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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Trish Salah on PennSound

Posted 1/19/2022

Today we're highlighting our author page for Canadian poet and critic Trish Salah.

Our holdings included the poet's appearance at the 2009 ADFEMPO (Advancing Feminist Poetics and Activism) conference, organized by Belladonna*, which took place on September 24th and 25th of that year. Salah appeared as part of a panel on "Body as Discourse" chaired by Kate Eichhorn that included Joan Retallack, Laura Smith, Nathalie Stephens (Nathanaël), and Ronaldo V. Wilson in addition to Salah, which explored "questions of the body, referentiality, remapping bodies and borders, intertextuality, narrativity, aesthetics, and the challenges of de-essentialization as we scrutinize 'female,' 'queer,' 'raced' and 'othered' bodies."

In addition to that panel, we have a brief set as part of a Belladonna* Reading Series event on Transfeminism and Literature from 2012, and Salah's Segue Series reading at the Zinc Bar in March 2013. More recent recordings, include "Nevada: A Reading and Panel" that also included Imogen Binnie, from the Young Centre for Performing Arts in 2013; 2014's Wanting in Arabic: A Conversation with Poet Trish Salah," recorded as part of the Asia Pacific Forum for NYC's WBAI-FM; and a 2014 reading at the East Bay Poetry Summit, hosted by the Manifest Reading and Workshop Series. There's also a very exciting PennSound Podcast episode (#57) in which Christy Davids interviews Salah and Salah reads her poetry, including "Two Self Portraits," "Interlude for the Voice," "Future Foundered," and "Gossels in Fugue."

You can listen to any and all of the recordings mentioned above by clicking here.

Two Rudy Burckhardt Films Featuring Kenneth Koch

Posted 1/17/2022

Today we're revisiting two remarkable films by Rudy Burckhardt, featuring his New York School compatriot Kenneth Koch that you can see on our PennSound Cinema page for filmmaker and photographer.
The earlier of the two, The Apple (1967), features a lyric and spoken interlude written by Koch, which was set to music by Tony Ackerman and Brad Burg, and sung by Kim Brody. In stop-motion and live action, it traces the sprawling adventures of its titular fruit. Running just one minute and fifty-four seconds, the film is nevertheless the subject of a marvelous essay by Daniel Kane — "Whimsy, the Avant-Garde and Rudy Burckhardt's and Kenneth Koch's The Apple" — in which he praises it for "the ways in which ideas of temporality, spontaneity, childishness, and parody are expressed within this tiny little film work," thus "revealing the latent and hilarious power of the whimsical affect."

The latter film, On Aesthetics (1999) has a sense of finality about it, coming during Burckhardt's last year and not long before Koch developed leukemia that would ultimately take his life in 2002. Running nine minutes and taking its name from the last poem in Koch's 1994 collection One Train, On Aesthetics — charmingly presented by "KoBu Productions" — features the poet's voice-over reciting the various micropoems contained under that title, from "Aesthetics of the Man in the Moon" and "Aesthetics of Creating Light" to "Aesthetics of Being with Child" and "Aesthetics of Echo," while Burckhardt's camera eye finds appropriate accompanying images, whether literary or abstract.

We're grateful to be able to share this work with our listeners, along with two other Burckhardt films: — The Automotive Story (1954) and Central Park in the Dark (1985) — which you can find here. Our Kenneth Koch author page also houses these films, along with a 1998 reading at our own Kelly Writers House and a few brief recordings from the St. Mark's Poetry Project.

PoemTalk #168: on Jayne Cortez's "She Got He Got"

Posted 1/14/2022

Today we launched the latest episode in the PoemTalk Podcast series, #168 altogether, which is concerned with Jayne Cortez's poem/performance piece entitled "She Got He Got." For this program, host Al Filreis was joined by a panel consisting of Amber Rose Johnson, Daniel Bergmann, and Yolanda Wisher.

Filreis begins in his Jacket2 blog post announcing the new episode by providing some provenance for the reading: "This poem was apparently the final number — or possibly the encore — concluding a set presented under the title 'A Dialogue Between Voice and Drums,' before a live audience at The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy, New York, on October 23, 2010. ... Jayne Cortez is of course the voice, while Denardo Coleman (her and Ornette Coleman's son, and a member of the Ornette Coleman Quartet) is on drums." He continues discussing the "gendered binarism" that characterizes the poem: "'She Got He Got' is comprised of a 'She' half and an 'He' half, she giving variations of hot, while he instantiates variations of cold. Hot means passionate, frustrated, warm, impatient, explosive, ambitious, sweaty, hurt, born again, volcanic, 'frigid' (somehow), fashionable. She — is she the speaker/performer? — runs hot from the variability of hotness itself. Cold — a quality not of the speaker, but of an imagined other — finds him taped to a bar stool, glued to a subway booth, kissing himself in the mirror, harried by police, married to a race track, 'artistically cold,' mercenary, dispassionate, percussive." 

