Brian Ang on PennSound

Posted 2/1/2012 (link)

We've been talking a lot about Oakland-based poet, editor and scholar Brian Ang recently, and with good reason: aside from contributing our most recent set of PennSound featured resources, he's also just completed a marvelous run of "PennSound and Politics" commentaries for Jacket2.

With all this focus on Brian's curatorial and critical work, however, we wanted to make sure that our listeners didn't miss out on his new author page, where they can acquaint themselves with his own writing. The page is anchored by a December 2011 reading on KChung Radio, Los Angeles, which, though brief, provides an excellent introduction to his work both old and new, containing selections from his two publlished books, Paradise Now (Grey Book, 2011) and Communism (Berkeley Neo-Baroque, 2011), along with pieces from the forthcoming Pre-Symbolic (Insert Press, 2012) and the sequence-in-progress, The Totality Cantos.

In addition to this reading, you'll also find a recording of "Forced Feminisms," from the 2011 MLA Off-Site reading in Los Angeles and handy links to the aforementioned PennSound featured resources and "PennSound and Politics" commentaries. We're grateful to Brian for his thoughtful and incisive responses to the work of other poets, and are glad that our audience will now have the chance to interact with his work.

In Memoriam: Stacy Doris (1962-2012)

Posted 2/2/2012 (link)

In a day that seemed overwhelmingly full of deaths in the creative community — including poets Dorothea Tanning, Wisława Szymborska, and Morgan Lucas Schuldt, artist Mike Kelly and Soul Train host Don Cornelius — we wanted to single out Bay Area poet and translator (and PennSound author) Stacy Doris, who passed away late Tuesday evening.

Our own Charles Bernstein — here in Cincinnati for a series of events with Kenneth Goldsmith — paid tribute to Doris in his reading last night, dedicating his closing poems to her and later posting on Facebook about the "unspeakably sad news" of her passing. Over on the Poetry Project blog, we find another memorial: "The poetry community has lost someone who touched many lives through her work as a teacher, through her poetry, through the person that she was. We are with heavy heart tonight, and sending love to those closest to her."

You can browse through a variety of materials on PennSound's Stacy Doris author page, including Segue Series readings at the Bowery Poetry Club from 2008 and 2010, a 2007 reading in Paris for Double Change, a 2004 appearance on Cross Cultural Poetics and a 2001 reading at SUNY-Buffalo among other recordings. Over at the EPC you'll find a complete html version of Doris' 1994 Roof book Kildare while on Jacket2 you'll find recent commentaries by Bernstein, Eric Baus and Oana Avasilichioaei addressing Doris' work.

Our thoughts are with Doris' family in this trying time, as well as her many friends in the world of contemporary poetry who'll miss her greatly. Also, we've just learned that Laynie Browne is collecting written responses to Doris' life and work for Volta, where she is a contributing editor. Those interested in contributing can send submissions to

Charles Bernstein and Kenneth Goldsmith: Ropes Lecture Series 2012

Posted 2/5/2012 (link)

As I mentioned in our last PennSound Daily post, we were lucky to have Charles Bernstein and Kenneth Goldsmith in town last week to take part in the University of Cincinnati's Ropes Lecture Series in Digital Humanities — an exciting and exhausting visit that featured these two preeminent theorists discussing a wide variety of topics with faculty, students and members of the local poetry community.

The day began with a morning workshop for grad students in this year's Ropes class — "Adventures in the Digital Trade: Collecting and Distributing the Unpopular Arts, with Special Reference to the Strange Attractors Ubuweb & PennSound, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embrace the Web, Baby!" — which is presented in two parts. In the first set, running close to eighty minutes, the two poets discuss their groundbreaking archival work through PennSound, the EPC and UbuWeb; outline the ideological differences between their respective projects; and address key contemporary issues surrounding technology and creativity. The second segment, almost an hour long, continues this dialogue, guided by student questions. Later that evening, the two delivered back-to-back lectures — starting with Goldsmith's "Uncreative Writing," followed by Bernstein's "The Present of the Word" — then took questions from the audience. You'll find segmented recordings of the evening lectures, as well as the morning workshop, on our homepage for the Ropes series events, along with photographs. You'll also find a link for more information on the year-long Ropes Lecture Series, co-organized by Laura Micciche and Jennifer Glaser, which features talks and workshops by N. Katherine Hayles, Ryan Trauman, Lisa Nakamura, Lewis Ulman, Siva Vaidhyanathan and Alan Liu.

