Piotr Sommer: New Author Page

Posted 10/4/2010 (link)

Among a number of newly-created author pages, our latest is for Polish poet Piotr Sommer. PennSound co-director Al Filreis described the recordings in a recent blog post:

Thanks to Phillip Barron, we now make available recordings of Piotr Sommer who read from Continued at the National Humanities Center in 2005 — poems in Polish and his own translations in English. Sommer has been responsible for giving Polish readers access to Allen Ginsberg and Frank O'Hara. Sommer's O'Hara translations into Polish (1987) led to a small poetry culture war between the young experimental group of poets influenced by O'Hara, known as "The Barbarians," and their antagonists "The Neo-Classicists," who defended traditional Polish poetry.

The reading consists of sixteen poems total — with ten read in both English and Polish, with the remainder in English alone — including "A Maple Leaf," "Hello and Return," "Hygeine," "Morning on Earth" and " Station Lights." Click on the title above to start listening.

Peter Seaton Interviews Henry Hills, Plus New Texts at Eclipse

Posted 10/6/2010 (link)

Charles Bernstein recently added a new recording to PennSound's author page for Peter Seaton, who passed away last May: a two-part, two-hour interview with filmmaker, Henry Hills, which took place on March 17, 1985.

Seaton was also a part of the Bernstein-edited "Language Sampler," published in The Paris Review #86 (Winter 1982) — appearing alongside Diane Ward, Ron Silliman, Bruce Andrews, Tina Darragh, Carla Harryman, Susan Howe, Alan Bernheimer, Robert Grenier, Lyn Hejinian and Hannah Weiner, among others. This influential portfolio of Language Poetics, long out of print, was recently made available at Eclipse, alongside two other exciting releases from UPenn poets: Bob Perelman's 7 Works (The Figures, 1978), and L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Vol. 4, which joins Eclipse's holdings of the first three volumes and supplements. Interested readers might also wish to check out Little Orphan Anagram (a 1997 collaboration between Bernstein and Susan Bee), now available at Artists' Books Online.

PoemTalk 36: Writing Through Imagism

Posted 10/7/2010 (link)

Today, we're unveiling the thirty-sixth episode in the PoemTalk podcast series. Titled "Writing Through Imagism," this program finds host, Al Filreis taking the show on the road (for only the second time in its three-year history) to Chicago, where he sat down with poet and editor Judith Goldman, Poetry's senior editor Don Share and David Pavelich (poet, editor and bibliographer at the University of Chicago's Regenstein Library, where this episode was recorded). They discussed two interrelated poems: H.D.'s "Sea Poppies" and Jennifer Scappettone's "Vase Poppies," composed by writing through H.D.'s original.

The program begins with Filreis asking Pavelich to discuss potential reasons for writing through another's poem, and he sees two key possibilties — critique and homage — both of which are present in Scappettone's work. For Goldman, "Vase Poppies" critiques the "containedness [...] the spareness" of H.D.'s poem, and plays with its "cadences and sonic patterns." There's also an anachronistic tension present, with Scappettone's language seeming, perhaps, more dated than that of "Sea Poppies" ("paleo-pines" versus "conch shells, for example), as well as shift from H.D.'s natural, outdoorsy focus, versus an interior setting full of household materiality (making it, Share believes, more true to her own contemporary existence). Pavelich flips this notion on its head, seeing Scappettone criticizing the anti-Victorian H.D. for being more Victorian than she might realize.

Filreis then states his "problem with H.D.": "I love the poetry and every time I read it, I can't help but think that there's another reading which is entirely programmatic, self-conscious and polemical," and he believes that Scappettone sees this as well and thus is critiquing "the programmatic quality of it for being under the surface." For Pavelich, H.D. is fully conscious of this dynamic and is writing a dual-faceted, meta-poetic work that serves two purposes, two audiences — not unlike, Filreis asserts, Harriet Monroe's Imagism-centric editorial ethos for Poetry, presenting work which could satisfy an international cosmopolitan readership of cutting edge contemporary verse as well as "the blue-haired ladies in St. Louis." Goldman also praises this "Janus-facedness": "it can be a nature poem and at the same time an agenda-based ideological poem that's quite self-reflexive, where the poppy is a stand-in for the poem and what poetry should be." The panelists then take note of a further geographical shift from H.D.'s Atlantic shore to Scappettone's California, and consider several semantic consequences of this shift.

