Featured resources

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

  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
  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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PoemTalk #146: on Robert Frost's "Mending Wall"

Posted 3/27/2020

Today, we released a very exciting new program from the PoemTalk Podcast Seriesepisode #146 in total — which addresses Robert Frost's iconic poem "Mending Wall." For this special program, host Al Filreis was joined by a panel consisting of (from left to right) ModPo coordinator Anna Strong Safford, poet Ahmad Almallah, and the host of Slate Culture Gabfest, Stephen Metcalf.

Filreis begins his PoemTalk blog post on this  episode by addressing the poem's immense cultural baggage: "What hasn't already been said about this poem? Well, to our ears at least, this conversation goes in several unusual and, we think, fascinating new directions. What exactly is the nature of the poem's (or anyway the speaker's) cultural conservatism? Can the wall really be read geopolitically? Is it more about what is being walled out than walled in? Do the stalwart iambs themselves form a wall that is hard for readers to get across? Are the gaps in the wall wide enough for new readers to get through?" From there, he goes on to the poem's provenance as well as the history of the recording under discussion here. You can read more, and browse a selection of "Mending Wall"-centric resources from ModPo and the Kelly Writers House by clicking here. The full PoemTalk archives, spanning more than a decade, can be found here.

Update on the Lawrence Upton Estate

Posted 3/25/2020

Late last month we asked for your help in preserving the archives of influential British poet Lawrence Upton by supporting a petition organized by cris cheek — which received a total of 676 signatures. Today we're happy to provide a very positive update from cheek, who writes:
Good News! Thanks to everyone for supporting the petition. We gathered more than 600 signatures in a couple of days and its weight plus collective stature has helped. This week the coroner's office, social services and the police did not prevent access to the house being granted. A will witnessed by two signatories has been found. There is still a massive project ahead to begin archiving and conserving the material, our primary concern. But that work can now begin. Big thanks to all of you, to the persistence of Tina Bass, John John Levack Drever, Robert Hampson and all in the support group.
We couldn't be happier to see a good end come to this potential tragedy and share our appreciation with all of our listeners who might've seen our post and signed on to the petition. One other bit of auspicious news worth sharing is that Upton has been memorialized with an obituary in The Guardian by Robert Hampson, published on March 12th.

This is a great opportunity to remind you of the new PennSound author page that we assembled from various recordings scattered throughout our archives. There, you'll find two appearances on Martin Spinelli's program Radio Radio, the 2010 film The Sound of Writers Forum, Upton and John Drever performing "Speculative Scores" at the 2011 E-Poetry Festival at SUNY-Buffalo, and video from the Polycovalia festival at Birkbeck College in June 2011, where "Lawrence Upton, Chris Goode, cris cheek, Holly Pester and others revisit work by Sumner, bpnichol, Basinski, Cobbing, MacLow and other scores, poems and possibilities." Click here to start listening to these materials.

LINEbreak Turns 25

Posted 3/24/2020

Charles Bernstein recently posted on social media about the silver anniversary of LINEbreak, the first of several radio programs that he's produced over the past twenty-five years:
In 1995, Martin Spinelli and I did a series of 30-minute radio conversations and readings with poets and writers. It was one of the first programs to be distributed nationally by satellite to public radio stations, so a precursor to Podcasts. I went on to a make a related series of programs, Close Listening. All are available free to stream or download on PennSound. All in all, there have been conversations and readings by 133 poets, writers, and artists.  
He then goes on to list that impressive full roster of participants for both programs, which we'll replicate below. You can click on the names of each series to browse their complete archives. We congratulate Charles and the many other folks who've helped produce these shows over the year on an auspicious anniversary and look forward to many more episodes in the years to come!

LINEbreak:  Bruce Andrews, Paul Auster, Robert Creeley,  Raymond Federman, Ben Friedlander, Madeleine Gins, Loss Pequeño Glazier, Barbara Guest, Carla Harryman, Lyn Hejinian, Susan Howe, Karen Mac Cormack, Jackson Mac Low, Steve McCaffery, Lance and Andrea Olsen, Jena Osman, Ted Pearson, Jerome Rothenberg, Leslie Scalapino,  Ken Sherwood, Ron Silliman, Peter Straub, Luci Tapahonso, Dennis Tedlock, Fiona Templeton, Cecilia Vicuna, Hannah Weiner, Ben Yarmolinsky

