In Memoriam: David Meltzer (1937-2016)

Posted 1/3/2017 (link)

Unfortunately 2016 couldn't pass quietly without taking yet one more beloved creative figure from us. As has been widely reported, David Meltzer passed away on the last day of the year at the age of seventy-nine after suffering a stroke.

Fittingly for a sixty-year resident of the Bay Area, Meltzer was offered a lavish tribute by The San Francisco Chronicle. Therein other SF luminaries offer up encomia for the prolific and influential poet, editor, and musician, whose career started auspiciously with his inclusion in Donald Allen's The New American Poetry: 1945–1960 (at twenty-three he was the youngest author included). Lawrence Ferlinghetti hailed him as "one of the greats of post-World War II San Francisco poets and musicians," noting that "he brought music to poetry and poetry to music!," while Diane di Prima called Meltzer "one of the secret treasures on our planet. Great poet, musician, comic; mystic unsurpassed, performer with few peers."

We've put together a PennSound author page for Meltzer with the few recordings we had scattered across our archive. The most notable of these is audio documentation of the 1973 National Poetry Festival, where Meltzer took place in readings, workshops, and talks alongside the likes of George Economou, Ed Dorn, Allen Ginsberg, Ted Enslin, Robert Duncan, George Oppen, Charles Reznikoff, Carl Rakosi, di Prima, among others. There's also a marvelous reading and conversation from last April, "Generations: Avant-Garde Jewish Poetry with David Meltzer & Jake Marmer," and a 2007 reading in Tucson, AZ as part of the POG Sound series.

We send our condolences out to Meltzer's, family, friends, and fans.

Remembering Those We Lost in 2016

Posted 1/5/2017 (link)

The past twelve months have been somewhat mythologically brutal within our creative communities — so much so that we run the risk of losing sight of the individual lives that we've lost over that span. Towards that end, we're wrapping up 2016 by remembering those whose lives we commemorated on PennSound Daily.

January started off precipitously with the death of David Bowie (who we memorialized obliquely through the work of Tracy K. Smith) and C.D. Wright, along with Francisco X. Alarcón. We then had a brief respite until April, when we lost filmmaker and composer Tony Conrad.

In June we lost twin titans Bill Berkson and Ted Greenwald in very short succession, and in August we bid farewell to Dennis Tedlock, followed by David Antin in October. November drew to a close with goodbyes to both Pauline Oliveros and Benjamin Hollander and in December we lost both Ray DiPalma and David Meltzer (as remembered in our last PennSound Daily post).

Along the way we also marked anniversaries of the passings of John Wieners, Emily Dickinson, Frank O'Hara, and Paul Blackburn, and commemorated what would have been Allen Ginsberg's 90th birthday, Hart Crane's 117th, Madeline Gins' 75th, and Ted Berrigan's 82nd.

You can follow the individual links above to revisit our PennSound Daily remembrances, each of which contains links to the author pages of the respective figures and often additional resources.

Charles Stein: New Author Page

Posted 1/9/2017 (link)

Our latest author page is for poet Charles Stein. While there are a few older recordings collected there — a 1979 Segue Series set at the Ear Inn and one from 2002 at Double Happiness, along with readings from 1982 and 1994 — the majority of what you'll find there are new recordings made by Chris Funkhouser in Rhinebeck, NY during ten sessions over the course of last summer. Funkhouser provides some context for the recordings in an introductory note that can also be found on the page:

During Spring 2016 Charles Stein and I decided to embark on a recording project together, which blossomed into producing an elaborate multi-decade retrospective of his published poetry (as well as some unpublished and improvised sound poems). We met regularly at my home studio between June and September, recording more than eighteen hours of theforestforthetrees (an overarching name given to the body of his work), including a copious amount of material from a series of books titled Views from Tornado Island as well as his collection The Hat Rack Tree and From Mimir's Head. These readings are the first in a sequence of additions Stein and I intend to add to PennSound's archive. Stay tuned!

We're grateful, as always, for Funkhouser's service to the site and will look forward to future recordings from Stein as well.

PennSound Featured Resources Archive

Posted 1/11/2017 (link)

If you scroll a little farther down on our homepage you'll notice a sidebar on the left with our latest PennSound Featured Resources list, chosen by our co-director, Charles Bernstein. What you might not know, however, is that we maintain an archive of our featured resources selections that goes all the way back to August 2005, not long after our official launch.

