Burt Kimmelman at the Kelly Writers House, 2010

Posted 11/1/2010 (link)

Poet Burt Kimmelman visited the Kelly Writers House on October 26th, and today we"re very happy to unveil audio and video from his reading. PennSound co-director, Al Filreis, who introduced Kimmelman last week, has written extensively on this visit on his blog recently.

In "from the other side of these words," published last Thursday, Filreis recalls:

I had read his book Somehow, taking particular pleasure in its formal and thematic homages to William Carlos Williams (and to early Oppen and to Creeley, I should add). I grabbed—perhaps too easily—a poem that would bespeak Kimmelman's method of complicating the simple subjective lyric: "Self-Portrait." Everything after "not" in the third line and especially after "but" in the fifth line makes a problem of the seemingly simple "lean[ing]" from subject toward object and the seemingly simple "here I am" presence in what might otherwise be a conventional romantic(ist) gesture. The poem succinctly points to an alternative to itself and to its mode; there's a gesture—indeed a gesture—on "the other / side of these [very] words." A simple complication. I quoted the poem in my intro and Burt then very nicely provided some book-making, bibliographical backstory—not discounting my reading so much as pointing me gently in another direction. I appreciated that. It turns out that the poem is the key or starting point to the book Somehow and was involved in its very design. And perhaps "the other / side of these words" is the dimension of the visual arts. It turns out that the poem expresses ut pictura poesis and is a poem-about-painting, words doing equivalent work of the visual: a portrait in words of an actual painted self-portrait. It was not about poetic selfhood in the first place.

Yesterday, in "contexts: a poem about painting," he continues his ruminations on Kimmelman's work:

Obviously I've been reading and thinking about Burt Kimmelman's writing recently because Burt was here at the Writers House visiting. Before we move away from this poet, as is inevitable given so much that's going on, let's take one more look. It's a poem with a fabulously open first line: "Nothing is ever decided." Open enough out of context—just as a line—but now add that the poem is about a Robert Motherwell painting (seen at MoMA in January 1988) and, further, that the poet gave an illuminating brief intro to the poem before reading it at KWH the other day. Sometimes I like blogging about these matters because in such a space (as a matter of lasting record) several contexts can be laid out so easily across the various shareable media.

You can view both audio and video recordings of Kimmelman's full reading (with fully-segmented audio, and select video excerpts) by clicking on the link above, and to that, Filreis adds a PDF version of the poem, scanned from the poet's 1992 collection, Musaics.

PoemTalk 37: Jena Osman's "Dropping Leaflets"

Posted 11/3/2010 (link)

Today, we released the thirty-seventh episode in the PoemTalk podcast series: a discussion of Jena Osman's "Dropping Leaflets," a poem composed for "Finding the Words," a special program held at the Kelly Writers House on November 7, 2001, that commemorated the wartime poetry of Marianne Moore and invited local poets to respond to the events of September 11th. Host Al Filreis, back home in Philadelphia after the previous episode in Chicago, is joined this time around by Mark Nowak, Emily Abendroth and Jessica Lowenthal.

Filreis begins by addressing the "found" nature of Osman's language in "Dropping Leaflets." Nowak sees the poem as situated within the tradition of documentary poetics, "using testimonies, using newspapers, using source materials as a sort of base to build a poem from."Lowenthal agrees and finds Osman's description of her writing process charming — "this sense of cutting through the text seems to have been an act of taking over the text that was so frustratingly impossible as a truth mechanism, it was just the white noise that she references, so that cutting it is a way of treating it the way it needed to be treated and I think the 'finding' the text had something to do with it, that it was finding a way into the text." Abendroth finds this making the white noise visible, "laying bare the mechanism," as a means to action. Filreis wonders whether, from Osman's perspective, it's possible to cut through this noise which masks the voices of others and Nowak finds her process as being analogous to, albeit very different from, political soapbox speech, even if in the more restrictive post-9/11 environment such speech brought with it both greater risk as well as frustration. Abendroth wonders whether Osman's obedience to the formal restrictions of her cut-up form acts as a means to alleviate some of the tensions of free speech that Nowak describes.

