Tom Raworth: Ace, Poems 1966-1979 (Rockdrill 4)

Posted 4/1/2009 (link)

Everyone at PennSound is very excited about the latest addition to our archives: the Rockdrill CDs, a series of innovative audio recordings commissioned by the Contemporary Poetics Research Centre at London's Birkbeck College and produced by Colin Still, founder of Optic Nerve (responsible for, among other films, the Modern American Poets series and No More to Say & Nothing to Weep For: an Elegy for Allen Ginsberg).

Today, we begin with the fourth CD in the series, Tom Raworth's Ace, Poems 1966-1979, which contains nearly fifty poems from early and out-of-print collections such as 1971's Moving, 1973's Act, 1975's Cloister and 1976's Ace. The set includes the longform title poem of that volume, "Ace," as well as "Anniversary," "I Better Put a Pattern around This if They're Going to Call it a Poem," "My Face is My Own, I Thought," "Funeral Cards" and "A Blue Vacuum Cleaner" among many others.

Taken together with the other recordings on Raworth's PennSound author page — which include a Close Listening reading and conversation with Charles Bernstein, Segue Series readings at the Ear Inn and the Bowery Poetry Club, and recordings from SUNY Buffalo and as part of the Line Reading Series, along with the 1993 cassette release, Big Slippers On: Fourteen Poems by Tom RaworthAce makes an already-thorough survey of Raworth's poetic life even more complete. Better still, we'll soon be adding a second Rockdrill CD, Writing, Poems 1980-2003, which will augment our collection even further.

Over the coming weeks and months, we'll also announce Rockdrill offerings by Robert Creeley, Jerome Rothenberg, Caroline Bergvall, Maggie O'Sullivan and Alice Notley, among others. We're grateful to Colin Still and Optic Nerve for their foresight in creating such encyclopedic documents of some of the most important poetic voice of the 20th century, as well as their assistance in sharing them with an even wider audience through PennSound. Click on the title above to listen to our first Rockdrill offering, and stay tuned for even more, coming soon.

Charles Bernstein on the Joe Milford Radio Show, 2009

Posted 4/3/2009 (link)

At 10:00 this morning, PennSound co-director Charles Bernstein was the guest of Joe Milford on his radio program. The complete seventy-minute program — which features both readings and conversation — is now available for listening and download on our Bernstein Radio page.

Bernstein begins by sharing a number of poems from his 2006 collection, Girly Man, which he doesn't often read in public — most of which are contained in that volume's "In Parts" section. First up is "Reading Red," a series of twenty-five short poems written in conversation with an exhibition by painter Richard Tuttle. Bernstein describes Tuttle's paintings and discusses the collaborative process by which the two produced the poems and an accompanying artist's book. This is followed by "Pomegranates" (whose many fragmented two and three-line sections are likened to the fruit's seeds by Milford), which takes the conversation to topics as diverse as Henry David Thoreau's Walden and this week's G-20 summit in London.

Next up is "122," which leads to a discussion of form in relation to the work of John Cage (particularly his emphasis on silence) and considerations of pitch and tempo in poetry performance. "Photo Opportunity" follows (with a nod to Tom Raworth's speedy reading style and the single-word lines of Robert Creeley and Ted Greenwald), with Bernstein reconfiguring the poem (which features two parallel columns, the second being the first in reverse) in a way he'd never done before, reading across from column to column. "They're all the same poem, it's just different ways of sampling the same poem," he notes.

The program concludes with a selection of poems from "Girly Man," the book's final section, starting with "There's Beauty in the Sound of the Rushing Brook as It Forks & Bends in the Moonlight," which Bernstein notes is the earliest poem in the collection. The resulting discussion of politics and poetic responses to current events segues nicely into "A Poem Is Not a Weapon" and "Death Fugue (Echo)." His final two poems, "The Beauty of Useless Things: A Kantian Tale" and "Emma's Nursery Rimes," are dedicated to his children, Felix and Emma, respectively.

On PennSound's Bernstein Radio homepage, you'll find broadcast appearances spanning thirty years, beginning with a 1979 appearance on Susan Howe's Pacifica Radio program with Bruce Andrews. Likewise, on the EPC's Girly Man page, you'll find links to online texts from the book, recordings from the PennSound archive, visual references, critical responses, notes on individual poems and much more.

