PoemTalk 26: Vachel Lindsay's "The Congo"

Posted 12/2/2009 (link)

Earlier this week, we released the twenty-sixth episode in the PoemTalk Podcast Series, a discussion of Vachel Lindsay's iconic and infamous poem, "The Congo." Joining host Al Filreis for this program are PennSound co-founder, Charles Bernstein, along with A.L. Nielsen and Michelle Taransky.

Filreis begins by asking how we can move beyond the "silly racism" of the opening lines — something Nielsen is reluctant to do: "it's sorta like reading Huckleberry Finn and trying to say 'how do we get past his realization that Jim is just like him?' . . . it's kinda the heart of the story." Unlike Twain's novel, however, where irony and sincerity battle with one another, Filreis reads Lindsay's poem as solely sincere (if no less problematic). Nielsen agrees, noting that Lindsay was "genuinely surprised that people were upset about this poem," and Filreis points out the poet's well-documented support for "African Americans in American life." They turn to Taransky for her initial reaction to the text, and she offers the possibility of privileging sound over syntax here, focusing primarily on its rhythmic pleasures. Bernstein notes the historical importance of this poem within the contexts of performance poetry and laments its removal from anthologies and textbooks as part of a recent trend of avoiding "poems that are uncomfortable or disturbing," instead of "confront[ing them] more fully."

Filreis wonders if another reason this poem vanished from the canon is that it "does not fit in the modernist [...] tradition, it's performative and zany, and it didn't fit the way poetry was being taught in the post-New Criticism generation of teaching." Nielsen notes other poets, such as Carl Sandburg, who disappear for similar reasons. Bernstein agrees and stresses the significance of hearing the poem as it's performed, along with "confront[ing] the troubling aspects of the work so that we understand how embroiled poetry is in politics," and observes how, while Lindsay courts trouble by "stumbl[ing] so badly on the race issue, there are many poets included in these anthologies who would've had nothing to do with African Americans, completely sanitized in their white world, and therefore don't have this troubling racial imagery."

Given the flammable nature of the poem, Filreis wonders what Harriet Monroe must've been thinking when she first published "The Congo" in Poetry in 1914: did she envision it as modernist verse or a 19th century throwback. For Taransky, its inclusion represents "a different kind of poem," and suggests "possibilities and potentials to the readers: that you could have instructions in the margin, and that perhaps a poem doesn't have to just live on the page, that it can live again every time it's read." Nielsen points out that Monroe was well familiar with the poem, having heard it performed at least twice before — once at a dinner for Poetry at which Sandburg and Yeats are present — which suggests a more broad-minded editorial interpretation of modernism, even if it clashed with the magazine's more conservative readership. To Bernstein, Lindsay "felt there was something deeply wrong with white culture, that it was hung up, and that it was overly rationalized, that it was disembodied, that it was too abstract, that it had lost touch with the deep rhythms poetry could have." Parsing through intention and offense, he offers that "a lot of people think of racism as saying bad things about African Americans; this poem is racist but it's saying good things, from the point of view of the author, about African Americans," hence "Lindsay is identifying something he sees wrong, and then he romanticizes [...] the African and the tribal in a way that's deeply offensive to contemporary readers, and should be deeply offensive . . ." "and also wrong," Filreis adds. "He is politically correct in a different sense," however, according to Nielsen, particularly when espousing an anti-colonial sentiment here. Addressing critic Austin Warren, who derides Lindsay as not being smart enough to see the problem behind "The Congo," the panelists note his germinal work in the field of film criticism, and that (along with Sandburg) he was one of the most popular American poets of the 1920s and 30s, largely on the reputation of this very same poem. Moreover, they situate his African appropriation here as being part of a much more widespread "racial poaching" in American popular culture throughout the 20th century.

