Featured resources

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

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

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

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Celebrating Lawrence Ferlinghetti's 100th

Posted 3/24/2019

Today is the 100th birthday of living legend Lawrence Ferlinghetti, whose prodigious resumé is summed up by The New York Times thusly: "poet, retail entrepreneur, social critic, publisher, combat veteran, pacifist, poor boy, privileged boy, outspoken socialist, and successful capitalist." As Barry Miles observes, "Ferlinghetti's contribution to American literature is immense" and that's certainly cause for celebration of a life both long and well-lived.

We first launched our Lawrence Ferlinghetti author page a year ago in honors of the poet's 99th, and here's what you'll find there. Our most reading (which comes to us via Chris Funkhouser) is am hour-long set from 1994 at Page Hall in Albany. From there we jump back nearly a decade to two recordings from George Drury and Lois Baum, including an appearance on the program Word of Mouth and a forty-minute reading of selected poems at the Art Institute of Chicago. Next we have the Watershed Tapes release Into the Deeper Pools, recorded in two sessions in Bethesda and Baltimore, Maryland in 1984 and 1983, respectively.

We shuffle back a few decades for a few select poems recorded in 1969, including "Assassination Raga" and "Tyrannus Nix," which were digitized by Joel Kuszai for The Factory School, and the Ferlinghetti/Ginsberg episode of Richard O. Moore's Poetry USA series from 1966. Finally, we have  a short recording from the Berkeley Poetry Conference and a few assorted recordings without dates.

As we think back today about the impact Ferlinghetti has had on all of our lives, it's far too easy to foreground practically everything but his own poetry, so here's an excellent opportunity to connect directly with it and appreciate the ways in which it "constantly risk[s] absurdity / and death," as he so famously observed more than a half a century ago.


PoemTalk #134: on Mei-mei Berssenbrugge's "Hello, the Roses"

Posted 3/22/2019

Earlier this week, we released episode #134 in the PoemTalk Podcast Series, focusing on the title poem of Mei-mei Berssenbrugge’s 2013 New Directions book, Hello, the Roses. For this program, host Al Filreis gathered a panel that included (from left to right) Joshua SchusterEvelyn Reilly, and James Sherry 

Filreis begins his PoemTalk blog post announcing this new episode by discussing the poem's structure: "Our poem is in two sections. In the first, a woman meditates upon — and communicates with — a rose. In the second, the rose responds. The second begins: 'The rose communicates instantly with the woman by sight, collapsing its boundaries, and the woman widens her boundaries.' The poems of Hello, the Roses often feature a person's efforts to understand animals (especially 'Animal Voices' and 'DJ Frogs') and plants ('Slow Down, Now'). In 'Verdant Heart' communication flows back and forth between a rose and the speaker, although the emphasis in that poem is the increasing ecological awareness of the speaker." 

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


Amiri Baraka reads "Funk Lore," 2005

Posted 3/20/2019

Thanks to the efforts of Howard Ramsby, we are able to share this recording of Amiri Baraka reading "Funk Lore," the title poem of his 1996 Littoral Books collection, Funk Lore: New Poems (1984–1994). This three-minute track comes from a visit to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville on October 24, 2005.

"We are the blues / ourselves," the poem begins, "our favorite / color / Where we been, half here
/ half gone" revisiting themes found at the heart of Baraka's poetry since his earliest output. By the middle of the poem, a transubstantiation has taken place: "We are the blues / the past the gone / the energy the / cold the saw teeth / hotness / the smell above / draining the wind / through trees / the / blue / leaves us / black," though he quickly comes full-circle — "& now black again we are the / whole of night / with sparkling eyes staring / down / like jets” — ending with a reassertion of identity: "“that’s why our spirit / make us // the blues // we is ourselves // the blues." 

You can listen to the complete poem here on our Amiri Baraka author page, along with a treasure trove of recordings going as far back as 1964.

Aural Monsoon, "Live in the Haight," 2017

Posted 3/18/2019

Here's an opportunity to get to know another side of poet Will Alexander through his jazz duo, Aural Monsoon, where he plays piano alongside drummer Mark Pino. Today, we're proud to highlight Live at the Haight, an album recorded on August 13, 2017. Click here to listen to all nine tracks, including "Bamboo and Fire," "Calm and Furious Waters," "Verdigris Panorama," "Lyrical Jasmine Towers," "Aural Diamonds in Motion," and "Double Recognition."

