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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In Memoriam: Steve Katz (1935–2019)

Posted 8/21/2019

We are sad to share the recently-discovered news that multi-genre author Steve Katz passed away after a long battle with pancreatic cancer on August 4th. Best known for his fiction — his 1970 short story collection Creamy and Delicious was hailed by Larry McMurtry as one of the hundred greatest books of the twentieth century — Katz's work was championed by iconic small presses including Fiction Collective/FC2, Sun & Moon/Green Integer, Ithaca House, and Starcherone Books, as well as major publishing houses like Grove Press; Holt, Rinehart and Winston; and Random House.

A longtime fixture at the University of Colorado Boulder (where he taught for a quarter century), Katz was remembered by that city's Daily Camera as a man who "lived a life of words." Their tribute quotes colleague Peter Michaelson who remembered Katz as an "incredibly creative and inventive" author, with a "great sense of humor." "He was fun to be around, a lively mind," he continued, "I'm going to miss him, I already miss him and the literary scene will miss him. But there's still his work … there's plenty around for people to read and they should."

PennSound doesn't have much in the way of recordings of Katz, but we're glad for what we do have. There's an hour-long reading [MP3] from January 25, 1979 from New York's Droll/Kolbert Gallery Series, which was curated by Ted Greenwald. Additionally, from the archives of Bill Berkson, we have a brief, undated recording of Katz reading "William Reichert" at the St. Mark's Poetry Project [MP3], which is likely — like many of the short, single-title recordings on that page — an unused track recorded for the album, The World Record: Readings at the St. Mark's Poetry Project 1969–1980, which Berkson co-edited with Bob Rosenthal. You can stream the aforementioned tracks instantly by clicking on the MP3 links.

Will Alexander Reads at Hauser and Wirth Gallery, 2019

Posted 8/19/2019

Here's a brief video of Will Alexander reading his work at New York City's Hauser and Wirth Gallery on February 12th of this year.

After a few minutes of introductory comments linking slavery and oppression with futuristic and retroactive technologies, Alexander reads "In the Ghostly Eclipse Zones" from his 1998 Pavement Saw Press collection Above the Human Nerve Domain, which ties to these foundational ideas. After that poem, he tells the audience, "These, for me, are spells. Poems for me are spells. It's this magic instance and a wave of energy energy. [...] To me life is a wave of poetry. At certain points things pop up. They pop up at interesting moments. In fact it's so spontaneous that something could come to me now as I'm standing here and I'd have to scribble something." His second and final selection, which goes unnamed, is inspired by César Vallejo and starts with an epigraph by the poet, "Brooding on life. Brooding slowly on the strength of the torrent," and continues these themes. 

In March of this year, we highlighted Aural Monsoon's album Live in the Haight — the jazz duo features Alexander on piano and Mark Pino on drums — which is another manifestation of the spontaneous poetic energy Alexander describes above. You'll find that and many more wonderful examples of his work on his PennSound author page, which is home to a variety of talks, readings, and interviews spanning the past twenty-five years. 

Aaron Kramer on PennSound

Posted 8/16/2019

Way back in April 2010, we created an extensive author page for left-wing poet, Aaron Kramer. This project was initiated by PennSound co-director, Al Filreis, who provided some useful historical contexts for Kramer and his work in a blog post accompanying the new materials.
Kramer was (for a time, and perhaps for a long time) a member of the Communist Party of the U.S. He was involved in just about every radical issue, cultural and straight-out political, of this time: the 1940s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. Perhaps his first big break as a poet was his inclusion in the anthology, Six Poets in Search of An Answer (1944), which at a (brief) hopeful moment in the liberal-left alliance brought Aaron in with Max Bodenheim, Joy Davidman, Langston Hughes, Alfred Kreymborg (by then a vintage modernist who'd joined the radical left), Martha Millet, and Norman Rosten. His "Garcia Lorca" memorialized that poet murdered by Spanish fascists. "Berlin Air Raid" begins: "For ten years they were listening to different / sounds." "Natchez" is about southern racist violence, a place where "a hundred tabloid writers ran to the flame." I have been in touch with Aaron's daughter Laura for years. Recently she went through the attic and gathered together three shoeboxes of cassettes and VHS tapes and delivered them to us at PennSound. We are slowly going through them, digitizing them, and make them available — as always — for free download through our archive. 
In total, there are fifty-two discrete recordings made between the mid-50s and the mid-90s, including one complete Smithsonian Folkways album (1959's Serenade: Poets of New York) and numerous programs made for public radio for series including "University of the Air" and "Poets of the Sweatshops," along with individual tributes to many poets. Aside from offering a broad selection of Kramer's own work,  he also reads from and provides commentary on a stunning array of poets, including Walt Whitman (he reads the first thirty-two sections of "Song of Myself," talks about "Drum Taps," and gives a talk at the poet's birthplace), William Blake, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, Herman Melville, Langston Hughes, John Greenleaf Whittier, Charles Lamb, Walter Savage Landor, Emily Dickinson, and Robert Frost, among others. 

