Featured resources

From "Down To Write You This Poem Sat" at the Oakville Gallery

Contemporary
  1. Charles Bernstein, "Phone Poem" (2011) (1:30): MP3
  2. Caroline Bergvall, "Love song: 'The Not Tale (funeral)' from Shorter Caucer Tales (2006): MP3
  3. Christian Bôk, excerpt from Eunoia, from Chapter "I" for Dick Higgins (2009) (1:38):  MP3
  4. Tonya Foster, Nocturne II (0:40) (2010) MP3
  5. Ted Greenwald, "The Pears are the Pears" (2005) (0:29): MP3
  6. Susan Howe, Thorow, III (3:13) (1998):  MP3
  7. Tan Lin, "¼ : 1 foot" (2005) (1:16): MP3
  8. Steve McCaffery, "Cappuccino" (1995) (2:35): MP3
  9. Tracie Morris, From "Slave Sho to Video aka Black but Beautiful" (2002) (3:40): MP3
  10. Julie Patton, "Scribbling thru the Times" (2016) (5:12): MP3
  11. Tom Raworth, "Errory" (c. 1975) (2:08): MP3
  12. Jerome Rothenberg, from "The First Horse Song of Frank Mitchell: 4-Voice Version" (c. 1975) (3:30): MP3
  13. Cecilia Vicuna, "When This Language Disappeared" (2009) (1:30): MP3
Historical
  1. Guillaume Apollinaire, "Le Pont Mirabeau" (1913) (1:14): MP3
  2. Amiri Baraka, "Black Dada Nihilismus" (1964) (4:02):  MP3
  3. Louise Bennett, "Colonization in Reverse" (1983) (1:09): MP3
  4. Sterling Brown, "Old Lem " (c. 1950s) (2:06):  MP3
  5. John Clare, "Vowelless Letter" (1849) performed by Charles Bernstein (2:54): MP3
  6. Velimir Khlebnikov, "Incantation by Laughter" (1910), tr. and performed by Bernstein (:28)  MP3
  7. Harry Partch, from Barstow (part 1), performed by Bernstein (1968) (1:11): MP3
  8. Leslie Scalapino, "Can’t’ is ‘Night’" (2007) (3:19): MP3
  9. Kurt Schwitters, "Ur Sonata: Largo" performed by Ernst Scwhitter (1922-1932) ( (3:12): MP3
  10. Gertrude Stein, If I Told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso (1934-35) (3:42): MP3
  11. William Carlos Willliams, "The Defective Record" (1942) (0:28): MP3
  12. Hannah Weiner, from Clairvoyant Journal, performed by Weiner, Sharon Mattlin & Rochelle Kraut (2001) (6:12): MP3

Selected by Charles Bernstein (read more about his choices here)

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Jacques Roubaud Reads in Paris, 2019

Posted 10/19/2020

We're hopping across the Atlantic for this week's first post, highlighting a recent addition to the site from mathematician, translator, and Oulipo member Jacques Roubaud

This reading, celebrating Roubaud's most recent book, Tridents (Éditions Nous, 2019), was recorded at Paris' Librairie Texture on December 4th of last year. Éditions Nous publishers Benoît Casas and Patrizia Atzei were on hand to celebrate this latest book from their press, the sixth in total from Roubaud that they've published. This was also Roubaud's third time reading at the book store.

You'll find video footage of this nearly hour-long reading on our Jacques Roubaud author page, which is also home to a thirty-five minute "Lecture de Poète" filmed by François Sarhan in Paris in 2012. Click here to start watching.



'Poker Blues' (1991) by Les Levine and Ted Greenwald

Posted 10/16/2020

Let's stay in the realm of poetry/film collaborations to close out this week. Today we're highlighting Poker Blues a 1991 video collaboration by artist Les Levine and Ted Greenwald, and published by Museum of Mott Art, Inc. (the conceptual museum Levine founded in 1970).

A marvelous fugue constructed from the lexicon of card players, Poker Blues is filmed in a two-camera setup, alternating between perspectives so that Greenwald becomes his own interlocutor, while Levine remains faceless off-screen. The claustrophobic feel is underscored by quick edits and tight close-ups, along with the looped soundtrack of Diana Ross' "I Love You (Call Me)."

Over at Mimeo Mimeo, Kyle Schlesinger offers up a brief write-up of the film as well as the mimeographed book that resulted from it, noting that "according to Greenwald, the performance was improvised and later transcribed by Levine for the book (above) along with several stills from the film."

We've made video footage of the sixteen-minute film available, along with the isolated audio track. You can experience both by clicking here.



Henry Hills, 'Plagiarism' (1981)

Posted 10/14/2020

Today we've got an exciting new addition to the site from filmmaker Henry Hills. Filmed in 1981, Plagiarism features Hannah Weiner, Charles Bernstein, Bruce Andrews, and James Sherry reading from Weiner's notebooks that would eventually be published as Little Books/Indians (Roof Books, 1980). Hills offers these notes on the film:

Begins jokingly proclaiming, "I'll make my Ernie Gehr film," a major preoccupation of my generation in the late 70s/early 80s, & then this very raw other thing proceeds to unfold, raw because I only had enough money (a loan from Abby Child) to do 4 shoots never having done sync & using outdated film stock from Rafik & an unfamiliar, undependable camera & trying to keep everything together & everything going wrong, yet determined to make concrete the ideas I had been abstractly developing over several years with whatever I got back from the lab no matter & so abandoning all caution to open a new area, I decided who could possibly talk better than poets? Edited in Times Square.

