Paul Violi Memorial Reading at the Poetry Project

Posted 10/3/2011 (link)

Last April, we reported the sad news of the death of Paul Violi and put together an author page for him, which housed an April 1979 Segue Series reading at the Ear Inn and pointing listeners towards his EPC page and his own homepage. Today, thanks to the efforts of Charles North, Tony Towle and the Poetry Project, we're very happy to be able to add video footage from a memorial reading held in his honor there this past June.

Hosted by North and Towle, who began and ended the evening, the tribute also included appearances from old friends and former students — including Bob Herson, Amy Lawless, Ed Friedman, George Green, Donna Brook, David Shapiro, Eileen Myles, Andrew McCarron, Michael Quattrone, Allison Power, David Lehman, Mark Statman, Reagan Upshaw, Karen Koch and Bill Zavatsky — who shared memories of Violi and read favorite poems from his collected works. Listeners who missed this event will be glad to know that Lehman has organized another tribute event for Violi, which will take place at the New School on December 2nd.

John Kinsella: New Author Page

Posted 10/7/2011 (link)

Al Filreis recently posted on Jacket2 announcing our new author page for Australian poet John Kinsella. There you'll find three recordings from the 1990s and the early part of this decade.

The earliest of these, and the one Filreis highlighted in his commentary, was a November 1996 reading at SUNY-Buffalo, where he was introduced by Susan Schultz. "On the face of it, John Kinsella seems to be leading the lives of several writers," she begins, citing his poetry, editing and work in prose and drama, before discussing his aesthetic diversity: "John is, on the one hand, a pastoral poet (or an anti-pastoral, as he would insist)," whereas his alter-ego "writes poems influenced by, but different from, American Language poetry." Kinsella's set consists of eight poems (including "Warhol at Wheatlands," "Aspects of the Pagan" and "Echidna") and concludes with a brief discussion of classical poetry in Australia and aboriginal genocide.

You can also listen to Kinsella's 1997 appearance on the BBC Radio Three program Night Waves, where, along with Robin Blaser, Denise Riley, Peter Blegvad and Iain Sinclair, he discussed "Relocating the High Lyric Voice." Our most recent recording is a 2003 appearance at the Kelly Writers House, which includes a number of discursive passages concerned with Australia and its culture, along with more than two dozen poems. To start exploring these recordings, click on the title above.

Two New "PennSound and Politics" Commentaries by Brian Ang at Jacket2

Posted 10/10/2011 (link)

Last month we announced Brian Ang's selections for our latest set of PennSound Featured Resources and noted that he'd soon be coming onboard as a new Jacket2 commentator on recordings from the PennSound archives. Since then, he's posted two wonderful pieces and we wanted to make sure that our listeners had a chance to check them out.

Brian's first post focused on William Carlos Williams' May 16, 1952 lecture and reading to the Indiana College English Association Conference at Hanover College: "I inaugurate my column with William Carlos Williams," Ang writes, "his contradictory restlessness for the modern makes him a perpetually dynamic site for thought. I chose this fiery document of late Williams for the productive tensions of his long-standing commitments encountering new historical particulars, especially between his Americanism and America's emergent post-World War II international character."

Earlier today, Brian launched his second commentary, this one focusing on the work of LeRoi Jones, Jack Spicer and Robert Duncan in 1965: "The Berkeley Poetry Conference occurred from July 12 to July 25, 1965, organized by Donald Allen, Richard Baker, Robert Duncan, and Thomas Parkinson. LeRoi Jones was scheduled on the highest tier of participation, to deliver a lecture, a seminar, and a reading, but declined to participate and was replaced by Ed Dorn. I will investigate the divergence of thought of Jones and the Conference behind the refusal, and what might be achieved in thinking them in conjunction, by examining a contemporaneous recording of Jones, introducing his piece as 'ideas I have about theatre circa January 1965,' with recordings from the Conference. I have focused on the recordings of Jack Spicer and Robert Duncan for having the strongest social and political implications for this conjunction."

With these two fascinating and richly-detailed investigations, Ang's tenure as a Jacket2 commentator is off to a fantastic start. Check here for new commentaries every week and pay attention to the end of each post where Brian lets readers know what the focus of his piece will be, so that readers can listen ahead — next week, for example, he'll address Charles Bernstein and Bruce Andrews' 1979 appearance on Susan Howe's Pacifica Radio program.