Here's what Pino had to say about his their collaboration: "Los Angeles poet and musician Will Alexander's work been shaking my perceptions for several years now. I was happy to play with him on sets with Cloud Shepherd, and continue to love to read his writing. Hence, when Will contacted me to ask about my being available for a house show in San Francisco, with me on drums and he on piano, I jumped at the opportunity." Later, he says of the same gig, "Towards the end of the second set, I simply stopped playing my drums and listened to Will, more as a fan than a duo partner. I guess I kind of got lost in that for a few minutes. Will's Surreal Trance moves will have that effect!"

For those craving more of Alexander's work, click here to visit his PennSound author page, which is home to a variety of talks, readings, and interviews going back to 1994.

Barbara Henning and Maureen Owen (plus Ashley Smith Keyfitz), 2019

Posted 3/15/2019

This winter, poets Barbara Henning and Maureen Owen undertook an amazing road trip, reading from coast to coast between January and March, and covering 5,547 miles in the process. We're lucky to have recordings of two of those fourteen readings to share with our listeners.

That includes the first event in the tour: a Belladonna*-sponsored reading at Williamsburg's McNally Jackson Bookstore, which took place on January 18th. The complete audio from this this hour-long event is available to stream or download.

Then, jumping forward a few weeks to February 2nd, we find ourselves in the much-warmer climes of Austin, TX, where Henning and Owen read with Ashley Smith Keyfitz at Malvern Books. Streaming video of this complete event is available for your viewing pleasure.

Henning and Owen have kept a journal of their travels on Henning's author site, which you can read here, and if you're in Denver, you can catch the last stop on their ambitious overland journey next Tuesday, when they'll read with Crisosto Apache at Mercury Cafe as part of the F Bomb Series. You can find the complete itinerary here.



For Jack Kerouac's Birthday: Coolidge and Gizzi Read "Old Angel Midnight," 1994

Posted 3/12/2019

Since we're marking the birthdays of noteworthy authors, we'd be remiss to not acknowledge the March 12th birthday of Jack Kerouac, who would have turned ninety-seven today, had he not committed a slow alcoholic suicide, dying in the fall of 1969.

While we don't have permission from the Kerouac estate to share recordings of the poet's work — multiple albums, including collaborations with Al Cohn and Zoot Sims, along with polymath Steve Allen, are widely available — we do have a truly astounding document of Clark Coolidge and Michael Gizzi reading Kerouac's iconic spontaneous prose piece, "Old Angel Midnight." This session took place at the studio of Steve Schwartz in West Stockbridge, MA in 1994, and served as the basis of PoemTalk #124, first released last May, where Coolidge was joined by J.C. Cloutier and Michelle Taransky to discuss the piece.

Coolidge is, of course, well-known for, as Al Filreis phrases it, "his advocacy for Kerouac as properly belonging to the field of experimental poetry and poetics." Here's how he lays out his sense of what he refers to as Kerouac's "babble flow":
[S]ound is movement. It interests me that the words "momentary" and "moments" come from the same Latin: "moveo, to move. Every statement exists in time and vanishes in time, like in alto saxophonist Eric Dolphy's famous statement about music: "When you hear music, after it's over it's gone in the air, you can never capture it again." That has gradually become more of a positive value to me, because one of the great things about the moment is that if you were there in that moment, you received that moment and there's an intensity to a moment that can never be gone back to that is somehow more memorable. Like they used to say, "Was you there, Charlie?" 
Kerouac said, "Nothing is muddy that runs in time and to laws of time." And I can’t resist putting next to that my favorite statement by Maurice Blanchot: "One can only write if one arrives at the instant towards which one can only move through space opened up by the movement of writing." And that’s not a paradox.
Here's how Kerouac himself described the project (which famously appeared in the premier issue of Big Table, along with excerpts from William S. Burroughs' Naked Lunch — content liberated from the suppressed Winter 1958 issue of The Chicago Review): 
"Old Angel Midnight" is only the beginning of a lifelong work in multilingual sound, representing the haddalada-babra of babbling world tongues coming in thru my window at midnight no matter where I live or what I'm doing, in Mexico, Morocco, New York, India or Pakistan, in Spanish, French, Aztec, Gaelic, Keltic, Kurd or Dravidian, the sounds of people yakking and of myself yakking among, ending finally in great intuitions of the sounds of tongues throughout the entire universe in all directions in and out forever. And it is the only book I've ever written in which I allow myself the right to say anything I want, absolutely and positively anything, since that's what you hear coming in that window... God in his Infinity wouldn't have had a world otherwise — Amen."
You can listen to Coolidge and Gizzi's rendition of this classic here.