Close Listening: Will Alexander, David Antin, Rae Armantrout, John Ashbery, Khin Aung Aye and James Byrne, Caroline Bergvall, Bill Berkson, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Christian Bok, Régis Bonvicino, Lee Ann Brown, Colon Browne, Phong Bui, Stanley Cavell, Miles Champion, Abigail Chlld, Wystan Curnow, Michael Davidson, Alan Davies, Samuel R. Delany, Dubravka Djuric, Arkadii Dragomoshchenko, Johanna Drucker, Rachel DuPlessis, Clayton Eshleman, Eduardo Espina, Al Filreis, Norman Fischer, Allen Fisher, Richard Foreman, Dominique Fourcade, Tonya Foster, Sergei Gandlevsky, Jorgen Gassilewiski, Ernie Gehr, Peter Gizzi, Kenneth Goldsmith, Dmitry Golynko, Ted Greenwald, Robert Grenier, Mimi Gross, Anna Hallberg, Henry Hills, Erica Hunt, Peter Inman, Ken Jacobs, Patricia Spears Jones, Pierre Joris, Lawrence Joseph, Douglas Kearney, Myung Mi Kim, George Kuchar, Joel Kuszai, Gerritt Lansing, Norbert Lange, Ann Lauterbach, Hank Lazer, Tan Lin, Alan Loney, Zeyar Lynn, Nathaniel Mackey, Daphne Marlatt, Bernadette Mayer, Thomas McEvilley, Jerome McGann, Douglas Messerli, Peter Middleton, Drew Milne, Tracie Morris, Erin Mouré, Eileen Myles, Redell Olsen, Maggie O'Sullivan, Michael Palmer, Julie Patton, Bruce Pearson, Ted Pearson, Bob Perelman, Marjorie Perloff, Nick Piombino, Jean-Michel Rabaté, Tom Raworth, Naomi Replansky, Joan Retallack, Cia Rinne, Lisa Robertson, Kit Robinson, Claude Royet-Journoud, Jay Sanders, Mira Schor, Harold Schimmel, Alexander Skidan, Susan Stewart, Peter Straub, ko ko thett, Mónica de la Torre, John Tranter, Richard Tuttle, Tyrone Williams, Elizabeth Willis, Keith Waldrop, Rosmarie Waldrop Fred Wah

Two Upcoming ModPo SloPo Online Discussions with Filreis, Knittle

Posted 3/22/2020

As we mentioned in our last note, we're continually looking for opportunities to expand our virtual offerings for those longing for a little poetic discussion in the midst of this season of self-quarantine. Today we have two new events to announce, both of which will take place this week as part of ModPo's off-season SloPo series.

The first of these conversations will be led by Al Filreis (shown at left) and will take place on Tuesday, March 24, from 11 AM to 1 PM EDT. It will focus on Gwendolyn Brooks' poem, "The Chicago Picasso," and here you'll find a link to the ModPo thread for this poem, along with the text of the poem, a ModPo video on the poem, and Brooks' comments on her own work. As Filreis notes, "You do *not* need to watch the video or read her statement in order to participate in this 'live' 2-hour discussion on March 24 at 11 AM (Philadelphia time). You only have to read the poem!"

Then, on Thursday, March 26, from 5 to 7 PM EDT, Davy Knittle (shown at right) will host a 2-hour discussion of Elizabeth Willis' poem titled "Survey." Links to the ModPo thread on the poem, its complete text, audio of Willis reading it, and a short video discussion can all be found here.

We welcome you to join us for these special online events and keep an eye out for more virtual programming as the semester progresses.

Erín Moure's KWH Fellows Program Rescheduled as a Virtual Event

Posted 3/20/2020

When we announced that this spring's programming at the Kelly Writers House was cancelled due to COVID-19 we also noted that one event we hoped to be able to still present in a virtual format was this year's Kelly Writers House Fellows reading and conversation with Canadian poet and translator Erín Moure. Today we have the details for that rescheduled event, via Lily Applebaum, KWH's Assistant to the Faculty Director:

This is Lily Applebaum from the Kelly Writers House, with a special announcement! Of course we have been impacted by the chaos of the last few weeks and have postponed or cancelled all of our in-person events. But I'm thrilled to announce that we will still host Writers House Fellow Erín Moure for a poetry reading and Q&A that is completely virtual. No in-person attendance is possible for this program, but you will be able to stream live from any connection via the Kelly Writers House YouTube channel. The program will, of course, also be recorded and uploaded for your future viewing.

So please tune in on Monday, March 30 at 5:30PM EST, via KWH-TV or our YouTube Channel. 

For the first 45 minutes or so, Erín will read from her work. Then, we'll shift into a ~45 minute question and answer portion where Fellows program coordinator Lily Applebaum and course TA Anna Strong Safford will be relaying YOUR questions to Erín live on air. You can ask your question in three ways:
  • by tweeting with the hashtag #ErinMoureLive, in advance, during the broadcast, or both
  • by writing an e-mail to Lily at with something in the subject line like "A question for Erín," preferably in advance of the broadcast
  • by commenting on the YouTube video during the broadcast

If you'd like to receive up to the minute e-mail information about this event, as well as a reminder on with a direct link, please write to mailto:whfellow@writing.upenn.edu to sign up. Of course anyone can tune in and no RSVP is required to view.

And from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of all my colleagues on the KWH staff, thank you for your patience as we move carefully and intentionally through these difficult times. We're doing our best to maintain the interactivity and the community you've come to expect, and that we take great pride in providing, through our in-person events, and translating that to our virtual events. As for future Writers House events that may be moving to the virtual, please stay tuned for information as those event organizers will make more specific announcements.

Thank you again, I so hope you'll tune in on 3/30 at 5:30PM for this reading and Q&A event!

All my best,

New at J2: Charles Bernstein's Close Listening Interview with Tonya Foster

Posted 3/19/2020

Here's some exciting new content posted at Jacket2 this morning: "The Performance of Freedom,"  an edited transcript of Charles Bernstein's Close Listening conversation with Tonya Foster. Recorded on June 18, 2013 at Studio 215 in New York and presented by Clocktower Radio in collaboration with PennSound, the interview portion of this program was transcribed by Mariah Macias and edited for publication by the two participants.