Scappettone's own description of the poem's intentions, namely "to schmaltz-ify, to be indelicate, H.D. and Imagism, and more generally its piety that veers into preciousness; to open the poem to different scenarios tainted by class, gender, the nation-state," are then brought into the discussion. "What happens to Imagism when politics and economics and social ideas get to enter it?" Filreis asks, believing that, as Scappettone asserts, readers need to face these implications. Bringing the program to a close, Pavelich begins by wondering how readers would approach "Vase Poppies" without knowing of "Sea Poppies" or the connection between the two, whether its concerns would still come through as clearly. Goldman sees H.D.'s poem as emblematic of an imagistic "gold standard," which "Vase Poppies" attempts to undo, as well as echoes of Pound. Share finds it curious that we continue to question the effects and outcomes of modernism in the present day and has modernist work still has great force, despite "all the newness of our vocabulary and technology." Finally, Filreis brings the conversation full-circle to the action of writing through another's work, finding "the ultimate form of respect" — an intimate, attentive, embodied engagement with the original work.

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 thirty-five episodes, please visit the PoemTalk blog, and don't forget that you can subscribe to the series through the iTunes music store. Stay tuned for future programs in the series which will address poems by Jena Osman, Norman Fischer, Ethridge Knight, Joan Retallack, Susan Schultz and Ezra Pound. Thanks, as always, for listening!

Sarah Vap: Newly Segmented Reading at Simon Fraser University, 2010

Posted 10/11/2010 (link)

Last April, we announced a new reading by Tenney Nathanson at Simon Fraser University, and not long thereafter, we created a new author page for his co-reader that evening, Sarah Vap. Today, we're very happy to unveil newly-segmented tracks from that set for your listening pleasure.

Recorded March 18, 2010, Vap's set begins with a poem she "almost always start[s] [her] poetry readings with," "Everything Offered Happens" (from 2007's Dummy Fire). She continues with a number of poems scattered throughout her three collections, including her latest, Faulkner's Rosary (which will be released tomorrow), such as "Who Knows How Long This Way," "More You Never Get to Know," "Second Daughter," "Kunst Historic Museum," "Breathing Loaf of Wild Animal," and "Breast-Feeding Across America." Altogether, there are fifteen tracks from Vap's twenty minute set.

On PennSound's Sarah Vap author page, you'll find the aforementioned reading, as well as her 2009 appearance on episode #183 of Leonard Schwartz's radio program, Cross Cultural Poetics, where she discusses the Olympia issue of locuspoint, and reads from her own work.

Ray DiPalma: New Author Page

Posted 10/13/2010 (link)

Our latest author page is a long-overdue home for our sundry recordings of germinal Language Poetry figure, Ray DiPalma.

Our most recent recording is an April 27, 1999 recording from the Kelly Writers House. From there, we jump back two decades for a pair of Segue Series readings at the Ear Inn: the first from 1980, the second recorded on February 17, 1979. These three recordings, which have been on PennSound for the past few years are now joined by two new additions from 1977 — an April 3rd solo set at Anthology Film Archives and a November 10th reading, also at the Ear Inn, alongside Bruce Andrews and Michael Lally.

We've also added a link to our page for readings from the collaborative text LEGEND recorded at Andrews' NYC apartment on March 10, 1981, featuring Andrews, DiPalma, Charles Bernstein and Ron Silliman. That page also contains links to the complete text of LEGEND at Eclipse.

Tucson Festival of Books: Nathanson, Henning, Bernstein

Posted 10/15/2010 (link)

Recorded March 13, 2010, this panel from the Tucson Festival of Books celebrates three authors with books that had just been published by Chax PressTenney Nathanson (Ghost Snow Falls Through the Void [Globalization]), Barbara Henning (Cities and Memory) and Charles Bernstein (Umbra) — and is introduced by Chax founder, Charles Alexander.