This allows the panelists to segue to another infamous legacy of "The Congo," namely an iconic scene in Peter Weir's 1989 film, Dead Poets Society where young students recite the poem in a "long ago white boy Woodstock" fashion, according to Nielsen, who notes that the rhythmic sensibilities that inform that performance are similar to the way in which many of us might read the poem, however it differs radically from Lindsay's own recorded rendition. Bernstein, who's never seen the film, observes how these "hip-hop aspect[s]" ties into cultural trends from throughout the last generation, which "cover up aspects that the Lindsay poem lays bare, in terms of the content, because the covering doesn't necessarily have the explicit subject matter that Lindsay's poem has, and that's always a fraught area." For Taransky, reading the poem without hearing Lindsay's version "allow[s] a reader to be a performer and perform a sort of rearticulation of the poem, and that this is the way, when they see rhyme of rhythm, that it feels right to them." Filreis points out the spirit of "liberationist pedagogy" that underscores the scene, seeing Lindsay as a tool towards this end, and Nielsen agrees, finding fault with the "white tribal enactment [...] based on [an] opposition to blackness," and laments that the director doesn't do more to acknowledge this.

In conclusion, Bernstein asserts that "the troubling aspects just complicate and enrich what are the aesthetic breakthroughs and interests of the poem: the idea of having a poem that's made as a score to be performed, the idea of having a very driving rhythm in a poem, the interest in thinking about orality [...] all of which give a poet at this time, and a brilliant poet, all these problems because he can't think through it . . . it's not that he can't think through it, but the culture at that time can't think through it." Taransky finds "procedures and processes of writing it can show young writers" and the lesson "that a poem doesn't have to be read in a monotone way, like they might've heard someone else read it, that they can read a poem in the way that seems most appropriate to them at that time." Nielsen wants to focus on "the tension between Lindsay's desire to make a progressive statement" and "the struggles going on inside the poem" which are "absolutely at the core of American culture," and every bit as important in the present as it was in his time. Filreis ends by recalling his first encounter with the poem, whose "furious and zany and at times incoherent delivery goes so completely against the values of precision and articulation" that he learned as modernist hallmarks, providing "an absolute performative alternative," which is important to our conceptions of poetry.

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 twenty-five episodes, please visit the PoemTalk blog, and don't forget that you can subscribe to the series through the iTunes music store. Our next episode, focusing on Robert Duncan's "Often I am Permitted to Return to a Meadow," will Filreis and Bernstein, along with the co-editors of Poems for the Millennium, Volume 3: Romantic and Post-Romantic Poetry: Jerome Rothenberg and Jeffrey C. Robinson. Stay tuned also for future programs in the series which will address poems by Jack Spicer, Kit Robinson, William Carlos Williams, Robert Grenier and Susan Howe. Thanks, as always, for listening!

Norman Finkelstein: New Author Page Plus Xavier University Reading, 2009

Posted 12/4/2009 (link)

This week comes to a close with our newest author page, showcasing work by Cincinnati-based poet and critic, Norman Finkelstein.

The page is anchored by new addition to the PennSound archives: a September 29, 2009 reading at Xavier University celebrating the launch of Finkelstein's latest book, Scribe (Dos Madres, 2009), a collection which, in the words of Michael Palmer, "articulates the permissions and responsive urgencies of poetic entanglement, echoing now ballad music — or magic, now the muted voices of dailiness, now the lyric strains of desire." Poems from the volume read that evening include "Like Dates and Almonds, Purple Cloth & Pearls," "At the Threshold," "Lamp," "Valentine" and the title poem, along with a long excerpt from the book's final section of interlinked montages, "An Assembly," and Finkelstein concludes the reading with a number of newer works, including "Tour" and "Is This Okay?"

You'll also find several older recordings, starting with tracks from "The Shape of Disclosure: George Oppen Centennial Symposium at Poets House in New York, including Finkelstein's essay, "Unteachable: Ideology and Identity in Oppen's Late Poems" and his readings of Oppen's "From Disaster" and section 14 of "Of Being Numerous." Oppen and other Objectivist poets such as Charles Reznikoff, Louis Zukofsky and Lorine Niedecker also feature prominently in Finkelstein's 2005 discussion at the Kelly Writers House with Harvey Shapiro, which was moderated by Bob Perelman. As part of their visit, the two poets gave individual readings the day before, followed by a brief question-and-answer period.