As Kelly Liu explains in her introductory note, "The conversation, between Charles Bernstein and Tonya Foster, discusses Foster's then-forthcoming poetry collection, A Swarm of Bees in High Court (Belladonna*, 2015), as well as topics surrounding Foster's writing process and African American poetry communities such as Umbra and Cave Canem." Early in the conversation, Bernstein asks Foster to "talk a little bit about the role that sound plays in [her] work." He continues:
There's lots of sound associations and inchoate sounds in your work, and a lot of it seems to move through progressions of sounds. I noted just one example: "salt and startled." Which of course, if you just scramble the letters of startled, you get salt in there — and yet it's not an expected kind of rhyme, assonance, and alliteration — but you seem to have a lot of things like that. And at one point you say toward the end of your reading: "follow thought and sound." How do you follow thought and sound? 
"Well, I feel like I hear when I'm writing, and that for me, the sort of sound of language — I’m not even clear what I’m about to say," she begins. "I feel like the sound of language produces meanings in unexpected ways, and that sometimes a word will sound right without my necessarily thinking about what it means — that musically it feels right, which makes no sense, 'cause I can't sing. But that's how I write for me." She concludes, "The thought is so much about sound, what I've heard, and what I'm hearing."

You can follow their full conversation here and click here to listen as you read along. 

PennSound Italiana

Posted 3/16/2020

I thought it would be good, as we all struggle to adjust to our new reality, for us to start this week by highlighting our resources from one of the countries hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic: Italy. Our PennSound Italiana anthology page, lovingly edited by Jennifer Scappettone, offers our listeners a stellar survey of contemporary Italian poetry. When we launched the page five years ago, Scappettone offered an introduction to the collection in an essay published at Jacket2. Here's how she starts off:
We seek over the course of this ongoing project to offer a broad sense of the field, filling in the substantive gaps in global access to Italian poetry (as both written and sonic text — even within Italian borders), and expanding awareness of its range of practitioners, with an emphasis on marginalized and experimental voices of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It is an effort — a unique one, in our reckoning — to "liberate" the spectrum of Italian poetry for as broad a public as possible through audio and video recordings, given that the publishing industry and the translation market are endangered and/or blinkered enough to condemn a significant swath of both historical and contemporary innovation to oblivion. As such, this live archive extends the task of PennSound writ large. 
Regular updates have been made to the page over the intervening years and we're always eager to have more work from Scappettone to share with our listeners. At present, the page has recordings from Gian Maria Annovi, Mariasole Ariot, Maria Attanasio, Luigi Ballerini, Gherardo Bortolotti, Franco Buffoni, Maria Grazia Calandrone, Alessandra Cava, Laura Cingolani, Corrado Costa, Elisa Davoglio, Milo De Angelis, Alessandro De Francesco, Antonella Doria, Giovanna Frene, Florinda Fusco, Samir Galal Mohamed, Marco Giovenale, Milli Graffi, Mariangela Guatteri, Giulio Marzaioli, Andrea Inglese, Eva Macali, Enzo Minarelli, Tommaso Ottonieri, Angela Passarello, Jonida Prifti / Stefano Di Trapani (a.k.a. Acchiappashpirt), Laura Pugno, Andrea Raos, Marilena Renda, Lidia Riviello, Amelia Rosselli, Rosaria Lo Russo, and Andrea Zanzotto. Click here to start browsing PennSound Italiana, and don't forget that Scappettone's Jacket2 intro includes some of her highlights from the collection, including background information on the historical nature of each recording.

KWH Programming Canceled for the Remainder of Spring 2020

Posted 3/12/2020

Earlier today, Kelly Writers House Director Jessica Lowenthal shared this message with the community regarding programming for the remainder of the semester:
As many of you will have heard by now, Penn has extended its spring break by one week and will then migrate all courses online. 
Following this news, Kelly Writers House will postpone or cancel all scheduled live/in-person events and activities through the end of the semester. 
Ongoing digital projects, including online book groups and ModPo mini-courses, will continue as planned. And we look forward to sharing news about additional virtual or digital-only events we hope to host!
We'll share any further developments in this space and you can keep an eye on the Kelly Writers House calendar for updates regarding programming. Take note that Erín Moure's much-anticipated Kelly Writers House Fellows reading and conversation will be combined into one virtual event to be held via livestream, which you can watch via KWH-TV or our YouTube channel. The finalized date and time for that event will be announced in the near future. Stay tuned and stay safe!

Happy Birthday to Joe Brainard!

Posted 3/11/2020

March 11 would have been the seventy-ninth birthday of second generation New York School titan (or "soi-disant Tulsa School," depending on who you ask) titan Joe BrainardOur Joe Brainard author page is anchored by four readings from the St. Mark's Poetry Project recorded between 1971 and 1981. They include copious excerpts from his magnum opus, I Remember, along with selections from his journals and numerous other pieces such as "Thanksgiving," "Insomnia," "Worry Wart," "The Zucchini Problem," "Today (Monday, February 23rd, 1981)," and "Sick Art." Additionally, you'll find excerpts from Train Ride read at SFSU in the mid-1970s and a stellar reading with Bill Berkson at Intersection for the Arts in 1971, plus more I Remember selections taken from a 1974 Giorno Poetry Systems session and a recording session at home in Calais, VT in 1970. 

