David Shapiro: 2005 Segue Series Reading Now Segmented

Posted 3/3/2008 (link)

We've just updated our PennSound author page for poet, critic and art historian, David Shapiro with a newly-segmented recording of his November 19, 2005 Segue Series Reading at the Bowery Poetry Club. Comprised of more than twenty poems, including "A Song for Rudy Burckhard," "Weequahic Park in the Dark," "Walter Benjamin" and "Subject: A Song" — many of them appearing in last year's New and Selected Poems: 1965-2006 — the reading gives an excellent sample of his recent work, and these recordings are augmented by a 2003 appearance on New York City's WKCR-FM with Tom Kelly, which features renditions, and extensive discussions of, several of the same poems. Click on the title above to start listening.

PoemTalk #4: Allen Ginsberg Sings William Blake

Posted 3/4/2008 (link)

The fourth installment of the PoemTalk podcast series — focusing on Allen Ginsberg's performance of William Blake's poetry — is being released today. Joining host Al Filreis in discussing Ginsberg's countrified rendition of "The Garden of Love" (from Songs of Experience), are PennSound co-director Charles Bernstein, Rachel Blau DuPlessis and Kelly Writers House director Jessica Lowenthal.

The panelists start by discussing the effect of wedding Blake's lyric to a musical setting — whether that choice is appropriate or not, and whether it's meant to create an intentional irony. Bernstein, who listened incessantly to this album in college, contends that "Ginsberg really was creating a connection between the illuminated manuscripts of the Songs of Innocence and Experience and the alphabetic poem, the text that we read, and the idea that they also were sung, to bring it into a kind of fourth-dimensional reality," and by the end of the conversation, Filreis divines how this album, and it's approach to the text, might have had some influence on Bernstein's own poetics. The larger issue of whether poets naturally want their work set to music, along with the inherent differences between poetry and rock lyricists (Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Jim Morrison are mentioned), are also explored, as well as the allegorical and erotic content of Blake's poem (and how this is reflected through Ginsberg's persona) All this, and more, in twenty-five minutes. Click on the title above to begin listening.

PennSound is very proud to be able to present Allen Ginsberg's Songs of Innocence and Experience in its entirety, complete with links to Blake's illuminated manuscripts of the poems, as well as musician credits for the album — which features jazz luminaries such as Don Cherry, Bob Dorough and Elvin Jones. You'll also want to check out PennSound's Allen Ginsberg author page which includes a number of recordings from throughout his writing life, starting with a 1956 reading at The Poetry Center at The San Francisco State University. You'll find a number of recordings of some of his most important long-form works — including "Howl," "Kaddish" and "Wichita Vortex Sutra" — along with "A Supermarket in California," "The Lion for Real," "HUM BOM" and many more.

Brian Kim Stefans: "Language as Gameplay"

Posted 3/6/2008 (link)

"Language as Gameplay: From the Oulipo to the Jew's Daughter" is the full name of a recent lecture delivered by poet and theorist Brian Kim Stefans at the Kelly Writers House as part of the Machine reading series this past January. Based on ideas first espoused in his collection Fashionable Noise: On Digital Poetics (Atelos, 2003), Stefans explores some of the ideologies and pitfalls involved in constructing digital literary works, and specifically, the solutions that ludic processes — i.e. the spirit of gameplay — might offer towards these endeavors. Stefans begins by listing his "Five Holy Grails of Electronic Literature," which include dispensing with any conventional sense of both the author and the page, creating work that's fun, yet also provides a "non-trivial" literary experience, and which also makes a daring aesthetic statement. He also discusses the characteristics of games themselves and the role of both the banal and the vulgar within these works, and analyzes the ways in which we parse digital texts when confronted with them.

