Featured resources

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

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

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

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PoemTalk 111: two by Naomi Replansky

Posted 4/24/2017

We recently released the latest episode in the PoemTalk Podcast series (#111 altogether) in which two poems by Naomi Replansky — "In Syrup, In Syrup" and "Ring Song" — are the focus of the discussion. The panel for this program included host Al Filreis and Charles Bernstein, who recently conducted a lengthy interview with the poet, as well as Ron Silliman and Rachel Zolf.

After providing some bibliographical context for the poems and tracking their revision history in his introduction on the PoemTalk blog, Filreis offers some caveats for listeners: "historical knowledge of the ins and outs, ups and downs, of the literary left of the 1940s and 1950s (and specifically of the communist left) helps somewhat to make sense of Replansky's choice to convey irony through radical ideas in controlled poetic forms — Mother Goose-ish rhymed couplets ('Ring Song') and metrically tight two-stressed unrhymed couplets ('In Syrup'). So in this discussion there is some talk, which some listeners will find arcane, about the state of radical ideologies and poetics at various points in the life of these two poems as they have moved through the decades." You can read more — and both listen to and watch this special episode — on Jacket2.

PoemTalk is a co-production of PennSound, the Kelly Writers House, Jacket2 and the Poetry Foundation. If you're interested in more information on the series or want to hear our archives of previous episodes, please visit the PoemTalk blog, and don't forget that you can subscribe to the series through the iTunes music store.

Congratulations to Griffin Prize Short-Lister Hoa Nguyen

Posted 4/11/2017

Today, the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry announced the international and Canadian shortlists for the 2017 Griffin Prize and among the very worthy nominees was PennSound poet How Nguyen for her Wave Books release Violet Energy Ingots. Here's the judges' citation in full:

"Hoa Nguyen's poems tread delicately but firmly between the linear demands of narrative and syntax on the one hand and between registers of speech and forms of address on the other. There are spaces for breath, and asides hovering in parentheses. There are also the slippages in language, in the slide from, say 'staring' through 'starving' and 'starring' to 'scarring'. Everything is at once tangential yet surprisingly direct. This is where the pleasure and depth reside: in the off balancing of the language and its pure, uncalculated tone. What are the poems about? Many things, often simple and direct, like food, or sex, or rivers, or sickness. The poems are packed with fine precisions and particulars. But there is politics too, sometimes startlingly straight as in the poem about Andrew Jackson or sharp-edged as in 'Screaming'. Violet Energy Ingots is a fully mature work in that it is confident of both its voice and its readers' alertness. It makes its own space. It demands it and holds it."

You can listen to a sampling of Nguyen's poetry on her PennSound author page, which is home to a 2016 reading from the St. Bonaventure Visiting Poets Series showcasing selections from Red Juice, four individual tracks from PoetryPolitic (a project undertaken by Wave Books in the lead-up to the 2008 presidential election), and a 2010 reading as part of the Chapter and Verse Series in Philadelphia.

Fatemeh Shams: New Author Page

Posted 4/5/2017

Our latest author page is for Persian poet, translator, and scholar Fatemeh Shams, who recently joined the UPenn faculty as Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.

On March 2nd of this year she and translator Dick Davis took part in a lunchtime event at our own Kelly Writers House on Persian Literature in Translation, which is available in video and audio form. Later that day, the two stepped into the Wexler Studio for a bilingual reading, with Shams reading in Farsi and Davis sharing his translations in English. In total, the pair read ten poems including "Mashhad," "Three Years Later," "Never to Fall Asleep," "Ash and Mist," "In Search of a Homeland," "Home," and "Persecution."

You can listen to both of these recordings on PennSound's Fatemeh Shams author page, and we look forward to hosting more work from our colleague in the future.

In Memoriam: Yevgeny Yevtushenko (1932-2017)

Posted 4/1/2017

It's a rare occurrence to have a poet's death officially verified by a governmental news agency, but then again Yevgeny Yevtushenko was an uncommon talent. The Russian new agency TASS confirmed with close friend Mikhail Morgulis that Yevtushenko passed away earlier today in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he taught for many years at the University of Tulsa. He was eighty-four.

The New York Times' obituary hailed Yevtushenko as "an internationally acclaimed poet with the charisma of an actor and the instincts of a politician whose defiant verse inspired a generation of young Russians in their fight against Stalinism during the Cold War." Meanwhile, the Guardian's memorial recalls the early work that brought him renown outside of the Soviet Union: "He gained international acclaim as a young revolutionary with "Babi Yar," an unflinching 1961 poem that told of the slaughter of nearly 34,000 Jews by the Nazis and denounced the antisemitism that had spread throughout the Soviet Union."

