Robert and Bobbie Creeley Perform "Listen" (1972 Radio Play)

Posted 8/6/2008 (link)

Thanks to the efforts of Steve McLaughlin, we have another marvelous recording from the inimitable Robert Creeley to share with our listeners — Listen, a radio play performed by the poet and his then-wife, Bobbie Creeley. Originally broadcast by West Germany's Westdeutscher Rundfunk on December 1, 1971 (in a translation by Klaus Reichert), it was later released by Black Sparrow in 1972, both in book and cassette formats, the latter serving as the source for PennSound's recording.

In text-form, Listen is comprised of a extended back-and-forth between two narrators: a HE and a SHE. While listeners are likely to read the dialogue through the frame of the Creeleys' marriage — and here their words embody a broad range of nupital emotions, from acrimony to romance, new love and old love — the two occupy a number of varied discursive relationships, from mother to child, suitor to quarry, interrogator to interrogator, writer to actress. In his essay, "Meaning: I Hear You" (linked on Creeley's PennSound author page), Kyle Schlesinger notes, "it quickly becomes evident that this conversation can't converge. It isn't quite like two ships passing in the night, but more like a submarine passing below the Mayflower; two vessels vacillating between irreconcilable pasts. Where the constitution of one was once affirmed by its ability to address the other, they now share shards of a language they can never reinhabit together." This disjointed effect is augmented by HE's extended meta-notations on the performance at hand — some of the radio play's most enjoyable moments — which range from suggestions as to sound effects to be (but not to be) added later, to questions (posed to the audience-as-producer) regarding how much of a given song should be shared with the listeners (another delight: Bob Creeley's tender and vulnerable croon).

Schlesinger concludes his essay by noting, "It is here, in the atmosphere of Listen that the reader watches it all through a transparent revolving door; "listening out" for the signal, "listening in" on another conversation as it continues to turn. Tune in. Turn on. You hear." This eliptical effect is one of the radio play's most lasting sensations — in the abrupt aftermath of Creeley's final words, listeners will most certainly want to push "play" again to take another spin.

Patrick F. Durgin on Mad River Anthology

Posted 8/8/2008 (link)

We recently added a new recording of poet and publisher Patrick F. Durgin's May 25, 2008 appearance on KHSU-FM's Mad River Anthology.

The program begins with the voice of Hannah Weiner (taken from the Radio Readings Project) and a discussion of Hannah Weiner's Open House, the much-beloved 2007 collection, edited by Durgin and published by his press, Kenning Editions. Durgin reads Weiner's poem "Jackson Mac Low" and discusses his involvement with the project (from his first acquaintance with Weiner's writing), as well as the characteristics of the poet's unique clairvoyant style, shaped by her aural and visual hallucinations, which was instrumental to the creation of many of her most memorable works. From there, Durgin and host Brett Jenkins broach the topic of Weiner's schizophrenia, however Durgin is careful to neither limit, nor stigmatize the poet for her condition (as is too often done to authors such as Weiner, James Schuyler and John Wieners); he notes, "it heightens the stakes for everything that she does, and it just makes me admire her more, not because her work is a sort of overcoming of a readily-discernible disease — it's not that sort of tale — but because it's such a vivid critique of the assumptions we make based on [mental illness]." Weiner's voice is present throughout, almost as a participant in the conversation, and the first section closes with an excerpt from her reading "Remembered Sequel."

The second half of the program is devoted to Durgin's own creative output, as both musician and poet (including the overlaps between both genres). He plays an excerpt from his composition, "In Contact" (inspired by a poem of the same name by Jesse Seldess), discussing the influence of serial forms and recursive structures upon his overall aesthetic, and then reads his poem "Relay" over the loop-based music. From there, the conversation turns to Durgin's poetics, which, we discover, is a fugitive art — "I've always written on the run," he confesses — as well as his next book, The Route (a collaboration with Jen Hofer) and future projects from Kenning.

Durgin's PennSound author page also contains a pair of 2008 readings from Milwaukee's Woodland Pattern and Myopic Books in the poet's hometown, Chicago, along with two singles from recent MLA Offsite Readings. Our Hannah Weiner author page is a rich treasury of recordings from the late 70s (following Angel Hair Press' publication of Clairvoyant Journal) through to the end of her life, including a number of multivocal renditions of her signature text, featuring the likes of Rochelle Kraut, Sharon Mattlin, Peggy De Coursey, Regina Beck, James Sherry and Charles Bernstein. There's also a link to Weiner's EPC author page, where you'll find many full texts in electronic format — their preservation largely done by Durgin — a perfect next destination for readers whose interest is stirred by Hannah Weiner's Open House (as it very well should be). Click on the title above to start listening.