In a time when we need poetry to do vital work for justice and equality, it's never a bad idea to remember those who helped fight the good fight in previous generations. If you're not already aware of Aaron Kramer and his work, there's sure to be something to hold your interest on his PennSound author page.

"The New Colossus" in the News

Posted 8/13/2019

Certainly, no one woke up today imagining the day would be filled with chatter about Emma Lazarus, but that's exactly what's happened. You might very reasonably wonder why. 

While announcing a new and predictably cruel policy change targeting legal immigrants who make use of public assistance on NPR's Morning Edition today, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli revised the most beloved lines of Lazarus' "The New Colossus," which famously adorns the base of the Statue of Liberty. In place of "Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," he offered "Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge," and in the process earned the memorable Jezebel headline, "Terrible Asshole Would Like to Update 'The New Colossus,'"  along with a lot of well-deserved scorn.

It also served as a worthwhile reminder of the symbolic power of Lazarus' sonnet. This isn't the first time we've written about "The New Colossus" on PennSound Daily — in late January 2017, as we first started to see how rabidly anti-immigration this administration's policies would be, we humbly offered up the poem "as a reminder of the high-minded ideals of acceptance that we, as a nation of immigrants, should hold ourselves to."

Quoting a 2004 Library of Congress exhibit on America's "century of immigration" we noted that "Lazarus, who had worked with East European immigrants through her association with the Hebrew Emigrant Aid Society, composed 'The New Colossus' in 1883 as part of a fundraising campaign for erecting the Statue of Liberty." However, it wasn't until thirty years later, in 1903, that "a tablet with her words — 'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free' — was affixed to the statue's base." They conclude by observing that "These words remain the quintessential expression of America's vision of itself as a haven for those denied freedom and opportunity in their native lands." Once again, we proudly present Lazarus' words here: 
The New Colossus 
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
We're also happy to point our listeners in the direction of PoemTalk #58 on Bernadette Mayer's poem, "The Tragic Condition of the Statue of Liberty," which begins by quoting Lazarus' final, and most iconic, lines. As for director Cuccinelli, we gently implore him to leave poetry to the poets.

Raul Zurita: New Author Page

Posted 8/12/2019

Last week kicked off with a recently-added recording of Raul Zúrita reading from Song For His Disappeared Love at the Rotterdam Poetry Festival. This week, we begin with news of a newly-created PennSound author page for Zúrita, where you can browse a variety of recordings made over the last decade.

Central to this archive are a half-dozen episodes of Leonard Schwartz's indispensable radio show, Cross Cultural Poetics. Four programs feature Zúrita reading his own work: in episode #219 he reads from Purgatory and Anteparadise (both translated by Anna Deeny and published by University of California Press), in episode #234 he reads from Inre (Marick Press), in episode #245 he reads from Song For His Disappeared Love (translated Daniel Borzutsky and published by Action Books), and finally in episode #271, he reads from Dreams for Kurosawa (also translated by Deeny and published by Arrow as Aarow).  The remaining two episodes feature other poets discussing Zúrita and his work — Isabel Cadenas Canon discusses translating his work into Basque in program #273, while episode #287 is wholly dedicated to Zúrita and features appraisals by poet and translator Forrest Gander and journalist Magdelena Edwards.

Next, we have a quartet of VideoPoesia films made by Ernesto Livon Grosman as part of his 2009 "Sur & North" series: "Canto," "Desierto de Atacama," "Pastoral de Chile," and "Me Llamo ... Raquel." Finally, "Inscripcion 15," recorded in 2002 and presented as part of Rattapallax, rounds out the collection. Taken together, these recordings represent a generous introduction to the work of an important and uncompromising poet. Click here to start exploring.