Fortunately, we only recently added a wonderful recording of Yevtushenko to our site — via George Drury's amazing "Word of Mouth" archive — produced by Drury and Lois Baum and recorded on April 3, 1987 at the Chicago Cultural Center. The program's introduction provides a wonderful encapsulation of his life and career up to the mid-1980s (where he was still battling with the powers that be, challenging the openness of Gorbachev's glasnost policies) and from the very start, the qualities of his work, both on the page and in performance, are evident.

Cross Cultural Poetics: Thirteen New Episodes, 2016-2017

Posted 3/31/2017

Your weekend listening plans are set now, because we have thirteen new and exciting episodes of Cross Cultural Poetics — the long-running and much-beloved program hosted by Leonard Schwartz (shown at right) and broadcast on Olympia, Washington's KAOS-FM — have just been posted to the site.

We start with Episode #353, "Konundrum," in which Peter Wortsman talks about and reads from his new translations of Franz Kafka in Konundrum: Selected Prose of Franz Kafka. He's followed in episode #354, "Sowing the Wind," by Edward Foster who shares selections from his new book of the same name. Episode #355, "Gretl," shifts gears to opera with Anya Matonovic, soprano, discussing her playing one of the title roles in Engelbert Humperdink's opera Hansel and Gretel for Seattle Opera. Then for episode #356, "Thomas Traherne Series," Susan M. Schultz reads from her latest collection, Memory Cards: Thomas Traherne Series.

Episodes #357 and #358 feature one long conversation spread across the pair, with Paul Vangelisti discussing his co-translation (with Lucia Re) of Italian poet Amelia Rosseli's War Variations. Episode #359, "The Poet Ida Perkins," is named after the protagonist of Jonathan Galassi's debut novel, Muse, while episode #360, "Opera," tackles that topic from two angles with guests Dean Williamson, conductor (who's worked with the Nashville Opera and NYC's City Opera) and poet Edwin Frank, (who talks about his poem "Opera: Die Meistersinger misremembered in two broken parts").

Episode #361, "Writing During War," features Palestinian poet Somayo el-Sousi, co-author of a 2014 text with the same title. For episode #362, "Fiery Jade," composer Greg Youtz and librettist Zhang Er discuss their new opera Cai Yan (Fiery Jade), based on the life of the great classical female Chinese poet. We travel to Sudan with poet Najlaa Osman in episode #363, while in episode # 364 we travel to Central Asia with Afghan-American poet Zohra Saed, author of Langston Hughes: Poems, Photos, and Notebooks from Turkestan.

Finally, in episode #365, "The Trump Era," Political philosopher Michael Hardt talks about forms of resistance in the era of Trump, as well as his forthcoming book, with Antonio Negri, Assemblage.

You can listen to all of these new programs, as well as hundreds more going all the way back to the program's 2003 debut on our Cross Cultural Poetics series page.

Rankine and Mackey Receive LOC's Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry

Posted 3/29/2017

After a harrowing few days we're happy to have some good news to report, involving PennSound poets Claudia Rankine and Nate Mackey (who was in town recently as one of this year's Kelly Writers House fellows). Earlier this week, the Library of Congress announced that were the recipients of the 2016 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry. Rankine's prize honors her groundbreaking book, Citizen: An American Lyric, while Mackey is being recognized for his lifetime achievements. The awarding panel included "Boston Poet Laureate Danielle Legros Georges, selected by 21st Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry Juan Felipe Herrera; National Book Award-winning poet Mary Szybist, selected by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden; and scholar Betty Sue Flowers, selected by the Bobbitt family."

As the LOC press release explains, "The Bobbitt Prize, a biennial $10,000 award, recognizes a book of poetry written by an American and published during the preceding two years, or the lifetime achievement of an American poet. The prize is donated by the family of Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt of Austin, Texas, in her memory, and awarded at the Library of Congress. Bobbitt was President Lyndon B. Johnson's sister. While a graduate student in Washington, D.C., during the 1930s, Rebekah Johnson met college student O.P. Bobbitt when they both worked in the cataloging department of the Library of Congress. They married and returned to Texas."