After the main lecture, Stefans continues by considering the implications of his theories as embodied in a number of digital works — including his own adaptation of Christian Bök's Eunoia, as well as Judd Morrissey's The Jew's Daughter, Jason Nelson's Literary Textual Games, and the works of John Cayley. On the special page we've put together for "Language as Gameplay", you'll be able to listen to separate audio segments for each author, and by following the links provided, interact with the texts themselves as Stefans describes them. There also links to several of Stefans' own works, along with his "Language as Gameplay" blog, where you can find even more information. It's only fitting that this innovative lecture, which blurs the boundaries between media be presented, in a similar fashion, and we're proud to be able to share both this recording and the accompanying digital texts with our listeners.

In addition to this special event page, be sure to visit Stefans' PennSound author page, where you'll find a pair of readings at the Kelly Writers House, as well as recordings from SUNY Buffalo, the Segue Series at the Bowery Poetry Club, the Line Reading Series, and PhillyTalks.

Douglas Messerli on Close Listening

Posted 3/7/2008 (link)

On January 21, 2008, Charles Bernstein sat down with old friend, and noted poet and publisher, Douglas Messerli to record a special three-part Close Listening program — nearly ninety minutes of readings and discussion, which provides a broad survey of his prodigious career.

Messerli begins, in the first program, by reading a generous sampling of his poetry, starting with the title poem from his 1979 debut, Dinner on the Lawn, and moving through Some Distance, Maxims From My Mother's Milk and Bow Down to a few selections from his latest work-in-progress, Stay. Program #2, an interview segment, starts by tracing Messerli's history as a publisher, starting with the germinal journals Sun and Moon and La-Bas and their respective presses, leading up to his current outlet, Green Integer. Messerli explains how his growing displeasure with the academic lifestyle spurred him to devote himself wholly to print endeavors. Given both men's familiarity with the ins and outs of small-press publishing, their conversation serves as an excellent behind-the-scenes portrait of the industry's perils and rewards, giving worthwhile advice to those interested in following in their footsteps. Finally, in the third program, Messerli and Bernstein discuss his career in poetry (along with drama and fiction), and then reads a selection of seven of his recent "Heavy Sonnets" to conclude the program.

This program is but one of several installments in Bernstein's engaging and entertaining Close Listening series released this year. Conversations with filmmakers Henry Hills and Ernie Gehr appeared in January, and we'll be launching his latest podcast — featuring Al Filreis discussing his latest book, Counter-Revolution of the Word: The Conservative Attack on Modern Poetry, 1945-1960 — on PennSound Daily next week.

The Line Reading Series with Watten, Hunt, Derksen

Posted 3/10/2008 (link)

The most recently-posted installment of The Line Reading Series dates from October 3, 2000, and features poets Jeff Derksen, Erica Hunt (pictured) and Barrett Watten (whose new PennSound author page we launched last month).

Erica Hunt's reading begins with excerpts from 1993's Local History (Roof Books), and then proceeds to a number of more recent (at the time) poems. This is one of two new additions to Hunt's PennSound author page — the other being a 1979 appearance on KPFA's In The American Tree, hosted by Alan Bernheimer. Recorded more than two decades apart, these readings offer an excellent portrait of her poetic development, especially when taken together with her 1988 lecture at The New School, "Notes for an Oppositional Poetics," and a 2005 Close Listening reading and conversation with Charles Bernstein.

As the six installments already posted demonstrate, The Line Reading Series brings together considerable poetic talents in fascinating combinations — and this reading is no exception. Click on the title above to begin listening, and keep your eyes out for more events from The Line Reading Series being added in the near future.

Two New Recordings From PennSound Co-Director Al Filreis

Posted 3/11/2008 (link)

We've recently added two exciting new readings from Al Filreis, including a Close Listening conversation with his PennSound co-director, Charles Bernstein, which begins with a discussion of the recent death of arch-conservative pundit William F. Buckley, specifically addressing a recent entry on Filreis' blog. The conversation then turns to American master Wallace Stevens (on whom Filreis has written two books) exploring both his politics and poetics, finding a social conservatism and linguistic liberality, respectively. Furthering this distinction, the two explore the political dimensions of modernist and anti-modernist aesthetic debates, red-baiting and the communist scare — imploding stereotypes and historical fallacies as they discuss the social constraints which shaped and hindered poetry in postwar America.

