In Memoriam: Harvey Shapiro (1924-2013)

Posted 1/8/2013 (link)

We're very sad to report the passing of poet and editor Harvey Shapiro from complications of recent surgery at the age of 88. When news broke late yesterday afternoon, our own Al Filreis praised Shapiro as "a good person" who "knew everyone in the poem world," while Norman Finkelstein fondly recalled his two-day visit to the Kelly Writers House in 2005, where he and Shapiro read their poetry and took part in a panel discussion, moderated by Bob Perelman on the objectivist poets. Our Harvey Shapiro author page features complete recordings of both of these events, along with appearances from both authors at The Shape of Disclosure, a George Oppen centennial symposium at New York's Poets House in 2008.

Among many tributes to the late poet emerging in the past 24 hours, we encourage our listeners to take a look at The New York Times' obituary, which celebrates not only Shapiro's poetry, but also his nearly forty years' work for the paper, including the wonderful story of his soliciting and encouraging what would become Martin Luther King's epochal "Letter from Birmingham Jail" (which, unfortunately, he could not persuade his superiors to publish).

PoemTalk 61: Bill Berkson's "Signature Song"

Posted 1/11/2013 (link)

This past Wednesday, we launched the sixty-first episode in the PoemTalk Podcast Series, which is concerned with the poem "Signature Song" from Bill Berkson's Fugue State. For this show, host Al Filreis was joined by Marci Nelligan, David Kaufmann and Thomas Devaney (whose marvelous interview with Berkson, "The Education of Poetry," recently appeared in Jacket2).

Filreis begins his write-up of the episode, with Kaufman's assertion that "Berkson's poem 'Signature Song' is the best of the poet's 'fact poems.'" "Marci and Tom certainly did not disagree with that judgment," he continues. "Its diction and tone are mostly that of familiar factistic subgenres: the liner note, the encylopedia entry, etc. Finally, of course, it's more than merely encyclopedic, for it wanders around both historical and personal connections and interleavings, and concludes with a quiet but still jarring judgment of the 'odd' work of writing through these associations in and out of the extremity of political situations they somewhat ignore and somewhat express." You can read the rest of Filreis' introductory note and listen to the complete program, on Jacket2.

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.

Leslie Scalapino: Six New Videos

Posted 1/14/2013 (link)

We recently added a treasure trove of new videos related to the late Leslie Scalapino.

Altogether, there are six different recordings, half of which are posthumous tributes, the rest performances taking place during the poet's lifetime. In terms of the latter, we begin with a 1995 performance of the play Goya's L.A. at the New Langton Arts Center, directed by Carla Harryman; the eleven-minute film Leslie, which features a 1998 Bard College reading of "As: All Occurrence in Structure, Unseen (-Deer Night)" from The Public World/Syntactically Impermanence; and a 1998 performance of New Time, a collaboration with June Watanabe, which took place at San Francisco's Zen Center.

Following that, we have a Memorial Reading at the St. Mark's Poetry Project that took place a little less than a month after the poet's death in May 2010. This nearly three-hour event includes appearances by Stacy Szymaszek, Charles Bernstein, Susan Howe, James Sherry, Laura Elrick, Pierre Joris, Fiona Templeton, Judith Goldman, Ann Lauterbach, Susan Bee, Rachel Levitsky, Rodrigo Toscano, Paolo Javier, and Joan Retallack among many others. That's followed by a December 2010 performance of Scalapino's Flow - Winged Crocodile / The Trains: A Noh Play in San Francisco featuring direction by Fiona Templeton and Molissa Fenley's choreography for the Oberlin Dance Collective. Finally, from February 2011, we have a two-part memorial reading and exhibition in honor of Scalapino, which took place at Reed College's Eliot Hall Chapel.