Happy Birthday, Joe Brainard!

Posted 3/11/2019

With so many staggering losses in the poetry community as of late, it's worthwhile to celebrate life as well, and today we're remembering the one and only Joe Brainard, who was born seventy-eight years ago today.

Our 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.


In Memoriam: Carolee Schneemann (1934–2019)

Posted 3/7/2019


We have very sad news to report that will have repercussions throughout the worlds of both poetry and contemporary art: iconic artist Carolee Schneemann has died at the age of eighty-four.

Schneemann's passing has been marked by entities as diverse as Artforum and Jezebel. The former observed that "While best known for her performance and body art that challenged notions of gender and sexuality — as well as for her expressive paintings, installations, and photography — Schneemann considered herself first and foremost a painter. 'I'm still a painter and I will die a painter,' she said in an interview in 1993. 'Everything that I have developed has to do with extending visual principles off the canvas.'" Jezebel offered this summation of her life's work: "As an artist, Schneemann centered her often nude body in her practice, both challenging how male artists have long fetishized and objectified the nude female form in art, but also drawing attention to the creative force of the female body (or more specifically, the vulva) as many women artists were doing at the time." Their tribute continues, "Her interests were clear even from when she started as an art student in the 1950s, when she was kicked out of Bard for painting herself naked. (Scheenmann went to college despite her father’s objections; he refused to pay for a woman's education)," concluding, "The frequent messages of Schneemann's work, especially that the female body still demands to be reclaimed in fine art on the terms of those who exist in them rather than those who love to look at them, still resonate in 2019." 

Our modest Carolee Schneemann author page is home to a trio of Segue Series sets spanning nearly thirty years. First, there's a 1979 reading at the Ear Inn, where Schneemann read "Accident" and the final part of "Home Run Muse." Then, there are two readings from the Bowery Poetry Club from 2004 and 2008: in the first, she reads "Like Totally Like," "Thanksgiving Diary," and "From Dreams," while in the latter, she reads "State of Confusion" and "Americana Eating Apple Pie." You'll also find Schneemann's contribution to a 40th anniversary celebration of Technicians of the Sacred from the BPC, and video from Jerry Rothenberg's 80th birthday tribute at CUNY in 2011. You can listen to any and all of the aforementioned recordings here.

Our thoughts are with Schneemann's friends and family, as well as the multiple generations of authors and artists who were inspired by her groundbreaking work.





Three New Belladonna* Readings, 2018

Posted 3/6/2019

It's been a while since we've announced new additions to our Belladonna* Reading Series homepage. To remedy that, here are three new readings from the fall of 2018 that were added to our site in the recent past.

The earliest of these readings took place on October 14th, featuring Anaïs Duplan and Yumi Shiroma reading at BGSQD for the Queer Zine Fair. James Loop and Rachael Guynn Wilson provided reader introductions for this forty-minute event.

Next, from November 5th, we have a Belladonna* Roll Call Reading Series event at Williamsburg's McNally Jackson bookstore. This reading showcased poets Marta López-Luaces and Montana Ray, who were presented by Mercedes Roffé and Mónica de la Torre, respectively. 

Finally, from December 7th, there's another Belladonna* Roll Call Reading Series reading, this time at Printed Matter, with Elaine Equi presenting Laura Buccieri and Tina Darragh presenting K. Lorraine Graham.

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, or click any of the individual dates above to visit that specific reading.





New at PennSound: Ezra Pound's Radio Speeches

Posted 3/4/2019

We're starting this week off with a timely historic curio: a new PennSound page for Ezra Pound's radio speeches, curated by Ben Friedlander and Richard Sieburth. In total, there are three speeches from 1942, which were recorded by the US government — "Power" from February 19th, "The Pattern" from March 30th, and "With Phantoms" from May 18th — along with two undated speeches on E. E. Cummings, which are presented in both full and abridged formats.