John Ashbery: New York Review of Books Podcast, 2009

Posted 4/6/2009 (link)

On February 21, 2009, John Ashbery, visited the offices of The New York Review of Books to record a selection of favorites from the more than forty poems that he's published in the magazine's pages over the last four decades. This podcast, introduced by Jana Prikryl, was originally broadcast on April 1st, as part of the Review's podcast series.

Running more than thirty minutes, the podcast begins with a quartet of as-yet-uncollected poems which first appeared in The New York Review of Books in 2009 ("Structures in Sand," "Working Overtime") and 2008 ("Episode," "Summer Reading"). This is followed by a pair of poems each from Ashbery's most recent books, moving backwards from 2007's A Worldly Country ("Pavane pour Helen Twelvetrees," "Image Problem") to 2005's Where Shall I Wander ("Days of Reckoning," "Ignorance of the Law Is No Excuse") and 2002's Chinese Whispers ("Mordred," "Random Jottings of an Old Man"). Skipping As Umbrellas Follow Rain, he next reads "Crossroads in the Past" and "This Room" from 2000's Your Name Here, then concludes with "By Guess and by Gosh" (from 1995's Can You Hear, Bird?), "On the Empress's Mind" and "From Estuaries, from Casinos" (both from 1992's Hotel Lautréamont) and finally, jumping back more than a decade, "Qualm" from Shadow Train.

We're grateful to The New York Review of Books — for recording this marvelous set of latter-day Ashbery masterpieces, and for granting permission to share this podcast — as well as to John Ashbery and David Kermani, who very enthusiastically wanted to this reading to be added to PennSound's Ashbery author page. Click on the title above to listen in to this podcast, and be sure to sample the dozens of recordings you'll find there, which span not only the globe, but also nearly five decades of Ashbery's life in writing.

PoemTalk 16: Robert Creeley's "I Know a Man"

Posted 4/8/2009 (link)

Today, we're very happy to announce the sixteenth and latest episode in the PoemTalk Podcast series: a discussion of what is perhaps Robert Creeley's best-known poem, "I Know a Man." Joining host Al Filreis for this program are three veteran PoemTalkers: Bob Perelman, Randall Couch and Kelly Writers House director, Jessica Lowenthal.

The show begins with two of the many recordings of "I Know a Man" available on Creeley's PennSound author page, one from 1966, the other from 1975. Looking for differences between the renditions — the first a live reading, the second a studio recording — Lowenthal sees the former as more syncopated and rhythmic. Perelman picks up on this idea, citing Creeley's careful placement of enjambments, which is evident in the poet's idiosyncratic performance style, a tone Filreis deems "existentialist," noting that "the darkness is in the voice, the fear of the darkness is in the voice." That fear, however, is tempered by a comic grace provided by the contradicting voice that ends the poem, as evidenced by the audience's laughter at the conclusion of the live recording. Presence is key here as well, whether it's self-preservation, pragmatism or, as Couch suggests, a Buddhist mindfulness.

For Perelman, the poem originates in Creeley's 1950s ambitions to be a prose writer, seen here with the multiple layers of narrative frames, intrusions and over-dramatizations, all of which pay off in the closing punch-line. Lowenthal disagrees, finding instead, an isolated I which underscores the poem's terror. Creeley's asking "what // can we do against [...] the darkness [that] sur- / rounds us," strikes Filreis as an emblematically 1950s question, leading the panel to consider the poem's implications in light of a Beat Generation ethos: "[is] driving across the country on amphetamines and stopping for cherry pie a solution" or is there nothing one can do? Couch believes that "buying the car is the alternative to despair, in action," and introduces the mid-century synergy between driving and writing, envisioning the poem as an ars poetica with links to William Carlos Williams' "To Elsie." Their conversation wraps up with each panelist pinpointing the personal pleasures they take from the poem.