Filmmaker Matt Wolf (who directed the much-lauded Wild Combination, a documentary on the life of avant-pop cellist Arthur Russell) is back with an exciting new project — I Remember: A Film About Joe Brainard — a haunting and gorgeous meditation that deftly intertwines both imagery and audio to create a compelling tribute to the artist and author. We're very glad to see Brainard commemorated in such grand fashion, and happier still that Wolf was was kind enough to share an exclusive clip with PennSound. In it, longtime friend, collaborator and confidante Ron Padgett discusses Brainard's early development as a visual artist and his ability to work confidently in a wide variety of media and forms, never becoming complacent in one style.
You'll find all of the recordings mentioned above by clicking here. It's also worth checking out Andrew Epstein's 2014 Brainard birthday post on his New York School-focused blog, Locus Solus, which features excerpts from a tribute poem by James Schuyler, excerpts from I Remember "thinking about birthdays, and our frustrating efforts to understand 'time,'" and a few examples of his artwork. Brainard's birthday is also a wonderful reason to revisit the Make Your Own Brainard site, where you can make your own collages using fragments from his visual work.

PoemTalk is Now on Spotify

Posted 3/9/2020

Now in its thirteenth year, the mighty PoemTalk Podcast series recently released its 145th episode — on selections from Tonya Foster's 2015 Belladonna* collection, A Swarm of Bees in High Court — and a new episode is expected shortly. You already know you can get your monthly PoemTalk fix at Jacket2 and on The Poetry Foundation's website, as well as by subscription via iTunes and Simplecast

As of today, we're proud to announce yet another way you can keep up with the series: PoemTalk has been added to Spotify. Click here to listen or follow the series for a wonderful way to fit a little poetry into your life during your commute, your workout, or while you're doing the dishes.

Don't forget that PoemTalk is just one of the podcasts produced by our affiliated entities here at UPenn's Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing. There's also the PennSound Podcast series — which we've highlighted in several recent PennSound Daily entries — as well as Steve McLaughlin's Into the Field series and the more sporadic Kelly Writers House podcast as well. You can keep up with the latest episodes from each on Jacket2's Podcast landing page.

Tom Raworth: Two Newly Segmented Recordings

Posted 3/6/2020

We bring this week to a close with two newly segmented recordings by Tom Raworth.

The earlier of these readings took place at Vancouver's Kootenay School of Writing on November 17, 1998. Raworth's twenty-minute set was comprised of thirteen poems in total, including "Intellectual Compost 4," "Death to a Star," "60 Words I've Never Used Before," "Unable to Create Carrier," "Crowded with Otiose Passengers," "Cat Van Cat," "Differences in Common," "No Hard Feelings," "Pyrophoric," and "Ingot We Trust." 

We jump ahead fifteen years to Raworth's February 22, 2013 reading at Boise State University as part of their MFA Reading Series. Here,  the ever-swift Raworth managed to squeeze thirty-two poems into his twenty-seven minute performance, including the titles 

"The Third Retainer;" "Ah, the Poetry of Miss Parrot's Feet Demonstrating the Tango;" "You've Ruined My Evening, You've Ruined My Life;" "Euro'd;" "Human Warmth;" "Wit Wither;" "There Are Few People Who Put on Any Clothes;" "Noise;" "Why I Am Not a Mathematician;" "Drone of Your Own;" "Coffee, Tobacco, Hemp;" "Where Does Light Speed?;" "Sound Pound;" "Close the Loop on This;" "Olympic Games;" "Asyndeton;" "How to Patronize a Poem;" and "Ice Quakes."

You can listen to these recordings by clicking on the links above. As you might imagine, PennSound's Tom Raworth author page is home to a collection of recordings well befitting this prolific and influential poet, with literally hundreds of individual tracks spanning nearly four decades, including his two entries in the Rockdrill series, Close Listening and PoemTalk programs, and numerous readings in the US, UK, and Canada. 

PennSound Podcast #69: Rodney Koeneke and Davy Knittle

Posted 3/4/2020

We've just released a new episode in the PennSound Podcast Series, our 69th episode overall. Nick Plante has all the info you need to know about this show over at Jacket2:
In September 2018 Davy Knittle hosted poet Rodney Koeneke in the Wexler Studio to discuss his book, Body & Glass (Wave Books, 2018). Their conversation touches on Koeneke's writing process and use of pronouns as a "distancing technique," the role of poetry — particularly experimental forms — in America today, and how joy might emerge from work about loss. In the podcast, the two also examine the traditions that poetry assembles for itself, drawing comparisons between modernists like Joyce and contemporary poets. Koeneke recorded readings for PennSound as well. 
That session showcases poems from Body and Glass as well as Koeneke's 2014's book Etruria (also published by Wave Books). Running twenty-six minutes, it includes the poems "Larry's House of Brakes," "in the backlands of the provence," "tarnish the coppice, punk autumn," "the new sobriety," "scott walker sings," "humber, severn, mersey, thames, and ouse," "another hapless functionary," "he continually puts autumn in his writing," and nineteen more titles. You can listen to that recording and many more, going back as far as 2004, by clicking here. To listen in on their conversation, click here. You can browse the full archive of PennSound Podcasts by clicking here.

Celebrating Lou Reed's Birthday with a New Author Page

Posted 3/2/2020

Legendary songwriter Lou Reed would have turned 78 today. In his honor, we've created a new PennSound author page for him, which is home to his 2012 appearance at our own Kelly Writers House as the honored guest of that year's Blutt Singer-Songwriter Symposium. That hour long conversation with Anthony DeCurtis, has very usefully been segmented thematically, including individual tracks covering "his early interest in rock and roll and songwriting," "writing rock lyrics about drug culture and the ignored netherworld," "his constantly shifting artistic focuses," "his formal education," "improvisation in relation to his concept albums," and "being unaware of his influence" among others, along with comments on friends, collaborators, and influences, including Delmore Schwartz, Andy Warhol, the Velvet Underground, Laurie Anderson, Leonard Cohen, Edgar Allan Poe, Bob Dylan, and Metallica. 