Fans of Hill's Money (1985) will recognize many familiar techniques at play here, with rapid-fire cuts creating a dense, rhythmic collage of sights and sounds punctuated by pregnant pauses, bursts of noise, and enigmatic, orphaned fragments of speech. It would be a mistake to judge it solely in its relationship to Money, however, since the two films differ radically in scope and spirit: while the latter is an expansive survey of the city and its scenes (including poets, dancers, and musicians), the feel here is much more intimate, between the smaller cast and the more limited visual vocabulary. At the same time it's fascinating to see hallmarks of Hills' style in a raw early state, particularly given the influence of the considerable technical challenges that Hills enumerates above. You can watch Plagiarism by clicking here.



John Richetti reads Poe, Tennyson, Coleridge

Posted 10/13/2020

We've recently highlighted a number of recordings of the poetry of Walt Whitman made by beloved UPenn emeritus professor John Richetti. Today we're going to cover the rest of the poets whose work he performed in his most recent session, including Edgar Allan Poe, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
 
Given the season, how can we not start with Poe? Richetti's September home recording sessions included several of the poet's more iconic titles, including "Annabel Lee," "To Helen," "El Dorado," "Israfel," and "The Conqueror Worm." Interestingly, Richetti's selections all appear in Jerome McGann's 2011 set of Poe recordings, where you'll also find "The Sleeper," "Dream-Land," "The Haunted Palace," "The Raven," and "Ulalume - A Ballad." 

Next, Richetti revisits Coleridge, reading "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" in its entirety. Richetti performed a number of works by the poet in a 2014 session, including "The Rose," "This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison," "Kubla Khan," "Dejection: An Ode," and "Frost at Midnight," which you can hear on the same page. Finally, Richetti returns to Tennyson — the focus of the recordings he made for us this past April — with one new poem, "The Eagle."

Numerous previous sessions with Richetti are available on PennSound Classics, spanning more than a decade. They include his prodigious "111 Favorite Poems for Memorizing," "The PennSound Anthology of Restoration & 18th-Century Poetry," and his audio anthology of English Renaissance Verse. Richetti has additionally recorded selections from Matthew Arnold, W.H. Auden, William Blake, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, Lord Byron, Emily Dickinson, John Donne, John Dryden, George Herbert, Ben Jonson, John Keats, Andrew Marvell, John Milton, William Shakespeare, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Walt Whitman William Wordsworth, and William Butler Yeats. These lovingly-made recordings, rendered in Richetti's distinctive tenor, are a tremendous resource for the classroom or for any lover of poetry. 

With the exception of the aforementioned anthologies, PennSound Classics is divided by author, so you can see Richetti's ample contributions alongside those of many other poets and scholars. To start browsing, click here.


Congratulations to 2020 MacArthur Foundation Fellow Fred Moten

Posted 10/7/2020

It's been an auspicious week for PennSound poets, and it's only Wednesday! Yesterday we celebrated the news that Mei-mei Berssenbrugge and Don Mee Choi were finalists for the National Book Award in Poetry, and today brings the astounding news that Fred Moten has been named a 2020 MacArthur Foundation Fellow. His citation merits reproduction in full:

Fred Moten is a cultural theorist and poet creating new conceptual spaces that accommodate emergent forms of Black cultural production, aesthetics, and social life. In his theoretical and critical writing on visual culture, poetics, music, and performance, Moten seeks to move beyond normative categories of analysis, grounded in Western philosophical traditions, that do not account for the Black experience. He is developing a new mode of aesthetic inquiry wherein the conditions of being Black play a central role.

Moten's diverse body of work coheres around a relentless exploration of sound and its importance as a medium of Black resistance and creativity. His first book, In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition (2003), offers seminal insights that emerge from taking sound, as opposed to visual or textual imagery, as the point of departure for interpretation. For example, in considering Frederick Douglass's famous account of the 'terrible spectacle' of slavery, Moten identifies the screams of Douglass's Aunt Hester as the materialization in sound of Black resistance, thus opening onto a new way of understanding the trauma of slavery as something not just seen but emphatically heard as well. Moten's recently completed three-volume theoretical treatise, collectively called consent not to be a single being (2017–2018), includes essays written over the course of fifteen years. The breadth of his theoretical insights in these volumes extends across the arts and humanities — from the music of Curtis Mayfield and Billie Holiday to the critical philosophy of Immanuel Kant and Theodor Adorno — as he explores notions of performance and freedom and formations of Black identity.

Moten continues the project of his theoretical work in his poetry. In his 2014 collection, The Feel Trio, for instance, language hovers at the edge of sense so that sound rises to the fore and the reading of the poem approaches musical performance. Through his writing and lectures, Moten is demonstrating the power of critical thinking to establish new forms of social actualization and reconfiguring the contours of the cultural field broadly.
We are immensely proud to be able to share Moten's work as part of our archive. His PennSound author page is home to a wide array of recordings from the past two decades, including readings, talks, and conversations, which demonstrate Moten's prodigious and multifarious talents. We congratulate Moten heartily for this life-changing honor, and will continue to track the trajectory of his career with great excitement.