In conjunction with these recordings, we've gathered a few pertinent resources, including texts by Friedlander and Sieburth on Pound's radio broadcasts, and the complete text of Pound's radio speeches via Leonard W. Doob's book, Ezra Pound Speaking: Radio Speeches of World War II. In his introduction to that volume, Doob observes that "Reproducing Pound's admittedly controversial speeches over 30 years later requires justification." "Why publish this volume?" he asks. Here's what he offers by way of justification:
Pound wrote these scripts; they are part of his legacy. He is so important in American and British literature of the twentieth century that whatever he wrote cannot be ignored. The speeches, more over, are valuable from a historical standpoint: they reveal what one man, broadcasting from an enemy radio station during World War II, believed his countrymen should hear. On the basis of what he said, moreover, Pound was arrested and accused of treason; he spent 13 years in St. Elizabeth's Hospital (a government institution for the criminally insane in Washington, D.C.) as a result. Anyone who seeks to understand Pound or to write about him and his times cannot overlook these speeches. Although Pound's reputation will forever rest on his poetry and other writings, and not upon these scripts, the broadcasts are part of his record. Actually, the speeches should be of interest of Poundians not only because, according to Mary de Rachewiltz, they reflect his earlier writings but also because they affected his subsequent poetry. 
You can listen in and read more here, and don't forget to visit PennSound's main Ezra Pound author page, where you'll find an extensive archive of recordings organized by Sieburth, which spans from 1939–1972, along with innumerable supplemental materials.

James Schuyler "on the Day Before March First"

Posted 2/28/2019

"It's February 28, and that means it's a good day to read and think about one of my favorite James Schuyler poems, 'February,' which takes place 'on the day before March first.'" Thus begins a post by Andrew Epstein on his indispensable blog, "Locus Solus: The New York School of Poets" published a year ago today. What follows is an excerpt from Epstein's latest book, Attention Equals Life, which is concerned with the poem's origins and its place within Schuyler's ouvre. 

As Epstein notes, "'February' seems to have been a breakthrough for Schuyler, ushering in his mature style and set of concerns;  years later, he decided to give it pride of place as the second poem in Freely Espousing, his debut full-length collection, published in 1969." He continues, telling us that it "was also one of only four poems by Schuyler included in The New American Poetry, the epochal 1960 anthology edited by Donald Allen, which ensured that it would become an early 'greatest hit' for the poet." He then moves on to discuss Schuyler's writing process:
"February" is one of the first of Schuyler's many "window" poems; it sets out to recount exactly what could be seen from his apartment window in New York during a wintry sunset, at precisely 5 P.M. "on the day before March first." Fortunately for us, Schuyler discussed the composition of this poem in a letter he wrote (and apparently never mailed) to a woman ("Miss Batie") who had written a fan letter to him about his poems.  In the letter, he explains that
the day on which I wrote the poem I had been trying to write a poem in a regular form about (I think) Palermo, the Palazzo Abatelli, which has splendid carved stone ropes around its doors and windows, and the chapels decorated by Serpotta, with clouds of plaster cherubs; the poem turned out laborious and flat, and looking out the window I saw that something marvelous was happening to the light, transforming everything.  It then occurred to me that this happened more often than not (a beautiful sunset I mean) and that it was 'a day like any other,' which I put down as a title.  The rest of poem popped out of its own accord.  Or so it seems now.
By deciding to abandon the other, unwritten hymn to Palermo and Serpotta's baroque cherubs, and by choosing to write "February" instead, Schuyler seems to have stumbled upon a recognition about subject matter, about attentiveness to daily life, and about form.
You can read more of Epstein's observations, along with the poem in its entirety here.  You can listen to Schuyler read the poem as part of a reading at New York's Dia Art Foundation on November 15, 1988 — where he was introduced by close friend and collaborator John Ashbery — on PennSound's James Schuyler author page.





Jonas Mekas: Two Newly Segmented Readings

Posted 2/27/2019

It's been just over a month since we said farewell to legendary filmmaker and poet Jonas Mekas and announced his newly-created PennSound author page. Today, thanks to the hard work of PennSound staffer Luisa Healey, we're able to present segmented versions of our two Segue Series recordings.

The earlier of those two readings, from the Bowery Poetry Club in 2006, starts with the host's introduction of Mekas and his own opening comments, before he reads two pieces: "End of the Year Letter to Friends" and "Three Love Poems." The latter Segue reading, taken from Zinc Bar in 2015 starts in a similar fashion before Mekas launches into the lengthy piece "A Requiem for Manual Typewriter."

You can listen to both of these readings, as well as  a brief recording of Allen Ginsberg reading his classic "Sunflower Sutra" from one of Mekas' films, on our Jonas Mekas PennSound author page.