PoemTalk #9: John Ashbery's "Crossroads in the Past"

Posted 8/16/2008 (link)

Earlier this week, the latest episode of the marvelous PoemTalk podcast series was released — a discussion of John Ashbery's poem "Crossroads in the Past," from his 2001 collection, Your Name Here, recorded during his 2002 visit as one of the Kelly Writers House Fellows. For this program, PoemTalk host (and PennSound co-director) Al Filreis is joined by a homegrown panel of UPenn poets: Greg Djanikian, Jessica Lowenthal and Tom Devaney.

They start by addressing the question of right and wrong directions — within a life, or the relationship which plays a central role in "Crossroads in the Past," but also, on a meta-level, in terms of Ashbery's poetics, which famously avoids the straight path. "Is it age — or the loss of a loved one — that draws an anti-narrative poet to beginnings at the end?," Filreis asks, wondering whether the poem serves, in some way, as Ashbery's reconsideration of his own poetics, a return to the crossroads of his past aesthetic choices. Djanikian points out that Ashbery "aver[s] that there are no beginnings," which thornily deconstructs this brief lapse into self-analysis, setting up the return to a cinematic narrative for the poem's ending lines.

For Djanikian and Lowenthal, Ashbery's conclusion is problematic, an all-too-easy ending which plays on stock imagery and cannot move the reader. Devaney disagrees, finding a haunting beauty in these lines and Filreis concurs, seeing it as a statement not only on the story of the poem, but the story of the poet as well: "he's violating a basic principle of his poetry, which keeps him very much alive, and he's allowed to move into a different kind of poetics in order to do that. And that freedom is moving, it's almost elegiac, it's almost a way of saying farewell to a style."

Stay tuned for the next episode — a discussion of Gertrude Stein, featuring Filreis, Jerome Rothenberg, Lee Ann Brown and Bob Perelman — as well as future programs on Ezra Pound, Erica Hunt and Wallace Stevens.

Ceptuetics Radio: 5 New Episodes

Posted 8/21/2008 (link)

Yesterday, we added five exciting new episodes (#21-25) of the poetry podcast series, Ceptuetics Radio, broadcast on WNYU and hosted by Kareem Estefan.

The new programs begin with the powerful one-two punch of Caroline Bergvall and Brian Kim Stefans. Bergvall reads a new Chaucer tale, along with excerpts from 2005's Fig, and discusses intertextuality, writing and performance, and governmental limitations on creative practice. Stefans (who will be sorely missed here in Philadelphia) shares selections from 2007's Kluge: A Meditation, and speaks about conceptual and ambient poetics, as well as the influences of musical pioneers such as John Cage and Alvin Lucier. The musical focus continues in episode 24, featuring experimental duo Matmos, whose latest album, The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast, was inspired by, and pays tribute to, sources as diverse as William S. Burroughs, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Valerie Solanas. You'll also find programs showcasing the work of David Buuck and Eddie Hopely, both of whom share interesting insights on the role of collaboration in poetry.

Of course, you'll also want to check out the series' first twenty episodes, which include fascinating conversations with the likes of Rob Fitterman, Anne Tardos, Kenny Goldsmith, Bruce Andrews, Rodrigo Toscano, Anselm Berrigan and Chris Funkhouser, among many others. Click on the title above to start listening.

Two New Lectures By Robert Duncan

Posted 8/21/2008 (link)

We've recently added a new talk by the inimitable American poet and scholar, Robert Duncan — "The Adventure of Whitman's Line" was recorded by Bob Perelman in San Francisco on February 18, 1979. The lecture runs more than two hours long and is presented in three segments. This new recording nicely complements another recent addition, the 1983 lecture, "Another Look at Imagism," which came to us courtesy of Rachel Blau DuPlessis and also runs for two hours.

These latest recordings supplement an already-impressive group of Duncan lectures — covering topics as diverse as Shakespeare, H.D., Ezra Pound and physics — which are but a small portion of the overall contents of our Robert Duncan author page, launched this past February. Duncan's effortless (and tireless) genius is on full display here, with hours upon hours of readings from the Vancouver and Berkeley Poetry Conferences, the Poetry Center at the San Francisco State University, SUNY Buffalo and the University of British Columbia, among others. Click on the title above to start exploring this vast collection, which spans four decades — from the late-50s into the mid-80s.