Instead of the traditional "gathering paradise" segment which concludes each program, Filreis surprises the panelists by asking them to "gather a little hell," or discuss "the one thing about poetry and poetics today that irritates the hell out of [them]; the pet peeve [they're] most like to vent about when someone at a cocktail party this weekend asks [them] about the state of poetry." You'll have to listen to the program to find out exactly what angers our PoemTalkers, however take note that apes in cages are involved. In closing, Filreis thanks Creeley's son, Will for providing PennSound with dozens of reel-to-reel tapes from his father's archives — which have not only significantly augmented our Creeley author page, but also provided rare and historic recordings by Allen Ginsberg, Charles Olson, Alice Notley, Lew Welch and many others —, and on the PoemTalk blog, Will responds: "It's a real pleasure for me, Hannah, and our mother to know that Dad's recordings are where he would have wanted them to be: online! As his many e-mail correspondents knew well, Dad was thrilled by the possibilities presented by the internet's ability to facilitate access and discussion — the power of inclusion! — and podcasts like PoemTalk demonstrate exactly the reasons for his excitement."

PoemTalk is a co-production of PennSound, the Kelly Writers House and the Poetry Foundation. If you're interested in more information on the series or want to hear the previous fifteen episodes, please visit the PoemTalk blog, and don't forget that you can subscribe to the series through the iTunes music store. Future programs in the series will include conversations on Rodrigo Toscano, Lydia Davis, Bob Perelman, Amiri Baraka, Charles Bernstein and Louis Zukofsky.

Finally, this is a good time to mention another new addition to our site: Ben Friedlander, editor of Robert Creeley, Selected Poems 1945-2005 and Steve McLaughlin (editor of our Creeley author page) have assembled a new Creeley Selected Poems page, using the table of contents for that volume, which is cross-referenced with all extant recordings of the texts available on PennSound, which we hope will be a valuable resource, both for longtime fans of his work and those just discovering Creeley's work.

Sherlock and Mirakove at the Kelly Writers House, April 2, 2009

Posted 4/10/2009 (link)

We're very happy to wrap up this week with audio and video from Frank Sherlock and Carol Mirakove's reading at the Kelly Writers House last Thursday, April 2, 2009.

Mirakove begins her set with a number of works written in the aftermath of September 11th, a time, "when everybody was kinda confused and trying to make sense of what was going on and how to survive." In this setting, Mirakove chose to explore human intimacy, resulting in a series of poems — including "Gigantic," "Epic of Empathy" and "Love Kills Hate" — which serve as love letters to everyone around her, even if they couldn't help but be "love letters of doom." She continues with, among others, "The Recent History of Water in Bolivia" and "The Origin Myth of Her Butt" before concluding with a second poem titled "Love Kills Hate." You can hear Mirakove's reading on her brand new PennSound author page, which also includes a pair of Segue Series reading at the Bowery Poetry Club from 2002 and 2006, as well as Mirakove's 2004 reading at St. Mary's College, released as part of Narrow House Records' double-CD set, Women in the Avant Garde.

There's rarely a poetry reading at the Kelly Writers House when you can't count on Frank Sherlock's presence — he's usually sharing the bench in front of the fireplace with CAConrad — however it's a rarer delight to have him up front at the microphone. Celebrating the recent release of his latest collection, Over Here, he reads two of that volume's strongest pieces, "Daybook of Perversities & Main Events" and its title poem, along with a number of newer poems, including "No Such Thing As Unchanged Value," which opens the set. Sherlock also reads a lengthy excerpt from his 2008 collaboration with Brett Evans, Ready-to-Eat Individual, which he introduces with a lovely dedication to the late Antoinette K-Doe, widow of soul singer Ernie K-Doe and proprietress of New Orleans' Mother-in-Law Lounge. You can hear much more from both Over Here and Ready-to-Eat Individual on Sherlock's PennSound author page, as part of his Studio 111 Session and a Segue Series reading at the Bowery Poetry Club, both recorded in 2007, along with a number of earlier recordings.

Click on the links above to visit each poet's author page, and please remember that, in addition to MP3 files of both readings, you can also watch streaming video of this event through the Kelly Writers House's new KWH-TV page.

Tan Lin and Jena Osman: Segue Series Reading at the Bowery Poetry Club

Posted 4/13/2009 (link)

If you weren't able to make it down to the Bowery Poetry Club for this week's Segue Series reading by Tan Lin and Jena Osman, we've got it for you right here, ready for listening or download.

