David Antin: Poets and Critics Discussion, 2011

Posted 8/1/2011 (link)

We're very happy to kick off the month of August with a lengthy discussion by David Antin, recorded as part of Poets & Critics at Université Paris Est Marne-la-Vallée on June 15, 2011. Split into two parts, and running for two-and-a-half hours in total, Antin's lively conversation with an engaged audience touches on a diverse array of topics, from how to be an art critic to canoe making, Mondrian as ballroom dancer and Wittgenstein as poet to Boston's public transit system.

As explained on their website, "Poets & Critics at Paris Est, is a three-year research project on experimental literary criticism funded by Université Paris Est Marne-la-Vallée. Its aim is to provide a meeting ground for creative and critical discourses and to engage with new modes of writing criticism, in particular 'practice-based criticism.' This is a form of critical writing that positions itself as a creative practice. The project is based on two-day symposia at which English-language writers and academics from Europe and the United States discuss the work of an invited poet and explore with him/her the connections and disjunctions between criticism and literature. There will be three symposia each year. Nine writers will visit Université Paris Est from 2011 to 2013. The project will conclude with an international conference in 2014."

Notes on PennSound: Arthur Echoes

Posted 8/10/2011 (link)

"Arthur Echoes"Eric Baus' latest "Notes on PennSound" commentary for Jacket2 — "presents recordings inspired by the life and work of the musician and composer Arthur Russell."

Much of the commentary is devoted to CAConrad and Thom Donovan's recent chapbook, Arthur Echo (Scary Topiary Press), with Baus highlighting a recording of the poets reading the work in its entirety, recorded February 8, 2011 at the Zebulon Cafe in Williamsburg, Brooklyn:

Arthur Russell was known for creating music in various, seemingly disparate musical genres. Conrad and Donovan's collaboration evokes Russell's sense of multiplicity in their heterogeneous response to his work. Conrad's piece adopts a slightly more embodied individual perspective while Donovan's work tends to tap into a sensibility of ambient assemblage. In Donovan's introductory notes he writes: "We also spent much of the nine hours improvising lines with a set of books I had brought with me from NYC to Philadelphia, many of which were of a holy, metaphysical, or medical import." When one listens to Russell's World of Echo, it's impossible to miss the confluence of these elements. One hears an instantly identifiable but transitory voice moving through an equally porous instrumental atmosphere. The voice and cello weave in and out, endlessly emanating, accreting, and decaying. The chapbook's design (Conrad's poem on the left pages of the first section facing an equal amount of blank right pages, and Donovan's poem on the right pages of his section following an equal amount of left blank pages) creates a similar experience of utterance and delayed silence, of singular presence resonating with the discourses of larger communities.

Baus also discusses Kevin Killian's set from the 2007 launch reading for EOAGH #3: Queering Language, which concerns the poet's brief affair with the composer in the late 1970s. "I loved the way Killian stops casually throughout the poem to provide a micro-anecdote or to add a piece of context here or there," he notes. "Killian brings out different aspects of Russell and his work. His half-joking skepticism of Russell's Buddhism and the way he emphasizes the obvious sexuality of the song's title provide further vantage points from which to consider Russell and his work."

PoemTalk 44: Fred Wah's "Race, to go"

Posted 8/12/2011 (link)

Today we released the forty-fourth episode in the PoemTalk Podcast Series. Here's host Al Filreis' write-up of the new show from the PoemTalk blog on Jacket2:

Lisa Robertson, Jeff Derksen, and Bob Perelman joined Al Filreis to talk about a poem in a sixteen-poem series by Fred Wah going under the title "Discount Me In." That series and several others were brought together in a book called Is a Door.  Our poem, "Race, to go," is the first — a proem of sorts — in the "Discount Me In" group, and we have occasion during our discussion to talk about the several valences of discounting. I don't count. The census misses me because I fall between the cracks in racial categories. The neo-liberal moment has cheapened me. Both positively and negatively racially charged language around food, freely punned and intensely oral, turns casual by-talk into rebarbative backhand (creating an effect distinctly pleasurable) and brings into the poem the entire story of official Canadian multiculturalism. Bob and Al, the Americans here, learned a few lessons about how different from the American melting-pot version of multiculturalism the Canadian approach has been, where there's "a pseudo-maintenance of a piquant difference" (as Lisa Robertson put it).  Our poem pushes piquant playfully yet angrily hard, to the point where sanctioned everyday cultural practices connect to the larger failures of the neoliberal economy.