The discussion then changes gears, addressing the aesthetic implications of the poem, particularly in regards to Osman's performance thereof, including the ways in which the frame of poetry inevitably lends a sheen of beauty to facts and events that are indeed quite ugly. Lowenthal wonders whether its only through the frame of poetry, particularly the repetitions here, that Osman can get closer to revealing truths otherwise lost in the din of media, and the panelists then consider whether the poet is consequently placed in a privileged position, blessed with the ability and the opportunity to say things unavailable to others.

Next, Filreis, who was present at the KWH event where this poem was originally read, brings "Dropping Leaflets" forward nine years to the present time: "The politics of this have sorted themselves out for me, and it's the second thing I think of when I hear the poem. The first thing I think of are some of those stunning, surprising, accidentally beautiful lines and how much they've resonated, and Jena's wonderful reading voice. I can hear those eight years later, but I'm hearing it as a poetic line. Am I forgetting something really crucial? Have I gone soft on my outrage about Bush telling us to go play baseball and go to the malls and buy things?" For Abendroth there's a crucial "register of skepticism" here, especially in regards to volume — "there's very much a present critique that decibel is not leading to legibility" — and "it's very aware of the way in which obfuscation happens simultaneously." Nowak returns to docu-poetic precedents and the tradition of "documentary poetry that deals with military intervention," which has "a long history [of] beautiful, lyrical passages," such as Ernesto Cardenal's "Cosmic Canticle." Filreis then asks Nowak to define his own practice of documentary poetics. "For me," he explains, "it's always this wide range that moves from a kind of first-person auto-ethnographic poem in which one is documenting their own experience out to something that's much more objective and maybe closer to certain things in documentary film." "There's a long and wide continuum between that kind of personal intervention and exploration to something that really attempts to step outside and see what's happening from a more objective perspective," he continues, "which is where I would tie this in — I think the process tells us something very personal."

In conclusion, Nowak finds the poem unique in the way in which "it really touches on how it could be, but isn't quite, a documentary poem; how it could be, but isn't quite, a conceptual piece; how it is political but it isn't political," and this balance between multiple positions is where much of its beauty originates. Lowenthal is surprised to find that unlike many occasional poems, "Dropping Leaflets" hasn't become dated, its message is still relevant and engaging, though she and Filreis comment on how in time, its politically incisive subject matter might be lost to history. Abendroth appreciates the way in which the poem works here as a discreet sound piece, but also how it fits within the broader contexts of An Essay in Asterisks (2004), the collection in which it was eventually published.

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-six 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 Norman Fischer, Ethridge Knight, Joan Retallack, Susan Schultz and Ezra Pound. Thanks, as always, for listening!

George Kuchar: Three New Films

Posted 11/5/2010 (link)

We couldn't be happier to close out this week by announcing the addition of three new short films to our George Kuchar page: I, of the Cyclops (2006), Coven of the Heathenites (2008) and Zealots of the Zinc Zone (2010). These three diaristic travelogues find Kuchar in Provincetown, Portland, Boston and New York, spending time with friends including Charles Bernstein and Susan Bee, Felix and Emma Bernstein, John Waters, Mimi Gross and Robert Breer, as well as attending film festivals and screenings, and giving lectures. The lo-fi, extemporaneous aesthetic and personally revealing, all-inclusive nature that marks Kuchar's early masterpieces are well in evidence here, and these films should be of particular interest to PennSound listeners, as two of them (I, of the Cyclops and Zealots of the Zinc Zone) feature Bernstein reading his poetry (from Girly Man and All the Whiskey in Heaven, respectively).

Our newly added films are very nicely complemented by Kuchar's marvelous 2009 Close Listening reading and conversation with Bernstein — an epic, three-part program, comprised of a lengthy discussion as well as two full shows of readings, including the essays "Cans and Cassettes" and "The Movie Factory," as well as letters, tributes, recommendations and other occasional writings. You'll also find a link to the PEPC, where you'll find the script of The Kiss of Frankenstein (2003).

