'The Sound of Writers Forum,' 2010 (dir. Steve Willey)

Posted 7/2/2015 (link)

Bob Cobbing has been an important part of the PennSound archives since our early days — I remember very well attending the Matthew Abess-curated Cobbing celebration, "Suddenly Everyone Began Reading Aloud" at the Kelly Writers House not long after I started working at PennSound — and his unique aesthetic continues to have a welcome home here.

The most recent addition to our Cobbing author page is The Sound of Writers Forum, a 2010 documentary by Steve Willey, commemorating the press and workshop started by Cobbing in the early 1960s. First screened at Off The Shelf, Slade/UCL on March 22, 2010, the thirty-six minute film includes interviews with John Rowan, Paula Claire, Adrian Clarke, Robert Sheppard,
Peter Finch, Lawrence Upton, Robert Hampson, Sean Bonney, Scott Thurston, Mark Jackson, and Mike Weller on the influence of both Cobbing and Writers Forum. You can watch by clicking the title above, and don't forget to check out our wide array of recordings by and about Cobbing on our Bob Cobbing author page.

Felipe Cussen: New Author Page

Posted 7/6/2015 (link)

Here's a fascinating new addition to the PennSound archives from Chilean writer and musician Felipe Cussen, whose new PennSound author page is home to his recently released album, quick faith (records without records, 2015).

Consisting of six short tracks — "quick prayer," "quick mantra," "quick litany," "quick psalm," "quick meditation," and "quick silence" — performed by Cussen on voice and computer with "help" by Ricardo Luna, quick faith moves deftly between musical and phonemic modes, mixing synth accompaniments with heavily manipulated and modulated voice. In a recent interview Cussen provides some insights into his poetics: "All poetry, all language, in fact, has an aural dimension. But sound poetry, as Dick Higgins proposes, is a kind of poetry 'in which the sound is the focus, more than any other aspect of the work'. Some poets achieve this by experimenting only with the voice (fragmenting or inventing new words, producing other non linguistic sounds with the mouth, or incorporating the whole body and the stage, like in a performance) and others draw on analog or digital technologies to record and modify the voice and mix it with other voices or sounds."

To listen, click the title above.

PennSound Italiana: Susan Stewart Reads Milo De Angelis

Posted 7/8/2015 (link)

When we launched our newest anthology page, PennSound Italiana, last month, we promised that new additions would be coming shortly, and today we have the first of those: Susan Stewart reading her translations of Milo De Angelis from Theme of Farewell and After Poems (University of Chicago, 2014), a volume she coedited and translated with Patrizio Ceccagnoli.

Recorded at our own Wexler Studio at the Kelly Writers House on June 26, 2015, Stewart's set consists of eleven tracks in total: four poems each from Tema dell'addio (2005) and Quell'andarsene nel buio dei cortili (2010), along with new translations of three selections from De Angelis' latest, Incontri e agguati (2015).

In Memoriam: James Tate (1943-2015)

Posted 7/9/2015 (link)

Today brings the news that poet James Tate has died at the age of 71. The University of Massachusetts Amherst, where Tate taught for the past forty-four years, confirmed his passing after a long illness. Among those lauding the late poet is the Poetry Foundation, who praised his work's "character-driven surrealism," while noting that "his teaching was foundational for a variety of poets who attended UMass Amherst."

PennSound's James Tate author page is home to a pair of recordings from the poet: the earlier of these was made at our own Kelly Writers House on March 19, 1998, while the latter comes to us via the Key West Literary Seminar, where the poet gave a brief reading in 2003.

In Memoriam: David Gitin (1941-2015)

Posted 7/14/2015 (link)

News recently broke that poet, editor and co-founder of the San Francisco Poets Theatre, David Gitin had passed away on June 27th at the age of 73.

A lovely personal tribute by Sam Vinicur has been posted on KeysInfoNet, which includes some details on his early inspirations and his recent history in the Florida Keys where he spent his retirement after a long academic career reunited with an old high school flame. This article, posted on July 10th, seems to be how the news of Gitin's passing got out.

Ron Silliman followed it up with a personal recollection on his blog yesterday. In it, he explains how Gittin's work factored into the creation of his journal, Tottel's — he'd later devote the seventh issue exclusively to Gitin's poetry — and shares this loving appraisal of his poetry: "Like Lorine Niedecker, Alfred Starr Hamilton, NH Pritchard, Besmilr Brigham or even Curtis Faville [...] David Gitin was an American original, whose commitment to poetry was something quite apart from any commitment to the poetry scene. His devotion to getting the right word onto the page was absolute, leaving no room for sentiment, foggy-headedness or any other manner of blur."

We've put together a David Gitin author page housing the three recordings that were present in the PennSound archives. They include two sets from the 1970s: a 1970 reading of Larry Eigner's poetry on KPFA's Writers and Writing and a 1977 reading on Public Access Poetry alongside Nancy Antrum. The final recording, which comes to us via POG Sound is a 2007 reading at Tucson's Stone Avenue Gallery.

PoemTalk 90: On Gertrude Stein's "How She Bowed to Her Brother"

Posted 7/15/2015 (link)

We've just released the milestone ninetieth episode in the PoemTalk Podcast series, featuring second-time subject Gertrude Stein, whose "How She Bowed to Her Brother" is the work under consideration. This time around, host Al Filreis is joined by a panel including Julia Bloch, Sarah Dowling and Maxe Crandall.