Notes on PennSound: Unraveling Readings

Posted 10/12/2011 (link)

While our last post celebrated the start of Brian Ang's new "PennSound and Politics" commentaries for Jacket2, I also wanted to make sure that our listeners didn't miss out on Eric Baus' final "Notes on PennSound" commentary, "Unraveling Readings," which "focuses on writers reading the work of other writers." "I was interested in recordings that did more than simply pay homage or celebrate an influence," he writes. "The experience of listening to the following recordings was often one of hearing some aspect of the text come loose through the reader's voice instead of hearing the text being inscribed into a fixed state."

This commentary addresses work from a trio of authors. First up is Rachel Blau DuPlessis reading from T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land at a 1998 Kelly Writers House event celebrating the Poems for the Millennium anthologies. Next up, we have Caroline Bergvall reading from Via, her pastiche of English-language translations of the famous opening lines of Dante's Inferno, and Baus concludes by considering Amina Cain's readings from the work of Clarice Lispector.

I'd like to personally thank Eric for doing an outstanding job during his six-month tenure as Jacket2's first PennSound commentator — he's certainly set the bar high for those who'll follow him. You can read all of his posts here, and don't forget to visit his PennSound author page, where you can listen to a wide array of readings.

PoemTalk 46: Writing Through Ezra

Posted 10/14/2011 (link)

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

PoemTalk travelled to Bard College, where we gathered with Charles Bernstein, Pierre Joris, and Bard's own Joan Retallack to talk about Jackson Mac Low's Words nd Ends from Ez (1989). The project was composed in ten parts, one part each for sections (sometimes called "decades") of Ezra Pound's lifework, The Cantos. We chose to discuss the penultimate part of Mac Low's diastic written-through work, a poem based on phrases, words, and letters drawn from — and in some sense about — Pound's near-final cantos, Drafts & Fragments of Cantos CX-CXVII.  Mac Low's constraint, for which he preferred the term "quasi-intentional" to the term "chance," involved the letters forming the name E Z R A  P O U N D.  Words, phrases, and letters were extracted from the original cantos based on those letters and on their placement within words. Charles, Pierre, Joan, and Al Filreis explain this in detail, although we cannot quite agree as to whether Mac Low was being absolutely strict in the application of the diastic method. As Bernstein notes several times, this particular procedure is one of the more complex Mac Low used. Nonetheless, it's the sense of the group that when semantic meaning seems to be created, it has about it, as Pierre Joris happily notes, the special pleasure of serendipity, and means all the more. Thus the poem's commentary on Pound, its both aesthetic and ethical positioning with respect to Pound, is profounder than it might have been otherwise, had the poem been a "sincerely felt" subjective lyric response to the final Poundian ethos — an oscillation between stubborn repetition of earlier modes and mea culpa.

We couldn't help thinking about John Cage's writings through Pound in connection with this work. During this part of the discussion Joan Retallack said the following:

Mac Low admired Pound more than Cage did. One of the things that was, to me, so always intersting about the way Cage worked was that he thought out his procedures very carefully in advance, not so that he would know what was going to happen in the parts of the structure that would allow chance operations to choose the points, as he would put it, in the text, but because he knew the way you choose your procedure has a lot to do with extremely formal elements ultimately. He chose to let more of Pound in [more, that is, than Mac Low does based on his procedure in our poem] and this was ultimately more unpleasant for Cage because he didn't like the Pound. I think the reason to continue reading Pound and to continue the agonistic relationship we all have to have with Pound when we read [him] is that it is such a presentation of the complexities and the horrifying things that can happen to a mind that is going in directions that are passionate without empathy, without contact with others.

Notwithstanding the agonism, and a non-Freudian/non-Bloomian version of anxiety of influence, Pierre Joris takes us back to the great pleasure we derive from the performance of this poem, with its multilinguistic melodrama, its playfully exaggerated accents — perhaps part of the rejoinder to Pound as a matter of sense but perhaps, too, a result of the joy of bespeaking words extracted from the languages of The Cantos, mostly liberated from its topical tyrannies. "This is sound work that frees the poem from a heavy logos," says Charles. "I think the important thing," says Pierre, "is that it has to be heard first. And it has to be read aloud. 'Hey read that. Get your mouth around it.'" And we agreed on the primacy of Mac Low's performance as a somatic experience.