Nathanson starts things off with a number of sections from Ghost Snow Falls Through the Void (Globalization), and is followed by Henning, who shares several selections from the "Twirling the Spirit Flies Off Like a Falcon" sequence in Cities and Memory. Bernstein brings the reading to a close, beginning with his translation of Carlos Drumond de Andrade's "In the Middle of the Way" (from Umbra) before reading from All the Whiskey in Heaven: Selected Poems, including "Of Time and the Line" (originally published in Rough Trades), "Johnny Cake Hollow" and "This Poem Intentionally Left Blank" (from With Strings) and "Let's Just Say" (from Girly Man). He switches back to Umbra for translations of Victor Hugo's "Tomorrow" and Guillaume Apollinaire's "Le Pont Mirabeau," then concludes with "All the Whiskey in Heaven."

These sets are followed by a brief discussion period featuring Alexander and the readers, and you can download or stream individual sets from the authors and also watch video footage of the complete reading on the special page we've constructed for this performance.

Alice Notley, Zen Monster

Posted 10/18/2010 (link)

I was browsing through the latest issue of Zen Monster recently, and was very happy to see PennSound mentioned alongside one of my favorite anecdotes concerning a one of my favorite recording from our archives. The specific passage comes from editor Brian Unger's interview with Alice Notley where they're discussing Bolinas in the early 1970s:

Unger: How long did you stay there?

Notley: Just a few months. And I think [Philip Whalen] was there just a few months. It was all these people like pretending they were giong back to nature and raising goats and we'd have a poetry reading and your kids could be there and make a lot of noise . . .

Unger: Was it very hippy?

Notley: Yeah. And you could heckle. You'd get heckled. Bill Brown heckled me.

Unger: For what?

Notley: I don't know. He just heckled me. I was reading. I gave the first reading at the Bolinas Library with Joanne Kyger and Bill Brown heckled me. Apparently it's recorded. You can get the recording on Penn Sound of him heckling me. I behaved with great aplomb, but Ted got really incensed and told Bob Creeley.

Unger: Did you say Bill Brown?

Notley: Bill Brown. He's in Phil's poems. Ted told Bob Creeley that since he was an elder of the town he should do something about this because people should not be allowed just to heckle. And so Bob found Bill Brown and they took acid together, and they went down to the water and picked up these ducks and petted the ducks and talked to the ducks and then Bob said to Bill, "You know, I think you should apologize to Alice for heckling her at the reading." So then I met him at the bar, one of the two bars. Smiley's or Scowley's, and we had this kind of John Wayne moment when he said, "Well, I'm really sorry that I heckled you." And I said "It's okay." We shook hands. And that's the story.

You can listen to Notley's complete set from that day (December 2, 1971) on our Alice Notley author page. — Brown's intrusion comes between tracks 14 and 15. We first announced this reading on PennSound Daily in March 2008, and I singled those tracks as a highlight of the recording: "[Notley's] maturity and self-possession are especially evident in the way she handles a heckler in the crowd — shaming him ('Is that all over with yet?,' she asks) and waiting out the disruption before starting 'Sonnet 5' a second time." To listen to this, and many other wonderful recordings of Notley from the intervening four decades, click on the title above.

Michael Gizzi Reads "No Both" in Providence, 1997

Posted 10/20/2010 (link)

It's been a little less than a month since news broke of the passing of poet Michael Gizzi, and in that intervening time, Steve Evans was kind enough to approach us with two tapes from a memorable visit by Gizzi to Brown University in the fall of 1997. Today, we're very proud to share those recordings with our listeners.

Gizzi's two-day visit to Providence took place on October 22-23, 1997, beginning with a reading at Brown where he read the poetic sequence, "No Both" in its entirety. "I remembered today that there had been a subtitle to this which I'd dropped, which was 'journal of a psychothymic state,'" his introduction begins, noting "these poems were written in the spring of 1992 between March and April," marking the twentieth anniversary of his father's death: "it was springtime and I was thinking a lot about people like Williams and so forth, and spring as I say, actually, it ended up being a kind of journal of my own mania and trying to chart that." "I'm not sure what 'no both' means," he concludes, "but I'd be happy to discuss it with anyone afterwards."