The two winners will accept their awards and give a reading in Washington, D.C. on April 20th. In the meantime if you'd like to get a preview of the festivities, or sample the work that earned them this recognition, then check out the numerous readings you'll find on their PennSound author pages: you'll find Rankine's here and Mackey's is here.

In Memoriam: Richard Swigg (1938-2017)

Posted 3/27/2017

This weekend we were contacted by Richard Swigg's daughter, Virginia, who shared the very sad news that her father had passed away a few days earlier after suffering a stroke. PennSound co-director Charles Bernstein has penned a tribute to Swigg for Jacket2, which begins to encapsulate what his herculean efforts meant to us:

"Richard Swigg was a great friend of PennSound, editing our extensive sound recording collections of Williams, Bunting, Tomlinson, Oppen, and Replanksky. His work was thorough, with the aim of archiving all the audio recordings of these poets. He was tireless in his efforts — he spent decades assembling the recordings — and worked with us in securing permission to make these recordings available on PennSound."

None of these author pages are modest by any means. The Williams page brings together more than thirty individual recordings, many of which include dozens of tracks each. The Tomlinson page includes a core collection of the poet reading his entire published output (653 poems!), which is supplemented by other recordings. Moreover, I think it's noteworthy that he approached the work of Tomlinson and Replansky with the same tireless enthusiasm and respect that he afforded to titans like Williams and Oppen, and that his passion was contagious, benefiting us all greatly. As Charles notes, "Richard urged Al Filreis and I to visit 100-year-old Naomi Replansky, whom he had recorded for PennSound. We did and that was a great experience for us."

While his work as both a scholar and archivist of recorded poetry was central to PennSound, I'd also like to highlight the fine work he shared with us at Jacket2 over the past few years. As the editor who worked most closely with him — particularly on Paul Auster's startling interview of the Oppens (which he toiled to uncover like a needle in the proverbial haystack, then transcribed from a poor-quality tape and edited for publication), and his mammoth collected correspondence between Oppen and Tomlinson (which is essentially a book-length manuscript) — I will miss our exchanges and everything I learned from chatting with him and reading his prose closely. As I told Virginia after hearing the terrible news, I'd been thinking of him recently (probably right around the time of his death) and getting ready to drop him a line to see what marvelous project he might be cooking up for us next. Certainly, the passing of such a generous and dedicated scholar leaves a void that's very difficult to fill. All of us at both PennSound and Jacket2 share our condolences with Richard's family, colleagues, and friends.

[n.b. this remembrance is also posted as a Jacket2 commentary post here]

In Memoriam: Joanne Kyger (1934-2017)

Posted 3/23/2017

We're very sad to report the news that legendary poet Joanne Kyger — whose long career (starting more than fifty years ago with The Tapestry and the Web) bridged multiple schools and styles — has passed away at the age of eighty-two.

Just recently, we were proud to have Kyger as panelist for the latest PoemTalk Podcast on Philip Whalen's "Life at Bolinas. The Last of California", and Kyger's own poem "It's Been a Long Time: Notes from the Revolution" was the subject of PoemTalk #79 from 2014. Kyger was also the subject of an extensive feature in Jacket #11 (2000), which was edited by Linda Russo.

Of course, you'll also find am impressive archive of recordings on our Joanne Kyger author page, going as far back as her appearance at the Berkeley Poetry Conference in 1965. From there, we have numerous recordings from Bolinas and San Francisco (from the 1970s, the 2000s, and the 2010s), East Coast visits to read on Public Access Poetry (in 1978) and for Dia's Readings in Contemporary Poetry series (in 2015) and a handful of other interesting recordings from along the way.

We humbly acknowledge the void that Kyger's death leaves in the world of contemporary poetry and send our condolences to her family, friends, and fans.

The Four Horsemen Live in Toronto, 1984

Posted 3/21/2017

We have an exciting new performance from legendary Canadian sound poets the Four Horsemen that you'll want to check out.

Recorded on October 11, 1984 at the Tivoli in Toronto, this set runs just over forty minutes and features eight individual pieces. All four members of the group — bpNichol, Steve McCaffery, Paul Dutton, and Rafael Barreto-Rivera — are present, and McCaffery plays reeds in addition to vocalizing.

You'll find this new gem on our Four Horsemen author page along with three complete albums — Nada Canadada (1973), Live in the West (1977), and Two Nights (1988) — and a variety of links and other resources. Our individual author pages for members bpNichol, Steve McCaffery, Paul Dutton, and Rafael Barreto-Rivera — are also well worth checking out.