Anna Hallberg: New Author Page and Close Listening Program, 2010

Posted 11/8/2010 (link)

We've just created a new author page for Swedish poet and critic, Anna Hallberg, who visited UPenn on October 6th for an event sponsored by Writers Without Borders, and recorded a two-part Close Listening program with Charles Bernstein. Both Hallberg and Jörgen Gassilewski (whose new author page and Close Listening programs we'll discuss later this week) were scheduled to appear at the Writers House last April, however due to the eruption of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokul, they were unable to travel to the states for this and a series of other readings. Many months later, we're very glad they were able to make it to Philadelphia for this event.

In the first program, Hallberg reads a selection of poems from her four collections, followed English translations of the work (done collectively by the poet and her friends), which are read by Michelle Taransky. She begins with "Seven Sprinkler," "Four Blade" and "Eight Catatonia" from Friktion (Friction, 2001), followed by excerpts from på era platser (on your marks, 2004) and Mil (Mile, 2008). This first set concludes with two poems from her latest collection, Kolosseum (Colosseum, 2010): "Poem (Dead Brown Limbs...)" and "Poem (Crashing into the Cold Light...)."

For program two, Hallberg and Bernstein are joined in conversation with a number of UPenn students. Gareth Glaser begins by asking Hallberg to describe her collaborative and communal process of translation in greater depth, then questions her on some of the narrative aspects of på era platser. Kim Eisler is next, and asks, in regards to Kolosseum, "how the theme of ruin translates into your language, if you consider words as objects: in what way are the words ruined or destroyed?" As a follow-up, she questions why Hallberg doesn't further deconstruct her language beyond the syntactical level. Picking up a statement by Hallberg about finding happiness in the present, Erica Jenkins asks whether she considers it central to her poetics to create a place of happiness for her readers, and playing off of her answer about finding joy in reading, Sarah Arkebauer wonders whether she found any surprises when reapproaching her work after it had been translated into English. Arkebauer also asks about the procedural nature of Friktion, and Amaris Cuchanski brings the program to the end by inquiring about the inspirations and intentions behind Friktion.

To listen to both of these programs, or watch streaming video from the event, click on title above to visit PennSound's Anna Hallberg author page.

Jorgen Gassilewski: New Author Page and Close Listening Program, 2010

Posted 11/10/2010 (link)

On Monday, we announced a new recording from an October 6th Writers Without Borders reading featuring Swedish poet and critic Anna Hallberg — an event thankfully rescheduled after the ash cloud from Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokul forced its cancellation last April — and today, we're very happy to unveil audio and video from Hallberg's reading partner that day, Jörgen Gassilewski. Like Hallberg, Gassilewski's appearance consisted of a two-part Close Listening program recorded with Charles Bernstein and students from the University of Pennsylvania.

The first program consists of bilingual readings of seventeen poems from throughout Gassilewski's career, with Bernstein providing English translations. He starts with selections from his debut, Du (You, 1987): "The Marking of the Kerosene is High," "Grind and Drill," "To Whom Should You Talk," "Plant That is Green and Nice" and "Paper of the Center, it is to Know." Next, he reads a half-dozen poems from his second collection Sommarens Tankar (Thoughts of Summer, 1988), including "The Stork Founding a Home," "All Days in the Class," "The Weapon and a Forlornness" and "Test Run and Refreshments are Offered." He concludes this set with a sampling from his latest collection, Kärleksdikter (Love Poems, 2009): "I Love You in a Hundred Languages," "I Love You is a Beautiful and Useful Phrase," "I Love You" and "I Love You Too" (from the books' first section), along with "When A Joyful Thing Falls" and "Untitled" (snowflake-shaped poems from its second section).