We are grateful to Joan Retallack and her colleagues at Bard College for arranging our recording session, and to the audience of some 40 students, faculty, and others who made up a positively responsive live audience for only the second time in PoemTalk's run (the other was PoemTalk #10 on Stein). We also wish to thank James LaMarre, our longtime director-engineer, who travelled from Philadelphia to Annandale-on-Hudson to help us with the recording; and, as always, Steve McLaughlin, PoemTalk's original editor.

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. Thanks, as always, for listening!

New Recordings from Thom Donovan, Plus New Jacket2 Essay

Posted 10/17/2011 (link)

We're very happy to kick this week off with a plethora of materials from the marvelous Thom Donovan — new recordings of Donovan reading, new recordings from Donovan of other poets reading, and a new essay on somatic poetics over at Jacket2:

First up are five new recordings of Donovan. Moving backwards from the most recent date, we start with a July 9, 2011 appearance (with Dana Ward and Joseph Bradshaw) as part of Philadelphia's Crescent Reading Series and a February 8, 2011 reading at Brooklyn's Zebulon Cafe (which also featured CAConrad). Next, we have a September 2010 set at the Kootenay School of Writing and a July 18, 2010 reading at Oakland's 21 Grand. Finally, we have recordings of an event with Steve Farmer at Los Angeles' Poetic Research Bureau in July 2010.

Donovan was also kind enough to send along a number of recordings he's made in his travels: several are related to Rob Halpern's September 2010 appearance at the Kootenay School of Writing, including reciprocal readings/talks with Taylor Brady (one gives a lengthy discursive introduction, the other reads, and vice-versa) and a talk on Amy Balkin. Finally, we have a September 2010 talk and Q&A session by Stephen Collis in Vancouver (which is part of our new Collis author page).

Over at Jacket2, we're proud to present "Somatic Poetics," Donovan's groundbreaking exploration of the form — "part essay, part proposition, part thinking in motion (provisional, unfinished, disruptive)" — that was written in response to Patrick Durgin's invitation in spring 2010 to address "somatics in regards to recent writing practices and poetics." "Through the following text I take excursions with various contemporaries," Donovan explains. "These excursions are not meant to be representative by any means (the following is not meant to be a definitive mapping of a field, manifesto, polemic, or 'last word') but the continuation of a discourse that has become visible to me in the past few years. All the propositions here are hopefully extendable."

Stephen Ratcliffe: New Audio and Video Plus Massive Jacket2 Feature

Posted 10/19/2011 (link)

Our week of synchronized content on PennSound and Jacket2 continues with some very exciting new recordings from Stephen Ratcliffe and a tremendous and diverse career-spanning feature on the poet over on our sister site.

We begin with two videos dating from 1987, both recorded at San Francisco State University: a a fifty-minute April 30th interview with David Bromige and a thirty-five minute reading from October 15th. These are joined by "Ideas About Space," a March 9, 2011 lecture for Molissa Fenley's dance class at Mills College.

We're also very happy to unveil a complete performance of Ratcliffe's Remarks on Color / Sound, recorded on May 16, 2010 at the Marin Headlands Center for the Arts and divided into twelve segments, which add up to approximately thirteen-and-a-half hours of material. These new recordings join several other recent additions, including, most notably, the "On Natural Language" series of conversations with Robert Grenier.

As if all of this wasn't more than enough Ratcliffian goodness for one day, then head over to Jacket2 for "Listening to Stephen Ratcliffe", an extensive feature organized by my co-editor Julia Bloch. Here's the opening of her introductory note:

In his 1951 preface to Paterson, William Carlos Williams writes that the long poem "is also the search of the poet for his language": in the long poem Williams found a form whose discursive capaciousness lends an ongoing quality to that search both in speech and on the page, a search whose desired object — a text, a kind of speech — is never completely bounded. We search for a certain kind of text, but Williams also seeks to draw upon the rushing, watery noise of the Passaic Falls, which he says "seemed to me to be a language which we were and are seeking." The Falls in their ongoingness mimic the modern search for language as much as they also teach us something about how we are constituted by that language.

This intersection of place and language could be said to inform the work of poet (and surfer) Stephen Ratcliffe, whose ongoing project to document, frame, and reframe daily detail now occupies thousands of pages in print and online, from 2002's Portraits & Repetition to 2011's CLOUD / RIDGE and in three 1,000-page books ? HUMAN / NATURE, Remarks on Color / Sound, and Temporality ? available at Editions Eclipse, and whose work Jacket2 here highlights in critical appraisals, reviews, interviews, photographs, and recordings.