You can listen to this latest program and read more about the show here. PoemTalk is a joint production of PennSound and the Poetry Foundation, aided by the generous support of Nathan and Elizabeth Leight. You can browse the full PoemTalk archives, spanning more than a decade, by clicking here.

Davy Knittle: New Author Page

Posted 1/12/2022

Today we're visiting a new author page for Davy Knittle, a recent UPenn doctoral graduate and Fellow in Poetic Practice as well as Reviews Editor for Jacket2. The various recordings found there show just how central a role Knittle played in the affairs of the Kelly Writers House over his years here.

First and foremost, you'll notice a lot of podcasts, both PoemTalk appearances and PennSound Podcast episodes created by Davy. There are numerous events at KWH as well, most notably the City Planning Poetics series Knittle organized from 2016–2019 and events like "A New Disability Poetics Symposium," a Michael Gizzi retrospective, Charles Bernstein's retirement celebration, and introductions to a number of readings. Stepping outside of campus you'll also find a 2018 Segue Series reading at New York's Zinc Bar, the 2017 MLA Offsite Reading, and a set from the Housework at Chapterhouse series from 2016.

With a wide variety of recordings from various venues you're sure to find something of interest. Click here to be taken to our new PennSound author page for Davy Knittle.

Stephen Ratcliffe and the Thingamajigs Performance Group: "Sound of Wave in Channel," 2021

Posted 1/10/2022

Today we're highlighting a recent addition to the author page of Stephen Ratcliffe: a sprawling recent performance of his epic work, Sound of Wave in Channel. This event, staged with the Thingamajigs Performance Group, was staged at Shapeshifters Cinema in Oakland, CA from 9:00AM to 8:00PM on June 27, 2021 and followed by a Q&A session with the participants, who were no doubt exhausted after their eleven hour performance.

Here's a little bit of the write-up BAMPFA (the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive at UC Berkeley) described the event on their website
The work is built around Bay Area poet Stephen Ratcliffe’s work of the same name that documents one thousand poems written in one thousand consecutive days. Recorded at BAMPFA with Ratcliffe and the Thingamajigs Performance Group, this work explores the relationship between things as they are observed in the world and how they might be transcribed or transformed as works of art. 

For the sake of aiding listeners navigate this massive recording, the performance has been broken into six segments averaging 90–120 minutes, named according to the dates covered (for example the first track contains poems written between 10/1/13-4/10/14). You can listen in by clicking here.

Our Stephen Ratcliffe author page you'll find documentation of most of his major poetry projects, including c o n t i n u u m,  CLOUD / RIDGE, HUMAN / NATURE, and Remarks on Color/Sound, along with talks, interviews, podcast appearances and much more.

William Carlos Williams Burns the Christmas Greens

Posted 1/6/2022

In Irish culture January 6th is traditionally recognized as Little Christmas, which marks the official end of the holiday season. On a chilly day like today, even a lapsed Catholic such as myself can't help but shudder just a little at the sight of the previous year's Christmas trees stripped bare and piled at the curbside waiting on trash day. Richard Brautigan's portrait of the grim holiday season after JFK's assassination, "'What Are You Going to Do With 390 Photographs of Christmas Trees?'" (from The Tokyo-Montana Express) does a fine job of paying tribute to this strange phenomenon — the sense of loss that haunts the promise of a fresh new year — but even it pales in comparison to the stark beauty of William Carlos Williams' "Burning the Christmas Greens," one of my favorite hidden gems on PennSound's encyclopedic Williams author page.

First published in the January 1944 issue of Poetry, the poem would later appear in The Wedge that same year. Altogether we have four recordings of Williams reading the poem: one from a May 1945 session at the Library of Congress Recording Library, another from a June 1951 home recording by Kenneth Burke, the third from a reading at Harvard in December of that year, and the last from the 92nd Street Y in January 1954; we also have a 1990 rendition of the poem by Robert Creeley.