The afternoon's events begin with a set by Jena Osman, who reads a two longer poems from her forthcoming Essay press collection, The Network: "Mercury Rising (A Visualization)," and an excerpt from "Financial District." On Osman's PennSound author page, you'll find this reading, along with a 1995 appearance on LINEbreak, a 2005 recording from Mills College, and readings as part of the Emergency Series, the Line Reading Series and the Segue Series, among many others.

Tan Lin's set begins with "Diary Blog," a piece inspired by an assignment for his students involving Twitter and blogs. This is followed by Heath: Plagiarism/Outsource, and two excerpts from 7 Controlled Vocabularies constructed from restaurant reviews of New York City's WD50 and Per Se, respectively. He concludes with a lengthy excerpt from a work-in-progress "ambient novel," which concerns Lin's father, magician David Blaine and "a guy named Mr. Shoe, who is ordered by the housing authority to get rid of exactly 50% of his possessions." On Lin's PennSound author page, you'll also find a Close Listening reading and conversation with Charles Bernstein, an appearance as part of Line Reading Series as well as Ceptuetics Radio. There are also a pair of recently-added video compositions, "Eleven Minute Painting" and "Disco Eats Itself (Broken Disco Parameter)."

Click on the title above to listen to both performances, and while you're on Segue Series at the Bowery Poetry Club homepage be sure to check out the dozens of additional recordings from the influential series' most recent venue.

Bruce Andrews: Reading and Interview on "Destination Out," hosted by Tom Orange, 2008

Posted 4/15/2009 (link)

Last spring, poet and scholar Tom Orange brought Bruce Andrews and Sally Silvers to Nashville, Tennessee for a reading and performance at Vanderbilt University. The following day, Andrews was his guest on "Destination Out," Orange's program on WRVU-FM, and today, we're very happy to be able to present that April 26, 2008 broadcast to our listeners.

Andrews begins with a pair of pieces, "Black" and "Improvisation," the latter dating from the first Gulf War. This is followed by a brief conversation which begins with talk of John Cage (a brief excerpt from his "Sonata I" from Sonatas and Interludes introduces the segment), segues into a brief history of Language poetics, and ends with a discussion of Andrews' writing methods.

The readings continue with two older pieces — "Mistaken Identity 1," taken from The East Village, and "Stalin's Genius," from Andrews' 1992 collection, I Don't Have Any Paper So Shut Up (or, Social Romanticism) — which are followed by a pair of recent politically-inspired pieces, "Blood: Full Tank" and "October Surprise." Next comes a series of excerpts from two newer long-form pieces, The Millennium Project and Cone Melt, and Andrews wraps up the set with a manuscript-in-progress, "Uncle Abe," which explores Appalachian linguistics, following in the footsteps of "white dialect" poetry of the 19th century.

Click on the title above to listen to this wonderful program, along with many other readings, conversations and radio appearances, from 1977 to the present on Andrews' PennSound author page. We'd also like to thank Tom Orange, not only for facilitating Andrews' reading and interview, but also for making this recording available to us.

PennSound Congratulates Pegasus Award Winners Fanny Howe and Ange Mlinko

Posted 4/16/2009 (link)

Earlier this week the Poetry Foundation announced this year's winners of their prestigious Pegasus AwardsFanny Howe and Ange Mlinko — and we couldn't be more proud that both are PennSound poets.

Fanny Howe is the recipient of this year's Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize bestowed upon American poets "whose lifetime accomplishments warrant extraordinary recognition." Christian Wiman, Poetry's editor marked the occasion by observing, "Fanny Howe is a religious writer whose work makes you more alert and alive to the earth, an experimental writer who can break your heart. Live in her world for a while, and it can change the way you think of yours."

On Howe's PennSound author page, listeners can sample a broad array of her work, both creative and critical, including Segue Series readings from 1991 and 2003, a 2000 reading at the Kelly Writers House, a 1978 talk on Justice (part of Bob Perelman's famed San Francisco Talks series), and recordings from Radio Poetique's Poetic Brooklyn and the 2003 Poetry and Empire: Post-Invasion Poetics event at Philadelphia's Institute of Contemporary Art. There's also a six-part recording of Howe's Tis of Thee, complete with musical accompaniment, which originally accompanied that 2003 release from Atelos.