Rounding out Finkelstein's page is his 2007 on Cross-Cultural Poetics, where he read from and discussed his collection Passing Over with host Leonard Schwartz, and his appearance as part of the MLA Offsite Reading in 2004. We're very glad to have this new recording of Finkelstein's latest work, and to finally have a dedicated home for all of his work on PennSound. Click on the title above to start exploring.

Segue Series at the Bowery Poetry Club: Corina Copp and Ariana Reines

Posted 12/7/2009 (link)

With the two-month tenure of E. Tracy Grinnell and Laura Sims drawing to a close before the Thanksgiving holiday, the Segue Series is now in the equally capable hands of Thom Donovan and Sara Wintz for December and January. Their first event, which featured poets Corina Copp and Ariana Reines, took place this past Saturday at the Bowery Poetry Club, and (we're proud to say) was posted within a few hours of the reading's conclusion.

Corina Copp's set begins with "Setting" — a "more hybrid-y theatre-poem" from a longer work-in-progress called Office Color — before moving on to a series of newer works including "A Religious Light Per a Man," "Induction," "Ventilator," "A Welder," "Scored," "Engulfs," "Harshest" and "Looking for the Object that is Ballast in My Head," before concluding with "Pale Tomato (Illume)."

Ariana Reines starts off with number of her poems, including "When I looked at your cock my imagination died," "Black bunting" and "Sore winner." After an impromptu question-and-answer session and survey of audience responses to the work, and thanks to an assist by Eileen Myles (who retrieves her bag), Reines concludes by reading from her translation of Charles Baudelaire's "My Heart Laid Bare." With this new reading, we now had enough material to put together a PennSound author page for Reines, where you can also hear a 2007 reading at the BPC, as well as a March 2009 recording from Oakland's New Reading Series, which comes to us through the archives of A Voice Box.

Speaking of Segue organizer, Thom Donovan, his recent the Emergency Reading Series set at the Kelly Writers House with Julian T. Brolaski should be up on the site shortly, so keep an eye out for an announcement on PennSound Daily, and stay tuned for two more Segue Series events before the end of the year.

Threads Talk Series Recordings from Loney, Alexander, Cutts, Spector

Posted 12/9/2009 (link)

We're very proud today to introduce a new page for the Threads Talk Series, which was launched this past spring by the venerable curatorial duo of Steve Clay and Kyle Schlesinger. In Schlesinger's words, the series aims "to build on the discourse within book arts to explore and enrich relationships between various strands of book culture that are often approached in isolation, for example poetry and writing, visual and performing arts, collaboration, design, printing, independent publishing, literary history, critical theory, and material culture to name a few."

The series started with a pair of events featuring Alan Loney (whose March 11th talk was entitled "What Book Does My Library Make?") and Chax Press founder Charles Alexander (who presented "Between Poetics" on April 16th). These were followed by a July 21st talk by Simon Cutts, "The Metaphor Books 1967-2009," and Buzz Spector's October 2nd presentation, "On the Fetishism of the Book Object." Each talk in the series runs between thirty to forty minutes, and is followed by a conversation of equal length between the coordinators, speaker and audience, in which the conversation topics are explored in even greater depth.

While these talks originally took place before a small studio audience, their inclusion as part of the PennSound archive ensures that a much wider listenership can develop. We'll be adding new recordings periodically, and eventually, the complete series will be collected and published in book form. To start exploring the Threads Talk Series, click on the title above.

"We All Feel Like It" Reading at the Kelly Writers House, 2009

Posted 12/11/2009 (link)

Last Thursday evening, the Kelly Writers House hosted the latest reading from one of Philadelphia's newest and most interesting series: Whenever We Feel Like It.