We're grateful to both Dutton and Gary Barwin for their help in bringing this recording to our site.

PoemTalk 110: on Philip Whalen's "Life at Bolinas. The last of California"

Posted 3/9/2017

Earlier this week we released the latest episode in the PoemTalk Podcast series, its 110th in total, which addresses Philip Whalen's poem, "Life at Bolinas. The last of California," written between 1968–69. Appropriately enough, for this program, host Al Filreis hit the road to the Bolinas home of poet Stephen Ratcliffe, where, together with Joanne Kyger and Julia Bloch, they conducted a lengthy discussion of the work.

In his introduction on the PoemTalk blog, Filreis starts his discussion of the poet itself by considering the one word in its title that seems somewhat out of place: "What does Whalen mean by 'last'? Is this a farewell to Bolinas? Is there something final about the experiences reported here in this collage of memories and scenes? Joanne at several points observes that at least parts of the poem seem to have been written in Kyoto, and that Kyoto scenes are a presence in its lines, mixed with memories of Bolinas, a recent past seen from afar. Even 'Duxbury Pond,' as locally specific a reference to Bolinas as could be, is pronounced unlocally (as Stephen and Joanne both notice). The outsider's enunication suggests that the poem is the ode to places composed from beyond them. Then again, there's a precise evocation of the late Bolinas autumn ('Blithering dead leaves along the ground / Crooked sunlight'); the desolate, windy scene intruded upon only by very particularized raccoons; and the real clock Whalen broke at the Doss house where he was staying as a guest. The speaker is there." You can read more — and both listen to and watch this special episode — on Jacket2.

PoemTalk is a co-production of PennSound, the Kelly Writers House, Jacket2 and the Poetry Foundation. If you're interested in more information on the series or want to hear our archives of previous episodes, please visit the PoemTalk blog, and don't forget that you can subscribe to the series through the iTunes music store.

Jacket2 welcomes Divya Victor

Posted 3/7/2017

Jacket2 is delighted to welcome Divya Victor to our team as our new guest editor. Divya has long been a friend of the journal: she has curated and edited two extraordinary features, "Discourses on Vocality" and "Conceptual writing (plural and global) and other cultural productions" — the latter of which is one of our most massive and ambitious features to date — and written insightfully on her time in Singapore as part of our Commentaries section. She is a prolific poet whose titles include the award-winning Natural Subjects (reviewed here), UNSUBThings to Do with Your MouthSwift Taxidermies 1919–1922Goodbye, John! On John Baldessari, PUNCH, and the Partial trilogy, as well as a number of chapbooks. Her next book, Kith, includes poetry, prose, and essays on globalization and the South Asian diaspora, and is forthcoming from Fence and BookThug. Divya currently teaches poetry and poetics at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and has previously been a Mark Diamond Research Fellow at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, a Riverrun Fellow at the Mandeville Poetry Collections at University of California San Diego, and a writer in residence at the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibit (LACE). We at Jacket2 are thrilled to have such an insightful and brilliant editor and writer join us. Welcome, Divya!

New Series Page: Kootenay School of Writing

Posted 3/6/2017

We have recently created a new series page for the Kootenay School of Writing, the venerable, Vancouver-based writing collective now in its thirty-third year of existence.

Encapsulating what you'll find there will not be easy. As you might expect, there are a lot of Canadian authors, and non-Canadian authors as well. There are a lot of recordings in general — hundreds, in fact, with the majority of them coming from the 1990s and 2000s, though the 80s and teens are well-represented as well. Some of the names you might encounter there: Carmen Aguirre, Ken Belford, Bruce Boone, George Bowering, Dionne Brand, Suzanne Buffam, Alice Burdick, Danika Dinsmore, George Evans, Marwan Hassan, Jeanne Heuving, Brook Houglum, Kevin Killian, Dorothy Trujillo Lusk, Nicole Markotic, Daphne Marlatt, Barry McKinnon, Duncan McNaughton, Peter Nichols, Douglas Oliver, Michael Palmer, Meredith Quartermain, Peter Quartermain, Sina Queyras, Denise Riley, Stuart Ross, Jordan Scott, Nico Vassilakis, Melissa Wolsack, and many, many more.

This impressive roster of poets really needs to be seen to be believed, so you should just check out our KSW series homepage and find one (or several) of your favorite poets to start with. Better yet, this is just the start of KSW recordings that we'll be adding to the site in the near future!