In Banff, in 2010, Fred Wah took the opportunity to read many of these poems and to discuss them with Charles Bernstein as part of the Close Listening series; this material is all available on Fred Wah's page at PennSound. Here is a recording of Fred Wah reading "Race, to go." Here is a related poem, "Count," and here is "Mr. In-between."

PoemTalk is a co-production of PennSound, the Kelly Writers House, Jacket2 and the Poetry Foundation. If you're interested in more information on the series or want to hear our archives of previous 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 that will address poems by Joan Retallack, Eileen Myles and Tom Raworth. Thanks, as always, for listening!

A New EPC Author Page for Lew Welch

Posted 8/15/2011 (link)

Very exciting things are happening over at the Electronic Poetry Center — namely a new author page for Beat Generation master, Lew Welch.

In addition to a complete bibliography, curators Brandon Holmquest and Stan Mir have compiled a dozen of Welch's best-loved works — "Chicago Poem," "Taxi Suite," "Song of the Turkey Buzzard" and "Din Poem." Mir has also assembled "We talk American," a marvelous "poetics extracted from the letters and other prose of Lew Welch," including this revealing excerpt from his essay, "Language is Speech" from How I Work as a Poet:

Language is speech. You ought to be able to say language is speech and then get on with the rest of it, but you can't because so very few believe it.

Language is what goes on when you open the door of a banquet-room and there are 300 ladies having lunch. It is very interesting to hear. It rises and falls, and every once in an inexplicable while it will suddenly stop, there will be a total silence, and then all 300 ladies will hear that silence and comment on it at the same moment. Then you get a roar.

Language is speech. Any other form, the printed one or the taped one, is a translation of language. All poems are translations. This book is a translation of the speech I use when I teach this course, talking to people.

Once I lived in an upstairs room with a single window in it. Outside the window was a large date palm tree. Every sparrow for miles around slept in that palm tree. The din each evening was unbelievable, and it was the same thing every dawn, hundreds of sparrows chattering to each other about where they were to sleep and how it went last night or whatever.

That is language. Speech. The din of a Tribe doing its business. You can't control it, you can't correct it, you can only listen to it and use it as it is.

If you want to write you have to want to build things out of language and in order to do that you have to know, really know in your ear and in your tongue and, later, on the page, that language is speech. But the hard thing is that writing is not talking, so what you have to learn to do is to write as if you were talking, and to do it knowing perfectly well you are not talking, you are writing.

This new EPC homepage also includes a selection of pertinent links, including one to PennSound's Lew Welch author page, home to two rare recordings from the late-1960s, which we discovered in the reel-to-reel archives of Robert Creeley.

Farid Matuk: New Author Page

Posted 8/22/2011 (link)

Back in June, we highlighted Eric Baus' "Notes on PennSound" commentary, "Complete Works", showcasing recordings of poets reading a chapbook or collection in its entirety. One of the poets included in that post, and in fact specially recorded for it, was Dallas-based poet Farid Matuk, who read through his stunning 2010 volume, This Isa Nice Neighborhood (Letter Machine Editions). Today, we happily announce a new PennSound author page for Matuk, where you'll find the full eighty-five minute recording of the complete book, along with thirty-six segmented tracks for each individual poem.

In "Complete Works," Baus considered This Isa Nice Neighborhood alongside Summi Kaipa's chapbook, The Epics and C.D. Wright's Deepstep Come Shining, observing: "Unlike Wright's book, the work is comprised of individual poems, but what I love most about this recording is the way hearing all the poems together, especially the poems with identical titles, creates its own internal echoes and transfigurations. Like Kaipa's chapbook, Matuk's book might be described as an investigation of multiple selves, and like Wright's book, it might also be considered, at least partially, as a reading of the complexities of place. However, hearing this book of more or less discrete poems against the backdrop of more continuous work by Kaipa and Wright allowed me to attend to its horizontal movement. In a similar way, I was able to recursively pay attention to some of the subtle pauses, breaks, and brief silences within the other works on the playlist."

We're grateful, as always, to Eric Baus for his stellar commentaries, as well as his efforts to coordinate, edit and deliver the Matuk recordings. If you haven't been keeping track, you can follow his latest posts for Jacket2 here.