Congratulations to National Book Award Finalists Berssenbrugge and Choi

Posted 10/6/2020

A few weeks back, we celebrated the news that Mei-mei Berssenbrugge and Don Mee Choi were included on the longlist for the 2020 National Book Award in Poetry. Today brought the exciting news that both poets had made it through as finalists as the field shrank from ten to five.

Berssenbrugge is up for consideration for her most recent book, A Treatise on Stars, which, in the words of the judges, "extends Berssenbrugge's intensely phenomenological poetics to the fiery bodies in a 'field of heaven…outside spacetime.'" "These are poems of deep listening and patient waiting, open to the cosmic loom, the channeling of daily experience and conversation, gestalt and angels, dolphins and a star-visitor beneath a tree," the citation continues,"Family, too, becomes a type of constellation, a thought 'a form of organized light.'" They conclude: "All of our senses are activated by Berssenbrugge's radiant lines, giving us a poetry of keen perception grounded in the physical world, where 'days fill with splendor, and earth offers its pristine beauty to an expanding present.'" As we noted in our last post, Berssenbrugge was one of our Kelly Writers House Fellows in 2019, and during her visit she read a number of poems from A Treatise on Stars, including "Star Beings," "Lux," and "Chaco and Olivia." You'll find audio and video from that visit here, while our PennSound author page for Berssenbrugge houses more than two dozen individual recordings going back as far as 1986, including interviews, radio programs, and many, many readings.

Choi was nominated for her latest, DMZ Colony, which the judges hailed as "a tour de force of personal and political reckoning set over eight acts." "Evincing the power of translation as a poetic device to navigate historical and linguistic borders," they continue, "it explores Edward Said's notion of 'the intertwined and overlapping histories' in regards to South Korea and the United States through innovative deployments of voice, story, and poetics." "Like its sister book, Hardly War," the judges conclude, "it holds history accountable, its very presence a resistance to empire and a hope in humankind." While we don't have a PennSound author page for Don Mee Choi, you can also hear her reading her work as part of Poetry Politic and as part of the 2012 MLA Offsite Reading

We offer our congratulations to Berssenbrugge, Choi, and all of this year's worthy nominees. This year's panel, which will announce its final decision on November 18th, is chaired by Layli Long Soldier, and also includes Rigoberto González, John Hennessy, Diana Khoi Nguyen, and Elizabeth Willis.



Edmond Jabès on PennSound

Posted 10/5/2020

We're starting the week off by taking a dive back into our archives for a remarkable document that only some of our listeners will be able to enjoy fully. We created our Edmond Jabès author page back in February 2017 to house one recording: a 1974 documentary on the Egypt-born French author made by Jean-Pierre Prevost.

Originally broadcast on French television, the film features Jabès in conversation with Claude Royet-Journoud and Lars Fredrikson. As our own Charles Bernstein noted at the time of its addition, the film had gone unseen for more than four decades. It's presented as it originally aired, i.e. in French and without subtitles, so if you are a native speaker or your quarantine hobby was trying to work on bettering your rusty high school French, you're in luck. In any case, this film is too important a document not to share with our listeners. Click here to start watching.

More Whitman Read by John Richetti

Posted 10/2/2020

About a month ago we announced new renditions of two beloved Walt Whitman poems (specifically, "O Captain! My Captain!," and "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd") read by UPenn emeritus professor John Richetti. Today were back with more recordings from the same session, including "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," "The Sleepers," "Goodbye My Fancy," and sections 1 and 2 of "Calumus." You'll find these tracks on a special page containing all of Richetti's renditions of Whitman's work, which also includes "Song of Myself" in its entirety, "I Sing the Body Electric," and "I Hear America Singing," among other titles.

We last heard from Richetti this past spring, when he delivered a set of five poems by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.  Numerous previous sessions with Richetti are available on PennSound Classics, spanning more than a decade. They include his prodigious "111 Favorite Poems for Memorizing," "The PennSound Anthology of Restoration & 18th-Century Poetry," and his audio anthology of English Renaissance Verse. Richetti has additionally recorded selections from Matthew Arnold, W.H. Auden, William Blake, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Emily Dickinson, John Donne, John Dryden, George Herbert, Ben Jonson, John Keats, Andrew Marvell, John Milton, Edgar Allan Poe, William Shakespeare, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Algernon Charles Swinburne, William Wordsworth, and William Butler Yeats. These lovingly-made recordings, rendered in Richetti's distinctive tenor, are a tremendous resource for the classroom or for any lover of poetry. 

With the exception of the aforementioned anthologies, PennSound Classics is divided by author, so you can see Richetti's ample contributions alongside those of many other poets and scholars. To start browsing, click here.



Jacket2 Reissues: O Books

Posted 10/1/2020

It's been a little while since we've heard from Jacket2's Reissues section, but they're back with a very exciting new collection of materials related to O Books to share with eager readers. We'll let Reissues editor Danny Snelson make the announcment himself:

Breaking with standard Reissues format, this release celebrates an extraordinary set of editorial projects by a single editor over three related initiatives. Spanning twenty-one years from 1988 until 2009, Leslie Scalapino produced four O Books Anthologies, a single-issue magazine coedited with Rick London called enough, and a four-issue run of a magazine called War and Peace (coedited with Judith Goldman for issues 2–4). From O/One: An Anthology's focus on "writing that questions and transgresses genre lines between forms of poetic and critical discourse" to the final issue of War and Peace, Scalapino's editorial project continuously blurs categorical lines while challenging dominant discourses in both politics and poetics. Each collection gathers what Bernadette Mayer might call a "plural dream of social life."