"At the winter's midnight" — the thick of the dark / the moment of the cold's / deepest plunge" — "we went to the trees, the coarse / holly, the balsam and / the hemlock for their green," Williams tells us, before launching into a litany of the season's decorative delights. "Green is a solace / a promise of peace, a fort / against the cold," something that "seemed gentle and good / to us," and yet now, "their time past," Williams finds a different sort of solace in the "recreant" force of the conflagration, "a living red, / flame red, red as blood wakes / on the ash." Surrendering ourselves to the experience, we find ourselves, like Williams, "breathless to be witnesses, / as if we stood / ourselves refreshed among / the shining fauna of that fire," ready and grateful to be able to begin the cycle once more.

So even though the calendar's turned over, the presents are put away, and the all-too-swift delights of the season are gone, here's one last chance to reflect on what we've experienced and an opportunity to prepare ourselves for what lies ahead. You can listen to our four recordings of Williams reading the poem on his PennSound author page, or click here to hear the earliest.

Amiri Baraka: Transformation (Live), 1984

Posted 1/5/2022

Today we've got a new addition to our author page for the legendary Amiri BarakaTransformation comes to us via the Roulette Concert Archive, and features the poet in performance "with two generations of masters who emerged from Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), Steve McCall (1933-89) on percussion and Fred Houn (1957-2014) on baritone sax." Presented as one nearly hour-long track, Transformation ebbs and flows from riff to riff, rhythm to rhythm, while Baraka's masterful delivery slips in and out of the proceedings. It's a wonderful performance and one we're glad to be able to share with our audience. Click here to listen.

While it's always a good time to be thinking of Baraka, this feels especially appropriate since we are approaching the eighth anniversary of his passing on January 9, 2014. You can listen to this track and many more from the mid-1960s through to his final decade on PennSound's Amiri Baraka author page, including readings, performances, lectures, interviews, and commentaries on his work. 

Mark Van Doren: Portrait of a Poet' (1994)

Posted 1/3/2022

We start this new week and new year off with a very exciting addition to our author page for Mark Van Doren: Mark Van Doren: Portrait of a Poet, a 1994 short film produced by Adam Van Doren, the poet's grandson. Running just over a half hour, this fascinating documentary includes wonderful photo and video footage of Van Doren in conversation and reading his work, along with interviews with Robert Giroux, Allen Ginsberg, Alfred Kazin, John Hollander, Louis Simpson, Daniel Hoffman, Richard Howard, and more.

You can watch this documentary on PennSound's Mark Van Doren author page, alongside recordings from several sources, including a 1935 set for Columbia University's Speech Lab, a 1960 set for the Spoken Arts Treasury and the 1967 Smithsonian Folkways album, Mark Van Doren Reads from His Collected and New Poems. Listen in to any and all of these recordings by clicking here.

PoemTalk #167: on Myung Mi Kim's "And Sing We"

Posted 12/31/2021

We close out this week and the year as a whole with the latest episode in the PoemTalk Podcast series, its 167th in total, which was released last week. For this program, host Al Filreis was joined by a panel consisting of (from left to right) erica kaufman, Jack Giesking, and Jonathan Dick to discuss Myung Mi Kim's "And Sing We," the opening poem from her 1991 Kelsey Street Press release, Under Flag.

"In this poem, memory is presence rather than absence. It is constructed partly of a series of childhood recollections, some more explicit than others," Filreis states in his Jacket2 blog post announcing the new episode. "We seem to see an immigrant family's kitchen scene. Then there's the school performance led by the first grade teacher, with its officially optimistic and aurally as well as thematically allegiant 'Um-pah, um-pah sensibility.'" He continues, "The proem's title has already conveyed the national anthem, and other idioms suggest the Pledge of Allegiance (as well as the book's titular idea with its strong preposition 'under'), and so 'um-pah, um-pah' strikes us as so insistently regular as to be threatening, ominous. Sousa-like insistence upon celebration," before concluding "But the writing of the poem, with its discordant and post-traumatic haltings and its scene-switching, resists the forceful, socializing sounds to be learned in and from US culture." 

You can listen to this latest program and read more about the show here. PoemTalk is a joint production of PennSound and the Poetry Foundation, aided by the generous support of Nathan and Elizabeth Leight. You can browse the full PoemTalk archives, spanning more than a decade, by clicking here.

Yusef Komunyakaa on PennSound

Posted 12/29/2021

Today we're taking a closer look at PennSound's author page for Yusef Komunyakaa, which was created not long after our official launch in 2005. While it houses a modest set of recordings, it nevertheless has many of this much-anthologized poet's most iconic work.

