Chris Funkhouser: Two New Recordings

Posted 5/2/2008 (link)

We've recently added two new recordings by poet, musician and theorist, Chris Funkhouser to his PennSound author page.

The first, which we mentioned last week, is Funkhouser's lecture, "IBM Poetry: Exploring Restriction in Computer Poems,", recorded as part of the Machine series at the Kelly Writers House on March 26, 2008. In this talk, Funkhouser starts by discussing some of the earliest computer-assisted poetic compositions, including Emmett Williams' "IBM," and Theo Lutz's "Stochastic Text," before tracing their influences upon process-driven texts by the likes of Jackson Mac Low, John Cage, Brion Gysin and others. We've put together a special page for this lecture — much like the page created for Brian Kim Stefans' "Language As Gameplay" — on which the audio is segmented into discreet discussions of individual texts, which you can explore as you listen, via the links provided.

The second new recording is a November 3, 2007 Segue Series performance at the Bowery Poetry Club of the soundtrack to "Enjoy the Ride...," a video collaboration with Alireza Khatami, which was created by Orquestra Descarrego in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in June of the same year. This ambitious performance — which weds electronic drones, wiry Indian textures, Gamelan percolations and snippets of appropriated voices — serves as wondrous setting for Funkhouser to deliver his poems, and judging from the enthusiastic response of the audience, we think you'll enjoy it immensely. Click on the title above to start listening.

Many Recent Segue Series Readings Added

Posted 5/6/2008 (link)

In addition to the Chris Funkhouser performance mentioned in the last PennSound Daily, we've added a number of new and exciting recordings from the Segue Series at the Bowery Poetry Club in the past week. Click on the link above to hear a November 10, 2007 reading by Sean Cole, Susan Howe and James Thomas Stevens' reading from January 26, 2008, and a number of readings from this spring, including Noah Eli Gordon and David Shapiro (recorded March 22nd), Mark Wallace and Rodrigo Toscano (from March 29th), and Tonya Foster and Anne Tardos (from April 12th).

These nine recordings are only the tip of the iceberg, and we'll continue adding the remainder of Segue's winter and spring reading series in the coming weeks. Don't forget that there are thirty years' worth of Segue Series readings available on PennSound, from the earliest events held at the Ear Inn, through the series' time at Double Happiness, and up to its tenure at the Bowery Poetry Club, which began not long after the club opened in 2002. We hope to be able to continue to host Segue Series recordings on PennSound for the next thirty years, and much longer beyond that.

Poem Talk Episode #6: Jaap Blonk Sounds Off

Posted 5/7/2008 (link)

The latest installment of the PoemTalk podcast series has just been released — a meditation on Jaap Blonk's "What the President Will Say and Do," an homage to Madeline Gins' book-length work of the same name. Al Filreis was joined by Kenneth Goldsmith, Tracie Morris and Joshua Schuster for this episode, which starts by exploring the relationship between Gins' text and Blonk's imaginative revision, as well as the limitations (or lack thereof) between live performance and audio artifact.

While one misses the auratic thrill of Blonk's strained, strangled and violet-faced performance, there's still a great deal of meaning to be discovered behind the words and sounds, and the PoemTalkers see a wide variety of politicized perspectives on the work — from an emulation of empty rhetoric to torture to a visceral representation of the impotence of power. From here, the discussion expands to broader consideration of the political potential of sound poetry as a whole (with John Cage, Miles Davis and Patti LaBelle invoked), as well as the politicization of everyday language.

To listen to this episode, along with the first five episodes of the PoemTalk series, click on the title above, and keep your eyes peeled for future episodes highlighting the work of Jerome Rothenberg, Rae Armantrout and John Ashbery, among others.

Paul Blackburn: New Author Page Added

Posted 5/12/2008 (link)

We've very proud to announce the addition of a new author page for Paul Blackburn, the influential poet, translator and reading organizer, whom Daniel Kane deems "the man perhaps most responsible for developing a vibrant poetic community on the Lower East Side and possibly the last writer who could be situated within the high modernist tradition." Clayton Eshleman concurs, underscoring his importance by noting, "[m]any, not just a few, but many poets alive today are beholden to him for a basic artistic kindness, for readings, yes, and for advice, but more humanly for a kind of comradeship that very few poets are willing to give."