New at Jacket2 Reissues: 'Aufgabe' (2001-2014)

Posted 3/3/2017

This week draws to a close with a very exciting new addition to our Jacket2 Reissues section: a complete run of the much-beloved journal Aufgabe.

As Reissues editor Danny Snelson notes, "The task of recounting the work of Aufgabe is formidable." He continues: "Founding editor E. Tracy Grinnell initiated the magazine in the Bay Area in 1999. Over the next fifteen years, Aufgabe has featured seventy editors, roughly 700 writers, nearly 150 translators, and twenty artists from twenty-three countries. The magazine was uniformly released from 2001 until 2014 in perfect-bound 6" x 9" format with one thousand copies printed per issue. In each issue, Aufgabe 'challenges static cultural modes of thinking and being' through a dense global network of innovative poetry and poetics." Snelson's introductory note continues acknowledging the geographical diversity of the journal's participants and guest editors, along with its stated privileging of "the editorial art itself," which is clear from a mere moment's glance at the tables of contents for each of Aufgabe's thirteen issues.

You can browse those issues, or download bookmarked PDF files of each here, and don't forget to visit our Reissues homepage, where you can survey the many other journals that have been preserved by Snelson and his crew.

Close Listening: Tyrone Williams, 2016

Posted 3/1/2017

As we mentioned in our last post, we have two exciting new Close Listening programs from PennSound co-director Charles Bernstein to discuss this week. Last time, we introduced his episodes focused on Myanmar poet ko ko thett, and today we're highlighting a new episode featuring poet Tyrone Williams. Born in Detroit, Williams is the author of c.c., On Spec, The Hero Project of the Century, Adventures of Pi, and Howell. He's taught at Xavier University in Cincinnati since 1983.

Over the course of forty-five minutes, Williams talks to Bernstein about "growing up working class in Detroit; bookishness and the role of education and his early teachers; assimilation versus resistance and formal innovation in American poetry in relation to his dissertation on ?Open and Closed Forms In 20th Century American Poetics?; his practice of ?eshuneutics? (after Yoruba spirit Eshu); the use of appropriation in his poetry and the necessity of research and reading beyond one?s immediate knowledge context; and the politics and history of English for African-Americans."

On Williams' PennSound author page, you'll find a wide array of readings spanning the past decade, including his February 7th reading at our own Kelly Writers House that followed this Close Listening recording session. Click the title above to start listening.

Close Listening: ko ko thett, 2017

Posted 2/26/2017

PennSound co-director Charles Bernstein is back with two recently-recorded programs in his long-running Close Listening series, which is broadcast by Clocktower Radio. Today, we'll highlight the first of these shows, which features ko ko thett, a poet, editor and translator from Burma/Myanmar.

ko ko thett is the author of The Burden of Being Burmese (Zephyr Press, 2015), a book hailed by John Ashbery as "brilliantly off-kilter," and is co-editor (with James Byrne) of Bones Will Crow, an anthology of contemporary Burmese poetry. He also serves as translator for the speeches of Aung San Suu Kyi. A student activist during the military dictatorship in Burma, ko ko thett spent many years living in exile in Finland, Austria, and the U.S.. He has recently returned to Yangon.

The two-part program begins with the author reading before a live audience at the Kelly Writers House on January 23, 2017. In the second half, he and Bernstein discuss his decision to write in English; his 19 years in exile and the experience of returning home; the political situation in Burma at the time of his exile compared to the present; his sense of the futility of the student protests; and the international context of the poets he anthologized in Bones Will Crow. He also reads a recent poem in Burmese and offers a spontaneous translation.

In his Jacket2 commentary on the program, Bernstein also provides video footage of the two programs as well as a link to PennSound's anthology page for poets from Burma/Myanmar. You can start listening by clicking here.

Peter Jaeger Performed by the Yehudi Menuhin Music School, 2016

Posted 2/23/2017

Here's is the latest addition to our author page for poet and critic Peter Jaeger to get your toes tapping for the coming weekend.

Daniel Penny, winner of the BBC's young composer of the year award in 2015, set Peter Jaeger's poem "Sub Twang Mustard" to music. The piece is performed here by members of the Yehudi Menuhin Music School and trombone soloist John Kenny, under the direction of John Cooney. "Sub Twang Mustard" was originally published in Jaeger's 2004 book Eckhart Cars.