The heart of our Komunyakaa page is a March 1998 reading at our own Kelly Writers House. This  segmented recording consists of twenty-four in total, including favorite poems like "Facing It," "The Smokehouse," "Ode to the Maggot," "The God of Land Mines," "You and I Are Disappearing," and "Ode to a Drum," along with "Rhythm Method," "Letter to Bob Kaufman," "Camouflage in the Chimera," "We Never Know," and "Thanks," which has been a cherished part of PennSound's "Poems of Thanks and Thanksgiving" playlist for more than a decade. There's also a July 1999 appearance with Deborah Garrison on BBC Radio 3's Contemporary American Poetry Program, and the single poem "Slam, Dunk & Hook," published as part of the 2005 anthology Rattapallax.

We're grateful and proud to have Yusef Komunyakaa as part of the diverse array of voices found within PennSound's vast archives. You can listen to all of the poems mentioned above my clicking here.

Haroldo de Campos on PennSound

Posted 12/27/2021

Today we're highlighting our author page for poesia concreta pioneer, Haroldo de Campos, which is anchored by a 2002 video from the Guggenheim Museum celebrating his life and work. Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Brazil: Body and Soul, this January 12, 2002 event featured both performances and discussion of de Campos' work by a wide variety of poets, translators and critics.

The video begins with introductory comments by Pablo Helguera and organizer Sergio Bessa, who are followed by a staging of de Campos' 1950 poem/play "Auto do Possesso (Act of the Possessed)," translated by Odile Cisneros and directed by Cynthia Croot. Craig Dworkin is next, reading his translation of "Signantia quasi coelum / signância quase céu," follwed by a brief set by Cisneros, who reads her translations. The performances conclude with Marjorie Perloff and Charles Bernstein reading Bessa's translation of "Finismundo," after which Perloff and Bernstein take part in a panel discussion moderated by Bessa.

Next, from 2005's Rattapallax we have a single track, "Calcas Cor de Abobora." Finally, we have a 2017 video of our own Charles Bernstein performing at New York's Hauser and Wirth Gallery with Sergio Bessa on September 28, 2017. This event, co-sponsored by the Poetry Society of America and held in conjunction with an exhibit by Mira Schendel at the gallery, included Bessa speaking about de Campos and Bernstein reading his translations of Drummond, Cabral, Cruz e Sousa, Leminksi, and Bonvicino.

On our Haroldo de Campos author page, you'll also find a link to Bernstein's 2003 essay "De Campos Thou Art Translated (Knot)", first published in the Poetry Society of America's Crosscurrents.

John Richetti reads "A Visit from St. Nicholas"

Posted 12/23/2021

As we close out the year, we have one more gift to pass along to our listeners from our friend John Richetti: a recording of Clement Clarke Moore's beloved Christmas poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," made specially last December to be added to his growing anthology, "119 Favorite Poems, Good for Memorizing."

More frequently known by its opening phrase, "'Twas the night before Christmas ...," "A Visit from St. Nicholas" was first published in Troy, New York's Sentinel on this day in 1823 with no attribution. It became wildly popular, reprinted far and wide, and its author — a professor of literature and divinity at New York City's General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church, who initially sought to downplay his connection to the poem — would finally be credited in 1837, with Moore including it in a collection of his verse in 1844.

Click here to listen to Richetti's performance of the poem. You can read along on the Poetry Foundation's copy of the poem here. Many more recordings made by Richetti form the backbone of our PennSound Classics page, which is organized by author name. To start browsing, click here.

Welcoming Winter with Bernadette Mayer

Posted 12/21/2021

At 10:58AM EST, we officially make the transition from autumn into winter, and the day that lies ahead of us will be the year's darkest. The winter solstice has long been a source of cultural inspiration and poetic inspiration as well, with one of the most notable recent manifestations being Bernadette Mayer's iconic Midwinter Day, which celebrates its forty-third birthday this year. While not published until 1982, Mayer famously wrote the book — hailed by Alice Notley as "an epic poem about a daily routine ... sedate, mundane, yet marvelous" — in its entirety while marking the the winter solstice at 100 Main Street in Lennox, Massachusetts on December 22, 1978. 

While celebrating Mayer and Midwinter Day today is an annual PennSound tradition, it takes on special significance after yet another challenging pandemic year. As Megan Burns notes in her Jacket Magazine essay on the book: "A long held tradition on Midwinter's Day was to let the hearth fire burn all night, literally keeping a light alive through the longest night of winter as a source of both heat and a symbol of inspiration to come out the other side of the long night closer to spring and rebirth. It is fitting that a poem about surviving death and the intimacy of the family would be centered around this particular day that traditionally has focused on both. The hearth is the center of the home where the family gathers, where the food is cooked and where warmth is provided. Metaphorically, the poem Midwinter Day stands in for the hearth gathering the family into its folds, detailing the preparation of food and sleep and taking care of the family's memories and dreams."