Finally, the evening before the Ropes events, Charles Bernstein gave a reading across town at Xavier University, and a partial recording of that event is available on the poet's readings page. Highlighting recent work, the set includes "A Theory's Evolution," "The Sixties, with Apologies," "Every True Religion is Bound to Fail," "Strike!" and "Dea%r Fr~ien%d," ending with translations of Baudelaire's "Be Drunken" and Goethe's "Der Erlkönig."

Kit Robinson: Canessa Gallery Reading and Conversation, 2011

Posted 2/8/2012 (link)

One of our latest additions to the PennSound archives is this wonderful event featuring Kit Robinson and hosted by Avery Burns, recorded at San Francisco's Canessa Gallery on July 25, 2011. Here's Kit's own description of the seventy-minute career-spanning set, which took the form of an extended and informal conversation between Robinson, Burns and the audience, punctuated by poems: "Readings from The Dolch Stanzas (1976), Train I Ride (2009), The Crave (2002), Determination (2010) and recent work. Discussion of Mad Magazine, prose and verse forms, the language of the workplace, salsa lyrics and book design."

In addition to this latest addition, Kit was kind enough to take a look over his PennSound author page and send along several corrections. Most interesting among these is the proper attribution of what was previously identified as a July 1982 Segue Series reading, which is now included as the first part of a recording at Amsterdam Avenue — featuring Charles Bernstein, Susan Bee, Alan Davies, Erica Hunt, Bruce Andrews, Ted Greenwald, Michael Gottlieb, Peter Seaton and George-Therese Dickinson — that ends with a group reading of the play "Collateral." As the person who originally processed this recording not long after I started working at PennSound, I'm very glad to see this error (due by the scant markings on the original cassette tape) corrected!

Likewise, I'm equally glad to have the opportunity to listen to this marvelous new survey of Kit's work and am sure that many of you will feel the same. Click on the title above to be taken directly to our Kit Robinson author page.

New Cross Cultural Poetics, Plus Leonard Schwartz Commentaries on J2

Posted 2/10/2012 (link)

Here's something to keep you happily occupied all weekend long: four new programs from Leonard Schwartz's wonderful series Cross Cultural Poetics that first aired this fall.

We begin with Episode #239, "Two Masters," in which Cecilia Vicuña reads from and discusses her recently re-issued volume Saborami and Rikki Ducornet shares selections from her latest novel, Netsuke. Episode #240, "Around Town," starts with Ammiel Alcalay and Ana Bozičević talking about the Lost and Found chapbook series they coordinate at CUNY, after which Schwartz briefly reads from his latest volume, At Element, before sitting down with opera singer Hai-Ting Chinn. Episode #241, "Cross Country," keeps the operatic focus going with producer Beth Morrison, along with poet Andrew Schelling, who talks about his latest collection, From The Arapaho Song Book. Finally, we have Episode #242, "Illuminating the Breakage," in which Tim Roberts reads from Drizzle Pocket and Thomas Meyer reads from Kintsugi and talks about the passing of Jonathan Williams.

As if that wasn't enough, Schwartz has recently joined the roster of Jacket2 commentators, sharing insights on favorite guests from the show's eight-year run. Here's his full introduction/mission statement: "Cross Cultural Poetics has given me a unique opportunity to speak with American poets and international poets and writers for the last eight years, as well as with fiction writers, translators, editors, publishers, philosophers, theater people, and opera composers and singers making contributions to poetics. PennSound has given me a unique opportunity to archive these voices online. In this space I intend to think about what the existence of this archive makes it possible to say or think, to call attention to particular poets or recordings, to polemicize, to plan. I hope it can serve to advance the discussion." So far, Schwartz has posted three commentaries — on Lila Zemborain, Raul Zurita and Maged Zaher — and we can expect a new post from him shortly.