Ange Mlinko is this year's winner of the Randall Jarrell Award in Poetry Criticism, presented for "poetry criticism that is intelligent and learned as well as lively and enjoyable to read." In honoring Mlinko, the Poetry Foundation described her unique and entertaining perspective: "From Sappho to the Language poets, from Nicolas of Cusa to The Brady Bunch, Ange Mlinko's criticism is brilliantly wide-ranging; it is eclectic and astringent yet always lucid and generous. We are pleased to recognize a young critic whose distinctive sharp wit and formidable power have helped revitalize the art of writing about poetry."

On Mlinko's PennSound author page, you'll discover a 2000 Segue Series reading at Double Happiness, along with a segmented 2001 reading as part of the Line Reading Series, "Poem Bejeweled with Proper Nouns" (from Frequency Audio Journal) and her contribution to the 1998 Bernadette Mayer celebration at the Kelly Writers House.

PennSound congratulates Howe and Mlinko for their achievements, and invites listeners to experience some of the work which merited these venerable poetry awards.

Jennifer Scappettone: New Author Page, Plus KWH Recordings

Posted 4/20/2009 (link)

We recently created a new author page for Jennifer Scappettone, bringing together readings both old and new, along with a pair of wonderful conversations to provide listeners with a thorough introduction to this poet, translator and photographer's work.

We begin with Scappettone's newly-segmented Segue Series reading at the Bowery Poetry Club. Recorded January 31, 2004, her thirty-minute set includes the titles "Misuse," "An Abeyance," "The New War I & II," "Beauty," "More Like Liverpool" and "These Poppies," along with a translation of Italian poet, Amelia Rosselli, a major influence upon her writing.

Our next recording is of a February 26, 2009 lunchtime lecture and conversation at the Kelly Writers House between Scappettone, Lyn Hejinian and the afternoon's host, Rachel Levitsky, which showcases a reading from one of her many projects-in-progress: Exit 43, an archaeology of the landfill and opera of pop-ups. That manuscript, along with another forthcoming critical volume, Lagoon/Lacuna: Venice and the Digressive Invention of the Modern are but two of many topics discussed with PennSound co-director Al Filreis in the latest PennSound Podcast, which was recorded last week, also at the Writers House.

On that same day, Scappettone was invited to read a selection of her work for PennSound's listeners. She begins with a number of poems from her recent Litmus Press collection, From Dame Quickly, starting with the nearly decade-old "Bull Desuetude," and moving through titles including "Thing Ode," "Derrida is Dead" and "da s." Next comes a pair of poems from the Goat Island performance collective's The Last Performance [dot org]: "Concerning Lasts Made (In Illinois)" and "In Exion." After reading a translation of Amelia Rosselli's "Innesto nel vivere," Scappettone concludes with a pair of lengthy excerpts from Exit 43.

We're particularly glad to have had Scappettone join us several times this spring as a member of the Writers House community, and are equally happy that we can share these recordings with our listeners all over the world. To start exploring the work of Jennifer Scappettone, click on the title above.

Wystan Curnow: New Close Listening Programs Plus Writers Without Borders Recordings

Posted 4/22/2009 (link)

Earlier this month, poet, curator, art critic and essayist (not to mention UPenn alumnus) Wystan Curnow traveled from his native New Zealand to Philadelphia to take part in a number of programs at the Kelly Writers House. Today, we're proud to present a number of recordings taken from those events.

We begin on April 7th, when Curnow delivered the lecture "Curating as a Cultural Practice" as part of the Writers Without Borders series, and in conjunction with "Let Us Possess One World," an exhibition the poet curated featuring New Zealand painter Colin McCahon, Spanish painter Antoni Tapies, Croatian artist Mangelos, and the American expatriate, Cy Twombly: "four contemporaries who committed the literary heresy of adding language to abstraction." Curnow also discusses his work as advisor to and collaborator with conceptual artist Billy Apple.

Earlier that afternoon, Curnow sat down with Charles Bernstein to record a two-part program for the Close Listening series. In the first, he reads a trio of long-form poems dating from the 1970s and 80s — "On Volcanoes," "The Western" and an excerpt from "The Astronauts: An Autobiography" — and links to all three texts are provided. The second program begins with a discussion of he ways in which Curnow's New Zealander identity forms a central part of his approach to poetry, particularly the philosophical and ideological implications of the nation's imposing and isolated geographical location, as well as its colonial links to England and America, which leads to a discussion of Curnow's transnational influences and inspirations in both the literary and visual realms.

