From Poets Theater to the Pentagon Papers

Posted 7/1/2013 (link)

Thanks to a Facebook post by Poetry editor Don Share (whose tenure in that new role begins today — congratulations, Don!), I discovered Andrew Epstein's (relatively) new blog, Locus Solus: the New York School of Poets, and this post discussing the unexpected connection between Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg and poets John Ashbery and Frank O'Hara.

Specifically, Epstein discusses "the tiny chapter of poetic history where Daniel Ellsberg and the New York School poets collided, in the basement of Christ Church Parish House in Cambridge, MA, in 1951" — the event that brought these Harvard undergrads together was a Poets Theater staging of four short plays, including Ashbery's Everyman and O'Hara's Try! Try!, which Ellsberg reviewed for The Harvard Crimson. Epstein is kind enough to reprint the review (which was included in Amorous Nightmare of Delay: Selected Plays of Frank O'Hara). In his opinion, Everyman "showed typical defects," namely "[t]he lines occasionally gave hints of being good verse, but not of the sort whose meaning is apparent at one hearing." Nonetheless, he also finds reasons for praise: "the monologues were delivered with enough sincerity to make even dubious listeners suspend judgment."

First added to our site in January 2010, our recording of Everyman is the by far the oldest Ashbery document in our archives, and a fascinating document of the poet's budding talents. Why not click on the title above and have a listen, then see whether you agree with Ellsberg's judgments?

New from Jacket2 Reissues: 'Big Allis' (1989-2000)

Posted 7/9/2013 (link)

Here's the latest archival project from Jacket2's Reissues section — the complete nine-issue run of Big Allis, spanning the years 1989-2000. Here's Reissues editor Danny Snelson's introduction to the journal:

Founded in New York City by Melanie Neilson and Jessica Grim, Big Allis generated a dynamic forum for contemporary writing by emerging and established experimental poets with a specific focus on innovative poetry by women. The magazine published nine issues over its twelve year run. Grim co-edited the first seven issues with Neilson, who was then joined by associate editor Deirdre Kovac for the final two issues. Tracing an exuberant range of language and post-language practices throughout the nineties, Big Allis sketches a decade of vibrant poetics radiating around NYC, the Segue Foundation, and the Ear Inn reading series. In the words of Bruce Andrews, the magazine offered "a rematerializing, multitorquing, postpatriarchal language-centered rebellion." Like its supergenerator namesake, Big Allis conducts massive amounts of sheer energy in each issue — read as a whole, the magazine's arc is nothing short of electrifying.

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

Steve Evans and Al Filreis on Poetry and Technology

Posted 7/11/2013 (link)

Today, we're featuring several recently-added recordings — some old, some new — that feature Steve Evans and Al Filreis discussing the confluences of poetry and technology.

The most recent of these recordings come from the first HiPSTAS (High Performance Sound Technologies for Access and Scholarship) Institute in Austin, TX this past May, where Filreis talked briefly about PennSound and Evans delivered a talk entitled "The Phonotextual Braid: Timbre, Text & Technology in Recorded Poetry." We've also included Evans' comments during the Q&A session on questions of digital humanities, protocol, and poetic performance.

Roughly a month earlier, Filreis and Evans, along with Jason Camlot, took part in a Sound Archives panel at Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library as part of "Beyond the Text: Literary Archives in the 21st Century," and we've also added the recording of this seventy-five minute event to the site.

Finally, back in 2007 Evans visited the Kelly Writers House for a discussion with Filreis on the ubiquity of recorded poetry, and while this recording's been available for some time, today at Jacket2 we've just published a transcription of that talk.

Dawn Lundy Martin: New Author Page

Posted 7/15/2013 (link)

Our latest author page is for poet, editor and Black Took Collective member Dawn Lundy Martin, and brings together a handful of recordings that had existed within our archives for some time in one place.

The earliest of these recordings is a Belladonna series reading from April 11, 2006, recorded just days before the first of Martin's two appearances at the Bowery Poetry Club as part of the Segue series — she also read on December 13, 2008.

Our two most recent recordings come from Aldon Nielsen's Heatstrings collection — he recorded her October 2009 reading at Penn State University — and Andrew Kenower's A Voice Box recording of a June 2010 reading at David Buuck's house.

Ten New Readings from the Boise State MFA Series

Posted 7/17/2013 (link)

Thanks to the efforts of Jeff Boruszak, we not only have a homepage for the Boise State MFA Program Reading Series, but also this update to that page with ten new recordings from 2012 and 2013. Click on the title above to check out new recordings from Graham Foust, Bhanu Kapil, Gabriel Gudding, Myung Mi Kim, Renée Gladman, Tom Raworth, Lisa Robertson, Timothy Donnelly, and Alice Notley.