Finally, we'd like to draw your attention to "Poetry Beyond Borders", a just-published profile of Schwartz and published by Evergreen State College, where Leonard teaches and broadcasts Cross Cultural Poetics (on KAOS-FM, perhaps the best radio call sign ever).

PennSound Radio's Valentine's Day Marathon

Posted 2/12/2012 (link)

PennSound Radio directors Steve McLaughlin and Jeff Boruszak are putting together a 24-hour love poetry marathon for Valentine's Day and want your help with programming.

"If you have any favorites on PennSound," Steve writes, "just send the links to And if you'd like to make your own recording (perhaps with a dedication to your sweetie), you can post it on SoundCloud or email us an mp3."

You can view PennSound Radio's daily broadcast schedule here, and be sure to follow the service on Twitter and Facebook for the latest programming updates, info on book giveaways and more.

2012 Offerings from the Segue Series at the Bowery Poetry Club

Posted 2/15/2012 (link)

Today, we're catching up with the Segue Series, highlighting readings during the months of January and February at the Bowery Poetry Club.

January was the second month of Josef Kaplan and Steve Zultanski's tenure as Segue curators, which had already included wonderful sets by Lanny Jackson Jordan and Kieran Daly (on December 3rd) and Trisha Low and Paal Bjelke Andersen (on December 17th). After the two-week holiday hiatus, the series returned on January 7th with the twin-billing of Noah Eli Gordon and Marianne Morris, who were followed on the 14th by Lauren Sporher and David Lau. January 21st saw the natural pairing of Steve McCaffery and Karen Mac Cormack, and Kaplan and Zultanski brought their time to a close with sets by Aaron Winslow and Chris Kraus on the 28th.

February marks the start of Nada Gordon and Corina Copp's curatorship, which began with a reading on the 4th by Lewis Freedman and continued last Saturday with sets from Dot Devota and Jon Leon. This coming Saturday brings the exciting pairing of Anne Tardos and David Buuck, and we'll have that recording posted as soon as we can.

As always, we're grateful to the Segue organizers for putting together such marvelous events, however the technical staff at the Bowery Powery Club also deserve recognition for their assistance in recording the readings and electronically transferring them to us so quickly. Longtime PennSound listeners will recall that in the past, we used to get (and upload) all of a season's Segue sets at once, often many months after the events took place, whereas now we sometimes are able to get a reading posted to the site before folks who actually attended it get home. We'd like to single out Nick Nace, who's been particularly helpful, not just in speeding the delivery of new readings, but also recovering several missing older recordings that we thought were permanently lost.

Murat Nemet-Nejat: New Author Page

Posted 2/17/2012 (link)

Our latest author page is for Turkish poet, translator and critic, Murat Nemet-Nejat (shown at left between George Economou and Bob Perelman).

That photograph was taken on January 31, when Nemet-Nejat visited our own Kelly Writers House for a reading, and audio and video from that event serves as an anchor for the new page, where you'll also find audio from a 2008 KWH event — a Writers Without Borders showcase, New European Poets. We also have a 2007 appearance on episode #138 of Leonard Schwartz's Cross Cultural Poets, where he reads from and discusses his landmark Talisman House volume, Eda: An Anthology of Contemporary Turkish Poetry, and the page is rounded out with a single track recorded by Chris Funkhouser in the summer of 2001.

Segue Reading Series at the Bowery Poetry Club: David Buuck and Anne Tardos

Posted 2/20/2012 (link)

Last Wednesday, we brought you up to date with all of the Segue Series readings for 2012. Today, we kick off a new week with this past Saturday's event at the Bowery Poetry Club, featuring the dynamic duo of David Buuck and Anne Tardos.