While series organizers Michelle Taransky and Emily Pettit have gathered a geographically diverse group of wonderful poets for past readings, this event — billed under the title, "We All Feel Like It" — is particularly exciting because it showcases a half-dozen young writers affiliated with the KWH Hub. The six readers, in order of appearance, are Kimberly Eisler, Chris Milione, Rivka Fogel, Lindsey Todd, Lily Applebaum and Rebekah Caton (who's joined by Benny Greenberg for a final collaborative piece). While all of the readers are fantastic, we're particularly proud of Rebekah, who, since the fall of 2008, has been one of PennSound's most inspired and dedicated student workers. She's now made the leap from working on the site to having her work featured on the site, and we couldn't be happier for her.

On PennSound's Whenever We Feel Like It series page, you can listen to audio recordings from this reading (and watch the evening's proceedings in streaming video, courtesy of KWH-TV), as well as three prior events: an October reading featuring Andrew Zawacki, Joshua Harmon and Sanae Lemione; September's reading by Dara Weir, Ben Kopel and James La Marre; and a reading from last March with Natalie Laylin, Heather Christle and Cecilia Corrigan.

The Emergency Reading Series: Thom Donovan and Julian T. Brolaski

Posted 12/14/2009 (link)

Last week, while writing up a recent Segue Series reading by Ariana Reines and Corina Copp — an event which seems to have generated quite a bit of chatter across the internet — we mentioned that series co-curator Thom Donovan's recent Emergency Reading Series set at the Kelly Writers House with Julian T. Brolaski would soon be added to the site, and today, we're glad to be able to highlight that event.

Brolaski began the evening with poems from xir manuscript, Advice for Lovers — "On Not Being Able to Perceive Angels," "On How to Transfigure the Body Utterly," "On How to Blazon Your Lover" and "Sloghing Off the Gentlemanly Sports," among others — before reading "Elegy for kari edwards," from the recently-released memorial collection, No Gender: Reflections on the Life and Work of kari edwards, which xe co-edited with E. Tracy Grinnell and erica kaufman. Xe concludes xir set with poems from xir forthcoming Ugly Duckling Press volume, gowanus atropolis, including "Fools Act So Hard" and "Jam Jar in Harlem."

Donovan is up next, reading a number of poems written over the past five months for his blog, Wild Horses of Fire. "I want to read them in sequence," he explains, "because I feel like it will presence a process of writing through a blog [...] Not having put out a trade edition book, the blog has become a kind of book in itself, or a new form, I feel, to work in, and I've been working at that form for a few years now." Titles included in his eighteen-minute set include "Paul Thek, Our Contemporary," "What Came to be Called Values," "After Paul Chan's Sade" and "Complicities." We're very glad to have launched a a new PennSound author page for Donovan over the summer, where you'll find a number of fantastic recordings from the past three years, including a set with Tyrone Williams at Unnameable Books, a March 2007 reading at the St. Mark's Poetry Project, readings from Film Forum's Oh One Arrow anthology and "Allegories of Disablement," a 2008 performance with Nonsite Collective in San Francisco. In addition to his own wonderful writing, and his curatorial work, Donovan has also been kind enough to share recordings from his archives through PennSound, including a number of events he's organized at Peace on A and several key recordings of Rob Halpern.

On PennSound's homepage for the Emergency Reading Series, you can listen to this reading, as well as previous recordings of events going all the way back to the series' inception in the fall of 2006, including appearances by Jena Osman, Thomas Devaney, erica kaufman, Dorothea Lasky, Matthew Rohrer, Andrew Zawacki and Sueyeun Juliette Lee, among many others. Clicking on the title above takes you directly there.

New Heatstrings Recordings from Bromige, Davidson, Thomas, Nielsen

Posted 12/16/2009 (link)

Our recently-launched PennSound series page for Aldon Nielsen's Heatstrings Collection continues to grow. Today, we're highlighting two new additions to the page featuring David Bromige, Michael Davidson, Lorenzo Thomas and Nielsen himself.