Mayer read a lengthy excerpt from the book at a Segue Series reading at the Ear Inn on May 26th of the following year, which you can listen to on her PennSound author page along with a wide array of audio and video recordings from the late 1960s to the present. 

"Poetry Is for Breathing," 2019

Posted 12/17/2021

Organized by Orchid Tierney,  "Poetry Is for Breathing: A Reading Against Islamophobia" took place at our own Kelly Writers House on April 17, 2019, with sets by Aditya Bahl (poet, translator, and a current Johns Hopkins Ph.D. candidate), Husnaa Hashim (2017-2018 Youth Poet Laureate of Philadelphia), and Fatemeh Shams (shown at right, a poet and UPenn professor of Persian literature). 

The announcement for this event situates it as a direct response to both recent tragedy and and long-simmering prejudices: "On March 15, 2019, a white supremacist murdered fifty people at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, Aotearoa-New Zealand. Please join us for a special lunchtime poetry reading in support of the survivors and victims of this terrorist attack. Invited poets will read their works, and we encourage the audience to share their thoughts as we collectively examine the intersections of white supremacy in Christchurch and Philadelphia."

You can experience this very special reading via streaming video or MP3 format by clicking here. More recordings by both Tierney and Shams are available on their respective PennSound author pages.

Congrats to MLA Scaglione Translation Prize Winners, incl. Nakayasu

Posted 12/15/2021

Last week saw announcements of this year's MLA prizes handed out, including one for PennSound poet Sawako Nakayasu. Along with Jack Jung, Don Mee Choi, and Joyelle McSweeney, Nakayasu was awarded the 2021 Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for a Translation of a Literary Work for their work on Yi Sang: Selected Works (Wave Books, 2020). The committee's citation begins "Yi Sang was a bilingual (Korean and Japanese) avant-garde poet who died in obscurity, at twenty-seven, in 1937. His writing combines fable, fantasy, satire, parody, Dadaism, concrete poetry, and quasi-translation and presents a steep challenge to translation." It continues: 
But Jack Jung, Sawako Nakayasu, Don Mee Choi, and Joyelle McSweeney — themselves experienced practitioners of experimental poetry — took the job to heart and have recreated in English Yi Sang's terse, polyglot, self-undermining, dreamlike parables and essays, first published in Korean and Japanese and then subjected to the hazards of war and neglect. With its evocation of alien typographies, its professed decadence, and its indifference to hierarchy, Yi Sang's writing fits on neither side of the colonial relationship that defined Korea and Japan. The elegant format and plural translating voices make this book a suitable monument to this intriguing figure.
We send our heartiest congratulations to all four translators, including Nakayasu, and we welcome you to check out her PennSound author page, which includes readings and interviews, including a 2007 Cross Cultural Poetics appearance that highlights her work as a translator. 

Ted Enslin: 2000 Recording Newly Segmented

Posted 12/13/2021

We recently segmented Ted Enslin's February 16, 2000 reading at the University of Maine. This forty-five minute set included twenty-three titles in total, including "A Little Night Music," "Tangeré," "Apple Tree Study," "To See One Thing Among the Shapes," "Sound Pattern," "Uprooting," "Botany," "Not Yet, Not So," "Benediction," "Variations on a Thing," "Forgotten Seed," "How Should We Listen," "The Road Around Jenkins," and "Sea Change." Click here to start listening.

On PennSound's Ted Enslin author page you'll find a total of ten readings from the late poet, starting with a 1985 reading at the legendary Woodland Pattern bookstore and ending with a 2009 set as part of Jonathan Skinner's Steel Bar series at Bates College. In-between there are sets from the Wendell's in New York City, Granary Books, Bowling Green State University, a radio appearance from WMCS Malchias and more. Click here to start browsing.

Happy Birthday to Emily Dickinson

Posted 12/10/2021

Ttoday would have been the 190th birthday of Emily Dickinson. For many years, a treasure trove of Dickinson materials was scattered throughout our site, but a few years ago we pulled together a proper PennSound author page for the poet, gathering selected resources from throughout our archives.

