glad to finally have brought all of these resources together on a proper author page — something that was long overdue for an author of Watten's influence. Click on the title above to start listening.

It also seems appropriate, on Presidents Day, to announce that we'll be adding two recordings by Watten's reading partners for that October Segue Series event — President of the United Hearts — in the near future.

John Ashbery: Several New Recordings Added

Posted 2/19/2008 (link)

On a day when John Ashbery is visiting the Philadelphia area (to give a reading at Haverford College this afternoon), we're proud to announce the addition of several new recordings to his PennSound author page.

This latest batch of recordings includes a number of radio appearances, including a 1996 feature on the Swedish radio program Lyrikmagasinet, which appears to offer some sort of historical retrospective on the poet's work through recorded excerpts from both readings and interviews, which are interspersed with translations and commentary in Swedish. There's also a 1986 discussion between Ashbery, June LeBell and Ned Rorem on New York's WQXR, sponsored by the Academy of American Poets, which nicely complements a second recording of Ashbery and Rorem, entitled "Setting Poetry to Music." Taken together, these interviews and conversations provide a broad context for the various recordings available on PennSound — and for Ashbery's poetry as a whole — yielding, perhaps, some answers in regards to his highly enigmatic work.

We've also added two new readings. The first, from WBAI-FM in 1991, features Ashbery reading excerpts from Flow Chart. There's also a lengthy recording from the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which includes a number of important poems, such as "And Ut Pictura Poesis Is Her Name," "The Other Tradition," "The New Realism" and "Thoughts of a Young Girl." Recorded in November 1985, this reading fills out our selection nicely, providing a number of readings from the 70s, 80s, 90s and this decade, as well as a broad sampling of Ashbery's collected works.

Finally, as this year's series of Kelly Writers House Fellows begins with events featuring Art Spiegelman last night and this morning, we'd like to highlight the recordings from Ashbery's visit to UPenn as part of that program in 2002. In addition to a reading featuring poems from your name here (2000) and As Umbrellas Follow Rain (2001), there's also a conversation with PennSound co-director Al Filreis. Click on the title above to visit PennSound's Ashbery author page. For more information on the Kelly Writers House Fellows program, click here.

Edmund Berrigan: New Author Page Added

Posted 2/20/2008 (link)

We've just created an author page for Edmund Berrigan, showcasing a newly-segmented Segue Series reading at the Bowery Poetry Club from 2004, which features a selection of his brief, haiku-like work (it's telling that he fits twenty poems into a sixteen-minute reading). These evocative minimalisms are reminiscent of the fragmented observations of William Carlos Williams and Richard Brautigan, not to mention Edmund's father, the poet Ted Berrigan.

Indeed, as the son of Alice Notley and brother of Anselm Berrigan, Edmund comes from an immensely talented family tree — one which, as evidenced by his mother's collages and his father's frequent collaborations with artists (including Joe Brainard, George Schneeman and Donna Dennis), understands the deep underlying connections between poetry and other art forms. For Edmund, however, his mode of expression outside of poetry is music, and you can listen to a number of tracks from his band, I Feel Tractor, taken from Frequency Audio Journal on his author page. You'll also find his appearance on Radio Poetique's Poetic Brooklyn series, recorded at three different locations throughout the borough in January of 2007. Clicking on the title above takes you directly there.

Rachel Blau DuPlessis at the Kelly Writers House

Posted 2/22/2008 (link)

Earlier this week on his blog, poet Ron Silliman spent three days writing an impressively thorough rumination on the work of Rachel Blau DuPlessis, beginning "[t]he only thing I?ve ever been able to find 'wrong' with Rachel Blau DuPlessis? marvelous life poem Drafts is the idea that some day it?s going to end, and that day is drawing increasingly near." He alludes to the fact that he has recently heard DuPlessis read from Torques: Drafts 58-76, her latest collection, and that the experience has sent him back to re-examine her writing as a whole. We're glad to announce that that particular reading, recorded February 5th at the Kelly Writers House has just been added to PennSound.

Fans of DuPlessis' work not already acquainted with her PennSound author page will want to visit it immediately, for selections from all three volumes in her Drafts series — Drafts 1-38, Toll, Drafts 39-57, Pledge with Draft, unnumbered and Torques — starting with an excerpt from "Draft 19: Working Conditions," taken from a 2005 Close Listening recording session with Charles Bernstein. This most recent recording also includes two newer poems recorded after Torques: "Draft 88: X-Posting," which has its roots in a translation of Ingeborg Bachmann's poem "Keine Delikatessen," and a brief excerpt from "Draft 85: Hard Copy," which Al Filreis recently highlighted on his blog. A full version of "Hard Copy," whose forty sections model themselves after George Oppen's 1968 masterpiece "Of Being Numerous," is also available as part of a Studio 111 Session from last October. An ambitious epic in its own right, her recording runs forty-one minutes long.