We conclude with another Writers Without Borders event which took place a week later on April 14th. This forty-minute reading, introduced by both Al Filreis and Bob Perelman, showcases work from throughout Curnow's writing life. He begins with "Keeping to Myself," then reads a number of excerpts from his Cancer Daybook, followed by a new piece published as part of a new book by conceptual artist Lawrence Weiner. Next comes a group of poems from his latest collection, Modern Colours, along with a complementary series, "The Art Hotel," which pay tribute to Tristan Tzara, Marcel Duchamp and Francis Picabia. He concludes with a longer piece, entitled "Max."

You can hear all of these recordings, and watch streaming video of the two Kelly Writers House events, on Curnow's PennSound author page, where you'll also find a 2007 reading at New York's Saatchi & Saatchi, as well as a vintage Segue Series reading, recorded at the Ear Inn in the winter of 1988. It's also worth noting that Curnow's visit concludes the Writers Without Borders series' first full year of programming, which began last April with a reading by Cecelia Vicuña. Be sure to visit our Writers Without Borders homepage for recordings of that event, as well as readings by Li Zhimin, Breyten Breytenbach and the New European Poets book launch.

Tango with Cows: Book Art of the Russian Avant Garde, 1910-1917 at the Getty Center

Posted 4/24/2009 (link)

Today, we're very proud to announce a new page for "Tango with Cows: Book Art of the Russian Avant Garde, 1910-1917," a groundbreaking exhibition which ran through last Sunday at the Getty in Los Angeles. PennSound contributing editor Danny Snelson was responsible for seeing this remarkable multimedia resource through to fruition, and so we thought it fitting to have him provide our listeners with an introduction:

PennSound has been working in collaboration with the Getty Research Institute to present this remarkable collection of historical and contemporary transrational poetry, centered on an exhibition of Russian Futurist book art held at the Getty earlier this year. The exhibition's title — "Tango with Cows" — taken from a poem by Vasily Kamensky, points to the sense of hilarity and irreverence you'll hear in these startlingly original 'beyonsense' poems. Our page of recordings compliments the extensive media collected online at the Getty's website. There, you can find programs, essays, video footage, full scans of the Futurist books, and even a fully interactive slideshow of key books from the exhibition!

Our archive of sound recordings comes in two parts: first, Tango with Cows features Oleg Minin's bilingual readings of essential poems found in book art projects from poets such as Alexei Kruchenykh, Velimir Khlebnikov, and Pavel Filonov. By reading from the Russian before the accompanying English translation, Minin offers listeners the pleasure of sound before recognition — an ideal situation for the revolutionary poetics on display here.

However, the real highlight of this great resource sounds from the second half: we're pleased to present high quality recordings of Explodity: An Evening of Transrational Sound Poetry held on February 4th, 2009. This blockbuster reading casts the zaum' poetries of Khlebnikov and Kruchenykh in the parallel light of historic and contemporary sound poetry, as presented by Christian Bok and Steve McCaffery. After virtuoso performances of English translations of historical Russian poems, Bok and McCaffery present personal selections from the history of sound poetry alongside their own original compositions. On the short list are works by Aristophanes, Raoul Hausmann, F.T. Marinetti, Hugo Ball, Kurt Schwitters, and R. Murray Schafer, just to mention a few.

You can hear more work in this vein on PennSound pages for Christian Bok, Steve McCaffery, Jaap Blonk, Tomomi Adachi, and The Four Horsemen. Additionally, we'd like to suggest our historic pages for F.T. Marinetti and Vladimir Mayakovsky. Our partner UbuWeb offers a huge index of this exciting brach of poetry; we suggest in particular that you visit a companion set of Russian Futurist recordings from the GLM Collection.

Special thanks to Nancy Perloff and everyone at the Getty Research Institute for making this resource possible. We hope these recordings lend the same vision of language that mystified Benedikt Livshits in 1911 (from Nancy Perloff, Curator's Essay): "I saw language come alive with my very own eyes. The breath of the primordial word wafted into my face."