"Each publication takes a particular focus or theme as its organizing principle," he continues. "Tracking these publications, an editorial through-line emerges: a focused bead on poetry's capacity to speak to the politics of the present. War is ever-present in these pages. From the Gulf War to the post-9/11 global war that continues to this day, the on-the-ground responses of poets in these collections presciently address our ongoing situation." "Proper names may have changed," he concludes, "but the news stays new. To read these pages is to see differently. As Scalapino contends in enough: 'Seeing what's happening is a form of change.'"

You'll find the O Books archives in Jacket2's Reissues section, alongside M/E/A/N/I/N/G, Chain, Secession, Alcheringa, Combo, ZukRoof, New Wilderness Letter, Reality Studios, Infolio, Big Allis, Aufgabe, and Calque. Click here to start browsing.


Remembering Michael Gizzi, Ten Years Later

Posted 9/28/2020

Today is the tenth anniversary of the passing of Michael Gizzi. When we originally broke the news on PennSound Daily, we acknowledged that Gizzi's work was widely praised by some of the most respected names in the world of contemporary poetics, including John Ashbery, who hailed his poetry as "[r]azor sharp but also rich and generously compelling . . . [it] lambastes as it celebrates, bringing us finally to a place of poignant irresolution." Similarly, reviewing his final collection New Depths of Deadpan for the Brooklyn Rail, John Yau praised Gizzi's ear for "American vernacular," insisting that readers interested in knowing "how weird, interesting, scary, and odd America is" acquaint themselves with Gizzi's poetry, while Ron Silliman cited Gizzi's "genius" as "not just the degree to which [he] can make great complexity appear breath-takingly simple, but rather the great sense of humanity in whose service he does this."

In 2010, we already had a compelling collection of recordings available on our Michael Gizzi author page, including a pair of Segue Series readings (a 1999 set at the Ear Inn and a 2004 recording from the Bowery Poetry Club) and a pair of recordings made by Steve Evans in Providence in 1997 (reading No Both and "We See" in their entirety), plus four tracks made in collaboration with pianist Dave McKenna in 2004 and the full-length album Cured in the Going Bebop from 2000. We also had the beloved 1994 recording of Gizzi and Clark Coolidge reading Jack Kerouac's Old Angel Midnight, which was the subject of PoemTalk #124 in 2018. Since then, we've added two new recordings of Gizzi — a 2001 Wednesdays @ 4-Plus reading at SUNY-Buffalo and a 2009 Chapter & Verse Series reading in Philadelphia. 

In our original tribute post, we also pointed listeners towards "another marvelous and revealing resource": Stan Mir's lengthy 2006 interview with Gizzi and Craig Watson, which had recently been published in the final issue of Jacket Magazine. While that's still a wonderful document, we are happy to also add a 2017 retrospective honoring Gizzi at our own Kelly Writers House, hosted by Davy Knittle and featuring Mir and William Corbett, which is given prominence of place at the head of our Michael Gizzi author page. Click here to reconnect with these marvelous poems and Gizzi's memorable voice, which are every bit as potent a decade later.


PoemTalk #152: on Wallace Stevens' "The Poem That Took the Place of a Mountain"

Posted 9/25/2020

Today we release the newest episode in the PoemTalk Podcast series, its 152nd program in total, which addresses Wallace Stevens' "The Poem That Took the Place of a Mountain." This show is doubly special in that a) it's the second PoemTalk episode dedicated to "this gnarly poem" (as host Al Filreis describes it) and b) it was recorded in conjunction with a panel at last year's MLA conference on contemporary poetic responses to Stevens' work, with the same formidable panel — Kate Colby, Tyrone Wiilliams, Mónica de la Torre, and Aldon Nielsen — participating in both conversations.

Filreis' PoemTalk blog post on this new program starts with a summation of what's at stake in Stevens' poem and how the panelists approach it: "The group collaborates on an enumeration of possibilities for understanding the poet's current ruminative state as a retrospective view of his previous poems and old ideas about poetry. Past perfect and conditional language — had needed, would be right, would discover, could lie — make us doubt that there is or ever was such a thing as a 'there' in 'There it was.' There what was? The words? The new words of this poem? The old words on previous poems about the uphill climb of poetic career? The new poem about such old poems re-presents the word-for-word mountain and never really means, it seems, to stand in for the thing itself." "This isn't mere exhaustion," he concludes, "It's a final development of theory."

You can read more about this latest show, read Stevens poem, and choose between unedited video footage of the conversation or the polished podcast version here. Filreis has also made arrangements with the MLA to present video of the aforementioned conference panel available on our site. The full PoemTalk archives, spanning more than a decade, can be found here.



