Search PennSound

photograph by Chris Anthony Diaz

PennSound Selected Resources, Fall 2011

selected by Brian Ang

My general logic in my selections was to choose pieces in which performance exceptionally contributed or emphasized characteristics in already admirable works, creating works autonomous from their realizations on the page: the recordings may share the same titles and words as the page realizations, but they are meaningfully distinct. Charles Bernstein’s performance emphasizes his piece’s formal innovation of discrete, rapid, short units and illuminates linguistic particles as printed, such as “fl...m...n...g...,” “s...n...r...ty,” and “h...l...r...ty” by realizing them as “flamingo,” “seniority,” and “hilarity.” Amiri Baraka, Barrett Watten, and Steve McCaffery’s performances add improvisation, as in Baraka’s riot-inciting proto-hip hop flow, Watten’s chanting riff on “Their goal... is... no... less than socialism! with a human face,” and McCaffery’s inimitable sound poetry virtuosity, and Watten’s prosaic performance reminds me of the saturated inextricability of his theoretical and surrealist tendencies. Michael Palmer and Jackson Mac Low’s performances are chillingly emphatic in their austere deliveries. Bruce Andrews and Rod Smith’s performances emphasize the assaults of their pieces: the Andrews piece is a particularly favorite find as I’ve never found it in print, and a remarkable piece outside of his major works. Ron Silliman and K. Silem Mohammad’s performances emphasize the unique temporalities of complex rhyming poems, as Giorgio Agamben writes in The Time That Remains regarding the sestina, “The poem is… a temporal machine… it has a specific and unmistakable temporality, it has its own time,” and Silliman’s performance emphasizes the remarkable transmissibility of The New Sentence technique. Rachel Blau DuPlessis’s performance creates a fascinating combination of imperative statements in a graceful delivery. Finally, Henry Hills’ film of micro jump cuts shows a stylistic affinity across mediums, particularly with the pieces by Bernstein and Andrews, who both star in the film along with Silliman, and also enacts the context of downtown New York arts that Hills, Bernstein, and Andrews were part of. I chose individual pieces rather than whole readings to encourage listening to all the selections in a sitting to allow them to be in collective conversation. I will be remarking upon whole readings and the art of the reading as a unit of composition in my weekly Jacket2 Guest Commentary column starting in the beginning of October.

Brian Ang is the author of Communism (Berkeley Neo-Baroque, 2011) and Paradise Now (Grey Book Press, 2011) and the editor of ARMED CELL. He lives in Oakland, California. Email him at

© 2011 Brian Ang and the respective poets. These sound recordings are being made available for noncommercial and educational use only. All rights to this recorded material belong to the author. Used with permission of the authors. Distributed by PennSound.