You can listen in here and be sure to check out the rest of the recordings archived on PennSound's Peter Jaeger author page, including sets from Manchester's The Other Room series, the if p then q series in London, and a 2013 reading at London's Kingsgate Gallery. There's also a 2003 radio appearance from Resonance FM's program "Up on Air," and a 2006 recording of "Prop" made at London's Regal Lane Studios.

New at J2: Chris Funkhouser on Cecil Taylor

Posted 2/22/2017

We've just published a wonderful new piece from Chris Funkhouser over at Jacket2. Titled "Being Matter Recorded: Cecil Taylor on/Poetry,", this essay serves as a complement to Funkhouser's participation in the Whitney Museum of American Art's exhibition focused on Taylor's work as well as "improvised is how the voice is used...", an interactive web-based matrix of excerpts from four hundred minutes of interview recordings (a large portion of which was published in Hambone #12).

More importantly, it traces Funkhouser's long and influential relationship with Taylor and his work over the past thirty years. Here's how he begins:

After my first firsthand encounter with Cecil Taylor's work in Charlottesville in November 1986, I never would have imagined having a series of extraordinary experiences with him across the decades that followed. Seeing him that first time, a two-hour solo concert during a thunderstorm, I didn't realize music could exist in such a different aesthetic universe — concert as a poem: words, movement, and sound, ominously beginning, "A stroke, the night." I had been exposed to all kinds of music and was a student of jazz via courses centered on the Smithsonian Collection, which included something of Cecil's work, but experiencing it live was as if someone from another planet came down to embody what music and performance could be — that every norm could be reshaped, if not broken altogether.

Funkhouser is a prolific and talented poet, critic, and archivist, and we're very lucky to have benefited to his generous contributions to both Jacket2 and PennSound over the years. You can start reading his latest here.

Edmond Jabes: New Author Page

Posted 2/20/2017

Here's a remarkable new addition to our site, but one that only certain members of our audience are going to be able to enjoy: on our new PennSound author page for Edmond Jabès you'll find a 1974 documentary on the Egypt-born French author made by Jean-Pierre Prevost.

Originally broadcast on French television, the film features Jabès in conversation with Claude Royet-Journoud and Lars Fredrikson. As our own Charles Bernstein notes, it has not been seen in forty years. Unfortunately, it's presented as it originally aired, in French and without subtitles. It's too important a document not to share with our listeners, so if you are lucky enough to be fluent, or feel like giving your dusty high school French a shot, you can start watching here.

Cid Corman Recordings by John Levy, 1974

Posted 2/17/2017

Here's a remarkable recent addition to our site that we wanted to make sure that you didn't miss: approximately eighteen hours worth of recordings of Cid Corman made by John Levy in 1974.

Steel Wagstaff, who originally digitized and posted these recordings last year was kind enough to share them with us, so that they might coexist alongside the wonderful bevy of materials — both Corman reading his own work and critical commentary by others — available on his PennSound author page. Wagstaff provides this context for the recordings:

In 1973, Cid Corman and his wife Shizumi Konishi Corman opened CC's, a coffeeshop in Kyoto, Japan. The second floor was a tatami space with a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf and a space where Cid hosted readings and talks. Soon after opening the shop Cid invited one of his many correspondents, an American named John Levy, to work at the shop for room and board. In 1974 and 1975 John taped some of the readings and talks on poetry Cid gave. During these gatherings of Cid's friends and customers (often other American & British writers), the group would sit, often in a circle, on the tatami mats.

Poets discussed in these sessions include Emily Dickinson, William Carlos Williams, Louis Zukofsky, Wallace Stevens, and Marianne Moore. Others have colorful names like "In Good Time & Words for Each Other," "0:1 & Little Books," or "Plight | & [infinity]." Again we are grateful to both Steel Wagstaff and John Levy, along with Bob Arnold (Corman's literary executor) for the opportunity to make these unique documents with our listeners.

Joey Yearous-Algozin: New Author Page

Posted 2/15/2017

Our latest, long-overdue author page is for Buffalo-based poet Joey Yearous-Algozin.

The recordings archived there include Segue Series sets at the Zinc Bar in 2012 and 2016, a 2014 reading with Trisha Low at our own Kelly Writers House as part of the Emergency Series, a 2012 appearance on Stephen McLaughlin's Into the Field podcast series, and a 2009 reading from the Chapter and Verse Series at Chapterhouse Cafe. You can also hear Yearous-Algozin weigh in on Robert Grenier's Sentences as one of the panelists for PoemTalk #31.

To listen to any of the aforementioned recordings, click here.