For these, and many other readings, along with scholarly talks on the works of Virginia Woolf and Louis Zukofsky, click on the title above to visit our Rachel Blau DuPlessis author page, and stay tuned to PennSound Daily for news regarding a number of early recordings of the poet, which should be coming in the near future.

Forrest Gander At the Beinecke Library, 2004

Posted 2/25/2008 (link)

We've just added a wonderful 2004 recording of Forrest Gander reading at the Beinecke Rare Book Room and Manuscript Library at Yale University. Described as "one of our most wide-ranging poets" in the introduction, Gander illustrates his divergent roles as teacher, editor, translator, and above all, poet, beginning his set with Robert Creeley's poem, "The Rain" (in honor of the day's inclement weather), followed by an excerpt of his translations of the visionary Bolivian poet Jaime Sáenz. He then launches into a selection of his own recent poems, including "Ligatures," "Time and the Hour," "To Live Without Solace" "The History of Domesticity" and the "unorthodox" sonnet sequence, "Voiced Stops" — imperative works full of dazzling imagery. Gander's performance was part of a joint reading with his wife, the poet C.D. Wright, whose work will be coming to PennSound in the very near future.

This new Yale reading is one of three full recordings featured on Gander's PennSound author page — there's also a 1996 reading at the San Francisco State University, along with his 2002 visit to the Kelly Writers House at UPenn. You'll also find singles for "Ligatures," and "Present Tense" (which Gander also reads at the Beinecke Library). Click on the title above to begin listening.

Osman and Seldess: Newly Segmented Segue Series Readings

Posted 2/27/2008 (link)

Today, we're highlighting a December 2004 Segue Series event at the Bowery Poetry Club, featuring poets Jena Osman and Jesse Seldess, which has recently been broken into individual poems.

Jena Osman has taken part in a number of Segue Series readings, including this one, which features a selection of what Osman calls "swerves" (an idea borrowed from Joan Retallack), that is, "interruptions" or "remixes" of works in progress, including "The Franklin Party" and "Aphetic Lexer Knot," as well as "A Series of Questions" written that afternoon. You'll find this recording, along with many others, on Osman's PennSound author page, including recent readings as part of the Line Reading Series and the Emergency Series.

Jesse Seldess, who read with Osman that night, is a central figure in Chicago's avant-garde poetry scene, and, at that time, was the curator of the Discrete Reading series and the editor of Antennae. His segmented set — which includes the poems "Ewe," "Prompt," "In Contact" and "Ewe Too" — is the first addition to his new PennSound author page.

Stay tuned to PennSound Daily for more new content — both old and new — from the Segue Series at the Bowery Poetry Club in the near future.

Will Alexander Benefit Reading in Los Angeles

Posted 2/28/2008 (link)

We're proud to be able to post a third benefit reading for poet Will Alexander, who is currently battling cancer without proper health insurance. This reading, recorded at Skylight Books in Los Angeles on January 13th, features performances from Clayton Eshleman, Wanda Coleman, Jen Hofer, Diane Ward, Harold Abramowitz and Mathew Timmons, who was kind enough to provide us with a recording of the proceedings. Alexander himself was recovered enough to be able to take part in the event, and his forty-minute reading is nothing short of triumphant.

Click on the title above to visit the special page we've put together to house the three benefit readings for Alexander (in New York City, San Francisco and this LA event), which have featured the likes of Bob Holman, Anne Waldman, Bob Perelman, Rodrigo Toscano, Jerome Rothenberg, Joel Kuszai, Tisa Bryant, Juliana Spahr and Nate Mackey, among many others. You'll also find more information about Will's condition, along with information on how you can donate to his health care fund.

LA-Lit Makes Its PennSound Debut

Posted 2/29/2008 (link)

Today, we're launching a new page for LA-Lit, an innovative podcast series hosted by Mathew Timmons and Stephanie Rioux. Recorded at Betalevel, the program seeks to capture "the shifting nature of Los Angeles as a place," through the voices of "poets, novelists, hybridists, and non-genre text authors" living in or visiting the LA area. The series features readings and conversations with authors familiar to PennSound listeners — including Lee Ann Brown, Will Alexander, Sawako Nakayasu and Diane Ward — along with panel discussions on LA and Bay Area poetics; yet, perhaps even more importantly, LA-Lit provides an opportunity to discover emerging voices within this thriving West Coast literary community.

We're introducing the series with twenty-four episodes recorded between 2005 and 2007, and will be adding newer episodes at a later date. Click on the title above to visit PennSound's LA-Lit series page, which includes details on specific episodes as well as a link to LA-Lit's home page, where you'll find photos, author bios and information on how you can attend upcoming recording sessions.