Kevin Killian: Four Newly Segmented Readings

Posted 9/24/2020

It's been more than a year since the death of poet Kevin Killian and his absence is still acutely felt within the poetry community. In the aftermath of his passing we were grateful to Andrew Kenower of A Voice Box who very generously shared a half-dozen recordings of Killian made in the Bay Area between 2009 and 2013. Today, we're happy to announce that we've segmented three of these readings, as well as a favorite NYC reading from our archives.

The most recent of these readings is Killian's June 2011 set as part of the Condensary Series at Oakland's The Speakeasy. Following short introductory comments, Killian reads a total of sixteen poems, including "Better Than Today," "Overcoming Shame," "Anagrams," "Wuthering Heights," "Violets in the Snow," and "Nude Valentine." Next, from the New Reading Series at Oakland's 21 Grand we have a forty-three minute set that includes nine poems in total, among them "Hey Day," "I Lost Me to Meth," "Skull With Jewels on It," "Cannot Exist," and "American Idol." Also from 2009, we have Killian's undated recording from San Francisco's Canessa Park, however this set consists of just one piece, "Hot Lights," with brief opening comments. Finally, Killian's contribution to the 2007 launch event for EOAGH Issue 3: Queering Language from the Bowery Poetry Club, which includes "Norwegian Wood" and "Is It All Over My Face?"

These newly-segmented readings are only part of what you'll find on our Kevin Killian author page, including a 1997 Kelly Writers House event with Killian and his wife Dodie Bellamy in conversation, a 1991 talk on Spicer at the Kootenay School of Writing, a 2009 reading at Oakland's Studio One, a 2015 reading from the Frank O'Hara's Last Lover series with CAConrad and Jennifer Moxley, and two 2013 events from Berkeley's Woolsey Heights: a reading from November of that year, and Killian's talk "Activism, Gay Poetry, AIDS in the 1980s," originally delivered at the National Poetry Foundation's "Poetry of the Eighties" conference at the University of Maine at Orono in 2012, which was recorded in February. Click here to start browsing.


Bob Perelman Reads Live, Sept. 23rd at 6PM

Posted 9/21/2020

We couldn't be more happy to welcome UPenn emeritus professor Bob Perelman back to the Kelly Writers House for a virtual reading this Wednesday, September 23rd at 6:00PM EDT. Perelman will be reading from his latest collection, Jack and Jill in Troy (Roof Books, 2019), which "makes use of the rapid clarity of Homer and the elemental incantations of nursery talk to create a compelling array of poems that speak to our present moment with tragic humor and urgent, skeptical directness." "A rather R-rated version of Jack and Jill appear in some poems," the back cover blurb continues, "as if a worldly-wise Mother Goose is addressing young and old in the same breath. In other poems the world of the Iliad appears — permanent war economy, never-finished gender negotiations, continual power disputes, absolute hierarchies arbitrarily enforced — but both these nursery matters and the ancient epic trappings are brought forward to provide a wide-angle frame onto our own situation."

KWH faculty director and PennSound co-director Al Filreis will moderate a Q&A with the audience after Perelman reads. This event will stream live over the KWH YouTube channel, and will eventually be archived on Perelman's PennSound author page, where you'll find a wide selection of recordings from the late 1970s to the present. You can learn more about this event here.


Congratulations to National Book Award Nominees Berssenbrugge, Choi

Posted 9/18/2020

The New Yorker has been announcing the longlists for this year's National Book Awards this week, with the ten books under consideration for the poetry category released yesterday. Their short article starts by highlighting Honorée Fanonne Jeffers' The Age of Phillis, inspired by pioneering Black poet Phillis Wheatley who died free but lived most of her short life as a slave. As the author notes, Jeffers' book is just one of many among this year's longlist that "observes the violence of empire and excavates histories that have been forgotten or erased," including Anthony Cody's Borderland Apocrypha, Natalie Diaz's Postcolonial Love Poem, and Don Mee Choi's DMZ Colony.

We were very excited to see Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, among the nominees for her most recent collection A Treatise on Stars, which the panelists hailed as "a lyrical work that reveals constellations of our connectedness to fuel introspection" and "implores that we connect with the larger natural and cosmic world." You'll recall that Berssenbrugge was one of our Kelly Writers House Fellows in 2019, and during her visit she read a number of poems from A Treatise on Stars, including "Star Beings," "Lux," and "Chaco and Olivia." You'll find audio and video from that visit hereOur PennSound author page for Berssenbrugge houses more than two dozen individual recordings going back as far as 1986, including interviews, radio programs, and many, many readings. 

While we don't have a PennSound author page for Don Mee Choi, you can also hear her reading her work as part of Poetry Politic and as part of the 2012 MLA Offsite Reading

We offer our congratulations to Berssenbrugge, Choi, and all of this year's worthy nominees. This year's panel, which will announce its final decision on November 18th, is chaired by Layli Long Soldier, and also includes Rigoberto González, John Hennessy, Diana Khoi Nguyen, and Elizabeth Willis.



Announcing the 2021 Kelly Writers House Fellows

Posted 9/16/2020

While we were only recently discussing Erín Moure's Kelly Writers House Fellows visit from this past spring, we've already got news concerning next year's group of fellows. Today Al Filreis announced the trio that will be joining us during winter/spring 2021, and as always they are an eclectic and exciting as a group. They include (from left to right) author and critic Hilton Als, chef and author Gabrielle Hamilton, and poet Erica Hunt. Details on their individual programs will follow in the near future, but we couldn't wait to spread the word.