Along with commentaries on Ratcliffe's poetry and critical prose by Vincent Broqua, Michael Cross, Norman Fischer, Ariel Goldberg, and Carol Watts, we offer conversational interviews between Ratcliffe and Linda Russo, Jonathan Skinner, and Jeffrey Schrader; two essays by Ratcliffe that offer extended meditations on sound and the materiality of the word; [and] poems by Ratcliffe from his forthcoming Selected Days (Counterpath Press)

You can start exploring this ambitious feature here and to browse through the complementary audio and video at PennSound, click on the title above to visit PennSound's Stephen Ratcliffe author page. Finally, I'd like to thank PennSound's wonderful Jeffrey Boruszak for his tireless work processing all of the recordings we're highlighting today, along with all of our other recent Ratcliffe additions.

PennSound and Politics: Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein, Susan Howe, 1979

Posted 10/21/2011 (link)

This week's focus on PennSound/Jacket2 cross-polination comes to a close with Brian Ang's latest PennSound & Politics commentary: "Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein, Susan Howe, 1979", which focuses on Andrews' and Bernstein's March 14, 1979 appearance on Howe's WBAI-Pacifica radio program.

"Bruce Andrews and Charles Bernstein's interview with Susan Howe captures their early poems and thinking about Language Writing poetics," he begins. "L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E was just over a year old with Number 7 to be published that month. I will investigate this formative moment for the ideas that continue to be crucial, that were effaced, and that enter into productive crisis in the present." He continues:

Andrews and Bernstein sketch the by-now-familiar program of Language Writing, an invocation of writing's "modernist project... an exploration of the intrinsic qualities of the media... which from our point of view is language... not some concocted verse tradition... through academic discourse and... book reviewers in The New York Times." The "repression of knowledge" through such academic and publishing institutions contributes to a deficiency in "people's awareness of what poetry and what other writing forms there are." In addition, Andrews and Bernstein interrogate the very idea of genre in writing and propose "less intrinsic reasons for [the novel, philosophy, and poetry to be] separate than for music to be thought of as separate from painting or painting from writing."

You can continue reading here and as Ang kindly points out, you'll find an edited transcript of the poets' conversation in L=A=N=G=U=A=G-E Supplement #3 over at Eclipse. Ang will continue to explore the work of these poets during this time period in his next commentary, which will focus on two of my favorite recordings we uncovered in the tape archives of Ron Silliman: a lengthy recording of a candid conversation between Andrews, Bernstein and Silliman from March 6, 1981, and the three poets, along with Ray DiPalma reading from their collaborative book, LEGEND, recorded four days later. Look for that at Jacket2 on Sunday.

George Kuchar: Two New Films

Posted 10/24/2011 (link)

Last month, we were saddened to have to report the news of iconic filmmaker George Kuchar's death. Today, we remember him in a happier light as we share two new additions to his PennSound author page

First up, we have Garden of Goodies (2006), which the filmmaker describes as follows: "This being an annual, Xmas holiday video, you can be guaranteed good cheer on a platter and maybe a plop in a bowl or two. In this video we visit a landmark hotel in Denver, Colorado, and then proceed to catch up on what's new with my mom in The Bronx (some BIG changes!). Sprinkled here and there are many happy goodies and a few spicy ones too. It's a video full of young, old and middle-aged mayhem on a positive spiral of delightful drainage."

The mood somewhat darker in Temple of Torment (also 2006). "There is so much to absorb," Kuchar tells us. "[T]he wetness from the sky. The hooded figure in the box. A big plate of pasta, and that chair on wheels. Messages of moral guidance clash with actions that are on a collision course with dilapidation. And through it all the water runs, the fridge is full and hearts yearn for that which mellows the melody of God's glockenspiel. For the winds of change rattle the bones of the grim reaper as he swings his scythe in rhythm to a cacophony of corruption intrinsic to this orchestra pit of purgatorial preludes and egg laying swan songs."

You can see both of these films and many others, along with several documentary videos on Kuchar and an expansive three-part Close Listening program with his close friend Charles Bernstein on his PennSound author page.

Martin Corless-Smith: New Author Page

Posted 10/26/2011 (link)

Our latest author page is for British-born poet Martin Corless-Smith. Intrepid audio technician Jeff Boruszak was visiting Idaho — where Corless-Smith runs the MFA program in Creative Writing at Boise State University — and made plans for an informal and intimate recording session at the poet's home earier this month, and today, we unveil the results.