Emergency Reading Series: Buffalo Poetics Extravaganza, March 2009

Posted 4/27/2009 (link)

Since its launch in the fall of 2006, the Emergency Reading Series has sought to answer the question, "What does it mean to be an emerging poet in America today?" by "highlighting perspectives on the current state of American poetry through the diverse experiences of its practicing poets." Original organizers Julia Bloch and Scott Glassman — winners of the 2006-2007 Kerry Sherin Wright Prize — were joined by Sarah Dowling this year, and brought another trio of marvelous readings to the Kelly Writers House.

This year's final event, held on March 2nd, showcased four up-and-coming writers from SUNY Buffalo's esteemed Poetics program. Dubbed the "Buffalo Poetics Extravaganza," the evening featured readings by Andrew Rippeon, Chris Sylvester, Divya Victor and Steven Zultanski. After brief individual sets, the quartet takes part in a lengthy question and answer session with an enthusiastic audience. Thanks to KWH-TV, there's streaming QuickTime video of this reading in addition to downloadable MP3 recordings of each poet.

On the Emergency Reading Series homepage, you'll find recordings of this year's previous two readings, featuring Sueyeun Juliette Lee and Christopher Stackhouse (from last October), and Emily Abendroth and Justin Audia (from last November), as well as a half-dozen more from years past, featuring (among others) Matthew Rohrer, Dorothea Lasky, erica kaufman, Thomas Devaney and Jena Osman. Click on the title above to start listening.

Jean-Michel Rabate: Close Listening Conversation, 2009

Posted 4/29/2009 (link)

We've recently brought you updates on a number of new programs in Charles Bernstein's Close Listening series, including shows dedicated to Wystan Curnow, Michael Davidson and Alan Loney, and today we're proud to announce the latest in a stellar spring series of shows: an April 7th conversation with Bernstein's University of Pennsylvania colleague, Jean-Michel Rabaté.

Rabaté's recent books include 1913: The Cradle of Modernism, The Cambridge Companion to Lacan, The Future of Theory and Lacan in America; he's also written on Samuel Beckett, Thomas Bernhard, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Roland Barthes and Marjorie Welish, among many others.

Bernstein begins the conversation by asking Rabaté to compare America's intellectual culture to that of his native France: in his homeland, he sees a broader interest in theory and cultural studies, particular centered around Paris and the universities, however that theoretical bent is currently suffering from what he calls a "crisis of legitimacy" as many of the dominant figures who've recently died (Derrida, Deluze et al.) have not yet been replaced. Moreover, he feels that the salon culture centered around aesthetics in Paris have fallen behind the discourse in cities such as London and Berlin. Rabaté then goes on to discuss differing notions of literary theory and his experience as a pedagogue of theory (which he sees as "philosophy for non-specialists") in both French and American circles. The two then consider the futility of naming or deliniating "theory," citing the clashing perspectives of Derrida (who Bernstein sees as "not aesthetic enough") and Foucault (who is "ultimately aesthetic"), which segues the conversation into Duchamp's avant-garde tendencies (along with the Arensberg collection, housed in the Philadelphia Museum of Art), as well as the idea of literary theory as "a kind of conceptual or performance art."

In the second half of the conversation, the two consider, as Rabaté's most recent book is titled, The Ethics of the Lie, beginning with Slavoj Žižek's invention of dreams to please his psychoanalyst, which leads to discussion of personal integrity, the dynamic relationship between truth and lies ("we always tell the truth when we lie," Rabaté states) and the distinction between lies and bullshit, as defined by Harry Frankfurt's 2005 book On Bullshit. The conversation then turns to Ezra Pound, and Rabaté's long romance with the poet's work, in part due to his fearless antagonism of readers and willingness to take risks, as well as his omniverous cosmopolitanism: "he invented the right meaning of 'comparative literature,'" he observes.

In the near future, we'll be addressing the the last two programs in this most recent series of Close Listening readings and conversations, featuring Hank Lazer and Eileen Myles. You'll also want to check out PennSound's Close Listening home page, where you can listen to more than forty programs recorded between 2003 and the present, as well as links to PennSound's page for LINEbreak, the 1996 series which preceded Close Listening.