Funded by a grant from Paul Kelly, the Kelly Writers House Fellows program enables us to realize two unusual goals. We want to make it possible for the youngest writers and writer-critics to have sustained contact with authors of great accomplishment in an informal atmosphere. We also want to resist the time-honored distinction — more honored in practice than in theory — between working with eminent writers on the one hand and studying literature on the other.

You can read more about the program and browse through past Fellows going back to the program's start in 1999 by clicking here.


Clark Coolidge reads 'Polaroid,' 1976

Posted 9/14/2020

We're starting off this new week by taking a dip back into the S Press Collection, highlighting a recording that was part of the PennSound archives since close to the site's inception. 

We first added Clark Coolidge's Polaroid to the site in December 2005, but it's only recently that listeners have been able to see it in its proper context within the full S Press catalogue, as well as read the liner notes. Released in 1979 as S Press Tonbandverlag #57, the cassette contains Polaroid (Adventures in Poetry / Big Sky, 1975) read in its entirety, as recorded by S Press head Michael Köhler on September 24th 1976 at University of Connecticut at Storrs. Excerpts from Polaroid are available on Coolidge's EPC page, while the entire book can be read or downloaded in PDF format from Eclipse.

Interestingly, given both Coolidge's own musical history as drummer for Tina and David Meltzer's San Francisco-based psych-folk band The Serpent Power and the liner notes' acknowledgment that "In addition to his books [Coolidge] has composed a number of word tapes, which have remained unpublished so far," this is Coolidge's first solo album. It would take another thirty-four years to see the release of Comes Through in the Call Hold, the first of two albums Coolidge recorded with Anne Waldman and Thurston Moore; Coolidge and Moore's Among The Poetry Stricken was released earlier this year. 




Happy 98th Birthday to Jackson Mac Low!

Posted 9/12/2020

This September 12th would have been the ninety-eighth birthday of the one and only Jackson Mac Low, and that's as good a reason as any to revisit some of the recordings housed on his PennSound author page.

There you'll find a wide array of audio and video spanning four decades, from the 1970s up till just a few months before his death in December 2004. In addition to numerous readings — including seven Segue Series sets, recordings from the St. Mark's Poetry Project, the Living Theater, the Line Reading SeriesPhillyTalksthe Radio Reading Project, the Orono 40s conference, the Sound & Syntax International Festival of Sound Poetry, and more — along with talks from the St. Mark's Talks seriesSUNY-Buffalo, the New Langton Arts Center, and LINEbreak, videos from Public Access Poetry and Mac Low's 75th birthday festschrift, and numerous complete album releases (often with Anne Tardos). You'll also want to check out the 2008 book launch event for Thing of Beauty: New and Selected Works, which features Tardos, Charles BernsteinMei-mei BerssenbruggeDrew GardnerJoan RetallackChris Mason, and others, as well as PoemTalk #46 on Mac Low's "Words nd Ends from Ez." Finally, you'll find links to Mac Low's EPC author page, which is home to numerous texts, interviews, and tributes.




John Richetti Reads Two By Whitman

Posted 9/9/2020

We're very glad to have a new brief session from UPenn emeritus professor John Richetti to share with our listeners. Recorded just last week, we find Richetti revisiting the work of Walt Whitman, delivering compelling versions of two of the good gray poet's most beloved poems: "O Captain! My Captain!," and "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd." You'll find these tracks on a special page containing all of Richetti's renditions of Whitman's work, which also includes "Song of Myself" in its entirety, "I Sing the Body Electric," and "I Hear America Singing," among other titles.

We last heard from Richetti this past spring, when he delivered a set of five poems by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.  Numerous previous sessions with Richetti are available on PennSound Classics, spanning more than a decade. They include his prodigious "111 Favorite Poems for Memorizing," "The PennSound Anthology of Restoration & 18th-Century Poetry," and his audio anthology of English Renaissance Verse. Richetti has additionally recorded selections from Matthew Arnold, W.H. Auden, William Blake, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Emily Dickinson, John Donne, John Dryden, George Herbert, Ben Jonson, John Keats, Andrew Marvell, John Milton, Edgar Allan Poe, William Shakespeare, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Algernon Charles Swinburne, William Wordsworth, and William Butler Yeats. These lovingly-made recordings, rendered in Richetti's distinctive tenor, are a tremendous resource for the classroom or for any lover of poetry. 

With the exception of the aforementioned anthologies, PennSound Classics is divided by author, so you can see Richetti's ample contributions alongside those of many other poets and scholars. To start browsing, click here.


New at Jacket2: "This Poem Kills Facists!" — Poetry and the 2020 Election

Posted 9/4/2020

We're really excited to share news of a new Jacket2 commentary series that launched this week, "'This Poem Kills Facists!' — Poetry and the 2020 Election," which is co-curated by Michael Ruby and Sam Truitt (who also co-edited the 2016 feature "13 Poems by Bernadette Mayer," published in coordination with Eating the Colors of a Lineup of Words: The Early Books of Bernadette Mayer). In their introductory post, they set out their plans for the next two months:

Our thought was to showcase responses to this poetry-politics crisscross from Hudson Valley poets. Elections are decided by bodies of people on land with arbitrary boundaries. The Hudson Valley is as good a set as most — at once full of wild practitioners and via the Hudson River connected to New York City, with many of us circulating back and forth. That means it breathes and integrates myriad influences, interests, and ways of whipping up words, among other poetic materials.