It should come as no surprise that Susan Howe would be prominent featured, and here you'll find complete talks on the poet from 1984 (from the New York Talk series) and 1990 (from SUNY-Buffalo) in addition to several smaller excerpts from larger talks pertaining to the poet. There's also a link to PoemTalk #32, which discusses Howe's interpretation of Dickinson's "My Life had stood - a Loaded Gun."

Full series of lectures on Dickinson are also available from Robert Duncan and Robert Creeley, both at the New College and dating from 1981 and 1985, respectively. Among other substantial contributions, there's also the 1979 Dickinson Birthday Celebration at the St. Mark's Poetry Project (featuring Jan Heller Levi, Charles Bernstein, Susan Leites, Charles Doria, Virginia Terrace, Barbara Guest, Madeleine Keller and Vicki Hudspith, Armand Schwerner, Karen Edwards, Jackson Mac Low, Maureen Owen, and Howe) and Rae Armantrout's 2000 presentation on Dickinson from "Nine Contemporary Poets Read Themselves Through Modernism."

You'll also find performances of individual Dickinson poems from John Richetti and Jeffery Robinson as well as brief excerpts of radio interviews — with John Ashbery, Guest, and Elizabeth Bishop — pertaining to the poet.

Our hope is that this page, which brings together disparate resources already available in our archives, will be a useful tool for teachers, students, and casual readers, as well as serious scholars. Click here to start exploring.

Remembering Jackson Mac Low

Posted 12/8/2021

Today is the 17th anniversary of the passing of polymath poet Jackson Mac Low, which is a wonderful reason as any to revisit some of the many 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). A few recent additions include his 1975 reading at Naropa University and  a 1978 video of Jackson Mac Low and Tom Leonard reading at the Sound and Syntax International Festival of Sound Poetry.

If this embarrassment of riches seems a little overwhelming, or if you're new to Mac Low's prodigious career, it might be helpful to start with the 2008 book launch event for Thing of Beauty: New and Selected Works, which features Tardos, Charles BernsteinMei-mei BerssenbruggeDrew GardnerJoan RetallackChris Mason, or PoemTalk #46 on Mac Low's "Words nd Ends from Ez."

Join Us for a Live PoemTalk Taping on Wednesday 12/8

Posted 12/6/2021

We'd like to extend an invitation to anyone in the Philadelphia area to join us this Wednesday afternoon for a live, in-person recording session for an upcoming PoemTalk podcast. This episode will focus on two poems, or "pre-verbs," by poet George Quasha, and will feature a panel including Anthony Elms, Charles Bernstein, and Laynie Browne in addition to host Al Filreis.

We will be recording the episode in the Kelly Writers House's Arts Cafe beginning at 4 PM. If you's like to attend, please email Al at afilreis@writing.upenn.edu. We hope to see you there!

John Richetti Reads Love Poems, 2021

Posted 12/3/2021

While Valentine's Day is more than three months away we're here to help you pitch a little woo with a new collection of love poetry recorded by our dear friend John Richetti. This latest body of work is a passive collaboration of sorts, with Richetti's selections taken from Jon Stallworthy's 1973 anthology, A Book of Love Poetry, which he recently revisited. Here's his full introduction to these new recordings:

Love has always been a recurring theme in poetic expression over the centuries. The speaker is almost always a man addressing a woman to praise her beauty or to declare his desire for her or even to berate her for refusing his advances, and often enough warning her that her beauty won’t last. Love, of course, is a vague notion. The word can signify sexual desire or something less intense such as fondness and fellow-feeling for friends and relatives or indeed for the rest of the world, fellow humans and animals. I have been browsing lately in an anthology, A Book of Love Poetry, edited by Jon Stallworthy (Oxford University Press, 1973), and I have encountered many familiar poems and also many I did not know, including about a dozen by women. So here in this section I have chosen to record a number of love poems, including many that most readers like me will not be familiar with. As Stallworthy remarks in his introduction, “there are almost as many definitions of love as there are poets,” and in “a high proportion of cases, what they have to say is said better, more freshly, than anything on any other subject.”

Richetti's selections are generous, to say the least, with a whopping seventy tracks spanning several centuries. Iconic names like Tennyson, Marvell, Rossetti, Marlowe, Poe, Pound, Donne, Berryman, Swift, Byron, Neruda, Frost, Shakespeare, Auden, Whitman, and Yeats, among many others. Particularly as the semester is winding down for many of us, it's a great time to relax and immerse ourselves in some classic literature. Click here to start browsing this new, impressive body of material.