Kenward Elmslie: Many New Recordings 1974–1989

Posted 8/9/2019

Thanks to the good graces of Ron Padgett, we recently posted a total of eleven recordings from New York School legend Kenward Elmslie. While some of these readings are missing information in regards to their date and/or location, those we can identify date from between 1974 and 1989.

There are a total of three readings with Kenneth Deifik — one at a 1980 St. Mark's Poetry Project Town Hall, one at Books and Company that same year, and an undated recording from Philadelphia — along with Poetry Project readings with Steven Taylor and Tony Greco (in 1984 and 1974, respectively) and an undated reading with Lee Crabtree. The remainder are solo readings in Burlington, VT (1989); Venice, CA's beloved Beyond Baroque bookstore (1982); and undated readings at the Poetry Room and St. Mark's, along with an hour-long undated recording of Rare Meat: A Cabaret Review

These new additions join several other recordings on our Kenward Elmslie author page, including a 2000 reading as part of The Line Reading Series, "Snippets: A Gathering of Songs, Visual Collaborations, and Poems," hosted at our own Kelly Writers House in 2003, a 2007 Segue Series Reading at the Bowery Poetry Club, and a 2009 appearance in issue #3 of the journal textsound. You can browse our complete Elmslie archive by clicking here.

'Dome Poem NC,' a Film by Lee Ann Brown and Tony Torn, 2011

Posted 8/7/2019

Here's an old favorite from the marvelous Lee Ann Brown, which takes us back to 2011. 

As you might know, Brown and her husband, Tony Torn, split their time between New York City and North Carolina, where they run the FBI or French Broad Institute (of Time and the River). This short film, Dome Poem NC, is a product of the pair's time down south,  and was produced coterminously with Brown's work on the book The Spirit of Black Mountain College (co-edited by Rand Brandes). Brown calls it a "lecture demo and call for work" inspired by R. Buckminster Fuller and his geodesic domes. Blending text, images, music and live action scenes, Dome Poem NC includes poems by Brown ("Geodesic Dome"), along with Erin O'Neal ("Ephemeralization"), Cheryl J Fish ("Pleasure Dome/Supine Dome"), Timothy Dyke ("Symmetry to Mound and Minds Are Bumps") and Leah Souffrant ("My Long Short Talk on Black Mountain Which Is Invisible") and invites viewers to consider what their own geodesic dome poems might be. 

You'll find Dome Poem NC on PennSound's Lee Ann Brown author page, which is home to a wide variety of readings, performances, talks and films from 1988 to the present. To start watching, click the title above.

Raul Zurita at the Rotterdam Poetry Festival, 2019

Posted 8/5/2019

This new week kicks off with a brief video of Chilean poet Raúl Zurita reading at the Rotterdam Poetry Festival on June 15th of this year. In this clip, he reads excerpts from his iconic Canto a Su Amor Desaparecido (Song for His Disappeared Love) in Spanish, while translations provided by Anna Deeny Morales are projected on the screen behind him (along with the original text).

Originally published in 1985 in the midst of Pinochet's horrendous reign, Song for His Disappeared Love was published by the venerable Action Books in a 2010 bilingual edition with translation by Daniel Borzutzky. As Steven Karl notes in his review of that volume, Zurita envisioned the poem as a "[response] to the terror with a poetry that was just as powerful as the pain being delivered by the state." As an Academy of American Poets appraisal of the book acknowledges, the poet knew these atrocities all too well: "Zurita was arrested by the Chilean government and persecuted for being a possibly 'suspicious' poet, and his first volume of poems was tossed into the sea." 

Karl continues, "Throughout the poem, Zurita examines and questions the binary opposition of life and death, often conflating the two into a sense of sameness. What does it mean to 'live' when your liberty has been confiscated, when you are silenced either by fear or force? How 'alive' are the oppressed when family has been kidnapped, beaten, abused, or murdered? How does one live a 'life' when the very idea of what constitutes 'life' is defined by a political ideology opposite our own?" — questions sadly every bit as pressing now as they were decades ago. You can start listening to this powerful work by clicking here.