When Reed died of liver disease in November 2013, we paid tribute to him here on PennSound Daily, making an argument for his literary bonafides:
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.
Seven years later, his presence is still sorely missed. You can listen to Reed's Blutt conversation by clicking here.

Help Preserve the Archives of Lawrence Upton

Posted 2/28/2020

British poet Lawrence Upton passed away on February 19th at the age of 70, leaving behind no next of kin. That latter fact threatens to make the former an even greater tragedy. His old friend and compatriot cris cheek has organized a petition to avert this potential disaster, which we encourage you to read and sign here.

cheek cites a tribute in The Sutton and Croyden Guardian, which situates Upton as "a leading figure in [...] the British Poetry Revival," detailing his half-century as a poet, publisher, and performer, and highlighting his collaborations with figures like cheek, Bob Cobbing, Eric Mottram, and Philip Glass, among others. "Lawrence was extremely well regarded by academics and fellow artists around the world although he never gained commercial success in his lifetime," cheek notes. "The documents and letters in his house will contain materials that are invaluable and irreplaceable reference materials for scholars and practitioners alike," however there is a tremendous risk "that over half a century of artistic endeavour may end up in the landfill if his case is referred to the Local Authority and he is declared intestate," thus cheek's petition seeks to secure Upton's residence and belongings for long enough to survey the materials and make arrangements with interested institutions and archives including the British Library and Goldsmiths, University of London. You can read more and sign in support here.

To celebrate Upton's life and work, we've assembled a PennSound author page from materials scattered throughout our archives. They include two appearances on Martin Spinelli's program Radio Radio, the 2010 film The Sound of Writers Forum, Upton and John Drever performing "Speculative Scores" at the 2011 E-Poetry Festival at SUNY-Buffalo, and video from the Polycovalia festival at Birkbeck College in June 2011, where "Lawrence Upton, Chris Goode, cris cheek, Holly Pester and others revisit work by Sumner, bpnichol, Basinski, Cobbing, MacLow and other scores, poems and possibilities." You can browse these materials by clicking here.

Charles Bernstein, "Reznikoff's Nearness"

Posted 2/26/2020

Charles Bernstein's latest Jacket2 commentary post takes a new look at a fascinating old recording from our archives. The story starts more than thirty years ago: "From September 29 to October 1, 1989, the Literary Center at Royaumont, outside Paris, put on the first conference devoted to the American Objectivist poets." Organized by Emmanuel Hocquard and Rémy Hourcade, the symposium featured a formidable array of poets and commentators including Bernstein, Michael Davidson, Lyn Hejinian, Michael Palmer, Stephen Rodefer, and David Bromige, along with Carl Rakosi — who, Bernstein notes, "seem[ed] startled to be the last surving member of a grouping about which he had often tenuous connections." He also laments that "[Lorine] Niedecker was not officially featured in the program, a regrettable omission that was often noted at the event."

Bernstein's recollection continues: "Fall 1989 was my first semester teaching at Buffalo — as a visiting professor. I flew direct from Buffalo to Paris for the event, which was a magnificent tribute to the these poets. It's remarkable that these four great Second Wave modernist Jewish American poets received the first grand tribute of this kind in France, not in the US." A ninety-minute recording of Bernstein's talk, with a lavish introduction by Hocquard and live translation ("with commentary!") by Pierre Alferi has been a part of the PennSound archives since 2013. The same talk, "after several more years of work [...] became 'Reznikoff’s Nearness' (first published in Sulfur and later collected in My Way)," but the version we're highlighting today is the transcribed version of the original conference presentation, first published in Notes #3 in June 1990. You can read that iteration here.

Happy 95th Birthday to Etel Adnan!

Posted 2/24/2020

We start this week out with birthday greetings for Lebanese-American poet and painter Etel Adnan, who turns 95 today! PennSound's Etel Adnan author page is home to a modest collection of recordings that nevertheless give a sense of her diverse talents.

We begin with Adnan's 2006 appearance on episode #118 of Leonard Schwartz's program, Cross-Cultural Poetics, titled "Forms of Violence." Via phone from Paris, she "reads from her book In the Heart of A Heart Of Another Country (City Lights), and meditates on her mother city of Beirut and American violence, inner and outer."

From 2010, we have a Serpentine Gallery reading showcasing The Arab Apocalypse and a 2012 reading commemorating the release of Homage to Etel Adnan (Post-Apollo), which was held at The Green Arcade Books Ideas Goods and co-sponsored by The Poetry Center and Small Press Traffic. Adnan returned to the Serpentine Sackler Gallery in London for a conversation with poet Robert Grenier a few weeks later. This chat between two hybrid artists was the inaugural event for the exhibition, "Etel Adnan: the Weight of the World."

Our most recent addition is a marvelous longform discussion with Jennifer Scappettone, recorded September 23–24, 2017, which has been segmented into individual tracks by theme, including "Home Life and School in Beirut," "Education in Philosophy and Beginnings in Painting," "English-Language Poetry and US Politics from the Vietnam War through Today," and "Cultural Identity, Multilingualism, and Translation". We're grateful to be able to share her work with our audience, and  likewise send our thanks to those who've shared resources with us. You can listen to any of the aforementioned recordings by clicking here.