The second show consists of questions from Bernstein's students. Renee McDougall starts by asking whether Gassilewski's knowledge of chemistry and human anatomy shapes his poetics as well as how he anticipates readers' experience of his work. Playing off of this question, Chris Millone wonders how Gassilewski's belief in active, participatory reading contributes to his compositional practice, and asks whether he considers his work to be personal poetry. Citing "the destabil[ization] of the utterance" as well as the subjective "I" in Kärleksdikter, Trisha Low, asks how considerations of masculinity factor into Gassilewski's work, then inquires into his use of conceptual constraints. Yolanda Carney asks about the germinating relationship of form and content within Gassilewski's poetics, along with his response to hearing his own work rendered in English and his potential concerns for what gets lost in translation. Finally, Alexandra Gold asks Gassilewski to discuss his influences, as well as the use of decay within his work.

To listen to both of these programs, or watch streaming video from the event, click on title above to visit Jörgen Gassilewski author page.

Leonard Schwartz at the Kelly Writers House, 2010

Posted 11/12/2010 (link)

There's no better way to end a week of international readings than with a recent recording by Leonard Schwartz: host of the long-running program, Cross Cultural Poetics and a marvelous poet in his own right. Leonard visited the Kelly Writers House on September 23rd for this reading and also to take part in the recording of a new PoemTalk podcast (which will be unveiled in coming months).

In his introductory comments, Al Filreis pays tribute to how central Cross Cultural Poetics is our community's experience and exploration of the world of contemporary poetics, and quotes Thalia Field's praise for A Message Back and Other Furors: "between what's perceived and how one adds meaning spells a moment of infinite duration, an admixture of sense and thinking, of mirror-clear images and impressionistic language. A Message Back reads like an infinity sign, an unending process of journey and return, specific identity and underlying oneness, the poetry of open thinking in time of war. With provocative borrowings and stinging insights, Leonard Schwartz transcribes an unforgettable conversation."

Schwartz's set draws from a number of different projects. First up are four selections from his sequence of "Apple, Anyone" sonnets, some of which were written in English, but using only English words derived from Arabic, while others are cut-ups of Shakespeare. Next up is "The Red Fog" from A Message Back and Other Furors, followed by "The Sleeptalkers," an ongoing project focused on sleep as an activity of rest and recharging (as opposed to narrative notions of dreaming). He concludes with two poems from another ongoing series, "At Element" — "Top of the Morning to You" and "Exchange" — and the reading ends with a fifteen-minute question and answer session.

You can listen to or watch this recording, as well as a pair of 2006 readings (one at NYU, the other a Segue Series event at the Bowery Poetry Club), along with a 2000 reading at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, on PennSound's Leonard Schwartz author page. Additionally, Leonard has promised to send us a number of new Cross Cultural Poetics programs in the near future, but in the meantime, you can browse through hundreds of programs recorded over the seven years on our page for that series.

Happy Birthday, Ted Berrigan!

Posted 11/15/2010 (link)

November 15th would have been the 76th birthday of Ted Berrigan — not only one of my favorite poets, but also a poet whose modest PennSound author page archives many important works from his tragically-short writing life. In his honor, we're taking a tour of those recordings in today's PennSound Daily.

Our most recent addition to the Berrigan page is our oldest recording: an August 1971 reading a San Francisco's Intersection for the Arts, whose setlist draws heavily from poems that would eventually be published in 1975's Red Wagon, including "Wishes," "Ophelia," "Wrong Train," "Frank O'Hara," "Crystal" and "Three Sonnets and a Coda for Tom Clark," along with "People Who Died" (from 1970's In the Early Morning Rain), "Southampton Business" (published in 1977's Nothing for You) and the as-yet-unpublished "Things To Do in Bolinas." The true standout tracks, however, are of some of Berrigan's most-beloved works from the period — "Words for Love," "What I'd Like for Christmas, 1970," "Today in Ann Arbor" and "Things To Do in Providence" — performed (as I noted in in the PennSound Daily launch of these recordings from last summer) "with their full emotional weight and playful hilarity, by a young writer at the peak of his poetic abilities."

