Featured resources

  1. Charles Bernstein -
    St. McC. MP3
  2. Amiri Baraka -
    Against Bourgeois Art MP3
  3. Michael Palmer -
    Lies of the Poem MP3
  4. Henry Hills -
    Money MOV
  5. Barrett Watten -
    "I dreamed of a group of sociable foxes in the basement" MP3
  6. Steve McCaffery -
    The Baker Transformation MP3
  7. Bruce Andrews -
    Feature MP3
  8. Jackson Mac Low -
    Feeling Down Clementi Felt Imposed Upon From Every Direction (HSCH 10) MP3
  9. Ron Silliman -
    Quindecagon MP3
  10. Rod Smith -
    This is Such Total Bullshit MP3
  11. Rachel Blau Duplessis -
    Draft 72: Nanifesto MP3
  12. K. Silem Mohammad -
    Sonnet 154: The little love god lying once asleep MP3

Selected by Brian Ang (read more about his choices here)

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James Weldon Johnson: New PennSound Author Page

Posted 11/26/2014

Chris Mustazza is back from the archives, this time with a new author page for James Weldon Johnson, a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance and former leader of the NAACP. Here's Mustazza's description of the project:

These recordings of James Weldon Johnson were made on December 24, 1935 at Columbia University and are part of a larger collection of recordings known as The Contemporary Poets Series. Johnson is the only African American poet in the series, which ran from 1931 through the 1940s. The addition of the Johnson recordings to PennSound is crucial for a number of reasons, one of them being the function of Johnson's poetry as an ethnographic preservation of culture through the transduction of the sounds of language.

The first two recordings in the collection, "The Creation" and "Go Down Death," both from Johnson's 1927 collection God's Trombones, seek to preserve the sounds of African American folk sermons of the early 20th century. Johnson's poetics in the introduction to God's Trombones speaks extensively about how these poems are a visual representation of the sounds of the preachers of the sermons, a kind of musical score and libretto. He works to represent the cadences of these dynamic sermons through punctuation and lineation, with em-dashes representing a pause longer than a comma, and line breaks an even longer pause. In this regard, Johnson's work serves as a kind of proto-Projective Verse: he scores these poems for sonic representation. As such, the addition of the recordings to PennSound allows us to hear firsthand the poems as Johnson heard them when he composed them. And, in doing so, Johnson's vision of preserving the sounds and cultural significance of these sermons for posterity is realized.

The poems from Johnson's 1917 collection of poems, Fifty Years and Other Poems, are also sonic representations and cultural preservations. For example, Johnson's use of dialect poetry in some of the poems is a representation of speech sounds. By the time of these recordings, Johnson had spent a significant amount of time thinking about the aesthetic effects of writing dialect poetry, during which time he renounced the practice, and here returns to it (perhaps after being convinced of the the value of dialect poetry by Sterling A. Browns's 1932 collection of poetry, Southern Road). Johnson deftly uses dialect to great aesthetic effect, especially in "Sence You Went Away," a poem that creates a slippage between the dialect for "since" and the sound of "sense" (i.e. which could be read as "Sense, you went away"). Here, too, Johnson's poetry and poetics prefigure aesthetic movements of the later 20th century.

This very important collection is publicly available here in PennSound for the first time ever. For this, we thank Jill Rosenberg Jones and the James Weldon Johnson estate for their permission to distribute the recordings, as well as the staff at the Columbia University Rare Book and Manuscript Library for their assistance in digitizing these materials. Thanks, too, to the Penn Digital Humanities Forum for supporting a project that made these digitizations possible. I hope you will enjoy listening to these recordings.


New on PennSound: EPC@20

Posted 11/24/2014

This past September, the Electronic Poetry Center celebrated its twentieth birthday with two days of readings, talks, and performances by poets who've had a close affiliation with the site. Today we're able to make recordings of the majority of those events available for your listening pleasure.

Thursday, September 11th began with an afternoon session that included talks by Steve McCaffery, Danny Snelson, Laura Shackelford, cris cheek, Elizabeth Willis, and Loss Pequeño Glazier. Evening performances followed in two sets: the first featuring Tammy McGovern, Snelson, and Wooden Cities with Ethan Hayden; the second with Joan Retallack, cheek, and Tony Conrad.

Friday, September 12th began with afternoon readings and talks by Myung Mi Kim, Retallack, Charles Bernstein, and a panel talk featuring Bernstein, Glazier, Jack Krick, Shackelford, and Snelson. The celebration concluded with evening performances from Glazier, Willis, and Bernstein.


Celebrate Ken Irby's Birthday with a New Jacket2 Feature

Posted 11/18/2014

Poet Kenneth Irby was born on this day in 1936, and just in time to celebrate, Jacket2 has just launched a massive new feature on the poet's life and work, curated by William J. Harris and Kyle Waugh.

"On Kenneth Irby" originated with a November 2011 colloquium held in Lawrence, Kansas to mark the poet's seventy-fifth birthday. All of that conference's participants — Lyn Hejinian, Pierre Jorris, Ben Friedlander, Denise Low, and Joe Harrington — are featured here, and their essays are joined by work from Robert Bertholf, Robert Grenier, Dale Smith, Matthew Hofer, Aldon Nielsen, and Andrew Schelling, along with a poem by Nathaniel Tarn, recollections by former students of Irby's (Waugh, Cyrus Console, Peter Longofono, Jeff Bergfalk, and Monica Peck), and a chronology by Waugh.

That's already a formidable feature, but "On Kenneth Irby" also includes two substantial sub-features. The first contains nineteen poems by Irby written between 1959 and 1972, which are either previously unpublished, or "reprinted here for the first time since they initially appeared in literary journals of modest distribution during the 1960s and early 1970s." The second collects twelve letters from Irby to Ed Dorn, written between 1963 and 1974.

Taken together, these materials serve as a fitting tribute to "a distinguished innovative poet," as Harris writes in his intro, who "has recently become better known, [but] deserves to be much better known than he presently is." "Since Ken Irby should be ranked with such contemporary figures as Amiri Baraka, Robert Creeley, Lyn Hejinian, Ed Dorn, Robert Duncan, and Rae Armantrout," he continues, "I hope this feature will cause a bit of a stir, and help introduce this important poet to a larger audience. This audience needs this gentle but commanding presence."


PennSound Daily is written by Michael S. Hennessey.

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