John Richetti Reads the Cavalier Poets, 2013

Posted 10/4/2013 (link)

The one and only John Richetti, UPenn professor emeritus, is back with another marvelous session recorded exclusively for our PennSound Classics page.

Recorded by our own Steve McLaughlin at Studio 308 at the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing late last month, Richetti's latest session highlights work by the Cavalier Poets, and consists of forty-nine individual tracks of work by nine poets: Ben Jonson, Robert Herrick, William Davenant, James Shirley, George Wither, Edmund Waller, Thomas Carew, Sir John Suckling, and Richard Lovelace.

It's been nearly a decade since John Richetti recorded his first session for PennSound Classics, and since then he's lent his commanding voice to performances of work by the likes of John Donne, John Dryden George Herbert, Andrew Marvell, John Milton (both selected poems and excerpts from Paradise Lost), Alexander Pope, William Shakespeare, and Jonathan Swift, along with an encyclopedic PennSound Anthology of Restoration & 18th-Century Poetry. These recordings are not only an invaluable resource for teachers and devotees of poetry, but also do a great deal to broaden PennSound's focus beyond the boundaries of modern and contemporary poetry and poetics.


PoemTalk 71: on Claude McKay's "If We Must Die"

Posted 10/8/2013 (link)

Today saw the release of the seventy-first episode in the PoemTalk Podcast series, which focuses on Claude McKay's widely-anthologized sonnet, "If We Must Die." Host Al Filreis is joined for this program by a panel that included Kathy Lou Schultz, Herman Beavers, and Salamishah Tillet.

Filreis begins his write-up of the episode on the PoemTalk blog with some background information on the poem and a number of provocative questions raised by it: "Its content advocates counterviolence in response to racist violence; its form is the exquisitely constrained Shakespearean sonnet, aligned with English poetic mastery. Does pushing through this formal constraint bring McKay's speaker toward freedom or fatedness? Does the sonnet as a formal choice befit a cultural inside or an outside? Is the Anglophone literary tradition itself at risk if the super-talented Afro-Jamaican sonneteer is killed while fighting back, and what might it mean if McKay put it too — the tradition — in harm's way? And what of the poem's lack of explicit racial marking?" 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.


Zeyar Lynn: Close Reading Reading, 2013

Posted 10/11/2013 (link)

Back in May, we announced a new compilation page of Burmese poets curated by our own Charles Bernstein, which included two recordings of Zeyar Lynn — a new Close Listening program recorded on May 6th and a set of three poems ("My History Is Not Mine," "Slightly Lopsided but a More Accurate Portrait," and "Big Sister Have You Been to Laiza") recorded the day before — along with a new Close Listening program with Khin Aung Aye and James Byrne, also recorded on May 6th. Today, we're very happy to announce a new addition to that page: video and audio footage of Zeyar Lynn's reading at our own Kelly Writers House on October 7th of this year, which constitutes the second half of his Close Listening appearance.

Bernstein recently announced the newly added recording in a commentary post on Jacket2, in which he gives a breakdown of the new program: "Zeyar Lynn's second show on Close Listening, in which he reads his poems, in both Burmese and English, from Bones Will Crow, ed. James Byrne and ko-ko thet (Northern Illinois University Press, 2013) — the new anthology of Burmese poetry. He also discusses his work, the situation for poetry in Myanmar, and his influences with host Charles Bernstein. Zeyar Lynn reads 'My History Is Not Mine' (first in Burmese then in English), 'The Way of the Beards' (English/Burmese), 'Slide Show' (English/Burmese) and 'Sling Bag' (English/Burmese)."


A.L. Nielsen on 'New Day Jazz,' 2013

Posted 10/14/2013 (link)

We very frequently get new recordings made by A.L. Nielsen for his Heatstrings archive page, but it's a rarer treat for us to receive new recordings of Nielsen himself. Today, we're showcasing a recent appearance by Nielsen on New Jazz Day, a radio program hosted by Justin Desmangles and broadcast on KDVS-FM, a community radio station based at UC Davis.

Recorded on August 18, 2013, this program runs for approximately an hour and includes discussion of a wide variety of topics, starting with the George Zimmerman trial — whose verdict had been handed down a month earlier — which evolves into a broader focus on contemporary race relations, the role of black culture within the larger American cultural discourse, the exclusion of Ted Joans and Bob Kaufman from histories of the Beat Generation, along with other notably-neglected authors. In the second half of the program, the two discuss Nielsen's latest book, A Brand New Beggar, along with his lifelong pursuit of poetry and the web of influences and experiences that shaped his development.


