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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In Memoriam: Roberto Calasso (1941–2021)

Posted 8/2/2021

We start this week off with the sad news that Italian author, translator, and publisher Roberto Calasso — hailed in his New York Times obituary for his "wide-ranging works [that] explored the evolution and mysteries of human consciousness, from the earliest myths and rituals to modern civilization" — passed away on July 28th at the age of 80.

It was Leonard Schwartz, host of the sorely-missed radio show Cross Cultural Poetics that brought this news to our attention, and therefore I thought it appropriate to ask him to share his thoughts on Calasso, who appeared twice as a guest on his show. Here is his reply, which came back in a flash:

The two conversations with Roberto Calasso were for me among the program's most memorable. I am still astonished by his discussion of Pound's poetics, and by the recognition of how deeply this consummate Italian intellectual was influenced by the notion from The Spirit of Romance that "all ages are contemporaneous". Whether writing about Baudelaire's influence on the painters, revivifying Greek and Roman myth, or pondering the unknowables of the Vedas, Calasso was illuminating. In Ardor he wrote "If the Vedic people had been asked why they did not build cities, they could have replied: we did not seek power, but rapture." He also wrote in Ardor: "the infinite is presented as a gradual, imperceptible expansion of the dominion of light." With his passing, a certain responsibility for the continued expansion of this light and this rapture shifts to us.

While Leonard mentions two conversations, Calasso actually appears on three episode of Cross Cultural Poetics. First there's program #265, "Baudelaire, Helen, and The Fugitive Gods," from 2013, where Calasso reads from and discusses his books, La Folie Baudelaire and The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony in each of the show's two segments. Calasso returned in 2015 at the time of Ardor's publication, and he discusses the book in program #317, "Ardor," while he reads from the book in program #318, "The Italian Friend." The late author also factored into 2013's program #283, "From the Italian," in which his own translator, Tim Parks, reads from Ardor for the audience.

We send our condolences to Calasso's family, friends, and fans worldwide and express our gratitude to Leonard Schwartz, for notifying us of the author's passing, for his lovely tribute, and for having the foresight to have Calasso as a guest on his wonderful show all those years ago.

Norman (N. H.) Pritchard: New Author Page

Posted 7/30/2021

We're incredibly excited to unveil a new PennSound author page for poet Norman (N. H.) Pritchard, which brings together some terrific new recordings with one classic track that had been in our singles database for years.

The centerpiece of these new additions is a September 11, 1978 interview with Pritchard conducted by Judd Tully. Charles Bernstein announced this recording with a Jacket2 commentary post earlier this week, in which he notes, "The ninety-minute conversation is informative and engrossing, offering more information about Pritchard than has been previously available." He continues, "Pritchard was a poet in the CETA / Cultural Council Foundation Artists Project in New York and Tully, a CETA writer, interviewed him as part of the program. PennSound is happy to make this recording, made as part of the Artists Project, available, thanks to Tully and to Molly Garfinkel of CityLore."

Bernstein's post goes further still — noting that Pritchard "reads an early poem and two recent poems (at the beginning of part two)" he goes on to break out MP3 tracks of these particular poems, and then provides an extensive list of resources on the poet that one can find online and in print, including versions of his two published books via the Eclipse archive, as well as rare photos and a biographical sketch. He also notes our pre-existing recording of the poet reading "Gyre's Galaxy" in 1967, but since his initial announcement, we've managed to get our hands on another recording of Pritchard, which we're very happy to share. That ten-minute recording, made in 1966, includes eight poems from the manuscript Destinations, including "Alcoved Agonies," "As Once Was," "These Dead," "From a Harlem Mourning Vantage," "Hue: Blue," "As Altar Is," "Constriction, " and an abbreviated version of "Aswelay."

With any luck, we can hope to get our hands on more recordings in the near future to add to this already-wonderful resource. You can check out the aforementioned recordings by clicking here.

Happy Birthday, John Ashbery

Posted 7/28/2021

Today would have been the 94th birthday of John Ashbery, who passed away in September 2017. 

Certainly, Ashbery's place in poetry's pantheon is well-established, and you get a sense of this by trying to take in the immense scale of PennSound's Ashbery author page, which is home to nearly a thousand individual MP3 files, along with countless videos and other resources that run the gamut from a 1951 student presentation of his play Everyman in Cambridge to home recordings made not long before his death. Ashbery held a special place for those of us at PennSound and the Kelly Writers House as well, as evidenced by the poet's rare honor of serving twice as a Kelly Writers House fellow (in 2002 and 2013). As for PennSound, I wrote at length on this day last year about the inarguable positive effects that Ashbery and David Kermani's enthusiasm for the PennSound project in its early years had upon our growth, which is well worth remembering.

It just so happens that on this Ashbery birthday, we have a new addition to his PennSound author page to share with our listeners: a November 27, 1972 television appearance as part of the Brockport Writers Forum. Dubbed "The Writing of John Ashbery," this program includes both readings (he starts with "Leaving the Atocha Station") and conversation with host A. Poulin Jr. and runs for more than an hour. Click here to start watching.

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