Moving forward in time, we have a trio of recordings from a March 28, 1973 reading at the St. Mark's Poetry Project that were released on the 1980 album, the World Record: Readings at the St. Mark's Poetry Project, 1969-1980 — "Things to Do in New York City," "Landscape with Figures (Southampton)" and "Frank O'Hara" — followed by a 1978 appearance on In the American Tree, hosted by Lyn Hejinian and Kit Robinson. In this 35 minute program, Berrigan reads from Red Wagon and his Easter Monday manuscript, and discusses his compositional techniques, including his novel, Clear the Range. Highlights include "Whitman in Black," "Buddha on the Bounty," "Personal Poem #9," "Crystal," "Three Pages" and "Remembered Poem." We first announced these recordings in a PennSound Daily entry three years ago today, also commemorating the poet's birthday.

In addition to single tracks from the Peter Gizzi-edited Exact Change Yearbook #1 ("Red Shift") and Anne Waldman's 2001 album, Alchemical Energy (an excerpt from the collaborative poem, "Memorial Day"), the heart of our Berrigan author page (and one of the very first recordings to be added to PennSound) is a historic June 1981 reading of his masterpiece, The Sonnets, in its entirety as part of a residency at San Francisco's New Langton Arts Center. Berrigan had been preparing the manuscript for a new edition of The Sonnets to be published the following year by United Artists, and therefore this reading includes a number of poems left out of the 1966 Grove Press edition, making this (until the revised 2000 Penguin Poets edition) the most complete record of his debut collection. Equally important is the poet's lengthy introduction, running nearly ten minutes, in which he describes in great detail the origins of the methods employed in The Sonnets, his life story in the years surrounding its composition and his early correspondences with poets who'd go on to become some of his closest friends (including Robert Creeley, Frank O'Hara and Philip Whalen).

You can listen to all of the recordings mentioned above on PennSound's Ted Berrigan author page — clicking on the title above will take you directly there.

CAConrad: "The Book of Frank" Launch Reading, KWH, 2010

Posted 11/17/2010 (link)

This fall saw Wave Books' publication of an expanded edition of CAConrad's The Book of Frank, featuring new poems not included in the first printing along with a critical appreciation by Eileen Myles. To celebrate this auspicious event, Michelle Taransky hosted a launch party at the Kelly Writers House on October 2, 2010 as part of the Whenever We Feel Like It reading series.

Taransky kicks off the afternoon event by attesting to Conrad's central role within Philadelphia's poetry community (likened, by no less of an authority than Ron Silliman, to Ben Franklin), "Conrad needs no introduction and could indeed be introduced by each of us here at length: a story of Conrad's generosity, followed by an anecdote of Conrad's particular breed of care, then a tale of his tales of wonder. We've all written musicals with Conrad, directed theater productions, planned glittering cities, visited his library-cum-labatory, named our farm animals after Frank and not been sorry at all, and even collaborated to choreograph the most intricate poetics of kindness." "We are lucky," she affirms, "that he lives and writes here with us in Philadelphia."

Up next is Conrad's frequent collaborator, Frank Sherlock (not to be confused with Frank of The Book of Frank), who frames his comments through Myles' observation, in her afterword, that "CAConrad is a connoisseur, he's like a Ph.D. of stuff": "Whether you're fighting infections with an onion on your ear, or giving your enemies a gentle shove to a faraway city by putting their photograph in the freezer, there's something both practical and fantastic about the CAConrad poem." "It's all about the poems for CA, which is all about the life, which is all about the poems which is all about the stuff," he continues, "CAConrad doesn't just take up room, like so many poets we know, he makes it."

In characteristic fashion, Conrad starts his set by paying tribute to Michael Gizzi (who had died earlier that week) by playing the late poet's contribution to Frequency Audio Journal, co-edited by Conrad and Magdalena Zurawski: a quartet of poems from McKenna's Antenna with accompaniment by jazz pianist Dave McKenna. After explaining the origins of The Book of Frank's epigraph, he reads a brief selection of vignettes from the book. Video and segmented audio recordings from the event are available on PennSound's CAConrad author page, and you'll also find readings of poems from The Book of Frank included in his 2007 appearance on Live at the Writers House, a 2009 Small Press Traffic reading (distributed by A Voice Box), and a 2007 Studio 111 Session I had the pleasure of recording for our site.