Rae Armantrout: Philly and NYC Readings 2018

Posted 2/25/2019

We wanted to make sure you didn't miss out on this pair of readings by Rae Armatrout recorded last fall on an east coast swing that took her through Philadelphia and New York City.

The earlier of the two recordings is from our own Kelly Writers house on October 17th. Armantrout's 37 minute reading is available in both audio and streaming video format, with a brief supplemental mobile video shot from the front row. Then, from three nights later, we have Armantrout's Segue Series reading at New York's Zinc Bar. This 21 minute set is available in MP3 format only.

These two latest additions are only a small part of the massive archive of recordings you'll find on our Rae Armantrout author page, which is home to numerous readings, talks, interviews, and other miscellaneous recordings going all the way back to 1979. To start browsing click here.



PoemTalk #133: on Divya Victor's "W Is for Walt Whitman's Soul"

Posted 2/22/2019

Earlier this week, we released episode #133 in the PoemTalk Podcast Series, which focuses on poet and Jacket2 Guest Editor Divya Victor's poem "W Is for Walt Whitman's Soul," taken from the alphabetical "Foreign Terms" series that concludes Victor's 2017 collection, Kith. Joining host Al Filreis for this program is a panel that includes (from left to right) Mytili Jaganathan, Angela Carr, and Anna Strong Safford

Filreis' PoemTalk blog post announcing this new episode starts by offering this very poetic appraisal of what's going on in Victor's poem: "The poem powerfully conveys the sense of inexorable forward motion in the relationships the poet progressively builds between and among words — and conceptually between and among things: those myriad elements of the specific and special thinginess colonial extraction has enabled. Increasingly dominant sounds, as words of the poem go by, compress those sounds; the already looted space between words (as read aloud, as thought about) closes up, so that one senses in the ears — and verily in the mouth — a dense intention of the dumping of a sonic motherlode." "What of Whitman?" he continues. "The work here might well be, the group considers, something akin to this: a notion of the poet as Suez Canal. In a sense, Mytili notes, the whole project of English derives from the colonial era, Whitman being on the hyperenthusiastic, plundering end of the word-extracting spectrum. Yet it is, of course, a spectrum."

You can read more of Filreis' introductory note here, and browse supplemental materials related to the poem and program produced for the free, open, non-credit online course ModPo, which Filreis had led for the past several years. The full PoemTalk archives, spanning more than a decade, can be found here.

A Tribute to Anne-Marie Albiach, IMEC, Paris, 2018

Posted 2/20/2019

Thanks to the efforts of Pierre Doumergue, we are very happy to be able to share these videos of a tribute event for Anne-Marie Albiach, which was held at IMEC (Institut Mémoires de l’édition Contemporaine) in Paris, France on November 26, 2015. Running 69 minutes in total, there are four videos featuring three "interveners": Abigail Lang, Rémi Bouthonnier and Jean-Marie Gleize, with Gleize's portion split into two video files. 

You can click here to watch, and don't forget that almost exactly a month ago we announced another new addition to PennSound's Anne-Marie Albiach author pagea France Culture radio interview with Jean Daive recorded in 1978, which is exclusively for our French-speaking listeners. That's one of three France Culture broadcasts available there, taken from the radio program "Poésie sur parole," with the other two recorded in 2003 and 2004, respectively. There are also several home-made recordings of the poet, including a 1993 reading of « H II » linéaires and a 2005 recordings of ETAT and UNE GÉOMÉTRIE (triptych), along with a 2000 reading as part of the Paris-based Steel Bar reading series, and shorter recordings made for Grey Suit and Kenning. Charles Bernstein's 2012 Jacket2 tribute poet to the poet is a great starting point to learn more about Albiach's life and work.

