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)

PennSound Daily

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Robert and Bobbie Creeley Perform "Listen" (1972)

Posted 7/2/2022

Our PennSound author page for Robert Creeley (edited by Steve McLaughlin) can be daunting for listeners to navigate, given that it has well over a thousand individual files spanning a half-century. Today we're highlighting one of the more interesting tracks you'll find there: Listen, a radio play performed by the poet and his then-wife, Bobbie Creeley. Originally broadcast by West Germany's Westdeutscher Rundfunk on December 1, 1971 (in a translation by Klaus Reichert), it was later released by Black Sparrow in 1972, both in book and cassette formats, the latter serving as the source for PennSound's recording.

In text-form, Listen is comprised of an extended back-and-forth between two narrators: a HE and a SHE. While listeners are likely to read the dialogue through the frame of the Creeleys' marriage — and here their words embody a broad range of nupital emotions, from acrimony to romance, new love and old love — the two occupy a number of varied discursive relationships, from mother to child, suitor to quarry, interrogator to interrogator, writer to actress. In his essay, "Meaning: I Hear You" (linked on Creeley's page), Kyle Schlesinger notes, "it quickly becomes evident that this conversation can't converge. It isn't quite like two ships passing in the night, but more like a submarine passing below the Mayflower; two vessels vacillating between irreconcilable pasts. Where the constitution of one was once affirmed by its ability to address the other, they now share shards of a language they can never reinhabit together." This disjointed effect is augmented by HE's extended meta-notations on the performance at hand — some of the radio play's most enjoyable moments — which range from suggestions as to sound effects to be (but not to be) added later, to questions (posed to the audience-as-producer) regarding how much of a given song should be shared with the listeners (another delight: Bob Creeley's tender and vulnerable croon).

Schlesinger concludes his essay by noting, "It is here, in the atmosphere of Listen that the reader watches it all through a transparent revolving door; "listening out" for the signal, "listening in" on another conversation as it continues to turn. Tune in. Turn on. You hear." This eliptical effect is one of the radio play's most lasting sensations — in the abrupt aftermath of Creeley's final words, listeners will most certainly want to push "play" again to take another spin. Click here to start listening.

In Memoriam: Kenward Elmslie (1929–2022)

Posted 6/30/2022

Today we pass on the sad news that Kenward Elmslie — a prolific author, editor, librettist, performer, and a member of the New York School's second generation — passed away yesterday at the age of 93. 

A skilled poet and prose writer, Elmslie was also a natural-born collaborator, with many of his books being integrated with visual art, most often his long-term partner, Joe Brainard. His collaborative spirit also lead him into the world of theater, where he wrote lyrics to operas, musicals, and songs, including "Love Wise," recorded by Nat King Cole in 1958. As publisher of Z Press and editor of its magazine — which charmingly, instead of being numbered, simply added a Z to its title (it ran from Z to ZZZZZZ) — Elmslie celebrated the work of his New York School peers and made early connections to Language poetry.

On PennSound's Kenward Elmslie author page you'll find a wide array of recordings going back to at least 1974 (there are also five undated recordings, at least some of which seem likely to have been recorded in the late 1960s), including numerous readings from the St. Mark's Poetry Project. One real treat among the archives are a pair of performances with musical accompaniment by guitarist Steven Taylor (who also famously worked with Allen Ginsberg across several decades) at St. Mark's in 1984 and at the Naropa Institute in 1991. Another highlight is "Snippets: A Gathering of Songs, Visual Collaborations, and Poems," a special event held at our own Kelly Writers House in 2003. You can listen to all of these recordings and more by clicking here.

We send our sincere condolences to Elmslie's family and friends, along with his many fans across multiple artistic realms.

William Bronk: on 'Poems to a Listener,' 1984 and 1989

Posted 6/28/2022

We start off this new week by highlighting a pair of appearances by poet William Bronk on Poems to a Listener, a pubic radio program hosted by Henry Lyman, which was produced for 88.5 WFCR-FM in Amherst, Massachusetts between 1976 and 1994. Bronk's two appearances took place in 1984 and 1989, and these half-hour programs certainly make for pleasurable listening.

Both shows are content-dense yet remarkably intimate, with Bronk offering poems at his own pace and Lyman posing questions, often hinging on a certain turn of phrase or image, as they come to him. Sometimes they're quick exchanges, sometimes protracted. Lyman isn't afraid to needle, and Bronk is willing to tussle as well — at one point, he says "I'm not going to tell you what the light is," then, after a pregnant pause, adds, "you know what the light is!" — and occasionally, if the edit's a bit too tight, it almost feels like Bronk offering his dissension to the line of questioning by moving on to the next poem, but that only makes the back-and-forth more charming. Both are fine examples of why we find public radio compelling, and, of course, recorded poetry as well: there's nothing more than human voices and the breathing space between them, and that's enough. Play one (or both) of these programs through a good set of speakers, sit back, and get carried away for half an hour. Click here to start listening.


Want to read more? Visit the PennSound Daily archive.