Click here to start browsing lists by Brian Ang, Marcella Durand, Stephen McLaughlin, Danny Snelson, Eric Baus, Thomas Devaney, Marjorie Perloff, Steve Evans, Al Filreis, David Jhave Johnson, and yours truly.

A great many of these lists feature accompanying essays, or at the very least links to PennSound Daily entries with brief explanations for the curator's choices. Some, like Johnson's and Snelson's are new constructs built up from raw materials from our archives (the former a digital interface, the latter a palimpsestic text). Some, like Devaney's "Death Poems & PennSound," are thematic groupings of material. Some, like Bernstein's current "Down To Write You This Poem Sat" and my "Recording Performance / Recording as Performance" were written for external venues and repurposed for the site. They're never presented as PennSound's greatest hits or most important recordings, but rather as idiosyncratic glimpses through the great breadth of the archive. If you had to choose your personal favorite PennSound recordings what would make the list?

PoemTalk 108: on Tracie Morris' "Tracie Morris, "Slave Sho to Video aka Black but Beautiful"

Posted 1/13/2017 (link)

Today we released episode #108 in the PoemTalk Podcast series — a discussion of Tracie Morris' performance piece/musical poem "Slave Sho to Video aka Black but Beautiful," as performed at the 2002 Whitney Biennial. For this program, host Al Filreis was joined by a panel including Camara Brown, Edwin Torres, and Brooke O'Harra.

Filreis starts off his introduction on the PoemTalk blog with a little background on the piece itself, "a last-minute improvisation after Morris discovered she misplaced or lost her planned text, accompanied by — and intuitively responsive to — two colleagues whose dance movements, in part, reproduced the sweeping up-down motions of rice harvesting." He then moves on to the perspectives of the panelists, noting that "The three guest PoemTalkers being performers themselves, the conversation naturally turned to the crucial connection between voice as expressive subjectivity and voice as physical sonant effect." He continues, asking Brooke, Camara, and Edwin "to describe the impact on their own work of Morris's radicalization of the poetic voice as an agonizing through stereotype." You can read 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.

Hilda Morley: New Author Page

Posted 1/17/2017 (link)

Our latest author page is for Black Mountain-associated poet Hilda Morley (1916–1998). Admittedly, it's a scant archive, containing just one three minute recording — the poem "Provence" from a March 15, 1992 reading at New York's Alice Tully Hall — but as PennSound co-director Charles Bernstein notes, "it is the only recording of Morley now available."

In her New York Times obituary, Wolfgang Saxon observed that "Ms. Morley published five books of poetry in which she articulated emotions and feelings in free verse, but a type of verse as measured as dance or music. She was a 'master of that ability,' Robert Creeley, a fellow poet, said." He continues: "She wrote that her poetry was shaped by the visions of Abstract Expressionism, which can create metamorphoses. Artists like Klee and Picasso, she said, gave her the means to create word canvases depicting the world around her."

We're grateful to be able to share this document of Morley's life, no matter how brief, and thank Patrick Beurard-Valdoye and Austin Clarkson for their assistance in making this recording available.

Chinese American Association for Poetry Reading Los Angeles, CA, November 11, 2016

Posted 1/19/2017 (link)

While the new year brings many terrifying changes with it, there are still many good things we can rely on, and for PennSound listeners, one of those things is getting great recordings from Aldon Nielsen for his Heatstrings collection. Today, we're highlighting the latest file to be posted: the Chinese American Association for Poetry Reading, which took place in Los Angeles, California on November 11, 2016.

The roster for the seventy-minute event includes (in order): Eun-Gwi Chung, Feng Yi, Nicholas Karavatos, Ling Jian-e, Steven Tracy, Lin Chen, Susan Schultz, Liu Kedong, Luo Linaggong, Jerry Ward, Lv Aijing, Lauri Ramey, Young Suck Rhee, Li Zhimin, Sun Dong, Wu Zhaofeng, Nielsen, Zeng Wei, Charles Bernstein, Zhang Er, Youngman Kim, and a final reader identified only as Miles.