First up, we have David Bromige and Michael Davidson's 1998 appearance at Los Angeles' Loyola Marymount University. Recorded over two days (April 23rd and 24th), Nielsen's documentation begins with lengthy individual readings by the poets (Bromige reads from his Black Sparrow selected poems, Desire, along with the collections Tiny Courts in a World Without Scales, As in T, As in Tether and the manuscript, Not Sane Enough for the Death Penalty, among others; Davidson draws heavily from his then-recent collection, Post Hoc). The following day, the two reconvened to discuss one another's work, and this second session runs for nearly an hour and a half.

Next, there's an April 2003 recording of Nielsen and Lorenzo Thomas participating in "What's New in American Poetry?" — a symposium at the University of Wisconsin organized by Lynn Keller. "Lorenzo and I had by then been on many panels together, acting as a sort of roving tag team of poetry criticism," Nielsen writes. "This time out, Lorenzo delivered a talk he called 'How We Place African American Poetry' and I delivered a prepared response to his talk." Thomas' lecture runs nearly an hour long, while Nielsen's response is thirty minutes in length, including a brief question-and-answer period.

These two new readings join previous Heatstrings recordings, including materials from Incognito Lounge and the MLA Offsite Readings, among others, and we'll be adding even more in the near future.

Marjorie Perloff: New Close Listening Reading and Conversation, 2009

Posted 12/18/2009 (link)

Today, we bring a year of marvelous Close Listening shows to a close with one last super-sized addition: a three-part program featuring critic and author Marjorie Perloff, recorded November 9, 2009 at New York's Clocktower Studio.

The trio begins with Perloff reading from her memoir, Vienna Paradox (New Directions, 2004), in which she discusses her childhood in Vienna and her exodus, just before the Holocaust, to the Riverdale section of the Bronx. She then goes on discuss the book and its milieu with Charles Bernstein in her second program, starting by discussing the anniversary of Kristallnacht (which had taken place 71 years before) and figures, such as Ezra Pound and Martin Heidegger, who had associations with the Third Reich and continue to shape international thought. From there, Bernstein asks about the ways in which her European perspective — including her refugee years and coming to English as a second language — have influenced her work, which allows Perloff to differentiate between American and continental engagement with art and philosophy, as well as her relation to the American canon.

In light of Perloff's participation in a series of Bernstein-co-curated symposia on "Secular Jewish Culture / Radical Jewish Poetics," he asks her to discuss her orientation to Jewish identity, within which she privileges irony and humor as useful inheritances. This cultural heritage is then juxtaposed with Perloff's experience as a grad student at Catholic University in Washington, DC in the 1950s and 60s, which she describes as "a strange adventure where I was the ultimate outsider."

For the third program, Bernstein asks Perloff to explore a number of key "schisms that seem to divide 20th century poetry," and which have been central to Perloff's own scholarship, starting with Yeats' interaction with Futurism, Frank O'Hara's contentious relationship to Robert Lowell and the aesthetic dynamic between Pound and Gertrude Stein or Wallace Stevens. Beginning with the last debate, Perloff navigates her own shifting estimation of all of these figures, along with others, like Marianne Moore — none of whom she finds as engaging or brilliant as Baudelaire or Rimbaud — and spends some time discussing the mainstreaming and marginality of Stein, segueing into Futurism as a cultural parallel, which, after lengthy and engaging discourse, leads into the tensions between that aesthetic and Yeats in the program's second half. Finally, they move on to Lowell and O'Hara — who are often taken to represent the broadest dichotomy in 20th century American poetry and poetics, an ongoing and unmended aesthetic rift — which allows her to critique Lowell while also addressing New American Poets for whom she's never had a great affinity (including Olson and Duncan). Towards the end of the program, Perloff touches upon the viability of an avant-garde in the present and the perceived elitism of contemporary poetics.

You can hear all three of these programs on PennSound's Marjorie Perloff author page, where you'll also find a 2003 reading from Vienna Paradox at SUNY-Buffalo, her 1999 appearance at the Kelly Writers House (where she delivered the talk, "Watchman, Spy and Dead Man: Frank O'Hara, Jasper Johns, and John Cage in the Sixties") and her presentation as part of the 2004 symposium on "Secular Jewish Culture / Radical Jewish Poetics" at New York's Center for Jewish History. Click on the title above to start listening.