For more information on the reading series and Boise's literary scene as a whole, you'll want to check out this extensive commentary that Boruszak posted earlier this month on Jacket2 as part of "Notes on PennSound", a commentary series reflecting on the work Jeff's done for our site over the past three-and-a-half years — from his start as my apprentice as part of the Bassini Writing Apprenticeships at UPenn up to his current role as an Associate Editor (and UT Austin grad student). Here's how he begins his survey of his hometown's writing scene:

Rather than highlight a specific poem, poet, reading, or series this week, I want to showcase a city. And this isn't just any city. This is Boise, Idaho — my hometown. Mentioning the city elicits many of the same questions and reactions, so let's get those out of the way right now. Yes, there are potatoes, but no, we don't eat them all of the time. The city is actually in the West, not the Midwest (Boise is further west than Las Vegas, and you probably mixed it up with Iowa). And yes, Boise State University has the blue turf, and we all saw the 2007 Fiesta Bowl game. The one question I never get asked, however, is "How is the poetry in Boise?" It's a shame that I never get to answer this question too, because there is a strong and vibrant poetry community in Boise, with BSU as its center.

Chinese American Association for Poetry and Poetics Conference, 2013

Posted 7/19/2013 (link)

We're wrapping this week up with a new recording that comes to us courtesy of Aldon Nielsen's Heatstrings collection: the group reading from this year's conference of the Chinese American Association for Poetry and Poetics. Recorded June 8, 2013 at Central China Normal University in Wuhan, this marathon event features thirty-seven individually-segmented tracks from nearly two dozen poets, some of whom read their own work and some of whom share the work of others.

The emcees for the evening were Steve Tracy, Shang Biwu and Guo Wen, and the list of readers includes Nielsen, Susan Stewart, Zhimin Li, Hank Lazer, Young Suck Rhee, Yan Rong, Jerry W. Ward, Jr., John Zheng, Tan Xiaocui, Ma Yongbo, Youngmin Kim, Yang Jian, Daniel Alnright, Zou Huaishan, Tomiyama Hidetoshi, Zhang Guangkui, Zhang Guangkui, Daniela Kato, Joan Qionglin Tan, Rachelle Linda Escamilla, Zhang Yi, and Zeng Wei.

Camille Martin: New Author Page

Posted 7/25/2013 (link)

Our latest author page is for Canadian poet Camille Martin. Here, you'll find two readings from the past decade that present a sampling of works from Martin's last several books, as well as a preview of her current manuscript-in-progress.

The older of our two recordings is Martin's brief set as part of the 2005 MLA Offsite Reading in Washington, D.C., which includes three poems from 2007's Codes of Public Sleep ("Whither and whether the withering weather," "Like ice crystals," and "A neutral mood") as well as "no point in the flood..." from 2005's Waters.

More recently, we have a reading as part of the Robson Reading Series at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, recorded this past march, in which Martin shares a total of seven poems from her 2012 collection, Looms, interspersed with three offerings from Blueshift Road, her current project.

Hannah Weiner: 1995 LINEbreak Interview Now Segmented

Posted 7/29/2013 (link)

PennSound co-director Charles Bernstein's 1995 interview with Hannah Weiner for the radio program LINEbreak has always been an excellent resource for readers looking to learn a little more about the enigmatic poet, and we've now made that recording a little more useful for classroom use by breaking up the complete half-hour program into thematic segments. These eleven tracks include not only readings from Clairvoyant Journal and "paw," but discussions of Weiner's early performance pieces, her studies, the origins of her clair-style, prose poetics, embarrassment and disclosure, and the healing properties of literature. Those interested in further reading will want to checkout Robert Dewhurst's transcription of the complete recording session for this program (exceeding the broadcast length by nearly twenty minutes), which was first published in a special issue of Wild Orchids dedicated to her life and work.

You'll find both of these resources on PennSound's Hannah Weiner author page, along with a wide variety of materials — both audio and video, readings and interviews — spanning twenty years, from the mid-seventies up until several years before her death in 1997.

PoemTalk 69: on Rachel Blau DuPlessis' "Draft 85: Hard Copy"

Posted 7/31/2013 (link)

Today sees the launch of the sixty-ninth episode in the PoemTalk Podcast series, which focuses on Rachel Blau DuPlessis' "Draft 85: Hard Copy" in a recording made especially for PennSound by yours truly in the fall of 2007. Joining host Al Filreis for this extra-long program are a trio of frequent PoemTalk-ers: Jessica Lowenthal, Randall Couch Ron Silliman.

Filreis' write-up of the episode on the PoemTalk blog gives a little provenance for the poem and highlights the two sections under discussion in this episode: "We decided to focus on two of those forty sections — sections 16 and 29. The forty sections of 'Draft 85' are mapped onto George Oppen's important long poem, Of Being Numerous, a typescript copy of which Oppen in 1965 had sent to Du Plessis, and to which she responded then, and has, in a sense, been responding here and there since, although never more fully than here in 'Hard Copy.' Section 16 of Du Plessis's poem, like Oppen's 16th section of his earlier poem, deals with Yahweh's command to Abraham that he sacrifice Isaac. Section 29 of 'Hard Copy' responds to Oppen's 29th section about his relationship with his own daughter by retelling the story in Genesis 31 of Rachel's theft of the teraphim belonging to her father." You can read the rest of his introduction 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.