Woodberry Poetry Room Oral History Iniative: Denise Levertov

Posted 2/21/2020

We're closing out the week by shining the spotlight on a recording added to our archives nearly a decade ago that's well worth your time. While we don't have permission from Denise Levertov's estate to share her work on PennSound, that doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of recordings of her peers and fans discussing and reading from her work. One of the most notable and revealing resources comes from the Oral History Initiative at Harvard's Woodberry Poetry Room and features several of the poet's close friends and associates.

Recorded on March 26, 2010, this event begins with brief preliminary statements by the three participants — Mark Pawlak (poet and editor of Hanging Loose, who befriended Levertov at MIT in 1969), Dick Lourie (founding editor of Hanging Loose Press and a member of Levertov's very first writing workshop in 1965) and Donna Hollenberg (author of the first full-length biography of Levertov) — which is followed by a fifty-minute open discussion, including questions by audience members. Woodberry Poetry Room curator, Christina Davis, who was kind enough to record the proceedings and send them our way, notes that the event had, "some wonderful and unexpected and cacophonous content and its free-form quality elicited much that I could not have foreseen." We're grateful to Christina for her generosity and know that you'll enjoy this spirited and intimate discussion of Levertov's life and times. You can listen in by clicking here.

PoemTalk #145: on Tonya Foster's "A Swarm of Bees in High Court"

Posted 2/20/2020

Today, we released the 145th episode in the PoemTalk Podcast Series, which addresses five pairs of haiku from Tonya Foster's 2015 Belladonna* collection, A Swarm of Bees in High Court. For this program, which was recorded on location at the Woodberry Poetry Room in Cambridge, Massachusetts, host Al Filreis was joined by a panel that included Stephanie Burt, Bonnie Costello, Anna Strong Safford.

Filreis' PoemTalk blog post on this episode includes more information on the specific poems discussed here, including the text of each haiku pair. There's also more on this special on-location program, including video footage of the full session, which was recorded alongside the podcast audio, and a preview of the next show. You can read more by clicking here. The full PoemTalk archives, spanning more than a decade, can be found here.

PennSound Podcast #68: Eileen Myles and Davy Knittle

Posted 2/17/2020

The latest episode in the PennSound Podcast Series — program number 68 in total — was recently posted. Over at Jacket2, Gabriela Portillo Alvarado offers up a quick summary of the show: "Davy Knittle and Eileen Myles had a conversation at Myles's home in the East Village in New York City in August, 2018, for this PennSound podcast. Their discussion began in the midst of an exchange about Myles’s 1991 collection Not Me and changes in their neighborhood at the time. Conversation topics spanned 'not-me-ness,' gender, capitalism, sexuality, perception, and observation, among others."

Davy Knittle (he/they) is a doctoral candidate in English at the University of Pennsylvania. He works in the fields of feminist, queer, and trans theory, urban environmental humanities, and multiethnic US writing. His critical work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in WSQ, GLQ, Planning Perspectives, and Modern Language Studies. He is a reviews editor for Jacket2, curates the City Planning Poetics talk and reading series at the Kelly Writers House, and organizes with Penn's Trans Literacy Project

Eileen Myles has published over twenty volumes, including Chelsea Girls, Cool for You, and I Must be Living Twice. They studied at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, and from 1984 to 1986, they were the artistic director of St. Mark's Poetry Project. Their works have earned the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry, the Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts, and the Lambda Literary Award for Small Press Book Award.

Click here to listen to this fascinating conversation. You can browse the full archive of PennSound Podcasts by clicking here.

Congratulations to PEN/Nabokov Award Winner M. NourbeSe Philip

Posted 2/14/2020

We close out this week with news of a wonderful honor for author M. NourbeSe Philip, who will receive the PEN/Nabokov Award for International Literature. The prize of $50,000 will be presented on March 2nd at New York's Town Hall ("the largest venue in the history of the PEN America Literary Awards") as part of a ceremony "hosted by Late Night host, comedian, and 'influential recommender of books' (The New York Times) Seth Meyers." Here is the complete prize citation from PEN America:
Founded in 2016 in collaboration with the Vladimir Nabokov Literary Foundation, the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature is conferred annually to a living author whose body of work, either written in or translated into English, represents the highest level of achievement in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and/or drama, and is of enduring originality and consummate craftsmanship. Previous winners of the award include Sandra Cisneros, Edna O’Brien, and Adonis. 
This year's PEN/Nabokov Award judges — Alexis Okeowo, George Elliott Clarke, Hari Kunzru, Lila Azam Zanganeh, and Viet Thanh Nguyen — have chosen poet, novelist, and essayist M. NourbeSe Philip, who has bent and pushed poetry and prose in exhilarating directions, via vivid and fragmentary portraits of the pluralities of African Diasporic experience and searing indictments of the oppressive structures — legal, linguistic, social — carried across history into our present. The Tobago-born, Canada-based writer's many singular, varied works include She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks, and Zong!
The organization's Director of Literary Programs, Clarisse Rosaz Shariyf, notes that "Fostering and celebrating international literature is central to the mission of the PEN America Literary Awards; we seek to champion original and promising writers of the global community and promote their work to an American audience." She continues: "This year we are incredibly proud to honor such urgent and diverse voices, which we know have the power to awaken empathy and redefine public discourse." Philip is in fine company alongside Tom Stoppard, Tanya Barfield, and Rigoberto González, who will also receive awards at the ceremony.