The new author page features two readings recorded just months before Blackburn's premature death in September, 1971. The first is an April 1, 1971 reading at SUNY Cortland, where Blackburn taught during the final years of his life, after returning from a Guggenheim-funded European sojourn which began in 1967. Running more than a hundred minutes, this reading draws heavily from later volumes, including The Nets (1961), The Cities (1967) and In. On. Or About The Premises (1968), as well as The Journals, demonstrating not only Blackburn's idiosyncratic powers of perception, but also, in poems such as "Clickety-Clack" and "A Dull Poem for Louis Zukofsky," his wicked sense of humor. Bernie Earley, a colleague of Blackburn's at SUNY Cortlandl, was kind enough to save the recording from being lost, and PennSound is grateful for his intervention, along with the assistance of Joan Miller-Cohn, the poet's widow, in creating the page.

The second reading comes from Robert Creeley's personal reel-to-reel collection, and though not clearly dated, appears to have been recorded during July of the same year, in or around San Francisco. This reading begins with a number of poems written during his time in Europe, including "Paris-Toulouse Train," "The Tissues" and "Peeing All Over the Peninsula," and also features a generous selection of works from The Journals. It concludes with the title poem of 1970's The Assassination of President McKinley.

In conjunction with Blackburn's new PennSound author page, the Electronic Poetry Center has launched a new author page, edited by Jack Krick, which features an extensive collection of Blackburn's poetry and translations, a pair of interviews, a few statements on poetics, and a wide array of tributes to the poet, from the likes of Creeley, Eshleman, George Economou, Jerome Rothenberg and Robert Kelly.

After yesterday's PennSound Daily post, Steve Evans was kind enough to drop us a line, drawing our attention to a recording of Robert Kelly discussing Blackburn's dedication to recording both his own poetry, featured on his website, The Lipstick of Noise. We've added this to the Blackburn page, and created a new author page for Kelly in the process. Click on the title above to start listening.

PennSound Featured Resources, Selected by Danny Snelson

Posted 5/13/2008 (link)

PennSound Contributing Editor, and proprietor of J. Henry Chunko, Danny Snelson has selected the latest batch of PennSound Featured Resources, which which you can browse on the sidebar to the left, or on its own page, here.

Snelson's list brings together groundbreaking poets such as Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, Jack Spicer and Jackson Mac Low, along with important contemporary voices, including Craig Dworkin and Gregory Whitehead (both of whose author pages he's been involved in editing), as well as Darren Wershler-Henry and Caroline Bergvall. You'll also find works by Charles Bernstein, Helen Adam, Clark Coolidge and Rosmarie Waldrop, plus Henry Hills' film, Money.

Even more exciting than this ambitious mix, however, is "also this: no title (essay and reprise)," an original audio/textual work created by Snelson himself, which cannibalizes his selections, weaving together sundry fragments of sound and syntax to create a rich palimpsest, reminiscent of the experiments of both Whitehead and Mac Low, which not only traces the spidery lines of influences running through 20th Century poetics, but also allows these discrete entities to communicate with one another, interrupting, bolstering and contradicting preceding statements. These techniques have their origins in Snelson's earlier work, my Dear coUntess, a video-poem which systematically reconfigures texts by Ron Silliman, Walter Abish, Amos Tutuola, Samuel Beckett, Gertrude Stein and Kathy Acker, among others, and in true Cagean fashion, in both works, our attention is just as often held by speech as by the "silences" — the pauses, the non-verbal tics and glitches.

After you've listened to Snelson's selections, you might also want to check out our previous Featured MP3 lists by Marjorie Perloff, Thomas Devaney, Eric Baus, Steve Evans and Al Filreis.

George Oppen Centennial Symposium at Poets House, NYC

Posted 5/15/2008 (link)

Taking place the day after the Celebration of George Oppen's 100th Birthday at the Kelly Writers House, the monumental George Oppen Centennial Symposium, organized by Poets House, was held at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center on April 8th.

The day began with two panels discussing various aspects of Oppen's work. The first, "The Biographical-Historical Continuum," featured presentations by Eric Hoffman, Kristin Prevallet, Stephen Cope and Norman Finkelstein, discussing, among other topics, the role of ideology in Oppen's work, and his affiliation with the Communist Party. This was followed by a second panel, "The Literary-Philosophical Spectrum," during which Romana Huck, Burt Kimmelman, Peter O'Leary and John Taggart traced connections between Oppen and both Whitman and Heidegger, as well as the place of song, death and femininity in his work.