Kathy Acker, "Redoing Childhood"

Posted 2/18/2019

Today we're taking a dip into the PennSound archives to showcase Kathy Acker's album Redoing Childhood (Kill Rock Stars, 1999), which we first added to the site in December 2007. Here's what our original PennSound Daily announcement said about the record:
Produced by Hal Willner (William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Lou Reed), the album features musical accompaniment by feminist punk band Tribe 8, as well as David Cunningham (keyboards), Ralph Carney (reeds), Joe Gore (guitar), Steve Bernstein (trumpet) and Kenny Wollesen (drums), who slip effortlessly between time signatures and genres, providing a roiling bed of sound which perfectly complements Acker's seething delivery. Willner originally recorded Acker's contribution in 1993 — a time in which the recurring references to President Bush were a not-yet-faded memory of a graceless political era — and though she worried about the timeliness of such allusions during the general political torpor of the Clinton era, they're eerily fitting now, a decade after her death.
Of course, our current political climate seemed practically unimaginable way back then, and Acker's strident and uncompromising perspectives are, no doubt, even more vital then than now. Hindsight also provides us with the opportunity to share these observations on the album and its origins, via Chris Kraus' After Kathy Acker: A Biography, which explains how Acker reframed large chunks of her recent book, My Mother: Demonology as "as an avant-operatic spoken-word CD":
Each take was done virtually nonstop, and Ralph Carney recalls Acker jumping up and down in the booth while Tribe 8 played. When it was finally released two years after her death, Redoing Childhood revealed a new dimension to Acker's work. "Her voice in general, there was something so lush and luscious and embracing and sexy," Ira Silverberg told the Seattle Weekly. "Kathy had rock star energy about her. [Her performance] had less to do with the punctuation of the actual sentences than with her almost reinterpreting her own work in a lyrical way … Kathy just got it."
You can listen to the complete album, along with a 1978 Segue Series reading (with selections from Blood and Guts in High School), recordings from SUNY-Buffalo in 1979 and 1995, and several recordings surrounding Acker's late novel, Pussy, King of the Pirates, including the 1995 album of the same name she recorded with the Mekons by clicking here. As always, we're grateful to Matias Viegener and the Acker estate for their permission to share these recordings with our listeners.


A Celebration of Gerrit Lansing, 2018

Posted 2/15/2019

This week marked the one year anniversary of the passing of poet Gerrit Lansing, so it's a fitting occasion to highlight this recently-added tribute reading held in his honor in Kingston, NY on October 20th of last year.

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. You can listen to the complete event, which has conveniently been broken into individual MP3 files here, and while you're at it, why not take a spin through the recordings of Lansing we're honored to host on his PennSound author page, including a wonderful, intimate Close Listening program with Charles Bernstein and special guest Susan Howe, which was recorded at Lansing's Gloucester, MA home in 2012. Those wanting 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.”




Hannah Weiner: Two Newly Segmented 1983 Recordings

Posted 2/13/2019


Thanks to the efforts of PennSound staffer Luisa Healey, today we're happy to present two newly-segmented recordings from Hannah Weiner. Both are related to her October 10, 1983 appearance at the Ear Inn as part of the Segue Series: first, there's her complete set, which, after introductory comments, showcases selections from her 1984 Sun and Moon book SPOKE. Weiner reads "AUG 1," "AUG 3," "SEPT 4," "SEPT 6," and "SEPT survive 11." The second recording, an excerpt released on the 1994 CD Live at the Ear Inn, comes from that same reading.

As Patrick Durgin notes in his introduction to a recent edition of Weiner's Clairvoyant Journal, the poet made a distinction between SPOKE and her contemporaneous project, WEEKS: "SPOKE was written clairvoyantly. I saw the words in small groups on my forehead and wrote them down in a notebook. The large words were seen on the notebook page." In Weiner's "Working Notes," published in the January 1987 issue of HOW(ever): "I wrote it one summer late at night, in bed, in my mother's home." You can read the book in its entirety at Eclipse here, and  of course, don't forget that you can browse through an impressive archive of this important poet's work on PennSound's Hannah Weiner author page.


Hanif Abdurraqib reads "USAvCuba," 2019

Posted 2/11/2019

Here's an exciting new addition to the PennSound Singles database to start the week off — Hanif Abdurraqib reading "USAvCuba" from his debut collection The Crown Ain't Worth Much (Button Poetry, 2016).

Columbus-born Abdurraqib is a formidable poet and critic perhaps best known for the follow-up to The Crown Ain't Worth MuchThey Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us (Two Dollar Radio, 2017), which was hailed as one of the year's best books by as diverse an array of tastemakers as The Chicago TribuneEsquire, NPR, the CBC, Buzzfeed, Paste, Pitchfork, and O, the Oprah Magazine. Go Ahead in the Rain, his biography of hip-hop legends A Tribe Called Quest, was just released to wide acclaim.