We wanted the poets who responded to this call to be free in what they do — as immortal, uncanny, and useful as they saw fit — with the proviso that they maintain foremost in mind that they are writing as commentators on poetry in relation to the 2020 elections or vice versa.

After mentioning the "suggestions and instigations" they offered their respondents (which are appended at the end of the post) they note that "That pretty much takes us to now: this first post introducing what's to come, which we haven't yet seen from most of the other contributors. This puts us all on the same plane, analogous to where the world is, wondering what this coming vote may bring."

Ruby and Truitt then offer individual notes to inaugurate the series. In Truitt's, he ruminates on the commentary series' title — "The phrase of course derives from the Oklahoma-born poet folk-rocker Woody Guthrie (1912–1967), who in 1943, in wartime, wrote on his guitar 'THIS MACHINE KILLS FASCISTS.' He did that shortly after writing 'Talking Hitler's Head Off Blues.' — and connects the iconic folk singer to the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. via "white supremacist Fred Trump," who owned the Brooklyn apartment complex where Guthrie lived in the early 1950s. Ruby starts in " haze of fear and pessimism," about the election that leads him to revisit "some political poems that had always resonated for me, some about elections, some not," by the likes of WhitmanWilliams, Lowell, OlsonMayerGinsberg, and Baraka, before concluding, "I came to the possibly defeatist conclusion that American political poetry is a series of responses to defeats. That's what I'm going to write about in our next post."

While the next few months will be hectic, we're glad to have these two poets spearheading what promises to be a fascinating commentary series. Be sure to check in frequently to see when new posts have gone up.


Remembering Siah Armajani, Who Wed Ashbery and Architecture

Posted 8/31/2020

We're grateful to Andrew Epstein (author of the indispensable blog Locus Solus: The New York School of Poets) for pointing out the recent death of Siah Armajani. This "long underrecognized" Iranian-American artist, "whose work across media bridged architecture, democracy, mathematics, and the commons" (per his Artforum obit), is perhaps best known to PennSound listeners as the architect behind Minneapolis' Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge, for which he commissioned his friend John Ashbery to compose a poem.

When Ashbery passed away in 2017 the Walker Art Center (where Armajani's pedestrian bridge is located) remembered the poet's collaboration with the architect, which started with the idea of borrowing just a few lines from Ashbery's work. As Armajani explained "Poetry makes things less didactic and makes it less dogmatic. There's a generosity in poetry that you can contradict yourself on. And also it's an open-ended proposition, so there's a way out." In time the concept evolved to a new poem, commissioned for the occasion, which Ashbery read on site on September 11, 1990. You can listen to a recording of Ashbery reading at the bridge, read the untitled poem in its entirety, and see images of the work on the Walker website. That same recording is also available on PennSound's Ashbery author page, along with a veritable avalanche of recordings from the beloved poet, spanning nearly seventy years.



Congratulations to Tracie Morris for a Historic First

Posted 8/28/2020

We send our heartiest congratulations to Tracie Morris, who made history this week at the Iowa Writers Workshop. As a press release from the university notes:

Dr. Morris joined the Workshop this fall as a full professor with tenure and will teach Graduate Poetry Workshop courses and Form of Poetry seminars to students enrolled in the graduate creative writing program. She was the inaugural Distinguished Visiting Professor of Poetry at the Workshop for several semesters before joining the permanent faculty, and she is the first tenured African American full professor of Poetry in the history of the Workshop.

Morris joins Jamel Brinkley, Margot Livesey, Charles D’Ambrosio, Ethan Canin, James Galvin, Mark Levine, Elizabeth Willis, and Lan Samantha Chang as permanent faculty members. Chang, the workshop's director, welcomed Morris and praised her, noting "Her expertise and brilliance of innovation as a poet and performer is revolutionary. She is also an exceptional and inspiring teacher."

We're proud to have counted Morris as a friend of PennSound for a long time, as evidenced by the contents of her PennSound author page, which starts with a 2005 Close Listening reading and interview hosted by Charles Bernstein and her contributions to a half-dozen episodes in the PoemTalk podcast series, including its landmark 100th program. You'll find many more local recordings there, whether at our own Kelly Writers House, the ICA, or the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and a diverse collection of readings, talks, and more spanning twenty years. Click here to start exploring.



PoemTalk #151: Two by Eileen Myles

Posted 8/26/2020

Today we released the latest episode in the PoemTalk Podcast series — program #151 in total — which focuses on two poems from Eileen Myles' 2001 collection, Skies: "Writing" and "Mount St. Helens. For this show, host Al Filreis convened a panel that included Jess Shollenberger, June Thomas, and Stephen Metcalf (shown left to right).