Sound, Poetry: the Feature in Jacket2 and Related PennSound Author Pages

Posted 8/22/2011 (link)

Today we're very proud to unveil an ambitious joint project between PennSound and Jacket2. Sound, Poetry: the Feature, edited by a.rawlings (shown at left), is the product of "ten years researching sound poetry, two years traveling in Europe, North America, and Australia, and three months of heightened requests for me to speak publicly from the position of a 'sound poet' about my work and the work of other practitioners."

"I write enthusiastically, with awe and love for this work and for its creators," rawlings note, "But I write this enthusiasm into a fraught, trembling exterior where a term like 'sound poetry' may no longer adequately contextualize or clarify what it is intended to represent. It seems a useful moment in the history of this term to reflect on what it means, conjures, describes, encapsulates, and wishes to hold within its reach. It seems personally useful to reflect on the relationship between gender and sound poetry. It feels politically responsible to consider this term in relation to geography."

The feature, which will be released over the next few months, consists of five discourses between sound poets from around the world. We start today with a "Sound og Polipoetry," a conversation between Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl (Iceland) and Cris Costa (Canada), and the future dialogues will feature Maja Jantar (Belgium) & Oana Avasilichioaei (Canada), Leevi Lehto (Finland) & Carmel Purkis (Canada), Jaap Blonk (Netherlands) & Gary Barwin (Canada), before concluding with Caroline Bergvall (UK) & Rozalie Hirs (Netherlands).

Obviously, documentation is a key feature to sound poetry, and while PennSound already has author pages for a number of the included authors — Leevi Lehto, Jaap Blonk, Gary Barwin and Caroline Bergvall — today we happily unveil new author pages for Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl, Maja Jantar and Oana Avasilichioaei, also curated by rawlings, where you'll find a wide variety of audio and video recordings from recent performances. We've also greatly augmented our a.rawlings author page.

Keep an eye on Jacket2 for the latest installments in this ambitious feature — you'll find new additions on our "Sound, Poetry: the Feature" homepage — and for a sneak preview of the poets that will be showcased in future installments, be sure to check out the PennSound author pages linked above.

Precipitation Poems for Those in Irene's Path

Posted 8/26/2011 (link)

Without a doubt, many of our listeners on the Eastern seaboard find themselves in the path of Hurricane Irene (most of the PennSound team is as well, even if I'm landlocked in Ohio). In your honor — and keeping with the tradition of weather-themed PennSound Dailies past (cf. last winter's blizzard poems playlist) — I've put together this group of precipitation poems.

William Carlos Williams is up first, with "The Hurricane" [MP3] and "Rain" [MP3]. Robert Creeley also has two poems entitled "Rain" [MP3 and MP3] (as well as another called "The Rain" [MP3]), and so do James Schuyler [MP3], John Godfrey [MP3], Joseph Ceravolo [MP3] and John Ashbery [MP3]. No meteorological slouch, Ashbery also gives us "It Was Raining in the Capital" [MP3], "As Umbrellas Follow Rain" [MP3] and "The Lightning Conductor" [MP3].

Régis Bonvicino gives us "Another Storm" [MP3], while Charles North offers up "Day After Day, the Storm Mounted. Then It Dismounted." [MP3], while a more reticent Douglas Messerli reads "Storm" [MP3]. Dorianne Laux Next, we have Kenneth Irby's "[Restless the rain returns ...]" [MP3], Anyssa Kim's "After the Rain" [MP3], Charles Alexander's "A Rain Song" [MP3] and Iain Sinclair's "Hurricane Drummers" [MP3].

Finally, for those of you looking for long-term listening, we have Kenny Goldsmith's The Weather (in which Hurricane Irene makes a cameo), and Pauline Cavillot's radio documentary, Professional Human Beings, which explores New Orleans' artistic resilience after Hurricane Katrina.

All lightheartedness aside, we hope that you all safely weather the storm. If you haven't already taken precautions, now is the time to do so. For more information on storm preparation, evacuations, shelter locations and more, be sure to visit the websites of the American Red Cross, FEMA and Ready.gov, and for the latest weather conditions, check in with the National Weather Service, the Weather Channel, Weather Underground or your local news sources.

David Antin: "Radical Coherency" Launch Reading, 2011

Posted 8/29/2011 (link)

Today we're highlighting a new recording of David Antin, taken from a book launch for his latest, Radical Coherency: Selected Essays on Art and Literature, 1966 to 2005 (along with Charles Bernstein's Attack of the Difficult Poems: Essays and Inventions), held at the Los Angeles home of Marjorie Perloff on May 15, 2011. This brief set is presented in two formats: a twenty-four minute video shot by Brian Kim Stefans (which has the added benefit of visuals, but lower audio levels) and a nineteen-minute audio recording.