An homage to Frank O'Hara's infectious style, "USAvCuba" makes clever use of the late poet's time-stamp aesthetics ("It is 3:15 on a Saturday & I am in a car on I-95 on the way to the soccer game") and the deft wordplay seen in poems like "Poem [Lana Turner Has Collapsed]" ("Nate is riding shotgun which is also the name for when you plunge something sharp into a can of beer & split open its aluminum shell before swallowing its urgent sacrifice"), all the while updating his voice for the 21st century and avoiding the pitfalls and cliches of so many bad O'Hara imitations. That said, not even O'Hara could come up with a line as breathtaking as "David Ruffin is singing I wish it would rain & his voice is unfolding long & slow in the backseat like an eager lover & there is a whole history of men demanding the sky to shake at their command & I’m not saying out loud whether or not I believe in god & I’m not saying out loud what I know the rain means I’m only saying that I need this dry summer to stay dry I’m only saying that the tickets to this soccer game cost as much as my best suit & kickoff is at 3:30."

You can listen to the poem in its entirety here and read along at Western Beefs here. With any luck, we'll be able to showcase more of Abdurraqib's poetry in the future.

In Memoriam: Kathleen Fraser (1935–2019)

Posted 2/6/2019

Unfortunately, we have yet another tragic death in the poetry world to report: news broke this morning that much-beloved poet, critic, and editor Kathleen Fraser had passed away at the age of 83. Nightboat Books, which is set to publish Fraser's Collected Poems in the near future confirmed the news and praised her for "ma[king] a unique, unparalleled contribution to American literature." The note continues, "She saw her work as 'making textures and structures of poetry in the tentative region of the untried.' Or as The New York Times said: 'Fraser inhabits a room unquestionably her own, outside any school of poetry.'"

It's a testament to Fraser's longevity that the body of recordings found on her PennSound author page only represents about half of her writing life, which began in the mid-60s with her debut Change of Address (1966), which was soon followed by an appearance in the Paul Carroll-edited 1968 anthology The Young American Poets (where I first encountered her work). Our earliest recording is a 1982 reading at San Francisco's Intersection for the Arts, and you'll find many readings from familiar sources there — a half-dozen Segue Series readings at practically every venue the series has called home, readings from SUNY-Buffalo, the Kootenay School of Writing, the St. Mark's Talks series, Cross Cultural Poetics, and our own Kelly Writers House — but what I'd most like to highlight are some of the more unconventional recordings, including a pair of Kelsey Street Press recordings featuring Fraser talking to Suzanne Stein about her own work and to Hadley Guest about her mother, Barbara, for example, or a 2009 reading with Erica Hunt as part of Belladonna's ADFEMPO event. Fraser was also the subject of an early PoemTalk episode (#13, focusing on her poem, "The Cars"). You can browse through all of these remarkable materials by clicking here.

Kristin Prevallet and Stevent Brent: What She Said (2017)

Posted 2/5/2019

Here's a strange and wonderful recent addition to our author page for Kristin Prevallet: a 2017 collaboration with musician Steven Brent, titled "What She Said," which first appeared on Brent's 2018 album, Even the Failures Are Beautiful, which you can listen to in its entirety here.

In "What She Said," Prevallet presents us with a lengthy inventory of questions asked of an unnamed "she," which casts a wide net, encompassing all manner of somatic and psychological experience, and occasionally folds back on itself, before evolving into a more objective narrative in the final section. It's undergirded by Brent's subtle soundscape, which blends a foundation of menacing drones, atonal guitar chime, and orchestral gravity with periodic overlays of ticking typewriters and threshing clacks, and Prevallet's performance here is just as musical and important, wavering from sedate calm to a more fervent delivery, sometimes speaking naturalistically and other times veering into stop-start Creeley-style hesitations, which interact beautifully with the sounds around it. Click here to listen now. It will be nine and a half minutes well spent.

Happy Birthday, Gertrude Stein

Posted 2/3/2019

February 3rd marks the 145th anniversary of Gertrude Stein's birth, and that's a wonderful reason to reacquaint our listeners with the Stein-related resources that are available at both PennSound and Jacket2.

Our Gertrude Stein author page, edited by the late scholar Ulla Dydo, is home to all known extant recordings of the iconic author, including the contents of her 1956 Caedmon album Gertrude Stein Reads From Her Works — which were recorded during the winter of 1934–35 in New York City — and several tracks not used for the album. The other large body of material you'll find there are Stein's sessions for Columbia University's Speech Lab, uncovered by our own Chris Mustazza several years back.