Christian Bok at the Kelly Writers House, 2009

Posted 12/22/2009 (link)

While Canadians got to celebrate "A Very Christian Christmas" last week with poet Christian Bök, audiences at the Kelly Writers House enjoyed a visit with the poet last month at an event celebrating the launch of Umlaut Machine: Selected Visual Works, co-sponsored by KWH Art and the Writers Without Borders series.

After introductions by Jessica Lowenthal and Kaegan Sparks, the evening began with Bök performing for approximately forty minutes. After starting with a few Hugo Ball warm-ups, he shares a retrospective selection of works from throughout his career, including his recently-upgraded masterpiece, Eunoia, his manuscripts-in-progress, The Cyborg Opera, The Xenotext Experiment, Busted Sirens and much more. This is followed by "a conversation about the performance and the work at large vis-a-vis the pieces in this exhibition" featuring Sparks, along with students Astrid Lorange, Danny Snelson and Henry Steinberg.

On PennSound's Christian Bök author page, you'll find both audio and video versions of this event, along with much more. Aside from a 2005 Close Listening reading and conversation with Charles Bernstein and UPenn students, there are readings as part of the Segue Series at Double Happiness and the Line Reading Series, a pair of recordings from SUNY-Buffalo, and readings from Eunoia and Carnivocal spanning the past decade. This event — or more specifically, one of Bök's response during the evening's conversation — was also the subject of a blog post on the Poetry Foundation's Harriet blog by Kenny Goldsmith, which has generated some rather interesting discourse over the past several weeks.

Cross-Cultural Poetics: Four New Programs, Including a Milestone 200th

Posted 12/24/2009 (link)

As the end of the year draws near, we're very happy to bring our listeners four new episodes from one of our perennial favorite poetry programs, Cross-Cultural Poetics, hosted by Leonard Schwartz.

We begin with episode #197, "Some Prisms," recorded October 15, 2009, which begins with Kate Eichhorn reading from her Coach House anthology, Prismatic Publics: Innovative Canadian Women's Poetry and Poetics. Next, Schwartz reads from Inger Christenson's It (New Directions), followed by Rachel Levitsky, who shares selections from and discusses her latest collection, Neighbor (Ugly Duckling Presse). Episode #198, "Paris/London" (broadcast October 29th) has, appropriately enough, an international focus, starting with French poet Jean Davie reading from Rosmarie Waldrop's translation of Under the Dome: Walks with Paul Celan (Burning Deck), after which British poet Sophie Mayer reads from her latest, Her Various Scalpels (Shearsmen Books).

Moving into November, with two programs broadcast on the 12th, we have episode #199, "Translation," which focuses on a well-matched pair of writers whose youths were filled with revolutionary poetic indiscretions. First, Natasha Wimmer discusses Chilean novelist Roberto Bolano's final novel, 2666 (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), followed by a conversation with Donald Revell about his recent translations of Arthur Rimbaud's Illuminations and A Season in Hell (Omnidawn). Finally, Cross-Cultural Poetics' landmark 200th episode, "Conflict after Conflict," starts out with Ammiel Alcalay reflecting upon the personal background to his classic After Jews and Arabs: Remapping Levantine Culture (University of Minnesota Press). Next comes Bill Ransom, author of The Woman And The War Baby (Blue Begonia Press), who discusses the violence war brings to civilians in its aftermath, and reads from the book.

We'd like to congratulate Leonard, and Cross-Cultural Poetics for reaching this lofty milestone in just six years' time, and look forward to another two hundred episodes (and more) that will put forward the same startling aesthetic and cultural heterogeneity that has marked the first two hundred. To start exploring these four episodes — and all the rest — click on the title above.