PennSound Podcast #65: Trevino, Bentley, and Rees

Posted 8/2/2019

Here's a fascinating new program from the PennSound Podcast Series — its 65th episode overall — to wrap up your week. Hosts Levi Bentley and Ted Rees are joined by Wendy Trevino for this show, which is the start of a new series of discussions concerning the evolution of Housework  from a reading series to recording series. "Conversation topics included Barack Obama’s appearance in Best Experimental Writing 2016, post-arrest listmaking, 'unequal collateral,' the organizing-specific shifts of self, acknowledging messy comrade conflict, and further associations drawn from Trevino's 2018 collection Cruel Fiction."

The Housework series explains their mission thusly: "Housework is work undervalued, invisible, unpaid. It is classed, raced and gendered. It is also the work that allows life, it is 'reproductive.' It is intimate. It's necessary. It's weird. It has been precarious. This is the kind of work we want to recognize." It also serves as an extension of the earlier "Chapter and Verse" series, hosted at Chapterhouse Coffee Shop, which was founded by Ryan Eckes and Stan Mir. You can browse the collected archives of that series — which includes readings by Matvei Yankelevich, Lamont Steptoe, Gabriel Ojeda-Sague, Trish Salah, Kyle Schlesinger, Lewis Warsh, Michael Gizzi, Jenn McCreary, Tonya Foster, Kristen Gallagher, Pattie McCarthy, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Hoa Nguyen, William Corbett, Sueyeun Juliette Lee, Elaine Equi, and Tyrone Williams among many others — here. More information on this episode of the PennSound Podcast, including extensive bios for the participants, can be found here.

Poetry Is for Breathing, 2019

Posted 7/31/2019

Organized by Orchid Tierney,  "Poetry Is for Breathing: A Reading Against Islamophobia" took place at our own Kelly Writers House on April 17th of this year, 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.

Dubravka Djurić on Close Listening

Posted 7/29/2019

Today Charles Bernstein posted the latest episode in the long-running Close Listening series: a conversation with Dubravka Djurić recorded in Belgrade on July 26, 2019. Interestingly enough, while most Close Listening shows come in two parts — a reading segment followed by a separate discussion — which are recorded concurrently, this program's two parts were recorded a dozen years apart, with the first session taking place in New York City on April 29, 2007.

Here's how Bernstein introduces the program: "Dubravka Djurić is the most significant and innovative Serbian poet, translator, editor, and advocate of her generation. She is the coeditor, with Biljana Obradović, of the crucial 2016 anthology of contemporary Serbian poetry, Cat Painters from Diálogos / Lavender Ink. She is also the coeditor, with Miško Šuvaković, of Impossible Histories: Historic Avant-Gardes, Neo-Avant-Gardes, and Post-Avant-Gardes in Yugoslavia, 1918–1991 from MIT Press (2006). Djurić was a Poetics Program Fellow in Buffalo in the spring of 1994. James Sherry and I visited her in Beograd in the spring of 1991."

On PennSound's Dubravka Djurić author page, you'll find this earlier session, which consists of a dozen poems, including "REMEĆENJE," "Naše ideologije," "Umetnost, telo, tehnologija," "Maria Grazia želi da sedne za Rilkeov sto/stol," and "Bavim se sobom." There's also a short clip from Bernstein's series of video portraits, and a twenty-four minute reading of Priroda Meseca that's undated. You can listen in by clicking here.

Belladonna* Lesbian All-Stars Reading, 2019

Posted 7/26/2019

If you missed this exciting Belladonna* event in New York City a few weeks ago, then you're in luck, because an audio recording if now available on our Belladonna* Reading Series homepage. Recorded on July 12th at Bureau of General Services – Queer Division, this appropriately-named event featured sets by Ariel Goldberg, Andriniki Mattis, Natalie Peart, LJ Roberts, Jeanne Thornton, and Jeanne Vaccaro.

Now approaching its twentieth year, Belladonna* continues to be as vital a force as ever in our contemporary poetry scene. On our Belladonna* reading series homepage, you'll find an astounding array of audio and video documentation of the organization's ambitious work promoting "the work of women writers who are adventurous, experimental, politically involved, multi-form, multicultural, multi-gendered, impossible to define, delicious to talk about, unpredictable, and dangerous with language," going back to its very origins. Click here to start browsing.

Congratulations to Neustadt Nominees Hoa Nguyen and Jorie Graham

Posted 7/24/2019

Monday brought exciting news from World Literature Today that poets Hoa Nguyen and Jorie Graham were among the nominees for the 2020 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. The Neustadt Prize is "the first international literary award of this scope to originate in the United States and is one of the very few international prizes for which poets, novelists, screenwriters and playwrights are equally eligible." Hailed as the "American Nobel," the award "recognizes significant contributions to world literature and has a history as a lead-up to the Nobel Prize in Literature."