The poet reads exclusively from his latest collection, English Fragments: A Brief History of the Soul (Fence Books, 2010), sharing twenty-eight selections altogether, including "Hic Jacet," "Song of the Swallow," "M's Dream," "A solemn game" and "Diurnal." Corless-Smith's author page is rounded out with three appearances on Cross Cultural Poetics. Most recently, episode #211, "Emblems of Desire," where he reads from "Rome Poems;" as well as episode #75, "Out of Authorship," where he reads from Swallows and episode #37, "The Other Tradition," in which he shares poems from Nota and discusses Rick Caddell's Writing In The Dark and the Collected Poems of Basil Bunting.

While in Idaho, Jeff also made arrangements for PennSound to host a variety of recordings from the Boise State MFA Reading Series, and we'll be posting them to the site in the near future. For now, however, here's a preview reading of our own Charles Bernstein, recorded this past March.

Frank Samperi: New Author Page and Four Complete Books

Posted 10/28/2011 (link)

We close the week out with a new author page for Frank Samperi, featuring a number of his out-of-print books as well as a rare recording of the much-esteemed poet.

In this forty-seven minute reading — recorded at New York City's Ear Inn in 1987 — Samperi offers a wide-ranging survey of his poetic output, sharing selections from The Fourth (1973), The Prefiguration (1971), Morning and Evening (1967), Branches (1965) and Of Light (1965), among others. Gil Ott describes this historic event in an interview with CAConrad on the Philly Sound blog: "He gave a once in a lifetime reading at the Ear Inn. It's funny, because sometimes you meet people at the Ear Inn and you expect something from them that they're not. I guess that's true of many things. I expected this guy to look like a monk. And he shows up with his wife, who is wearing a frilly outfit, with fur around the edges. Everything I saw in them bespoke a struggle to maintain a middle class existence. Anyway, he sat down and read, and he read very softly. I have long-sought a recording of that reading, but apparently, due to the Ear Inn's technological failures, no recording is available. But it was beautiful! You really had to listen hard, because his voice was so soft, and the microphones weren't working."

We've also recently added four collections of Samperi's poetry to the PEPC Library: Quadrifariam (1971), The Prefiguration (1971), Lumen Gloriae (1973) and Day (1998), which was posthumously transcribed from 1970 notebook. Charles Bernstein enthusiastically announced these new additions on Jacket2 — the last three books earlier this month, and Quadrifariam just a few days ago.

These texts and recordings come to us through the generosity of Claudia Samperi Warren, the poet's daughter, who runs a wonderful blog dedicated to her father's life and work. Aside from the many wonderful resources there, we'd also like to refer listeners interested in learning more about the poet to Jamie Townsend's 2008 essay, "Spiritual Man, Modern Man: the Poetics of Frank Samperi, published in Jacket #36.

PennSound and Politics: LEGENDs in Their Time

Posted 10/31/2011 (link)

Today, Brian Ang posted his latest PennSound & Politics commentary: "Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein, Ray DiPalma, Ron Silliman, 1981", which addresses two recordings made in Bruce Andrews' apartment during the spring of 1981: a March 6th conversation between Andrews, Charles Bernstein and Ron Silliman, and a group reading from LEGEND featuring four of the book's five authors (Andrews, Bernstein, Silliman and Ray DiPalma), recorded four days later.

Here's Ang's introduction to that latter recording, framed through the poets' self-reflexive appraisal of the Language poetry scene that concludes the former conversation:

The LEGEND book and reading can be understood as expressions of such intransigent multiplicity: strategies for poetic communization. LEGEND consists of twenty-six sections in systematic compositional groups: five single-authored sections by each of the five authors, ten double-authored sections by every combination of the five authors, ten triple-authored sections by every combination of the five authors, and one section by all five authors. The recognizability of each author's contributions is consistently effaced by the sublimation of subjectivity to each collaborative section's unifying formal characteristics, which enables complementary group performance strategies. The book's systematicity is reflected in the logic of the selections for the reading: two double-authored sections, three triple-authored sections, and the quintuple-authored section.

Ang's next commentary will continue to mine the Language poetry scene during this time period, focusing on Henry Hills' 1985 film, Money. You can read that and all of his other "PennSound and Politics" commentaries on Jacket2