First up was Buuck, whose set is the subject of Thom Donovan's most recent Jacket2 commentary, "Someplace other than what he read and the video he showed: David Buuck and the reenactment of Occupy Oakland." After a general introduction, he frames the scope of Buuck's Segue appearance: "While I have long admired David's performances, which blend constraint-based writing with movement, dance, and music, this Saturday had an added urgency as he addressed conflicts between participants in the occupy movement and police in his native Oakland."

After a brief intermission, Tardos took the stage, reading from her latest book, Both Poems (Roof, 2011), which, as host Nada Gordon pointed out, was wholly appropriate since the Segue Series had served as an incubator of sorts for "Nine 1-63," one of that volume's two series (organized by the simple and symmetrical constraint, "Nine words per line and nine lines per stanza").

During February and March, Nada Gordon and Corina Copp will be Segue's organizers, and their marvelous tenure continues this coming Saturday with readings by Ish Klein and Corrine Fitzpatrick. Additionally, photographer extraordinaire, Lawrence Schwartzwald, has posted a wonderful set of photos taken before, during and after the reading, including the performance shot of Buuck shown at left. You'll find that gallery here.

In Memoriam: Jorge Santiago Perednik (1952-2011)

Posted 2/22/2012 (link)

Over on Jacket2, Charles Bernstein has revisted his notice of the passing of Jorge Santiago Perednik (originally noted late last December):

Jorge Santiago Perednik (1952-2011) was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. An influential poet and literary critic, he was also a publisher and a translator of English and American poetry. He founded several literary journals, two of the most influential being XUL and Deriva. The former was an important poetry journal that started publishing during Argentina's last military dictatorship in 1980; it continued until 1997 with the printing of its 12th issue. As a journal, XUL provided regular compilations of some the most innovative poetry of its time. The journal was also one of Argentina's best sources of new critical writing. It was dedicated to publishing the most diverse poetics within the experimental tradition. Perednik's work as a poet and editor reflected his interest in many of the poetics included in the journal: visual poetry; John Cage's mesostics; sound and performative texts — along with the most serious experimental works in Spanish American poetry. Perednik's writing was primarily associated with his always expanding interest in exploring language and its relation to poetry rather than with any particular literary school. He had a long career as a teacher and through time became an important interlocutor for multiple generations of poets. His reading of American poetry became the departure point for some of the most striking Spanish translations of poets such as T. S. Eliot, e. e. cummmings and Charles Olson. In the 1990s, he developed a series of editorial projects with Mexican and American poets. His poetry books include: Los mil micos (1978), El cuerpo del horror (1981), El Shock de los Lender (1986), El fin de no (1991), El gran derrapador (2002), La querella de los gustos (2007) among others.

Bernstein has also gathered a number of online resources related to Perednik, including an hour-long appearance on the Radio Reading Project recorded in 1998, where he reads from his work and is interviewed by host Ernesto Livon-Grosman. Additionally, you'll find bilingual archives of XUL and two more recent videos of Perednik reading, also made by Livon-Grosman.

David Jhave Johnston's PennSound MUPS: A Poetry Mash-Up Engine

Posted 2/23/2012 (link)

Today, we're very proud to announce the launch of poet-programmer David Jhave Johnston's PennSound MUPS — a Flash-based mash-up engine whose source material is 1,260 files from our poetry archives. Here's Al Filreis' write up of Johnston's project on Jacket2:

Working with our PennSound audio files, Jhave Johnston has created a prototype mashup machine that enables on overlay of poets' sounds, with an option to turn on WEAVE, which senses silence (e.g. between lines or stanzas in a performance) and automatically intercuts from one short file segment to another, creating a flow of shifting voices. "I always figured," says Charles Bernstein, my co-director at PennSound, "that once we had a substantial archive of sound files, the next phase would be for people to use them in novel ways." "Reminds me," says Michael S. Hennessey, PennSound's editor, "of one of my favorite things to do with the site before we switched to the current streaming codec, which doesn't allow for simultaneous play: pull up a few author pages — best of all Christian Bök — and start layering tracks over his cyborg opera beatboxing." Jhave adds: "My motivation for building it is similar to Michael's: a joy in listening to things overlap."