This story of censorship and fear-mongering — deemed "surreal" and "almost unbelievable" by Paul Baker in a recent review — forms the core of Filreis' latest book, Counter-Revolution of the Word: The Conservative Attack on Modern Poetry, 1945-1960, which the University of North Carolina Press released last month. Filreis celebrated its launch with an event at his home away from home, the Kelly Writers House, on February 11, 2008. A recording of this event, featuring an introduction Bernstein, and a generous selection of excerpts from the book, threaded together by Filreis' commentary, is also available on his PennSound author page. Click on the title above to listen to both of these recordings, and click here for more information on the launch party, as well as a number of photos.

PennSound Welcomes C.D. Wright

Posted 3/13/2008 (link)

After much preparation, PennSound is proud to announce the launch of a new author page for the great Southern experimentalist, C.D. Wright. We've worked together with Wright to assemble a comprehensive collection of audio documents which present a broad survey of her career, including studio recordings, live readings, interviews and lectures.

The centerpiece of the new author page is a 1999 studio session for Copper Canyon Press, which begins with a reading of her book-length poem Deepstep Come Shining (running over an hour long), followed by selection of highlights from her earlier volumes, String Light, Tremble, Just Whistle: A Valentine and Steal Away, including "And it Came to Pass," "Petition for Replenishment," "Song of the Gourd," "Why Ralph Refuses to Dance" and "More Blues and the Abstract Truth." Another studio session, recorded to serve as part of an art installation — listeners could hear Wright read over a series of bakelite telephones — features six excerpts from One Big Self: An Investigation, her exploration of the Louisiana prison system.

You'll also find a number of readings, including a 2000 appearance at the University of Arizona Poetry Center, where she read excerpts from Deepstep Come Shining; her 2005 visit to the University of Chicago, represented by a lecture as well as a reading; and a joint reading at Yale's Beinecke Rare Book Room and Manuscript Library, where she read alongside her husband, poet Forrest Gander (we posted a recording of his performance a few weeks ago). Finally, a 2007 interview on RTE 1 Radio Ireland's The Poetry Programme rounds out the collection, providing a portrait of Wright's most recent work. Taken together, these recordings demonstrate Wright's poetic development over the course of nearly two decades, tracing the evolution of her mature style. PennSound is proud to have the opportunity to present these materials, and believe that our listeners will enjoy them immensely. Click on the title above to visit our C.D. Wright author page and begin exploring.

Vintage Rachel Blau DuPlessis: Robin's Books, 1988

Posted 3/17/2008 (link)

A few weeks ago, we highlighted a recent recording of Rachel Blau DuPlessis reading at the Kelly Writers House, noting that PennSound's collection of DuPlessis' work (specifically her Drafts series) extended all the way from "Draft 19: Working Conditions," to the as-yet-uncollected poems "Draft 85: Hard Copy" and "Draft 88: X-Posting." We've since uncovered this very exciting reading, recorded May 11, 1988 at Robin's Books in Philadelphia, which presents some of the earliest Drafts along with the poet's commentaries on them.

Click on the title above to hear DuPlessis read "Draft 2: She," Draft 3: Of," "Draft 6: Midrush," and an excerpt from "Draft 7: Me," as well as discuss the development of this (at the time brand-new) project, along with the methods used to construct each work. "As for what the thematics of Drafts are, or what they mean or why I'm doing them," she notes, "I don't really want to think too hard about them, I just want to kinda do them, and then I'll worry about what they mean later . . . sometime, when I have the time." You can also hear "Attar," an even earlier poem from her volume, Tabula Rosa.