The following day, at the home of Keith and Rosmarie Waldrop, Gizzi read the sequence, "We See," and taken together, these two readings run to nearly two hours and constitute the entirety of his collection, No Both, co-published that year by The Figures and Hard Press. Many thanks are due to Evans for sharing these wonderful recordings with us (as well as the photo you see above), as well as to Jeff Boruszak for painstakingly segmenting the readings into nearly eighty tracks.

In Gizzi's memory, we welcome our listeners to browse through the recordings on our Michael Gizzi author page, including this latest addition, and also draw your attention to Gizzi's obituary and guestbook in The Berkshire Eagle, containing many wonderful memories from former students, which Lee Ann Brown was kind enough to share over Facebook yesterday.

Myriad New Materials from Eileen Myles

Posted 10/22/2010 (link)

We couldn't be happier to close out this week with a number of new recordings from the marvelous Eileen Myles, related to the recent release of her latest book, Inferno (a Poet's Novel).

Eileen was in Philadelphia last week for a pair of events on the UPenn campus. First up was a lunchtime event at the Kelly Writers House as part of the new FEMINISM/S series. After a lengthy opening discussion of Inferno — which touches upon questions of genre preference and her previous work in fiction and nonfiction, as well as the influence of experimental film — she shares a lengthy excerpt from the novel. This hour-long event ends with a twenty-minute question and answer period.

Later that evening, Myles gave a longer reading from Inferno at Philadelphia's Institute of Contemporary Art, an event preceded by a lavish and loving introduction by CAConrad, recently published in essay form as "Eileen Myles: Clothed in Nature With an Open Ear" in a Rattapallax feature on the poet.

In addition to these two very exciting recordings, we're also very happy to announce that we've segmented Myles' 1998 Segue Series Reading at the Ear Inn, featuring poems from School of Fish, Skies and on my way, among other collections. You can hear all three of these recordings, as well as a variety of additional readings and interviews from 1977 to the present on Eileen Myles author page, which is anchored by a wonderful Close Listening reading and conversation with Charles Bernstein, recorded in the spring of 2009.

Anne Tardos at KGB Bar, 2010

Posted 10/25/2010 (link)

Today, we're very glad to announce a new recording from Anne Tardos, which she was kind enough to pass along to us.

Recorded at KGB Bar on October 4, 2010, this thirty-five minute reading is dedicated to Michael Gizzi and features the poet reading from the first forty-six sections from her series, "Nine," a large selection from which was recently published in Web Conjunctions. "Nine words per line and nine lines per stanza," she begins, describing the form of the series, which, through polyglot sound and syntax enters into conversation with the noise of the world and the voices of her fellow poets, maintaining the mournful, elegiac tone as well as the animal attentions that marked her last collection, I Am You.

You can hear this recording on PennSound's Anne Tardos author page, along with a great many more, including readings from the Segue Series, the Line Reading Series, Cross Cultural Poetics and Ceptuetics Radio, as well as numerous collaborations with her long-time partner, Jackson Mac Low and one of my personal favorites, a 1975 recording of her refrigerator defrosting. Click on the title above to start exploring.

Mills College Contemporary Writers Series: Mei-mei Berssenbrugge and Mark Nowak, 2009

Posted 10/27/2010 (link)

We've just added two new recordings to our homepage for the Contemporary Writers Series at Mills College. Recorded on consecutive Tuesdays last November, these fully-segmented sets from Mark Nowak and Mei-mei Berssenbrugge are now available for your listening pleasure.