Tomorrow at KWH: A Celebration of Al Filreis' '1960'

Posted 12/1/2021

We invite you to join us tomorrow night, December 2nd, at 6:00 PM EST for a live-streamed celebration of our own Al Filreis' newest book, 1960: When Art and Literature Confronted the Memory of World War II and Remade the Modern. This special event will be co-hosted by Charles Bernstein and Laynie Browne and can be watched here. Here's the full announcement:
We're delighted to invite you to join us Thursday, December 2, at 6:00 PM (ET), to celebrate the release of the newest book by Kelly Writers House Faculty Director Al Filreis, 1960: When Art and Literature Confronted the Memory of World War II and Remade the Modern. In his latest work, Filreis recasts 1960 as a turning point to offer a groundbreaking account of postwar culture. He examines an eclectic group of artistic, literary, and intellectual figures who strove to create a new language to reckon with the trauma of World War II and to imagine a new world. Laynie Browne and Charles Bernstein will lead a conversation with Filreis on his writing and process. We hope to see you there! Registration is required to attend this event in person. Please fill out the PennOpen Pass daily symptom checker the day of the event and be ready to display your Green Pass.

In addition, here is a sampling of some advance praise that 1960 has garnered:

Tightly focused on work done within the year of its title, 1960 offers a compelling account of how artists processing the memory of mass trauma in World War II turned to innovation and reinvention as a means of recovery. Al Filreis has managed a rare accomplishment―writing a profound work of historical analysis that has deep implications for ideas shaping our lives today. — Johanna Drucker, author of Iliazd: Meta-Biography of a Modernist

1960 offers a provocative and vivid intellectual history from a literary perspective. Reading works as diverse as John Coltrane’s My Favorite Things and Jackson Mac Low’s aleatory poetry as part of the belated processing of World War II traumas, it asks us to reconsider the origins, references, and trajectories of the postwar avant-gardes. — Craig Dworkin, author of Dictionary Poetics: Toward a Radical Lexicography

This brilliantly syncretic book confronts the repression of World War II in American culture, circa 1960. Filreis thinks through a constellation of songs, literature, poetry, and films, each pierced by the war. His linked essays show how great art is not only ethically necessary but also a source of endless pleasure. 1960 is a tour de force of critical intelligence. — Charles Bernstein, author of Pitch of Poetry

We hope you'll join us for this very special event.


Jackson Mac Low at Naropa University, 1975

Posted 11/29/2021

We're starting this week off with a new addition to the PennSound author page for Jackson Mac Low: an August 1975 recording made at Naropa University's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied poetics. The timing of this recording — likely coming during the Kerouac School's first summer session (Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman started the program in 1974) — gives us interesting perspective on who was invited or just generally willing to help the fledgling program get off the ground.

While unsegmented, this recording has been split in half, corresponding to the two sides of the cassette tape housing it. Side A includes the titles "The Mantra of Chain Resese," "A Vocabulary for PI Moore," "36th Light Poem," "For and From John Cage," "Donna Rita Joseph Conrad," and "42nd Light Poem" for Paul Goodman. Side B starts with "Gloria" and continues with "Print Out from the 14 PDP3 Poem" and "Green Tara Mantra. " You can listen to these poems by clicking here. Listeners might also want to check out another Naropa set from the same month, which we added to the site in 2015, which includes renditions of several of the same poems, with a complete set list of "The Peter Innisfree Moore Poems" "36th Light Poem," "Phoeneme Dance for John Cage," "Joseph Conrad Poem," "42nd Light Poem," and "Du-fie."

Of course these two Naropa recordings are just a small fraction of the considerable archive you'll find on our Jackson Mac Low author page. Click here to start browsing our complete holdings.

PoemTalk #166: on Cecilia Vicuña's "Colliding and not colliding at the same time"

Posted 11/26/2021

Earlier this week we released episode #166 in the PoemTalk Podcast series, which addresses Cecilia Vicuña's performance of "Colliding and not colliding at the same time," taken from "a ninety-minute presentation titled 'An Illustrated Conversation' that took place ... at the Writers House in February of 2017." Joining host Al Filreis for this program are panelists (from left to right) Huda Fakhreddine, Edwin Torres, and Jena Osman.

Filreis' Jacket2 blog post announcing the new episode offers up some useful contextual information on the performance under consideration: "The segment begins as the audience, having been encouraged to ask questions about an art video that had just been screened, went momentarily silent. No questions were being asked, so Vicuña began improvisationally to fill the room with words and sounds, exploring a convergence or collision of topics: the then-recent election of Donald Trump, 'the millionaires' coup;' in Brazil, the 'mystery of what is happening at this moment in the earth,' the collective thought of the people in the room, and the room itself." He continues, "Vicuña has an unusual talent for reading you in the room. 'I feel read' and 'She is accurately reading me' are typical responses of members of her audiences," before asking, "From what does she derive the various seemingly incidental topics of her improvisation?"