PoemTalk 109: on Kate Colby's "I Mean"

Posted 2/13/2017

Last week saw the release of episode #109 in the PoemTalk Podcast series, which discusses the title poem from Kate Colby's 2015 Ugly Duckling collection, I Mean. This time around, host Al Filreis gathered a panel that included Siobhan Phillips, Emily Harnett, and Joseph Massey.

Filreis starts off his introduction on the PoemTalk blog by considering the implications of the poem's title: "The main task for the group, at least at first, is to enumerate the possible meanings of the prefatory tagline — and, in effect, the constraint entailed in — 'I mean.' 'I mean' means synonymizing, the list-maker's many options for draft equivalences. It indicates the job of trying to get the poem right. It means ironizing articulateness. It means amending, enduring the process of phrasal completion. It means disavowal, constant starting over. It refers to meaning's instability, of course. It equals idiomatic 'just saying' (ironic emphasis). It acts as a phrase breaking down the very word choice that follows. It means unironic emphasis. It enables a reference to the poem's own ongoingness (pleasure as a joy in uncertainty). It means that one can always mean something else — more. It means Whitmanian cataloging, the poem's ecstatic, open capacity. It invites a prefatory tick, permitting the poet to note or observe or say anything at all (list poem)." You can read more on Jacket2.

PoemTalk is a co-production of PennSound, the Kelly Writers House, Jacket2 and the Poetry Foundation. If you're interested in more information on the series or want to hear our archives of previous episodes, please visit the PoemTalk blog, and don't forget that you can subscribe to the series through the iTunes music store.

In Memoriam: Tom Raworth (1938-2017)

Posted 2/8/2017

This evening brings the very sad, but not unexpected news that Tom Raworth has passed away after a long battle with cancer. The larger-than-life poet, editor, and translator was seventy-eight years old.

PennSound co-editor Charles Bernstein relayed the news from Raworth's wife, Val, and observed that "there were many false alarms as those of us who loved Tom grappled with the fact (or tried to) that he was in his last weeks. The intensity of the vigil is the measure of how much he meant to both those who knew him and those who know him by his work." He concluded, "I am drinking a gin and tonic now, toasting Tom, and also all of you who are reading this sad note." Over the past few weeks since news of his terminal condition broke many in our poetry community have shared what Raworth meant to them, and so I'll humbly do the same.

As a grad student, a decade or so ago, I first saw him read with Anselm Berrigan at an event Bill Corbett had organized at MIT to celebrate the publication of Ted Berrigan's Collected Poems. I had no idea who this strange man was who stood at the podium — hands splayed on either side of his papers, head bowed in a monastic pose — reading his poems at a breakneck pace without looking up. It was like nothing I'd ever seen before, and an apt complement to Berrigan's speedy poems that I knew well, though his own work moved beyond conversational ease into dense, abstract constellations of syntax and sensation that I wasn't yet ready to fully understand. It was a provocation, but one I wouldn't fully understand until a few years later when I came to work at PennSound, stumbled across Raworth's author page, learned that he didn't always read quite so quickly, and looked more deeply into his body of work. Since then, I've had the pleasure of introducing students to his poetry and while they too seemed a little intimidated at first, in time they'd relax and follow his lead and it would start to make sense. I also wound up as a PoemTalk panelist with some very august company discussing Raworth's "Errory," and managed (I think) not to make too much of a fool of myself.

Not long after news of Raworth's illness emerged, I discovered a well-worn copy of his Tottering State on the shelves of a local bookstore. At the same store last night, I noticed that it was gone. I like to imagine the person who picked it up, perhaps someone who's never read his work before, and think about the journey they have ahead of them — one that many of us have been well-rewarded to take.

We have quite a treasure trove of materials on our Tom Raworth author page, including the aforementioned PoemTalk, a 2006 Close Listening program, two discs from the venerable Rockdrill series, and readings from the early eighties right up to the recent past. This would be a very good time to have a listen.

New at PennSound Cinema: Short Films by Ken Jacobs

Posted 2/6/2017

We recently added a number of stunning short films by Ken Jacobs to our PennSound Cinema homepage. They include a half-dozen silent micro-films, each the length of a television commercial, created in 2016: Writhing Cities, Central Park, Snow in Headlights I, Window Cleaner, Dead Leaves, and Deader Leaves. These silent meditations serve as an amuse-bouche to unfamiliar viewers, introducing them to Jacob's use of the Pulfrich effect — an early film theory based on the notion that a projected image reaches each eye at a slightly different time (those interested in learning more can read a wonderfully-detailed explanation by Miriam Ruth Ross here) — built upon looped images that rapidly alternate from positive to negative. The resulting films effect a visual equivalent to the Shepard scale, seeming simultaneously static and in-motion, and creating a lush, immersive three-dimensional image.