On that evening, only the second time I'd met Conrad, I remember being captivated by these poems (along with his readings from Deviant Propulsion and (Soma)tic Midge, not to mention Frank Sherlock's wonderful set, also recorded that evening) and in my 2009 contribution to Steve Evans' Attention Span list, I was happy to praise the book: "As a general rule, I adore anything Conrad writes, but here (and also in this year's Advanced Elvis Course) a malleable singular concept and generous length allows him to indulge every facet of the story, yielding a marvelous work that's simultaneously hilarious and absurd, campy and macabre, sympathetic and shocking." Like many others, I'm very happy to celebrate The Book of Frank's rerelease.

P. Inman: All Recordings Now Fully-Segmented

Posted 11/19/2010 (link)

This morning, PennSound co-director Al Filreis announced on his Twitter feed that all of the readings comprising our P. Inman author page have now been fully-segmented. With seven readings spanning nearly a quarter century, and sampling from many of his published volumes — including Red Shift (1988), Vel (1995), criss cross (1994), at. least (1999) and amounts. to (2000) — this already-great resource is now even better.

Our oldest recording is a Segue Series Reading from its original home, the Ear Inn from October 27, 1984, and that's joined by Segue sets from May 15, 1989 (also at the Ear Inn) and February 2, 2008 (at Segue's current home, the Bowery Poetry Club). Additionally, there's a 1999 PhillyTalks program with Dan Farrell and a 2005 Close Listening reading and conversation with Charles Bernstein. Finally, our most recent addition to the page is a 1994 appearance at SUNY-Buffalo, as part of the Wednesdays @ Four Plus series.

To listen to all of these recordings — now all available as individual tracks — click on the title above.

Gary Barwin: New Author Page

Posted 11/22/2010 (link)

The latest PennSound author page is for Canadian author, composer and performer, Gary Barwin. PennSound co-director Al Filreis, who was responsible for the page's creation, has the full scoop in a blog post published Sunday:

Gary Barwin traveled from Hamilton, Ontario, to spend the day at the Writers House the other day. Gary is a poet, fiction writer, composer, and performer, whose many books of poetry include The Porcupinity of the Stars (newly published), Outside the Hat and Raising Eyebrows (all from Coach House), and whose music has been performed by, among other groups, The Vancouver Chamber Choir, The Bach-Elgar Choir, and by the Windtunnel Saxaphone Quartet. Along with Danny Snelson and Ammiel Alcalay, we recorded a session of PoemTalk on a poem by John Wieners. Then I induced Gary into an hour-long recording session for PennSound. And now, already, lo and behold, we have a new Gary Barwin author page at PennSound. I had first met Gary at Banff a year ago and enjoyed his company a great deal.

Gary is also the Serif of Nottingblog — which is to say, runs a blog going under that title. He blogs on average once every other day. I recommend it as a digital destination.

Gary is Jewish, and the family's path runs like this: Lithuania, South Africa, Ottawa. His Lithuanian family fled the holocaust. His great-uncle Isaak Grazutis is a holocaust survivor, and also, now, a painter. "In 1941, at the age of eleven, Isaak was forced to flee his native village in advance of Nazi occupation. After his parents were taken away by the invading forces, he was brought to live in an orphanage in Ural, and later, Moscow where he spent his formative years." Here is much more from Gary's blog.

Consisting of thirty-four tracks and running just over forty minutes, the results of this special session, recorded on November 17, are available now on PennSound's Gary Barwin author page.

PennSound Presents Poems of Thanks and Thanksgiving

Posted 11/24/2010 (link)

With Thanksgiving Day approaching, we're happy to offer this mini-mix of poems of thanks and thanksgiving — some old, some new — taken from the PennSound archives:

In a classic recording of "Thanksgiving" [MP3] from the St. Mark's Poetry Project, Joe Brainard wonders "what, if anything Thanksgiving Day really means to me." Emptying his mind of thoughts, he comes up with these free associations: "first is turkey, second is cranberry sauce and third is pilgrims."