You can listen to this latest program and read more about the show here. PoemTalk is a joint production of PennSound and the Poetry Foundation, aided by the generous support of Nathan and Elizabeth Leight. You can browse the full PoemTalk archives, spanning more than a decade, by clicking here.

PennSound Presents Poems of Thanks and Thanksgiving

Posted 11/24/2021

With the US celebrating Thanksgiving this week, it's time to revisit a perennial PennSound Daily tradition that started way back in 2010: a mini-mix of poems of thanks and thanksgiving — some old, some new — taken from the PennSound archives.

In a classic recording of "Thanksgiving" [MP3] from the St. Mark's Poetry Project, Joe Brainard wonders "what, if anything Thanksgiving Day really means to me." Emptying his mind of thoughts, he comes up with these free associations: "first is turkey, second is cranberry sauce and third is pilgrims."

"I want to give my thanks to everyone for everything," the late John Giorno tells us in "Thanx 4 Nothing" [MP3], "and as a token of my appreciation, / I want to offer back to you all my good and bad habits / as magnificent priceless jewels, / wish-fulfilling gems satisfying everything you need and want, / thank you, thank you, thank you, / thanks." The rolicking poem that ensues offers both genuine sensory delights ("may all the chocolate I've ever eaten / come back rushing through your bloodstream / and make you feel happy.") and sarcastic praise ("America, thanks for the neglect, / I did it without you, / let us celebrate poetic justice, / you and I never were, / never tried to do anything, / and never succeeded").

"Can beauty save us?" wonders Maggie Nelson in "Thanksgiving" [MP3], a standout poem from her marvelous collection, Something Bright, Then Holes, which revels in the holiday's darker edges and simplest truths: "After dinner / I sit the cutest little boy on my knee / and read him a book about the history of cod // absentmindedly explaining overfishing, / the slave trade. People for rum? he asks, / incredulously. Yes, I nod. People for rum."

Yusef Komunyakaa gratefully recounts a number of near-misses in Vietnam — "the tree / between me & a sniper's bullet [...] the dud / hand grenade tossed at my feet / outside Chu Lai" — in "Thanks" [MP3], from a 1998 reading at the Kelly Writers House.

Finally, we turn our attention to the suite of poems that concludes Mark Van Doren's Folkways album, Collected and New Poems — "When The World Ends" / "Epitaph" / "Farewell and Thanksgiving" [MP3] — the last of which offers gratitude to the muse for her constant indulgence.

To keep you in the Thanksgiving spirit, don't forget this 2009 PennSound Podcast (assembled by Al Filreis and Jenny Lesser) which offers "marvelous expressions of gratitude, due honor, personal appreciation [and] friendship" from the likes of Amiri BarakaTed BerriganRobert CreeleyJerome RothenbergLouis Zukofsky and William Carlos Williams.

Régis Bonvicino: In His Own Words

Posted 11/22/2021

Charles Bernstein's latest Jacket2 commentary post showcases a recent interview with Brazilian poet Régis Bonvicino, conducted by Indian poet Runa Bandyopadhyay with Aurora Fornoni Bernardini, which was organized by Ekhon Bangla Kobitar Kagaj. Both the script of the exchange and a video are available, along with a recent review in Rialta by Ricardo Alberto Pérez of Bonvicino's latest, Deus devolve o revólver.

Here's an excerpt from a brief biographical statement by Bonvicino that starts off the conversation:

I started very young to write what I called poetry. My first book is composed of fifteen poems (Bicho Papel, 1975), the second Régis Hotel (20 poems, 1978). I didn't see myself as a poet then. In 1983 I published Sósia da Cópia and then I started to see myself more as an author. When I was 14 years old Frei Tito (tortured by the dictatorship, he killed himself in France in 1974) was my teacher. If I said that Bicho Papel was related to him, I exaggerated. I am agnostic. But the military dictatorship here was from 1964 to 1985 and marked us all. I believe that art without a critical spirit is a decorative art. Poetry now that is not questioning itself is not exactly poetry, as I see it.  Life is becoming more vulnerable: this is very much present in my poems. 

You can read or watch the full interview by clicking here. Check out the recordings housed on PennSound's Régis Bonvicino author page by clicking here.

Want to read more? Visit the PennSound Daily archive.