This is probably a good point to warn readers that due to this intense flickering effect we recommend that those with epilepsy and similar conditions triggered by light avoid watching these films. They can be challenging even for those without seizure disorders: I started to get a headache after about a half hour with the films, but it was a worthwhile tradeoff for the viewing experience.

After the super-brief clips, we have a trio of longer films: Capitalism: Child Labor (2006), Another Occupation (2011), and Seeking the Monkey King (2012). On the small scale, these films operate much like the aforementioned shorts in terms of their flickering using the Pulfrich effect, however the images are further embellished with color washes, inset details, and other distortions, and evolve over time rather than fixating on one image. They're also scored, with Rick Reed providing music for the first two — which showcase tremoloed drones that shift from peaceful bell-tones to harsh metallic squeals — while J.G. Thirwell's soundbed for the last blends dramatic blockbuster pomp with calmer passages. In Capitalism we meditate on a haunting Lewis Hine-like image of young textile workers, while Another Occupation recycles and degrades found footage of Bangkok, and in Seeking the Monkey King we explore dazzling jewel-like landscapes of crumpled tinfoil while pondering occasional intertitles that rail against the titular monarch.

You can view all of these films, and listen to a three-part 2009 Close Listening program with the filmmaker on our Ken Jacobs author page.

MLA Offsite Reading 2017

Posted 2/2/2017

Thanks to the diligent efforts of Aldon Nielsen, we're able to present audio and photos from this year's MLA Offsite Reading, which took place on January 6, 2017 at West Philly's Rotunda. The hosts and organizers for the evening were Davy Knittle and Anna Strong, along with Lily Applebaum, Zack Arrington and Mel Bentley.

Here's the all-star roster of poets in reading order: Seth Perlow, Diana Hamilton, Timothy Yu, Crossley Simmons, Anna Maria Hong, Danny Snelson, Angela Hume, Zhimin Li, Alexa Smith, Faye Marie Chevalier, Evie Shockley, Eric Keenaghan, Zack Arrington, Pattie McCarthy, Chris McCreary, Tsitsi Jaji, Ryan Eckes, Sean Collins, Ted Rees, Gabriel Ojeda-Sague, James Ingoldsby, Andrew Dieck, Michelle Taransky, Sue Landers, Frank Sherlock, CA Conrad, Anne Boyer, Laynie Browne, Andrew Gorin, Rachel Milligan, Raquel Salas-Rivera, Nicole Stemberg, Tung-Hui Hu, Oki Sogumi, Trisha Low, Emily Abendroth, Connie Yu, Paul Gorman, Mark Scroggins, Piere Joris, Habib Tengour, Marion Bell, Kristen Case, Orchid Tierney, Herman Beavers, Thomas Devaney, Steven Kleinman, Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach, Lauren Samblanet, Jason Zuzga, Leoard Schwartz, Christy Davids, Jim Krull, Amanda Silberling, A.L. Nielsen, Mel Bentley, Sara Jane Stoner, Knar Gavin, Meg Pendoley, Amish Trivedi, Maya Arthur, Davy Knittle, and Anna Strong.

You can listen to the entire reading or segmented files for each reader here. On our MLA Offsite Reading series page you'll find previous events from 2012, 2011, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 1996, and the very first offsite from 1989.

Congratulations to Frost Medal Recipient Susan Howe

Posted 1/31/2017

With so much bad news in the world, we need to relish good news when it comes in, and that includes last week's announcement that Susan Howe had been named the 2017 recipient of the Poetry Society of America's prestigious Frost Medal, which recognizes "distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry." As the PSA's press release notes, "Previous winners of this award include Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore, Gwendolyn Brooks, Allen Ginsberg, Adrienne Rich, Barbara Guest, Lucille Clifton, Charles Simic, Michael S. Harper, and Marilyn Nelson."

We congratulate Howe on this great honor and encourage our listeners to check out PennSound's Susan Howe author page, which is home to forty years' worth of recordings, including her Pacifica Radio poetry program, various talks and readings, interviews, and her audacious collaborations with David Grubbs.

PennSound Daily is written by Michael S. Hennessey.

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