Dia Art Foundation's Readings in Contemporary Poetry

Posted 10/18/2013 (link)

Our newest series is an incredibly exciting one: the Dia Art Foundation's Readings in Contemporary Poetry, curated by Vincent Katz, organized by Katz and Yasmil Raymond, and taking place at Dia:Chelsea. From the fall of 1987 through the spring of 2003, over one hundred poets read in Dia's Readings in Contemporary Poetry series, coordinated by Brighde Mullins; the series resumed under the current curators in fall 2010.

While we'll be adding more recordings from the series' history in the coming months, we're kicking off the new page with seventeen readings from the series' current incarnation, including sets by John Yau, Jerome Rothenberg, Pierre Joris, Ron Silliman, Rob Fitterman, Susan Howe, Laura Moriarty, Kimberly Lyons, Norma Cole, Elaine Equi, Anne Waldman, Lee Ann Brown, Tony Towle, Jennifer Moxley, Alice Notley, Brenda Coultas, Rae Armantrout, Lisa Jarnot, Anselm Berrigan, John Godfrey, Michael Lally, Brenda Iijima, John Ashbery, Paolo Javier, Ann Lauterbach, Charles Bernstein, Tim (Trace) Peterson, Stacy Syzmaszek, and Eileen Myles, among other. To start exploring, click the title above.


Several New Segue Readings from Double Happiness

Posted 10/22/2013 (link)

The Segue Series has had several homes since its launch in 1977 and while fans typically remember its long residencies at both the Ear Inn and the Bowery Poetry Club, its six year stay at Double Happiness doesn't get quite as much attention. Perhaps that's because a large number of its events (particularly during the first few years) weren't recorded. We've been filling in some of those gaps recently, however, and today we're highlighting four late-90s events that have just been added to our Segue at Double Happiness series page.

The first two of these readings are from the spring of 1996: an April 27th event featuring Jennifer Moxley and Lewis Warsh, and a May 25th set with Jennifer Poehler and Ben Friedlander. Next we jump forward to February 15, 1997 for a pair of readings by Charles Borkhuis and Kathleen Fraser. Finally, we have an October 16, 1999 reading by Edmund Berrigan and Matthew Rohrer.


In Memoriam: Lou Reed (1942-2013)

Posted 10/27/2013 (link)

Today many poetry fans and fans of contemporary music are mourning the passing of Lou Reed, the Velvet Underground co-founder who succumbed to liver disease today at the age of seventy-one.

From his earliest recordings, Reed established the archetype of literate rock star, blending the urban dystopianism of William Burroughs and Hubert Selby, Jr. with the sensibilities of his Syracuse University mentor, Delmore Schwartz (to whom he dedicated "European Son," the incendiary closing track of 1967's The Velvet Underground & Nico), and while listeners typically relish his memorable (if bedraggled) characters and offbeat sense of narrative, he was certainly capable of formal innovations every bit as adventurous as the stories he told. Consider, for example, the binaural poetics of "The Murder Mystery," (off of the Velvet's 1969 self-titled record, later published as a standalone poem in The Paris Review) alongside John Ashbery and Ann Lauterbach's two-channel realization of the former's "Litany," or Jackson Mac Low's and John Giorno's experiments with multi-track renderings of their works. Brian Eno famously claimed that everyone who originally bought the first Velvet Underground album went out and started a band, and without a doubt there are also a great many poets who were first moved to pick up a pen by Reed's lyrics.

Reed was a guest of the Kelly Writers House in February 2012 as part of the Blutt Singer-Songwriter Symposium, taking part in an hour-long conversation with Rolling Stone's Anthony DeCurtis, in which he discusses his long musical history — from the Velvets' formative days in Andy Warhol's Factory up to his recent collaboration with Metallica on the album Lulu — contemporaries like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, influences including Edgar Allan Poe, and his awareness (or lack thereof) of his influence on later generations. To listen click here and scroll down to Reed's event (which is the third from the top).


In Memoriam: Arthur C. Danto (1924-2013)

Posted 10/31/2013 (link)

What's already been a tragic week continues with news of the passing of the highly-influential art critic and philosopher, Arthur C. Danto, at the age of eighty-nine this past Friday.

In January 2007, Danto was a guest of Leonard Schwartz on the 124th episode of Cross Cultural Poetics, spending the entire program discussing his then most-recent book, Unnatural Wonders (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). Earlier this week, I got in touch with Schwartz and asked him to share his thoughts on Danto: "When I was a grad student in philosophy at Columbia," he recalled, "Danto was a saving grace for me. I think his philosophical pluralism provided him an openness unusual for a philosopher turning to examine experimental or avant-garde work, and that the very openness was affirming."

You can listen to Schwartz's full-hour conversation with Danto by clicking here or the title above.