Nguyen is recognized for her 2014 collection, Red Juice: Poems, 1998-2008, while Graham's nomination is for 2017's collection, Fast. They are joined by fellow nominees Emmanuel Carrère,  Jessica Hagedorn, Eduardo Halfón, Ismail Kadare, Sahar Khalifeh, Abdellatif Laâbi, and Lee Maracle. Previous winners of the biannual Neustadt Prize include Elizabeth Bishop, Francis Ponge, Gabriel García Márquez, Czesław Miłosz, Octavio Paz, Tomas Tranströmer, Kamau Brathwaite, Nuruddin Farah, Dubravka Ugrešić, and Edwidge Danticat.

We congratulate Nguyen and Graham, along with all of the other very deserving nominees. The winner will be announced on October 16th.

PoemTalk #138: on Maggie Nelson's 'Bluets'

Posted 7/22/2019

This weekend we released the latest episode in the PoemTalk Podcast Series — number 138 in total — which is concerned with Maggie Nelson's first magnum opus, Bluets, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2019. For this show, host Al Filreis was joined by a panel that included (as seen from left to right) Jennifer Firestone, Adrienne Raphel, and Julia Bloch.

After specifying the sections of the book under discussion here — "those numbered 222 through 232; these appear on pages 89 to 93 in the Wave edition" — Filreis PoemTalk blog post on the episode offers a general survey of the of the associative paths that the panelists took: "Not surprisingly the discussion of this work causes us to riff on the many senses of blue that engaged Nelson as she wrote one mostly non-sequitur poetic proposition after another. Sky, flower, pigment, celestiality, impression(ism), heartedness, atmospherics, sexuality, and (of course) depression."

You can read more here. The full PoemTalk archives, spanning more than a decade, can be found here.

Lyn Hejinian reads from 'The Book of a Thousand Eyes,' 2011

Posted 7/19/2019

"Nothing can quite prepare readers for The Book of a Thousand Eyes," Charles Bernstein offers, at the start of a 2012 Jacket2 commentary post on Lyn Hejinian's then-latest book. "This is Hejinian's largest scale book — yet it reflects the kind of intimacy — and affective and affecting charm – I associate with all her work," he continues. "One key frame of the book is dreams — and there are many poems that have the quality of dreams — whether made-up or created in sleep — who's to say the difference? — Hejinian seems to say over and again."

Today we're highlighting a recently-added recording of Hejinian reading from The Book of a Thousand Eyes in January 2011. At the start of this sixteen-minute reading, she echoes Bernstein's estimation of the book's scale, noting that it's "an ongoing project — been going on forever, and will continue to do so." Some small evidence of this is offered by the fact that this new recording is one of five on our Hejinian PennSound author page that samples from the book, going as far back as a 2005 reading at our own Kelly Writers House.

In a 2014 essay for Poetry, Siobhan Phillips considers "the politics of sleep" as an act of resistance, juxtaposing Hejinian's book with Whitman. "Sleep is strange —'[s]tranger than habit and than obsession,' Lyn Hejinian writes [...] She could be talking about poetry. It's an old connection, of course, older than the Romantics — who seem prescient, in the light of contemporary science, when they propose the jump-cuts of dreaming as a model not just for poetry but also for knowing, full stop." In Phillips' mind, "Hejinian reconsiders": "She wants to figure out what sleep can do for the chance of cognition. She also wants to test what sleep means for the promise of politics."

If these observations have gotten you primed and ready to tackle this uncompromising book, then click here without delay to start listening.

Bill Berkson reads from 'Our Friends Will Pass Among You Silently,' 2011

Posted 7/17/2019

Here's a treat that we recently added to the site: the late, great Bill Berkson reading from the second half of his 2007 Owl Press collection, Our Friends Will Pass Among You Silently at an unknown location in January 2011.

The titles read in this twelve-minute set include "Tiffany Song," "Salad Spinner," "For Theremin," "I Thought They Were Beautiful, but They Were Really Glamorous," "Glass Hoist," "But Then (to Anselm Hollo)," "Art Diary" (for David Meltzer), "Compass Points," "Without Penalty," "Goods and Services," "A Recording Device," "Tango," and the book's coda, "The Way We Live Now." 