You can see photos of the event and listen to the complete recording, as well as recordings going back nearly thirty years, on our Heatstrings series page. As always, we're grateful to Nielsen for sharing these vital documents with us.

New Recordings from Housework at Chapterhouse, 2016

Posted 1/24/2017 (link)

In December 2015 we posted our first recordings from Housework at Chapterhouse, a new series that took the place of the Chapter and Verse reading series, which Ryan Eckes and Stan Mir curated at Philadelphia's Chapterhouse Cafe from 2006–2015. A second installment was posted last August. Today, we have even more recordings from the series.

From May 21, we have the trio of Coda Wei, Kate Schapira, and Lucas de Lima, followed by Dale Smith, Faye Chevalier, and Lamont Steptoe on July 23rd, and an event honoring Hillary Gravendyk with Julia Bloch and Cynthia Arrieu-King on September 10th. In that same month Mel Bentley interviewed Jay Besemer as part of the series.

October saw Gabriel Ojeda-Sague, Colette Arrand, and Raquel Salas-Rivera reading on the 15th, while November had Crystal Curry, Akhil Katyal, and Nico Vassilakis on the 12th, and Bentley interviewing Alex Smith. Finally, on December 17th, the reading line-up included Emma Sanders, Joie Wu, and Oki Sogumi.

All of these recordings, as well as twenty-two events from the long run of Chapter and Verse are available here.

In Memoriam: Harry Mathews (1930-2017)

Posted 1/26/2017 (link)

We're very sorry to report that Harry Mathews has passed away at the age of eighty-six in Key West, Florida. The prolific writer — perhaps most (in)famously known as the only American member of Oulipo — had a career that spanned six decades and multiple genres.

We're very grateful to be able to share Mathews' work as part of the PennSound archives. Most notable among our collection is a trio of recordings that came from Mathews own papers, housed at UPenn, which Chris Funkhouser dutifully tracked down and digitized for our site — a process that he detailed in a 2011 Jacket2 article, "Bringing Harry Mathews to PennSound (and You)." Along with these three readings (from Michael Silverblatt's Bookworm program, MIT, and Friends of the Library), he and Mathews also worked to secure a dozen poems originally presented as part of The Sienese Shredder in 2006. The collection is rounded out by a 2002 reading as part of the Line Reading Series. Listeners will also want to check out PennSound Podcast #34 in which Mathews provides a crash course in Oulipo — an excerpt from the MIT reading.

We send our condolences to those who knew and loved Mathews and his work and offer sincere hopes that 2017 will not be as taxing on our creative communities as its predecessor was.

Emma Lazarus, "The New Colossus"

Posted 1/28/2017 (link)

In light of deeply troubling current events, we humbly offer up Emma Lazarus' sonnet "The New Colossus" as a reminder of the high-minded ideals of acceptance that we, as a nation of immigrants, should hold ourselves to.

As the curators of a 2004 Library of Congress exhibit on America's "century of immigration" note: "Lazarus, who had worked with East European immigrants through her association with the Hebrew Emigrant Aid Society, composed 'The New Colossus' in 1883 as part of a fundraising campaign for erecting the Statue of Liberty. In 1903, a tablet with her words — "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" — was affixed to the statue's base. These words remain the quintessential expression of America's vision of itself as a haven for those denied freedom and opportunity in their native lands.

PennSound listeners might also be interested in PoemTalk #58 on Bernadette Mayer's poem, "The Tragic Condition of the Statue of Liberty," which begins by quoting Lazarus' final, and most iconic, lines:

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Congratulations to Frost Medal Recipient Susan Howe

Posted 1/31/2017 (link)

With so much bad news in the world, we need to relish good news when it comes in, and that includes last week's announcement that Susan Howe had been named the 2017 recipient of the Poetry Society of America's prestigious Frost Medal, which recognizes "distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry." As the PSA's press release notes, "Previous winners of this award include Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore, Gwendolyn Brooks, Allen Ginsberg, Adrienne Rich, Barbara Guest, Lucille Clifton, Charles Simic, Michael S. Harper, and Marilyn Nelson."

We congratulate Howe on this great honor and encourage our listeners to check out PennSound's Susan Howe author page, which is home to forty years' worth of recordings, including her Pacifica Radio poetry program, various talks and readings, interviews, and her audacious collaborations with David Grubbs.