We're also very proud to be able to share a 1947 recording of Virgil Thompson's opera Four Saints in Three Acts, based on Stein's work of the same name, which came to us courtesy of John Whiting. In addition to complete audio of the performance and the full text of its libretto, we've provided listeners with a link where they can see a brief clip from the production, which includes gorgeous sets by Florine Stettheimer.

Beyond that, Stein has been the subject of two PoemTalk programs: episode #10 from 2008, which addresses "Portrait of Christian Bernard," and episode #90 from 2015, which discusses "How She Bowed to Her Brother." Audio and video from the 2014 Kelly Writers House celebration "Tender Buttons at 100" rounds out our holdings, along with a link to "A Little Bit of a Tumblr," which is quite possibly the only single-serving website influenced by Stein and her work.

Over at our sister site, Jacket2, you'll want to check out Charles Bernstein's ongoing dossier, "Gertrude Stein's War Years; Setting the Record Straight," and Julia Bloch's micro-reviews feature, "Twenty-Two on Tender Buttons." Readers might also enjoy Rachel Galvin's review of Stein's Stanzas in Meditation: The Corrected Edition or Joshua Schuster's 2011 article, "The Making of Tender Buttons," and you can browse our complete archive of commentary posts tagged with Stein's name here.

In Memoriam: Sean Killian

Posted 2/1/2019

Sadly, we're closing this week of mourning with news of the passing of one more poet: Sean Killian, who succumbed quickly to metastatic bladder cancer just four weeks after receiving his diagnosis. Private tributes have come in by the likes of Bruce Andrews, Sharon Mesmer, and Bruce Kaplan, among others, and in honor of Killian's life and work, we've created a PennSound author page for him.

There, you'll find a pair of recordings from the Segue Series — the earlier recorded at the Ear Inn on October 9, 1993; the latter from a March 23, 2001 reading at Double Happiness — where he read with Elizabeth Robinson and Mesmer, respectively. We send our condolences to those who knew and loved Killian, and hope that February will offer more opportunities for celebrating life than mourning those we've lost. To start listening to the Sean Killian readings mentioned above, click here.

In Memoriam: Emmanuel Hocquard (1940–2019)

Posted 1/30/2019

More sad news to report in the poetry world today: this weekend, news broke that French poet and translator Emmanuel Hocquard passed away at the age of 78. Perhaps best known to for the two anthologies he edited with Claude Royet-Journoud — 21+1: poètes américains ďaujourďhui and its successor, 49+1: nouveaux poètes américains — Hocquard was also a well-respected poet and translator (of Charles Reznikoff, Michael Palmer, Paul Auster, and Benjamin Hollander, among others).

While our Emmanuel Hocquard author page is modest, containing only two recordings, it's still a wonderful way to connect with the poet and his work. The earlier of our two offerings comes from the First Poetics Program French Poetry Festival, recorded on October 18, 1995. Unfortunately the recording starts in medias res, but it's nevertheless a fine sampling from Palmer's translation of Theory of Tables, with Charles Bernstein reading the English versions. Then we have an April 13, 2000 reading at UCSC that starts with introductory comments by Peter Gizzi, who then reads the afterword to Theory of Tables, setting up a bilingual reading with Hocquard and Gizzi alternating French and English versions of the poems. You can listen to both of these recordings by clicking here.

In Memoriam: Jonas Mekas (1922–2019)

Posted 1/28/2019

We are very sad to share the news that legendary filmmaker and poet Jonas Mekas has passed away at the age of 96. The New York Times' obituary offered up a succinct summary of Mekas as "part intellectual, part enthusiast, part provocateur," and observed that "It is rare to have consensus on the pre-eminence of any person in the arts. But few would argue that Mr. Mekas, who was often called the godfather or the guru of the New American Cinema — his name for the underground film movement of the 1950s and '60s — was the leading champion of the kind of film that doesn't show at the multiplex."

To honor this peerless artist, we've created a new author page to gather recordings of Mekas from throughout the PennSound archive. It contains two Segue Series readings — one at the Bowery Poetry Club, the other at Zinc Bar — from 2006 and 2015, respectively, along with a brief recording of Allen Ginsberg reading his classic "Sunflower Sutra" from one of his films. While Mekas was far better known as a filmmaker than a poet, it's important to remember that he had a long history as writer and editor, and therefore it's possible that these selections from his literary expression might offer a new angle of appreciating his prodigious talents.

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