Filreis begins his write-up on the PoemTalk blog by glossing upon the text's unique construction: "Stein here experimented with the period as a punctuation mark, using it sometimes as one would a comma and at other times when conventionally no punctuation at all would appear. So the reading (aloud — but also, we think, it's the case with silent reading) is typified by frequent disruptive pauses and stops, adding to the already strong effect of fragmentation." From there, he moves into the panelists' varied responses to the work, and you can read this, and more, 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.

Michael Ruby: Several New Recordings

Posted 7/21/2015 (link)

Last month we announced a new author page for Brooklyn-based poet and Wall Street Journal editor Michael Ruby, with a pair of recordings. We've recently expanded that collection with several new recordings.

First, from the Greetings Series at Brooklyn's Unnameable Books, we have a November 6, 2014 performance from Close Your Eyes (2013) featuring accompaniment from Jed Shahar on alto saxophone, mini-cassette recorder and delay pedal; Dan Veksler on samples, bells and whistles with delay, and percussion; and Jeffrey Joe Nelson on drum, stones, jangling keys and African thumb piano.

That's followed by a November 25, 2013 recording of Inner Voices Heard Before Sleep (2012), part of the trilogy Memories, Dreams and Inner Voices, which is segmented into seventy individual sections and followed by a four-and-a-half minute spoken note on the text. Finally, we have a compendium of nearly all of the poems from Compulsive Words (2012), recorded by David Kumin in Brooklyn between 2008–2011. The thirty-five poems in this set include "Dreams of Europe," "Fleeing Memories," "Stuck in Transition," "Dim Lessons," "Old Woldinorum," and "Dance of the Chance Automata," among others.

You can listen to these sets, along with the previously-announced 2014 recording of all of Ruby's latest, American Songbook (2013) and a 2004 set from Radio Poetique's Poetic Brooklyn on PennSound's Michael Ruby author page.

Paolo Javier: New Author Page

Posted 7/23/2015 (link)

One of our latest author pages is for poet, editor, and former Queens Poet Laureate Paolo Javier. It brings together seven readings spanning the past eight years, the most recent of which, recorded this past June 1st, features Javier and Listening Center (David Mason) reading "My Aspiring Villain" from Court of the Dragon at Mason's Bed-Stuy Studio in Brooklyn.

Moving backwards from there, we have Javier's set as part of the 2013 Oh! Sandy: A Remembrance event hosted by Phong Bui at Brooklyn's Industry City, and a 2012 reading with Charles Bernstein at the Artist's Institute in New York on January 7, 2012. They're followed by a March 2011 set at Dia Art Foundation, New York:Chelsea alongside John Ashbery, and the 2008 MLA Offsite Reading at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Finally, our earliest recording comes from the November 2007 launch event for War & Peace Volume 3, hosted by Thom Donovan.

To listen to any and all of these recordings, click the title above to visit PennSound's Paolo Javier author page.

Edgar Lee Masters: New Author Page

Posted 7/28/2015 (link)

Chris Mustazza is at it again, this time combing through the archives of Columbia University's Rare Book & Manuscript Library to preserve vintage recordings of Edgar Lee Masters made by the university's Speech Lab in 1934. Recorded during sessions on January 16th and March 10th of that year by Barnard lexicologists George W. Hibbitt and W. Cabell Greet, these tracks have a new home on our new author page for the poet.

Altogether there are fifty-eight tracks, including selections from Songs and Satires (1916), The Great Valley (1916), Godbey: A Dramatic Poem (1931), Gettysburg, Manila, Acoma (1930), and Lichee Nuts (1930), as well as his classic Spoon River Anthology (1915) and its sequel, The New Spoon River (1924). As Mustazza notes in his introduction, "I made the decision to present the recordings in the order in which Columbia numbered the aluminum platters, except for where I reordered the sequence to keep parts of the same collection together. Sequence numbers, as well as record numbers, are available in the file names."

More recordings from the Columbia Speech Lab can be found on our homepage for that series, and you can read Mustazza's history of the Contemporary Poets Series produced by these same scholars on Jacket2.

In Memoriam: Kenneth Irby (1936-2015)

Posted 7/30/2015 (link)

We're very sad to pass along the news that Kenneth Irby died this morning at the age of seventy-eight, shortly after entering hospice care.

While our Kenneth Irby author page is an excellent way to engage with the poet's work — housing a wide array of recordings from the late seventies right up to his reading from the 2011 colloquium at the University of Kansas honoring his life and work on the occasion of his seventy-fifth birthday — those looking for a greater sense of Irby's great and lasting influence upon his students and friends should peruse William J. Harris and Kyle Waugh's encyclopedic 2014 Jacket2 feature, which was born from the proceedings of that colloquium. You can read our PennSound Daily announcement of the feature, published on what would be the poet's final birthday, here.

In his introduction, Harris observes that "although Kenneth Irby, a distinguished innovative poet, has recently become better known, he deserves to be much better known than he presently is" and argues that he "should be ranked with such contemporary figures as Amiri Baraka, Robert Creeley, Lyn Hejinian, Ed Dorn, Robert Duncan, and Rae Armantrout." "I hope this feature will cause a bit of a stir, and help introduce this important poet to a larger audience," he concludes. "This audience needs this gentle but commanding presence." For those only hearing Irby's name now at the time of his passing — as well as those lovingly-acquainted with his work — here's a fine place to take up that challenge.