"I want to give my thanks to everyone for everything," John Giorno tells us in "Thanks 4 Nothing" [MP3], "and as a token of my appreciation, / I want to offer back to you all my good and bad habits / as magnificent priceless jewels, / wish-fulfilling gems satisfying everything you need and want, / thank you, thank you, thank you, / thanks." The rolicking poem that ensues offers both genuine sensory delights ("may all the chocolate I've ever eaten / come back rushing through your bloodstream / and make you feel happy.") and sarcastic praise ("America, thanks for the neglect, / I did it without you, / let us celebrate poetic justice, / you and I never were, / never tried to do anything, / and never succeeded").

"Can beauty save us?" wonders Maggie Nelson in "Thanksgiving" [MP3], a standout poem from her marvelous collection, Something Bright, Then Holes, which revels in the holiday's darker edges and simplest truths: "After dinner / I sit the cutest little boy on my knee / and read him a book about the history of cod // absentmindedly explaining overfishing, / the slave trade. People for rum? he asks, / incredulously. Yes, I nod. People for rum."

Yusef Komunyakaa gratefully recounts a number of near-misses in Vietnam — "the tree / between me & a sniper's bullet [...] the dud / hand grenade tossed at my feet / outside Chu Lai" — in "Thanks" [MP3], from a 1998 reading at the Kelly Writers House.

Finally, we turn our attention to the suite of poems that concludes Mark Van Doren's Folkways album, Collected and New Poems — "When The World Ends" / "Epitaph" / "Farewell and Thanksgiving" [MP3] — the last of which offers gratitude to the muse for her constant indulgence.

While you're in the Thanksgiving spirit, don't forget last year's PennSound Podcast (assembled by Al Filreis and Jenny Lesser) which offers "marvelous expressions of gratitude, due honor, personal appreciation [and] friendship" from the likes of Amiri Baraka, Ted Berrigan, Robert Creeley, Jerome Rothenberg, Louis Zukofsky and William Carlos Williams.

Two years ago on PennSound Daily, we introduced the PennSound Daily Archive and expressed our gratitude to our Technical Director, Mark Lindsay, who made it possible. Finally, three years ago, in acknowledgment of the busiest travel day of the year, we looked to Kenneth Goldsmith's Trafffic and The Weather as balms to soothe holiday-jangled nerves — and considering the between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place woes of air travelers this year, Kenny G's dulcet tones might be more of a lifesaver than ever before.

Regardless of how you spend your holiday, we'd like to thank you for your continued listenership, and wish you a happy holiday, surrounded by family, friends, or (at the very least) the comforts of good poetry.

William Blake Recordings on PennSound

Posted 11/29/2010 (link)

Yesterday would have been the 253rd birthday of of poet William Blake, whose work continues to captivate audiences almost two centuries after his death. Realizing that we have a number of recordings of the poet's work — both recitations and musical settings — I've organized a William Blake author page, so to speak, which houses all of Blake's poetry from the PennSound archives.

The centerpiece of our Blake page is Allen Ginsberg's groundbreaking 1970 album, Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake, tuned by Allen Ginsberg, which features an all-star roster of jazz sessionmen (including Don Cherry, Elvin Jones and Bob Dorough) providing an engaging and wide-ranging musical accompaniment for Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky's vocals. The album's twenty-one tracks consist of more or less equal samplings from both volumes, and we've provided links to images of each page of text from Blake's illuminated manuscripts, as archived on the William Blake Archive.

Ginsberg's performance of "The Garden of Love" (from Songs of Experience) was the subject of PoemTalk Podcast #4 — featuring a panel of Al Filreis, Charles Bernstein, Rachel Blau DuPlessis and Jessica Lowenthal — and Ginsberg's great friend and Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics co-founder, Anne Waldman, performed her own version of this setting on her 2002 album By the Side of the Road. Our Blake page also features Lee Ann Brown's spirited version of "Ah! Sunflower," and two readings by Bernstein: "The Grey Monk" (originally recorded for the Romantic Circles website) and "The Sick Rose" (edited from his montaged set from the Kelly Writers House event celebrating the release of Poets for the Millennium, Vol. 3).

To listen to any and all of these recordings, click on the title above to visit our William Blake author page.