Of course, Berkson also reads the title poem, which begins with the memorable observation, "You hope the earth is equitable, because why else are you here?" It's fitting that this strong late offering's title has taken on an elegiac air in light of Berkson's death three years ago, with it framing several tributes to the poet, including Anne Waldman's Brooklyn Rail memorial, though she's quick to correct him: "Love this title of yours, Bill. But never silently, as the subtext is a great adhesive roar to what counts, what sounds, what listens, what lights up the cortex in relation to Bill Berkson."

You'll find this new recording and numerous other readings on our Bill Berkson author page.

PennSound Podcast #64: Corbett and Knittle on Schuyler

Posted 7/10/2019

Bill Corbett, Davy Knittle, and Stan Mir at KWH in 2017 
Today saw the release of the 46th episode in the PennSound Podcast series, which was produced by our own Davy Knittle. Here's Knittle's brief introductory note for the program:
William Corbett visited the Kelly Writers House in October 2017 for a retrospective reading and conversation with Stan Mir in honor of the poet Michael Gizzi. During his visit, Corbett and I had a conversation in the Wexler Studio about the work of New York School poet James Schuyler, whose Just the Thing: Selected Letters of James Schuyler Corbett edited (Turtle Point Press, 2009). In our conversation, we discussed Schuyler's early poems, his methods of perception, his fondness for children, his attention to New York and its qualities of light from his apartment window, and Corbett's long career of teaching Schuyler's poetry to undergraduate students.
You can read more about this podcast and listen in here. The complete archive of PennSound Podcast series can be found here.

John Richetti Reads English Renaissance Verse and Auden, 2019

Posted 7/8/2019

Golden-throated UPenn emeritus professor John Richetti returned to the Wexler Studio at the Kelly Writers House this April two record two new sets of material spanning the breadth of his interests within the field of English literature.

First, we have a broad selection of English Renaissance Verse, including poems by Edmund Spenser (including Cantos I and II from The Faerie Queen and "Epithalamion"), Sir Philip Sidney ("Leave Me, O Love," "With How Sad Steps," "What Tongue Can Her Perfections Tell?," and "Come Sleepe, O Sleepe," among others), Sir Walter Raleigh ("The Passionate Man's Pilgrimage," "What Is Our Life," "The Lie," "Of Spenser's Faery Queen"), Sir Thomas Wyatt ("They Flee From Me," "My Lute Awake," and "Forget Not Yet," among others), Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (including "When Youth Had Led," "When Raging Love," and selections from Poems of Love and Charity), Robert Southwell ("The Burning Babe"), and Thomas Campion ("My Sweetest Lesbia," "When to Her Lute," "Though You Are Young," "When Then Is Love but Mourning," and "There Is a Garden in Her Face"), along with Fulke Greville, John Skelton, Michael Drayton, Sir Edward Dyer, and George Gascoine. In total, there are more than four dozen poems in this set, which you can listen to here.

Richetti also recorded a sprawling collection of more than three dozen poems by W.H. Auden during the same visit, including "Spain," "September 1, 1939," "Epitaph on a Tyrant," "In Memory of W.B. Yeats," "The Secret Agent," "This Lunar Beauty," "The Witnesses," "Danse Macabre," "Musée des Beaux Arts," "In Memory of Sigmund Freud," "The Fall of Rome," and "The Geography of the House." These poems can be found here.

We're grateful, as always, for John Richetti's time and dedication to the PennSound project. You can find many more recordings he's made for us over the past fourteen years on the PennSound Classics homepage.

Kevin Killian: Six New Recordings 2009–2013

Posted 7/3/2019

Without a doubt, many in the poetry community are still reeling from the sudden and unfairly premature death of Kevin Killian. As we mentioned in our memorial note last month, we anticipated adding a number of recordings to our Kevin Killian author page courtesy of Andrew Kenower and his remarkable archive, A Voice Box. Today, we're very happy to be able to announce that they've been posted for our listeners to relish.

These six recordings were made in the Bay Area between 2009 and 2013. The first half — from San Francisco's Canessa Park, and Oakland's 21 Grand and Studio One — are readings from 2009. There are two more readings from Oakland's the Speakeasy in June 2011 and Berkeley's Woolsey Heights in November 2013. Finally, we have what's perhaps the most historically significant of these tracks: a February 2013 Woolsey Heights recording of "Activism, Gay Poetry, AIDS in the 1980s," a talk Killian originally delivered at the National Poetry Foundation's "Poetry of the Eighties" conference at the University of Maine at Orono in 2012.