In anticipation of next month's event, you might want to check out PennSound's M. NourbeSe Philip author page, which archives more than a half-dozen complete readings by the poet, along with individual tracks, radio appearances, discussions, and much more, including numerous selections from her most iconic book, Zong!. We congratulate Philip for this well-deserved honor.

Lev Rubinstein at Hunter College, 2020

Posted 2/12/2020

In a recent Jacket2 commentary post, Charles Bernstein presents audio and video from Lev Rubinstein's recent reading at Hunter College. Recorded on February 6th, this set consists of selections from Ugly Duckling Presse's 2014 collection, Compleat Catalogue of Comedic Novelties, which collects all of Rubinstein's "note-card poems" written during the 1970s. These minimalist poems embody Rubinstein's sense of "hybrid genre,": "at times like a realistic novel, at times like a dramatic play, at times like a lyric poem, etc., that is, it slides along the edges of genres and, like a small mirror, fleetingly reflects each of them, without identifying with any of them."

As Bernstein notes in his post, reading Compleat Catalogue engendered "an enormous affinity between work we both were doing, unknown to one another, in the the 1970s." He continues: "Rubinstein's is a poetry of changing parts that ensnares the evanescent uncanniness of the everyday (in ways that bring to mind the seriality of both Reznikoff and Grenier). By means of rhythmically foregrounding a central device — the basic unit of the work is the index card — Rubinstein continuously remakes actual for us a flickering now time that is both intimate and strange."

Rubinstein reads his work in the original Russian, while the collection's translations by Philip Metres and Tatiana Tulchinsky are read by Matvei Yankelevich (shown above to the right of Rubinstein). A short video excerpt is available along with audio of the complete reading. You'll find both by clicking here.

Remembering Gerrit Lansing

Posted 2/11/2020

Today is the second anniversary of the passing of poet Gerrit Lansing, who lived to the ripe old age of eighty-nine. His loss is still felt among his friends and the broader poetry community, which makes it an excellent opportunity to revisit the recordings available on his PennSound author page.

The first thing you'll see there is a marvelously intimate Close Listening program with Charles Bernstein and special guest Susan Howe, which was recorded in two parts at Lansing's Gloucester, MA home in 2012. The first half features Lansing reading selections from his 2009 collected poems, The Heavenly Tree / Northern Earth, including "The Heavenly Tree Grows Downward," "The Castle of Flowering Birds," "The Milk of the Stars From Her Paps," "In the American Forest," and "Conventicle." The second half is a nearly hour-long conversation between the three that covers a remarkable array of topics: Charles Olson, discusses the wild of Gloucester, the relation of the magic (and the magical) and the occult to poetic practice, Nerval, queer politics and the poetics identity, New York in the immediate postwar period, parapsychology at Harvard in the late 1940s, Gnosticism versus neo-Platonism, Jewish mysticism, and his connections with Henry Murray, Harry Smith, Alan Watts, Aleister Crowley, Carl Jung, and John Ashbery.

Other recordings found there include Lansing's reading as part of the Olson 100 conference in 2010 — which includes "The Curve," "Auguries in Autumn," "Honey from the Rock," "Sunset as Early Warning System," "Egg Breakfast," and "Tabernacles" — and a 1987 reading at the Ear Inn, along with a few selections read as part of a Poems for the Millenium Vol. III, launch reading at Harvard in 2009. Thanks to Chris Funkhouser, we also have a Lansing tribute reading held in Kingston, NY in October 2018. The event begins with introductions by Michael Bisio (who also performs) and Pierre Joris, then continues with sets by Tamas Panitz, T. Urayoán Noel, Nicole PeyrafitteGeorge Quasha, Joris, Don Byrd, Charles Stein, and Robert Kelly. Those who'd like to learn more about the late poet should also check out the "Mass: Gerrit Lansing," feature at Jacket2, which is part of Jim Dunn and Kevin Gallagher's sprawling and marvelous 2012 feature, “Mass: Raw Poetry from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

PennSound Sends Our Best to David Abel

Posted 2/7/2020

This week David Abel made headlines for good news in the wake of bad news. The poet and owner of Passages Bookshop in Portland, OR started off this new year by discovering that his shop had been burglarized, with thieves smashing their way into a locked case and taking approximately a hundred rare volumes, including two editions of the Jerry Rothenberg and David Antin-edited Some/thing with covers by Andy Warhol. The Oregonian has the story of what happened next: he received a phone call from Patti Smith, who'd read about his plight and noted that one of her own books — a signed hardcover edition of Patti Smith Complete: Lyrics, Reflections & Notes for the Future — was among those taken. "I can't replace the Warhols," she told him, "but I can send you a box of my books" and that's just what she did, sending signed copies of seven of her titles (shown below), including several rarities. "I really love bookstores," Smith explained to Abel. "They're important to me." 

Smith's generosity was just the beginning, with other authors and artists sending books and fellow booksellers setting aside special titles to help restore Passages' stock. As The Oregonian's article reports, "Abel also received many other calls, offering assistance cleaning up the store, suggesting an online fundraiser. And there was a meaningful uptick in customers as word got around about the burglary." "These kinds of gestures of support and solidarity are kind of amazing," he admitted. On the Passages website you'll find a detailed list of many of the missing titles, including identifying information and inventory numbering. Should you come across any of these books, or have any other relevant information, please contact Abel at the bookstore (503-388-7665, info@passagesbookshop.com) or Officer Anthony Hill at the Portland Police Bureau (503-545-3436, referring to report 20-1394).