Don't forget that we started off this month with audio from of Antin's Poets & Critics conversations, recorded as part of his appearance at Université Paris Est Marne-la-Vallée this past June. You can hear both of these recordings — and much, much more — on PennSound's David Antin author page.

Mimi Gross and Red Grooms: FAT FEET

Posted 8/31/2011 (link)

We'll continue our focus on new video highlights this week with FAT FEET, a groundbreaking short film made by the husband-and-wife team of Mimi Gross and Red Grooms.

In addition to the twenty-minute film, we've assembled remembrances from Gross and Yvonne Andersen (who served as photographer, artist and editor, as well as constructing sets and props). Here's Gross describing the film's origins and inspirations:

As I worked with Red at various intervals of time and projects, from 1960-1976, our collaborations became increasingly intense, and often lost the boundaries of ideas, aesthetics, and in the real time of making, craft and painting.

FAT FEET (1965-66) was directly inspired by the early animated films of Georges Melies, Emil Kohl, and the marvelous movie, The Invisible Moving Co, all of which we saw from the collections of Joseph Cornell (via Robert Whitman and Rudy Burckhardt). In 1962-3, together with Rudy Burckhardt, we made a 16mm film called Shoot the Moon. It is a direct homage to Georges Melies. There are some brief scenes with stop-action animation. Red and I made little cut outs, and Rudy showed us how he filmed the scene. A few years later, we experimented with animating life-sized props with live actors (long before "green screens").

When Yvonne Andersen and Dominic Falcone visited us in New York, we planned to make a film together the following summer where they lived near Boston. Red and I had just moved into lively "Little Italy" (1964), a neighborhood where daily fires, violence, and long term elderly residents lived near the Bowery, filled with bums, and (pre-immigration quota) Chinatown. I was busy drawing in the streets, and making objects based on street life, and Red was obsessively chasing fires, fire engines, street life, he was incorporating into his work.

The explosion of making
FAT FEET resulted from our excitement living in the new neighborhood. Later, we made an ad, and called FAT FEET: "A day in the life of 'nervous city'!"

And here's Andersen describing the spirit of collaboration among friends that guided the project:

Each morning the four of us along with Dominic and our two children Paul, 7 and Jean, 5 went to the studio to build the sets and props. We painted cartoonish black and white buildings on the paper walls of the set, painted and and constructed 3/4 size flat automobiles with movable wheels from heavy building cardboard. Red built a dog which could be animated to walk in front of a live person.

Red was creating a cartoonish atmosphere depicting the types of city people who might be seen walking the street of a big city. For this reason the people wore giant shoes to connect them to the sidewalks. Those shoes were heavy! A normal shoe was screwed into a giant shoe manufactured by Red.

In the beginning this was supposed to be a four person project, but people heard about it. Each night people came to be in the winter crowd scenes. Some were friends of Red and Mimi, some were my animation students and neighbors. We got old coats from Morgan Memorial and there was a large make up table. People could come in, put on a coat, do their own make up, and become who they wanted to be for the evening.

From a personal perspective, it's wonderful to finally get to see this charming film, which I first heard about (along with its creators) under strange circumstances a very long time ago. My grandfather spent many years working as a printer for the Curtis Publishing Company, and one of the few concrete mementoes from his time there (aside from the missing tip of one finger) was a copy of the February 8, 1969 Saturday Evening Post (shown at right) — the magazine's final weekly edition after seventy-two years of publication, which featured Red Grooms on the cover and a lavish article on Grooms and Gross inside. Their technicolor art and lifestyle was immediately appealing to me, connecting with my kindergartener logic (as did the work of Keith Haring, who I likely discovered around the same time), and I found my first favorite artists.

Jumping forward a few decades, I should add that I'm still very fond of the work that Grooms and Gross produced in the 1960s, and, for that matter, I still have that issue of The Saturday Evening Post, stored next to the 2004 Rizzoli retrospective of their art. Seeing FAT FEET for the first time, that childlike awe is certainly rekindled by its Chaplin-esque grace, its engaging bustle, the warmth of its handmade aesthetic and its dizzying juxtapositions (of black-and-white and color, two- and three-dimensional forms, live actors and stop-motion animation). Check out the film on our FAT FEET homepage (or click the title above) and perhaps you'll have the same magical experience.