MLA Off-Site and On-Site Readings, Tuesday, December 29th

Posted 12/27/2009 (link)

We're very happy to announce the details for this year's continuation of a much-beloved poetic tradition: the 2009 MLA Off-Site Reading. Organized by Julia Bloch and Michelle Taransky, the marathon event will take place on Tuesday, December 29th at The Rotunda, located at 4014 Walnut Street in West Philadelphia, starting at 7:00 PM (with a perhaps-optimistic plan that it will conclude by 10:00 PM).

Confirmed readers for this year's event include CAConrad, Frank Sherlock, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Ron Silliman, Bob Perelman, Aldon Nielsen, Laura Moriarty, Tyrone Williams, Sueyeun Juliette Lee, Jennifer Scappettone, Barrett Watten, Carla Harryman, Thomas Devaney, Michael S. Hennessey, Norman Finkelstein and many, many more. You can find an ever-growing complete list of readers, directions and more information on the 2009 MLA Off-Site Reading Blog. There's also a Facebook page for the reading as well.

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the MLA Off-Site Reading, which started off as a more modestly-rostered event featuring the formidable quartet of Nielsen, Perelman, Charles Bernstein and Marjorie Perloff — you can listen to a recording of that event, and a handful of readings from intervening years on PennSound's MLA Offsite series page. This occasion will be commemorated earlier in the evening by an on-site event, "Coming in from the Cold: Celebrating Twenty Years of the MLA Off-Site Poetry Reading", which will take place from 5:15 - 6:30 PM in Liberty Ballroom Salon A in the Philadelphia Marriott, and is free and open to the public. Readers for this event include Bernstein, Moriarty, Nielsen, Perelman and Williams, along with Rodrigo Toscano, Tisa Bryant, Peter Gizzi, Patrick Durgin, Rod Smith and Timothy Yu. More information on this special session can be found here.

Of course, if you aren't in Philadelphia for this year's MLA madness, fear not — recordings of both of the aforementioned events will be appearing on PennSound in the near future. If you are planning on coming out, then perhaps you'd do well to listen to recordings from a few previous events to build up your poetic stamina.

PennSound Celebrates Its Fifth Anniversary

Posted 12/31/2009 (link)

Our last few entries have marked major milestones for some of our friends and colleagues in the world of contemporary poetics (Cross-Cultural Poetics' 200th episode, the 20th anniversary of the MLA Off-Site Readings), and for us at PennSound, January 1, 2010 is an equally meaningful date, representing not only a new year and a new decade, but also the fifth anniversary of our official launch.

2009 has been a year of tremendous growth for PennSound, including dramatic increases in both the size of our archives and the number of downloads. We've reached out to our listeners in new ways like Facebook and Twitter, along with the PennSound Daily newsfeed, whose entries have now been integrated with our author and series pages. This year saw the creation of new author pages for Thom Donovan, Aldon Nielsen, Prageeta Sharma, Norman Finkelstein, Vanessa Place, Brenda Iijima, Trace Peterson, Basil Bunting, Rob Halpern, Ken Irby, Eric Baus, Dodie Bellamy, Laura Elrick, Laura Moriarty, Stacy Szymaszek, Tina Darragh, Ariana Reines and Lee Harwood, among many others. We also added a number of exciting new series, including the Wednesdays @ 4 Plus Series at SUNY-Buffalo, A Voice Box, the CUE Art Foundation, HeatStrings, Rockdrill Recordings, the Threads Talk Series, Whenever We Feel Like It and the Bon Mot/ley Reading Series, and relished new recordings from perennial favorites like Close Listening, PoemTalk, the Segue Series at the Bowery Poetry Club, the Emergency Series and Writers Without Borders, along with many other fantastic events at the Kelly Writers House throughout the year.

As is our custom, we'd like to invite you to revisit some of our founding documents, including the PennSound Manifesto and our launch press release. You can also view some of the site's previous incarnations, via the Internet Archive, and read the PennSound Daily entries marking our third and fourth anniversaries.

Of course, without the continued support and encouragement of our listeners, our work would be meaningless, and so all of us at PennSound would like to send our heartfelt thanks to you and wish you a happy and healthy new year. We believe that 2010 will bring even bigger and better things for the site, and hope that you'll come along for the ride.