New at Jacket2: 'Roof" Reissued

Posted 1/16/2013 (link)

In case you've missed the very exciting news from our sister site, Jacket2's latest Reissues project — as overseen by editor Danny Snelson — is a complete archive of James Sherry's germinal journal Roof. Here's Snelson's introduction to the set:

Founded in 1976 by James Sherry to anthologize writing by poets working at the Naropa Institute, Roof magazine played a key role in the development of Language poetry. Ten issues were published in New York City between the summers of 1976 and 1979. The magazine was designed by Lee Sherry in uniform white with blocks of delicately askew Antique Olive Black "press type" neatly filling the large format 8.5" by 11" dimensions. As individual poets are given larger portions in successive issues, the reader can follow Roof's transition from the magazine to the Roof Books platform still publishing great works of poetry today. The cornerstone to Sherry's Segue Foundation, Roof magazine charts "the best in language" at this crucial turning point in twentieth-century poetry. Edited by Sherry alongside associate and coeditors Tom Savage (Nos. 1-3, contributing throughout), Vicki Hudspith (Nos. 4-5), and Michael Gottlieb (Nos. 6-10). From New York City to the Bay Area and Washington DC, the magazine houses an emerging community of writers in the late '70s for a fantastic — and remarkably focused — set of poetic explorations.

You'll find the Roof archives in Jacket2's Reissues section, alongside Chain, Secession, Alcheringa, Combo, and Zuk. Future projects include M/E/A/N/I/N/G, Hills, and Jimmy & Lucy's House of "K".

Sean Bonney: New Author Page

Posted 1/18/2013 (link)

Our newest author page — for English poet Sean Bonney — brings together a wide array of audio/visual materials from the past several years.

The collection begins with a home recording from this past summer of Bonney reading from the Letters on Harmony series (Crisis Inquiry, 2012), which is followed by two recordings from last May's Poetry and Revolution Conference in London: the talk, "Notes on Militant Poetics," and a reading from Happiness: Poems After Rimbaud (Unkant, 2011). There's video of another reading from that volume, recorded at a student occupation at the University of Cambridge from the previous fall, and two more videos — the first containing selections from The Commons (Openned, 2011) and Document: Poems, Diagrams, Manifestos (Barque Press, 2009); the second from Document and Tracts and Commentaries — recorded at Manchester's The Other Room in 2009. Finally, there's a three-part reading from The Commons that took place at Birkbeck College in March 2011.

Phill Niblock: New Author Page

Posted 1/21/2013 (link)

We wanted to make sure that you didn't miss out on an important update to one of PennSound's earliest video-centric pages. For more than six years, our Phill Niblock page has been home to rare films starring Hannah Weiner and Armand Schwerner, and recently, we upgraded these videos (from ancient RealVideo files to QuickTime) and added a third film featuring Erica Hunt.

Shot in 1983, the eighteen-minute Evidence relishes negative space, beginning with stark white Helvetica lettering on a black background that persists for more than a minute before fading in the film's sole visual: the poet's face, silhouetted to near-featurelessness by a white television screen. Seen in profile, Hunt's speaking gestures are heightened — subtle shudders and nods, along with the frenetic moiré of her mouth — serving as an apt accompaniment to the narrative.

This one-third/two-third profile motif also appears in Niblock's mid-70s portrait of Weiner, where the poet's speedy delivery of her clairvoyant writings weaves in and out of live reading segments juxtaposed with domestic scenes. Meanwhile, Schwerner contends with the wind as he reads (or more accurately, preaches) from his Tablets pacing back and forth in a bright orange jacket on a hilltop, the Verrazano-Narrows bridge behind him.

You'll find all three of these marvelous poetic portraits on our Phill Niblock page, and don't forget to check out PennSound Cinema, home to a stunning array of essential filmic materials.

Newly Segmented John Ashbery: Beinecke Library, 2006

Posted 1/24/2013 (link)

In addition to the avalanche of new recordings being added to PennSound at any given time, we also regularly go back to our archives to segment complete readings into individual tracks and today we're highlighting one such project featuring the legendary John Ashbery, who'll be joining us in a few weeks as the first of 2013's Kelly Writers House Fellows.

Recorded September 20, 2006 at the Beinecke Library as part of the Yale Collection of American Literature Reading Series, this forty-seven minute set is introduced by Langdon Hammer and features the poet reading contemporary material — starting with his previous collection, the National Book Award finalist Where Shall I Wander (2005), and largely consisting of poems from the then-forthcoming A Worldly Country (2007). Titles include "Ignorance of the Law is No Excuse," "Interesting People of Newfoundland," "A Kind of Chill," "Pavane pour Helen Twelvetrees," "Phantoum" and "Thrill of a Romance."