This recording is the first from The Herschel Baron Collection, a formidable archive of tapes recently donated to PennSound by the late poet's daughter, Ditta Baron Hoeber. Eulogizing her father, Hoeber observed, "My father believed people should have total access to all information." Thanks to her generosity, PennSound will be able to share these documents of Philadelphia's poetic past (including readings by DuPlessis, Greg Djanikian and many others) with a wider audience. Keep an eye out for more readings in the future, as well as a series page that will present selected recordings from his collection as a unified whole.

Fred Moten: New Author Page Added

Posted 3/19/2008 (link)

We've just added a new author page for Fred Moten, featuring his recent reading at the Kelly Writers House, along with a lecture he delivered last year as part of the Theorizing series.

Recorded February 28, 2008, Moten's UPenn reading runs over an hour, featuring a broad selection of poems from his recent collections, B Jenkins, Hughson's Tavern and I ran from it and was still in it — works which speak to the struggles of African-American experience and celebrate its prodigious joys. In poems such as "Walter Benjamin/Julian Boyd," William Parker/Fred McDowell" and "Almeida Ragland/Cecil Taylor," Moten explores the lives which populate this rich history, while other works address epochal places and events in its past (Hughson's Tavern, for example, where the 1741 Slave Conspiracy was planned), in direct language as raw as it is mellifluous. His poetry is nicely complemented by "Black Kant (Pronounced Chant)," a lecture recorded a year and a day prior to the reading, which seeks to explore "the relationship in Kant's late philosophy between race and the imagination." Altogether, there's nearly two-and-a-half hours of Moten's PennSound author page. Click on the title above to start listening.

In the American Tree: 14 New Episodes

Posted 3/20/2008 (link)

Over the past week or so, we've added a grand total of fourteen new episodes of the groundbreaking radio series, In the American Tree: New Writing by Poets from 1979-1980. Hosted by Alan Bernheimer, the show was originally broadcast on Berkeley's KPFA-FM, and provided poets with an opportunity to share new work as well as discuss their poetics, their philosophies and their influences. The 1979-1980 series includes programs featuring PennSound mainstays like Lyn Hejinian, Bill Berkson, Ted Greenwald, Erica Hunt, Kit Robinson and Norman Fischer — performances and conversations which broaden our understanding of the recordings already present on the site. You'll also find shows highlighting the work of Victoria Rathbun, Tom Veitch, Rogder Kamenetz, Alex Smith, Gary Burnett, Carol Gallup, Alan Lew, John Mason and Stephen Paul LaVoie.

All of these new broadcasts, along with older shows featuring Ted Berrigan, Stephen Rodefer and Bernheimer himself, among others, are all available on PennSound's In the American Tree series page. Click on the title above to start listening.

Alice Notley Reading in Bolinas, 1971

Posted 3/21/2008 (link)

Yet another exciting marvelous offering from the Robert Creeley reel-to-reel collection, this reading by Alice Notley in Bolinas, California, was recorded December 2, 1971.

"This was perhaps my third poetry reading ever," Notley tells PennSound via e-mail, "I was 26 years old," yet she delivers a confident performance, sharing a number of the sonnets which comprised 165 Meeting House Lane (published earlier that year by C Press) along with early works contained in Love Poems and Phoebe Light. Her maturity and self-possession are especially evident in the way she handles a heckler in the crowd — shaming him ("Is that all over with yet?," she asks) and waiting out the disruption before starting "Sonnet 5" a second time. Another highlight of the reading is hearing her rendition of the Giorno-esque piece "Conversation," a collaboration with her husband, Ted Berrigan (who introduces the reading), which is often attributed solely to him, though it would be published in Phoebe Light three years before appearing in his Red Wagon. As a collaborative work, written in the style of another poet, which uses as its source-text a line spoken by yet another poet (Frank O'Hara's paraphrase of the opening line of William Saroyan's The Adventures of Wesley Jackson), "Conversation" serves as an apt microcosmic metaphor of the New York School's sociable aesthetics.