These wonderful new additions join our previous Killian holdings, including a 1997 Kelly Writers House event with Killian and his wife Dodie Bellamy in conversation, a 1991 talk on Spicer at the Kootenay School of Writing, a 2007 reading of "Norwegian Wood" and "Is It All Over My Face?" at the launch party for EOAGH Issue 3: Queering Language, and a 2015 reading from the Frank O'Hara's Last Lover series with CAConrad and Jennifer Moxley.

Once again, we thank Andrew Kenower for his generosity in sharing these new recordings with us. You can browse through all of the aforementioned recordings by clicking here.

"Concordance: An Evening with Susan Howe," Harvard Divinity School, 2019

Posted 7/1/2019

Here's a very exciting event from this spring to start your week of right: "Concordance: An Evening with Susan Howe," took place at Harvard Divinity School on April 24th. 

In their announcement of the event, Harvard offers this synopsis: "The binding together of freedom and law, spontaneity and habit, are occasions for awakening a reader to the exaltation of spirit in process. Crossing the guarded borders between image and word, individual and community, history and the present, poetry provides an opening to the transcendent order that chance makes possible." 

You'll find audio and video of Howe's forty-minute talk on our Susan Howe author page, along with a dazzling array of materials spanning five decades, from her groundbreaking radio programs for WBAI-Pacifica Radio to her stunning live collaborations with David Grubbs. Click here to start browsing.

PoemTalk #136: on Nasser Hussain's "SKY WRI TEI NGS"

Posted 6/28/2019

Last week we announced the latest episode in the PoemTalk Podcast Series, but we wanted to make sure that you didn't miss out on episode #136 — on Nasser Hussain's SKY WRI TEI NGS project — which was released during our recent hiatus. For this program, host Al Filreis was joined by Hussain himself, along with Ujjwala Maharjan and Kevin Platt.

As Filreis explains in his PoemTalk blog post announcing the episode, the poems from SKY WRI TEI NGS are comprised solely of words constructed from the IATA's standardized list of international airport codes. In this program, the panel discusses three poems — "ISL AMO PHO BIA," "EAT (FOR MIC LEE)," and "STO RIS" — from the ten in total Hussain read on the same day at an event at the Kelly Writers House.

You can read more about that visit and the program hereThe full PoemTalk archives, spanning more than a decade, can be found here.

In Memoriam: Leevi Lehto (1951–2019)

Posted 6/27/2019

We are saddened to share the news that Finnish poet, translator, and digital poetics innovator Leevi Lehto has passed away at the age of 68 on June 22nd.

Our PennSound author page for Lehto houses a variety of video and audio recordings spanning more than a decade. The earliest of these coincide with the poet's visit to our own Kelly Writers House in 2005, where he read his own poetry and delivered a lecture: "Finnish Poetry Then and Now" (the full text of which is also provided). We also have the single track "Elegia" from Audioei 1 / OEI #26, a video snapshot from Charles Bernstein's Portraits Series and Lehto's contribution to the MLA Offsite Series Reading, all from 2006. Bernstein's video tribute for a 2017 celebration of Lehto's life and work, and "Sanasade. A Make Copies Video" from 2018 round out the collection.

We send our condolences to Lehto's family and his many friends within the international poetry community.

PoemTalk #137: on Anne Sexton's "The Ambition Bird"

Posted 6/21/2019

left to right: Ellen Berman, Anthony Rostain, Ahmad Almallah
Today saw the release of episode #137 in the PoemTalk Podcast Series, which focuses on Anne Sexton's poem "The Ambition Bird." Fittingly enough, given the poet, host Al Filreis was joined by two practicing psychiatrists, Ellen Berman and Anthony Rostain, along with poet Ahmad Almallah.

After discussing the provenance of both the poem itself and the specific recording under discussion, Filreis' PoemTalk blog post on the episode offers some sense of contemporary appraisals of Sexton's work: "A New York Times review by Joyce Carol Oates of The Complete Poems written in 1981 observed that after the mid-1960s Sexton's writing 'had begun to lose its scrupulous dramatic control and [was] weakened by a poetic voice that, rarely varying from poem to poem, spoke ceaselessly of emotions and moods and ephemeral states of mind.'" He continues, "Berman, Rostain, and Almallah, as PoemTalk listeners will hear, take a very different approach. If an understanding of clinical depression is adjusted by a sense of the deep anger and frustration of the domestic scene of an intensely ambitious woman, then perhaps the emotional ceaselessness, figurative ephemerality, and formal scrupulous control might be seen as of a piece."

