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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Mad Mammoth Monster Poetry Readings: Ginsberg, Lamantia, McClure, Meltzer, Welch, Wieners, Whalen

Posted 12/1/2023

Today we revisit a collection of recordings from the Mad Mammoth Monster Poetry Readings, which were convened by Auerhann Press in San Francisco on August 29, 1963. They include brief but very exciting sets by a total of seven noteworthy Bay Area poets, many of whom had been published by the press. Because we have no context clues to establish the reading order we're presenting these tracks in alphabetical order. Clicking on each poet's name will take you directly to their poem(s).

First up we have Allen Ginsberg, who read "Patna-Benares Express" and "May 22 [1962] Calcutta," followed by Philip Lamantia, who read "Rest in Peace, Al Capone" and "All Hail Pope John XXIII." Michael McClure read from Dark Brown and Ghost Tantras, while David Meltzer read several short pieces: "Baby's Hands," "Rain Poems," "Nerve Root Poem," "Two Poems to My Wife," and "Poem for Lew Welch." For his own set, Welch  read from Hermit Poems, while John Wieners read "A Poem for Cocksuckers" and "A Poem for the Old Man." Finally, we have Philip Whalen bringing our new recordings to a close with an excerpt from "The Art of Literature."

It's a fascinating snapshot of the Bay Area's poetry scene at that time as the late Beat Generation heyday slowly started to give way to the burgeoning Summer of Love ethos. To listen to any of the individual poets listed above, just click their names to be taken to their PennSound author pages.



PoemTalk #190: on Aldon Nielsen's "Tray"

Posted 11/30/2023

We just released the latest episode in the PoemTalk Podcast series, and it's a rare one in which the poet under discussion is part of the panel. At right, you'll see the knock-out trio of Aldon NielenTyrone Williams, and William J. Harris assembled by host Al Filreis to discuss Nielsen's "Tray," from his collection of the same name. Not quit as rare for PoemTalk, but still quite special: this episode was also recorded life in front of an audience at the Kelly Writers Houses' Arts Café.

In his write-up of this new episode on Jacket2, Filreis explains the overall structure of the poem as well as the specific sections covered in this show: "There are 29 sections in the poem; the group discussed the first 6. In the book titled Tray, published by Make Now Press in 2017, the title poem takes up the first 37 pages; the sections we discussed run to page 14." He also notes that, "Usually, of course, we play an audio recording of the poem from we're about to discuss as archived in PennSound, but on this day, because we had the honor of Aldon's presence we asked him to perform those sections."

You can listen to this latest program and learn 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. Browse the full PoemTalk archives, spanning more than a decade, by clicking here.


Happy Birthday William Blake

Posted 11/28/2023

Today would have been the 256th birthday of visionary British poet William Blake, whose work continues to captivate audiences almost two centuries after his death. While recording technology did not exist during Blake's lifetime, PennSound is proud to be home to a recently-revamped William Blake author page, that collects a wide array of performances of the poet's work from throughout the archives.

The centerpiece of our Blake page is Allen  Ginsberg's groundbreaking 1970 album, Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake, tuned by Allen Ginsberg, which features an all-star roster of jazz sessionmen (including Don Cherry, Elvin Jones and Bob Dorough) providing an engaging and wide-ranging musical accompaniment for Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky's vocals. The album's twenty-one tracks consist of more or less equal samplings from both volumes, and we've provided links to images of each page of text from Blake's illuminated manuscripts, as archived on the William Blake Archive. An assortment of recordings of Ginsberg performing Blake poems at readings from the 70s through to the 90s complements this classic LP.

Ginsberg's performance of "The Garden of Love" (from Songs of Experience) was the subject of PoemTalk Podcast #4 — featuring a panel of Al Filreis, Charles Bernstein, Rachel Blau DuPlessis and Jessica Lowenthal — and Ginsberg's great friend and Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics co-founder, Anne Waldman, performed her own version of this setting on her 2002 album By the Side of the Road. Bernstein too has a pair of recordings here: The Grey Monk" (originally recorded for the Romantic Circles website) and "The Sick Rose" (edited from his montaged set from the Kelly Writers House event celebrating the release of Poets for the Millennium, Vol. 3). From that same event, we also have Jerry Rothenberg reading excerpts from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

Another formidable set of Blake recordings comes from UPenn professor emeritus John Richetti, who recorded a set of 15 tracks for the site in 2014, including "The Lamb," The Chimney Sweeper," "Holy Thursday," "The Sick Rose," "The Tyger," and "The Poison Tree." You'll also find a pair of recordings from Aaron Kramer reading from and discussing Blake's poetry, along with 
Lee Ann Brown's spirited rendition of "Ah! Sunflower," and the late, great Naomi Replansky reading a trio of poems — "London," "The Question Answered," and "The Sick Rose" — in 2015.

To listen to any and all of these recordings, click here to visit our William Blake author page.


Want to read more? Visit the PennSound Daily archive.