PennSound's Alice Notley author pages contains a total of three full-length readings, including a wonderful recording from the University at Buffalo in 1987 (culminating with her masterpiece, "At Night the States") as well as her appearance at the Kelly Writers House in 2006. You can also hear her discuss The Descent of Alette on a 2004 episode of Cross-Cultural Poetics, along with a recording of "C. 81" from Mysteries of Small Houses as part of Frequency Audio Journal. Click on the title above to start exploring.

Numerous New Additions To The Line Reading Series

Posted 3/24/2008 (link)

In the two weeks since our last update, we've added a total of seven new recordings from The Line Reading Series, spanning the years 2000-2004. These events, corresponding to art exhibits at New York City's The Drawing Center, bring together some of the biggest and brightest names in contemporary poetics.

The earliest reading dates from November 17, 2000, and features the work of David Larsen, Emily McVarish and Johanna Drucker. This is followed by a March 13, 2001 event which includes performances by Anselm Berrigan, Jean Day and Lyn Hejinian. 2002 is well-represented, with a January reading by Rod Smith, Nada Gordon and Charles Bernstein, which is followed by an October event with Bernstein's L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E co-founder Bruce Andrews and Myung Mi Kim, along with a December set by Gary Sullivan, Anne Tardos and Nick Piombino. The new additions conclude with two pared-down readings from 2004: the first with Marcella Durand and Bernadette Mayer, the second featuring Damon Krukowski and Mei-mei Berssenbrugge.

Though we're getting close to the end, there are still a handful of very exciting readings which have yet to be digitized, so stay tuned to PennSound Daily for news on these final additions, as well as segmented readings from within the series.

(left to right, from top: Charles Bernstein, Bruce Andrews, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Anne Tardos, Nick Piombino, Bernadette Mayer, Damon Krukowski, Marcella Durand and Anselm Berrigan)

A Segue Series Reading From President of the United Hearts

Posted 3/25/2008 (link)

We're extremely proud to announce the addition of an October 2007 Segue Series reading by President of the United Hearts, the Midwestern collective whose debut, The Big Melt, ably captures America's tempestuous social climate surrounding the 2004 presidential election, the ongoing war in Iraq, and a growing domestic dissatisfaction with politics as usual — messages every bit as important now as they were then.

Poet Tisa Bryant, who describes the collection as a "dystopian chronicle from a seemingly utopian project," observes, "each poem is a floe of traumatic memory, eulogy, poetariat backtalk, flippantly humorous. But what also seems to melt down is an awareness of address: who speaks to whom in these poems, with what ultimate intention, what unified sense of connection?" That poly-vocality, which imbues The Big Melt with a Whitman-esque, democratic spirit, is front and center in this ensemble performance featuring Claude Copeland, Elizabeth English, Belle Gironda, Robert Kocik, and Andrew Levy, reading round-robin at the Bowery Poetry Club.

When he awarded The Big Melt his annual "Sexiest Poem of the Year" award, CAConrad professed, "it's a poetry with a massive embrace on the problems in front of us, around us, deeply within us. It's not seeing a chain of events but a web of, an undeniably accurate web of, connecting every single action to its resulting deprivation, as accurate as any smart bomb, hopefully even smarter." This excerpt is no less breathtaking for its brevity (clocking in at just over fifteen minutes), however, PennSound hopes to be able to present a longer selection from the book in the future. We've also added a newly-segmented 2003 Segue Series reading by Andrew Levy today, which you can find on his PennSound author page.

Three BBC Radio Documentaries by David Wallace

Posted 3/26/2008 (link)

Today, we're highlighting three new recordings by noted medievalist and UPenn professor David Wallace — inventive and entertaining programs which originally aired on BBC Radio 3 between 2003 and 2007.