Nowak was first up on November 3rd. In her introduction, Juliana Spahr (a longtime friend of the poet) praised Nowak for producing, "some of the most interesting work in our time that explores how poetry is a cultural practice with the potential to transform our thinking, not just about aesthetic things, but also about political things." He begins by showing a short film about workshops he's conducted with Ford Motors workers in the Twin Cities, a project that grew out of the aftermath of his collection, Shut up shut down: poems and a trip to Argentina where he visited cultural centers founded in factories: "I'm always consistently thinking about how the next thing I do emerges from a critique of what I've just finished," he explains. That's followed by a lengthy excerpt from his latest collection, Coal Mountain Elementary, written about the 2006 Sago Mine Disaster in West Virginia and a series of similar disasters in China, which takes on added significance in light of this year's Upper Big Branch Mine disaster (also in West Virginia) and the recent rescue of thirty-three miners from the Copiapó mine in Chile. That's followed by a brief discussion of his blog, "Coal Mountain," which continues the mission of the book, and a lengthy question and answer session with Mills students.

Berssenbrugge read one week later on November 10. Stephen Ratcliffe starts off the event with a deadpan and detailed introduction full of uncertain coincidences, near misses and book dimensions, in which he professes, "You may find yourself getting lost in the long sentences in Mei-mei's books, but then you'll realize that you've found yourself. Imagine something which distinguishes itself, yet that from which it distinguishes does not distinguish itself from it. Inside those long lines, there lives something of the mysterious being we sometimes, in those special revelatory moments, that sometimes, if we're lucky, do seem to occur." Berssenbrugge starts off with "The New Boys," which is concerned with New York, where "the boys are getting more and more slender and very very carefully dressed [...] they're more carefully dressed than the girls and very attenuated." That's followed by "Green" ("about the relation between perception and description") and "Glitter" (a work in progress about "the relationship between plants and healing," which "started out as being a poem about narcissism then it really kinda fell back into identity") before concluding with two fragments, "Slow Down Now" and "Hello the Roses."

You can hear both of these sets, along with previous readings in the series from Kenneth Goldsmith, Ron Silliman, Clayton Eshleman (reading Cesar Vallejo), Bruce Andrews, Edwin Torres, Spahr and Robert Grenier by clicking on the title above.

Ann Lauterbach: Newly Segmented Segue Series Reading at Double Happiness, 1999

Posted 10/29/2010 (link)

Many of our recent PennSound Daily updates have focused on influential women within the field of contemporary poetry and poetics — Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Ann Tardos, Eileen Myles and Alice Notley, among them — and today is no exception as we highlight a newly-segmented reading from the wonderful Ann Lauterbach.

Recorded December 4, 1999 during the Segue Series' brief tenure at Double Happiness, Lauterbach was joined by Paul Hoover for that afternoon's reading. She begins with "Secular Portrait of Jack Spicer," a reconfiguration of that poet's dictum, "Poet, / Be like God," which is dedicated to Kevin Killian. Much of the thirty-minute set come from the sequence, "The Call," first published in 2001's If in Time: Selected Poems 1975-2000, including "New Brooms," "Legacy," "September Song" and "Interleavings (Paul Celan)," as well as several poems appearing here in draft form or under different titles: "Fragment Oscillating History and Magic" (which became part of "Snow"), "Solstice" (which became the second half of "Winter Strawberries") and "Untitled" (published as "Splendor").

Two poems that would appear in 2005's Hum are also read here in early versions — "Marjorie and Forrest in Moscow" (published under the title "M. and F. at the K.G.B.") and "Bookmark, Horizon (Emily Dickinson)," which became "Bookmark, Horizon (Emily Dickinson, Joseph Cornell)." The later poem, Lauterbach explains, was written at the request of a then-unknown Jonathan Safran Foer for the collection A Convergence of Birds: Original Fiction and Poetry Inspired by the Work of Joseph Cornell. Her set also includes the as-yet-unpublished draft, "April.doc." It's wonderful to have a document of these poems in a nascent state, and Lauterbach's performance here, including numerous hilarious asides to the audience, is equally marvelous.

You can listen to this reading on PennSound's Ann Lauterbach author page, along with a 2006 Segue Series reading from the Bowery Poetry Club, a two-part Close Listening program with Charles Bernstein, a historic two-channel reading of John Ashbery's "Litany," with Lauterbach reading the second-column (as well as her essay about the experience) and much more.