Johnston offers his own caveat in his introduction to the site: "in spite of the playful tone of this intro, MUPS is intended as a digital augmentation in the study of prosody. As computational analysis advances it is feasible to foresee cultural heritage archives such as PennSound operating as sites where digital tools permit innovative explorations into the evolution of poetics. In MUPS, remote users can on one webpage, hear 1260 poems speak to each other and with each other. This is both fun and informative."

Fun and informative, indeed! To start creating your own poetic mash-up, click on the title above.

Segue Reading Series at the Bowery Poetry Club: Corinne Fitzpatrick and Ish Klein, 2012

Posted 2/26/2012 (link)

Nada Gordon and Corina Copp's tenure as Segue Series coordinators — which runs through February and March — carries on with this weekend's event at the the Bowery Poetry Club, which featured sets by Ish Klein and Corrine Fitzpatrick (shown at left in their finest winter regalia).

Corinne Fitzpatrick was up first, reading a wide variety of work old and new, concluding with a new piece finished "today and yesterday and a little bit the day before," entitled "Everyone Looks Good in High-Contrast," and another new piece, dedicated to Anna Gustavi, called "Honestly, I Want to Live with Fucking Freedom."

After a brief intermission, poet and filmmaker Ish Klein took the stage reading new poems and old favorites, including "Flight Path Consulting, Incorporated," "No Soldier's Story," "Fairy Tales from the Web," "I'm Amazing, I'm a Fireman," "People Come and Stay" and "Line of Reality" before ending with "In the Beginning."

On PennSound, you can listen to hundreds of Segue recordings from the series' current home, the Bowery Poetry Club, as well as earlier venues, Double Happiness and the Ear Inn, and stay tuned for next Saturday's reading, which will feature Ariel Goldberg and James Hoff.

PoemTalk 50: on Tom Raworth's "Errory"

Posted 2/28/2012 (link)

Earlier today, we released the landmark fiftieth episode in the PoemTalk Podcast Series — one that I was honored to be a part of alongside my PennSound co-directors. Here's host Al Filreis' write-up of the new show from the PoemTalk blog on Jacket2:

For our 50th episode, Charles Bernstein, Michael Hennessey, and Marjorie Perloff gathered at the Kelly Writers House to talk about Tom Raworth's poem, "Errory."  The poem was published in Clean & Well Lit in 1996, and has been reprinted in the Carcanet Press Collected Poems (2003). Our recording of "Errory" comes from audio material produced in 2004 by the Contemporary Poetics Research Center (CPRC) at Birkbeck College of the University of London, and we thank Colin Still for making these recordings available to PennSound.

Here is the CPRC/PennSound recording of Raworth performing "Errory," at somewhat more than his usual breakneck speed. Listen to "Out of a Sudden," for instance — from the same recording session — and you'll notice a more deliberate pace. The 32-minute recording of "Writing," read at typical Raworthian canter, is certainly worth hearing for similarities to the aural feel of "Errory": urgent, converging, phrases "clawing back," "free-falling into mind," "vibrations of division," "small notes to the rhythm of the train," "things whiz past." These are all, of course, phrases from our poem, which is, in a sense, in addition to everything else that it is, a poem about the urgency of its soundings. The pace of Raworth's delivery is clearly a crucial aspect of the signifying, and, as if anyone needed further evidence, underscores the importance of close listening in the sound archive.

Michael and Marjorie are especially interested in "Errory" as a war poem of some sort. Michael reminds us of Raworth's childhood experiences of the Blitz. All the talkers comment on the use of a vocabulary and diction of martial industrial (not post-industrial) mechanism. Al sees, as well, a embedded sequence of landscapes, and Al and Charles note that, if the poem is slowed way down (Charles performs this briefly), we'll hear little seemingly set-piece nature lyrics — lyrics that are, of course, challenged by the ubiquitous presence of "landing sites" and "transmitting unit[s]." The "scanty pastures" with which the poem ends are sites on which communication is destroyed "more easily" than otherwise.

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!