You can read more here. The full PoemTalk archives, spanning more than a decade, can be found here.

New at Jacket2: "Extreme Texts," ed. by Divya Victor

Posted 6/20/2019

Today is a very exciting day long in the making: "Extreme Texts" — a groundbreaking Jacket2 feature curated by guest editor Divya Victor — has finally been launched. Here's how Victor starts her introduction of the materials:
When Jacket2 invited me to compose a CFP for a special feature spanning multiple modes of thinking, it was the summer of 2017 and we were several months into Trump's presidency. I had just returned to the United States, where I am a naturalized "citizen," after years in Singapore, where I was employed as a faculty member on a work visa, a status determined almost solely on the state's articulated understanding of my temporary utility to society — a condition that defines and delimits the lives of immigrants everywhere, but especially in oligarchic states (like Singapore and the US) that bank on the sweat and blood of certain bodies, the profitability of distended indenture (including debt), disenfranchisement, carceral surveillance, and other forms of coercion. The CFP was composed at a moment when it seemed that a majority of Americans had acquiesced to live, normally, under extreme conditions, with denuded civil rights, attenuated freedoms of press, increasing inequality of wages, and diminishing access to medical care, and under misogynist, transphobic, and supremacist policies. The moment was marked by fury over Trump's "Muslim ban," an executive order that prevented the entry of foreign nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
You can read more of her introduction here and browse the impressive table of contents, which is divided into "Scholarship," "Engagements," "Cases," and a special "Philippines Dossier." If you don't instantly see two or three or four pieces that you have to read right away, then there might be something wrong with you.

In Memoriam: Kevin Killian (1952–2019)

Posted 6/18/2019

Killian Kevin in 2012 (photo by Daniel Nicoletta)
We are mourning the sudden and shocking loss of Kevin Killian, who passed away this weekend at the age of sixty-six. Over at Jacket2, editor Julia Bloch has written a lovely memorial that details Killian's many memorial contributions to Jacket over the years, as well as the contents of his modest PennSound author page:
At Killian's PennSound page you will find a collection of recordings that includes a September 19, 1997, event hosted by the Kelly Writers House in Houston Hall at the University of Pennsylvania. The program featured Killian and his wife, the acclaimed writer Dodie Bellamy, in conversation and was organized by Kerry Sherin Wright, director of the Writers House, and Joshua Schuster, who was a student here at the time. 
The recording opens with Killian, midsentence, describing how Jack Spicer came to attend UC Berkeley, where he refused to sign the Loyalty Oath in 1950 ("I don’t know if you have that here," Killian tells the Penn audience, to laughs). Killian coedited, with Lewis Ellingham, Spicer's posthumously published detective novels, The Train of Thought: (Chapter III of a Detective Novel) (Zasterle Press, 1994) and The Tower of Babel (Talisman House, 1994); cowrote, with Ellingham, the biography Poet Be Like God: Jack Spicer and the San Francisco Renaissance (Wesleyan University Press, 1998); and coedited, with Peter Gizzi, My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer (Wesleyan University Press, 2008), which won the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. Killian once told Rain Taxi, "I'm an artist with a complicated relationship to California and to the class in which I was born. I guess I'm more like Spicer than I thought."

Killian's PennSound page also includes his 1991 talk on Spicer at the Kootenay School of Writing; a 2007 reading of his poems "Norwegian Wood" and "Is It All Over My Face?" at the launch of EOAGH Issue 3: Queering Language; and his January 31, 2015, reading with CAConrad and Jennifer Moxley at Frank O'Hara's Last Lover, the Philadelphia reading series curated by Jason Mitchell at Snockey's Oyster and Crab House Rose Room.

You can read more here. Thanks to the good graces of Andrew Kenower (of A Voice Box fame), we'll be adding a number of new recordings of Killian in the near future, so watch this space. We send our love to Dodie Bellamy and the great many members of our community who are reeling from the loss of this singular talent.

Want to read more? Visit the PennSound Daily archive.