"God's First Englishman" (2003) explores the life and import of the Venerable Bede, the author and scholar whose The Ecclesiastical History of the English People is the foundational text of British history. Actor Kevin Whately lends his voice talents, giving voice to Bede. "The Miraculous Journey of Margery Kempe" (2005) features actress Prunella Scales in the title role, as the author of The Book of Margery Kempe, a chronicle of her visits to various holy sites throughout Europe and Asia in the early 15th Century, which is held by many as the first English-language autobiography. Wallace guides listeners through Kempe's travelogue, visiting cities including Norwich, Gdansk, Cologne and Aachen. Finally, "Mallory's Morte Darthur: A Tale of Two Texts" (2007) considers the challenge posed to the standard manuscript of Mallory's collection of French and English Authurian myths (the 1485 Caxton edition), by a unique manuscript uncovered in Winchester in 1934. British poet laureate Andrew Motion is featured as the voice of Mallory in this program.

Wallace is currently at work on a documentary on the work of English antiquary John Leland. While visiting his PennSound author page, you'll also want to listen to his Studio 111 Session from 2004, where he reads a number of excerpts from Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales in the original Middle English, and discusses the importance of our comprehending the original diction in a Close Listening conversation with Charles Bernstein.

New Author Pages for Newly Segmented Segue Readings

Posted 3/27/2008 (link)

In the past few days, we've added a number of newly segmented Segue Series readings from the Bowery Poetry Club, generating new author pages for the poets in the process. You'll find new author pages for Sharon Mesmer, Tonya Foster, John Wilkinson and Kamau Edward Brathwaite (shown at left), showcasing readings from 2002 and 2004.

Consistently presenting some of the finest and most influential voices in contemporary poetry, the Segue Series — now in its thirtieth season — has called the Bowery Poetry Club its home for the past six years. In the near future, we'll be posting segmented versions of many more recent Segue recordings, including readings by Anselm Berrigan, Elaine Equi, Frank Sherlock and CAConrad.

While you're checking out these recent Segue Series readings, be sure to listen to the dozens of recordings available from the series' earlier incarnations at both the Ear Inn and Double Happiness.

Philip Whalen: New and Newly Segmented Recordings

Posted 3/31/2008 (link)

We've recently added a pair of recordings featuring the late Philip Whalen, whose Collected Poems, edited by Michael Rothenberg, has been drawing considerable critical accolades as of late.

Dating from August, 1971 in San Francisco, our recording of excerpts from Scenes of Life at the Capital comes from the personal reel-to-reel collection of Robert Creeley. Clocking in at just over forty-five minutes, it captures approximately half of Whalen's book-length poem, which was first published in a small-press version by Maya in 1970, before being picked up by Donald Allen's Grey Fox Press for an expanded edition in 1971. This new recording effectively fills in the gap between Whalen's hour-long 1987 reading in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and his performance at the 1963 Vancouver Poetry Festival at the University of British Columbia.

We're also proud to announce a newly-segmented version of that highly-influential reading, which includes almost thirty individual MP3s. Whalen reads for over an hour, balancing longer works, such as "Dream & Excursus, Arlington Massachusetts," "Plums, Metaphysics, an Investigation, a Visit, and a Short Funeral Ode," "Letter to Michael McClure" and "Life and Death and a Letter to My Mother Beyond Them Both," with short, observational pieces, such as "To the Moon" and "An Irregular Ode." There also appear to be, as best as we can tell, three works which do not appear in The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen, which we've provisionally titled "A Wednesday Morning," "This Boy at Princeton Studied Russian" and "The Self-Indulgence Poem." During the reading, Whalen mentions that he wants to read mostly new work, and this, combined with a comment when introducing "The Art of Literature," that he runs into trouble when lending his only copies of poems to friends, suggests that perhaps these works were either lost or discarded prior to publication.

To hear all of these readings, click on the title above to visit our Philip Whalen author page.