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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Jackson Mac Low at Naropa University, 1975

Posted 11/29/2021

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

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

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

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

Posted 11/26/2021

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

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

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

PennSound Presents Poems of Thanks and Thanksgiving

Posted 11/24/2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Want to read more? Visit the PennSound Daily archive.