We're sorry for what Abel's had to go through in the past month, but heartened to see the generosity from the poetry community in the aftermath of the break-in. We're also grateful to Abel for the generosity he's shown to PennSound in the past, and this is a wonderful time for our listeners to revisit our collection of recordings from his personal archives that he shared with our site c. 2014. Spanning the sixties, seventies, eighties, and nineties, they include recordings of a stunning array of poets, including George Oppen, Kenneth Irby, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Jackson Mac Low, Tina Darragh, George Quasha, Lewis Warsh, Johanna Drucker, David Rattray, Alice Notley, Sharon Mesmer, Larry Fagin, Elizabeth Willis, Pierre Joris, Ann Lauterbach, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Nathaniel Tarn, and Robert Creeley. Abel's own PennSound author page is also well worth your time.

In Memoriam: Kamau Brathwaite (1930–2020)

Posted 2/4/2020

This afternoon brings sad breaking news via Barbados Today of the passing of a legendary poet: Kamau Brathwaite, who died today just a few months short of his 90th birthday. In a 2011 Jacket2 review of Brathwaite's book Elleguas, Matthias Regan offers this succinct summation of the poet's life and work:
Those not acquainted with Brathwaite should know that he was born in Bridgetown, Barbados, in 1930, won a scholarship to Cambridge University, served in the Ministry of Education in Ghana during the years that it won its independence from Great Britain in the late 1950s, and cofounded the Caribbean Artists Movement from London in 1966. His poetry includes two epic trilogies: The Arrivants (1973), which collects three books, Rights of Passage, Masks, and Islands, about African-Caribbean rituals and their transmission through practices of daily life; and Ancestors (2001), which collects and “reinvents” three books: Mother Poem, Sun Poem, and X/Self, about the maternal, paternal, and newborn selves of island life. His histories of Caribbean culture include Folk Culture of the Slaves in Jamaica (1970), The Development of Creole Society in Jamaica, 1770–1820 (1971), and History of the Voice: The Development of Nation Language in Anglophone Caribbean Poetry (1984). Together, these are among the most thoughtful and influential elements of the Afro-Caribbean Nationalism that flourished on both sides of what Paul Gilroy calls the “Black Atlantic” throughout the 1970s.
Edited by Jacob Edmond, PennSound's Kamau Brathwaite author page is home to a modest collection of recordings spanning four decades, starting with readings from Islands recorded in 1973 and an undated recording of Masks. Jumping forward to the 80s, there's a segmented reading at Philadelphia's Robin's Books on November 9, 1982, and a pair of recordings from the International Poetry Forum in Pittsburgh in February 1987. From the 90s, we have a recording of the poem "Angel/Engine" taken from the 1997 XCP: Cross-Cultural Poetics Conference at the University of Minnesota (via Ken Sherwood), along with Chris Funkhouser's recording of a December 2000 reading at New York University that's been segmented into individual tracks. Brathwaite made two noteworthy appearances on Leonard Schwartz's Cross Cultural Poetics radio program in 2004 and 2005, and our final recording is a forty-five minute Segue Series Reading at the Bowery Poetry Club that's also been broken up into individual MP3s. 

We offer our sincere condolences to Brathwaite's family and friends, along with his devoted readers throughout the world.

Peter Lamborn Wilson reads "Hoodoo Metaphysics,' 2019

Posted 2/3/2020

We'll start this new week as we ended the last, with another recently-added recording from Chris Funkhouser as part of his ongoing project to document the work of another poet in his neck of the woods: Peter Lamborn Wilson. In "Peter Lamborn Wilson: A PennSound archive," a Jacket2 essay published in December 2015, Funkhouser describes his relationship with the poet and the origins of their documentary collaboration. Here's his short version of the long history leading up to their reacquaintance several years ago:
I met Peter Lamborn Wilson in the late '80s at Naropa Institute, and after acquiring his pamphlet Chaos, written under the takhallus Hakim Bey, became a devotee to his work. His support of DIY efforts was encouraging and validating, and We Press took up the invitation to "pirate" Chaos by way of corporate resources we had at our disposal at the time. 
After falling in and out of touch over the years, on a visit to Woodstock in 2013 I learned he now resides there. Less than a year later — two days after my family moved to the Hudson Valley in August 2014 — I found my way to a poetry reading featuring Wilson, Sparrow, and Michael Brownstein at the Golden Notebook in Woodstock. Knowing him primarily as a cultural critic and writer of prose, to hear Wilson'\'s verse was something new, and a delight. He read from an "unpublished six hundred page-long collected poems"; these works are animated, elegant, erudite, conclusory, sometimes humorous exhortations (e.g., "Bumpersticker": "If you’d 'rather be fishing' / then fish for fuckssake").
Today, we're focusing on Hoodoo Metaphysics, published by Bearpuff Press in 2018 as a collaboration with artist Tamara Gonzales. While her illustrations (like the one shown above) are missing from the audio recording, you can read some examples from the series with their corresponding drawings in The Brooklyn Rail and see several more examples of Gonzales' artwork from the book on her website. Funkhouser's recording runs approximately ninety minutes and can be found here, along with his nine-installment anthology of Home Recordings available on PennSound's Peter Lamborn Wilson author page.

Want to read more? Visit the PennSound Daily archive.