Filreis' PoemTalk blog post on this new show makes a point of offering introductions to each of the panelists: "Jess Shollenberger is writing about the convergence of queer studies and everyday life studies. Steve Metcalf hosts Slate's Culture Gabfest, has written a book about the 1980s, and is fascinated by poems about poems. June Thomas is well known for her creation of — and support as producer of — a series of innovative LGBTQ podcasts through Slate and, aligned with this work, for her innovative approach to television criticism." As he notes, "The three together, we think, combine spontaneously to form a memorable discussion of everyday self-image in 'Writing' and writing-as-elegy in 'Mount St. Helens.'" He also offers this explanation of an oversight by the group: "We acknowledge a significant flaw after the spontaneous conversation was completed: we hadn't conferred prior to beginning the recording about Eileen Myles's then somewhat recent preference in favor of they/them pronouns, and several of us at times use 'she' and 'her' in error, for which we hope listeners will forgive us." Finally, his note closes with this eerie bit of context as a postscript: "We recorded this prior to the closure of the Kelly Writers House space. Listeners waiting for references to the tribulations of the pandemic hear none because, happily then, it hadn't happened yet."

You can read more about this latest show and find the complete text of both poems here. The full PoemTalk archives, spanning more than a decade, can be found here.



Two New Belladonna* Readings, 2020

Posted 8/25/2020


We've just added videos of two recent readings from the venerable Belladonna* Readings Series to our site.

First up, we have a July 7th reading held as part of the Belladonna* In-Flux series. James Loop, Alma Valdez-García, Poupeh Missaghi, and Zoe Tuck provided introductions for this event, which the readers were Oki Sogumi, Kanika Agrawal, and María José Giménez. Like most cultural events nowadays, this reading was conducted via Zoom.

Then, from August 18th, we have a launch event celebrating the third issue of Matters of Feminist Practice, which was also held virtually via Zoom. Poupeh Missaghi (co-editor of the journal, along with Karla Kelsey) and Megan Madden provided introductions for the reading, which featured sets from Yanara Friedland, Frances Richard, Adrienne Perry, Rachel Levitsky, and Serena Chopra.

Now in its twenty-first year, Belladonna* is "a reading series and independent press that promotes the work of women writers who are adventurous, experimental, politically involved, multi-form, multicultural, multi-gendered, impossible to define, delicious to talk about, unpredictable, and dangerous with language." You can watch these latest additions by clicking here, and there are countless amazing recordings spanning the series' complete history waiting for you to discover on PennSound's Belladonna* series page.



A New S Press Addition: Ernst Jandl, 'Aus der Fremde' (1980)

Posted 8/21/2020

We've been ecstatic to see such positive responses to our recent announcement of PennSound's S Press Collection page and we intend to periodically dip back into the archive to highlight certain recordings of note. Today, however, we're happy to announce a new addition to that page from Austrian author, translator, sound poet, and concrete poet Ernst Jandl.

Originally released in 1980 as #52 in the series, Jandl's Aus der Fremde ("From Abroad," sometimes translated as "From Foreign Lands") was reissued as S Press tape #86. Subtitled "A spoken opera in 7 scenes," Aus der Fremde was later staged with three actors' voices as a radio play by Westdeutscher Rundfunk / Hessischer Rundfunk (also later released on CD by Gertraud Scholz Verlag). This S Press version appears to be an artist's study of sorts for that later production, recorded during the latter half of 1978 as Jandl worked through the material, and therefore there are variations in the text from the final version and the fidelity is not studio quality. The piece is divided into two parts, seemingly determined by the technical limitations of the medium: the first side runs for 59 minutes while the second is just shy of 43. Click here to listen.

Jandl's 13 Radiophone Texts, recorded at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in 1966, was released in 1977 as S Press tape #50. While we currently do not have permission to present that recording, we have provided a link to UbuWeb where the curious can listen in. Click here to start browsing our S Press Collection page from the top.



Adrienne Rich: Three New Recordings

Posted 8/19/2020

We recently added a trio of new recordings to PennSound's Adrienne Rich author page that come from various points through her writing life. Particularly with the new academic year starting, this is a great time for readers and teachers alike to check out the formidable collection of recordings we have to share from one of the most iconic poets of our time.

First, we have Rich's April 30, 1972 appearance on New York's WBAI-FM. Interestingly, given that this reading takes between two of her best-known collections — 1971's The Will to Change and 1973's National Book Award-winning Diving Into the Wreck — Rich has chosen to read from two earlier collections: Snapshots of a Daughter-In-Law (1963) and Necessities of Life (1966). Given Rich's radicalization and embrace of her queer identity as the 60s progressed, these earlier poems, written between 1954 and 1965, are dramatically different in both form and content than the work Rich was presently engaged in.

Jumping forward to 1977, we have Rich's contributions to A Sign / I Was Not Alone, an LP released by Out & Out Books that also featured readings by Honor Moore, Audre Lorde, and Joan Larkin. Rich's nine-minute set closes out the album's B-side and features three poems: "The Mirror in Which Two Are Seen As One," "Power," and "Phantasia for Elvira Shatayev." We've also provided a link to Queer Music Heritage where you can read the album's liner notes and listen to the other poets who took part as well. 

Finally, from November 30, 1993, we have "An Evening with Adrienne Rich: City Arts and Lectures," an event that took place in San Francisco. Here, Rich reads work that would later be published in What Is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics. The recording starts in the middle of "How Does a Poet Put Bread on the Table?" and continues with an excerpt from "The Muralist," then "A Leak In History" and "Tourism and Promised Lands," before concluding with that book's final section, "What If?"

You can click on the links above to be taken to each recording, or click here to start browsing PennSound's Adrienne Rich author page from the top.




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