Later in the evening, a comprehensive reading took place, during which poets — including Michael Heller, Peter Gizzi, Harvey Shapiro, Thom Donovan, Stacy Szymaszek, Lee Spinks and Hugh Seidman — shared their favorite Oppen poems, from his 1934 debut, Discrete Series, through to 1978's Primitive. Oppen's own voice is woven through the proceedings, as he reads sections of his masterpiece "Of Being Numerous," as well as "Anniversary Poem" and "The Translucent Mechanics," the latter two from the same 1973 video from the Poetry Center at the San Francisco State University which concluded our event at UPenn. There's more than five hours of audio altogether, and you can start exploring by clicking on the title above.

Speaking of our Oppen Centennial event at the Kelly Writers House check out our new page of photos from the event, including shots of all the participants, as well as members of the Philadelphia writing community present in the audience. We've also scanned the program from the poetry festival George Economou mentions in his presentation.

Lee Ann Brown's "13th Sunday in Ordinary Time"

Posted 5/19/2008 (link)

We're very glad to be able to present this recording of Lee Ann Brown's song cycle, "13th Sunday in Ordinary Time," as recorded at the Bowery Poetry Club in May 2003. Directed by Brown's husband, Tony Torn, the piece is performed by the poet, along with Anne Doerner, Carolyn Kelley, Cynthia Nelson and Hai-Ting Chinn.

Divided into three sections — "Hymns," "Girl Scout Songs" and "Ballads" — "13th Sunday" captures in broad strokes, both a distinctly American experience (with Brown's well-known Oulipian revisions of "Amazing Grace" and "The Pledge of Allegiance," along with cowboy tunes like "Blood on the Saddle," "Desperado" and "Ragtime Cowboy Joe"), and the unbridled joys of youth, especially in the giggly campfire spirit of the second act. However, Brown's exuberant depictions are also tempered by mournful dirges like "The Ballad of Susan Smith" and "The Ballad of Phoebe Steele."

In her 1998 essay, "The Poetics of Disobedience," Alice Notley laments how, during her formative years, "it seemed one had to disobey the past and the practices of literary males in order to talk about what was going on most literarily around one, the pregnant body, and babies for example," noting, "[t]here were no babies in poetry then. How could that have been?" Drawing upon the groundbreaking examples of Notley, and her dear friend and mentor, Bernadette Mayer, Brown has made pregnancy and motherhood (or, The Sleep That Changed Everything, as her 2003 collection of the same name refers to it) along with childhood a central focus of her recent poetry, and indeed, there are few contemporary poets who've written as compelling and fresh work on these topics. This Blakean dyad — the wise adult looking back at, and reframing childhood innocence — is one of the key forces driving "13th Sunday in Ordinary Time," and it makes for a marvelous listening experience, as hilarious as it is haunting.

As an added bonus, we've posted a recording of "Transformation Hymn" recorded at Lincoln Center as part of the "Poems Not Fit for the White House" event in February 2003. There are a number of other recent additions featuring Brown, including Henry Hills' short film, "A Lee Ann-thology of Concrete Poetry," along with recordings as part of LA-Lit, The Line Reading Series, and a segmented Segue Series reading from the Bowery Poetry Club in 2004. You can hear all of these on Brown's PennSound author page, by clicking the title above.

Newly Segmented Buffalo Recordings from Ed Dorn, Amiri Baraka

Posted 5/21/2008 (link)

Today, we added two newly-segmented readings by Ed Dorn, both from Buffalo in the mid-1970s, and both drawing heavily upon poems from his 1974 collection, Recollections of Gran Apacheria — a sprawling work which celebrates Apache culture and history, even as it serves as a litany of offenses committed against them. Dorn's scope encompasses grand histories and personal dramas, as mimicked by poems which vary from microscopic jewels like "General Miles Imagined" "Immured in Florida" and "(The Original Monuments of Perception)" to longer works, such as "Creation" and "Reservation." The first of our two readings, recorded April 19, 1974 at SUNY Buffalo, begins with "The Poet Lets His Tongue Hang Down," taken from book IV of Gunslinger. From there, Dorn briefly discusses the origins and geographies of Recollections of Gran Apacheria, then proceeds to read much of the volume.

Our second recording comes to us from Robert Creeley's personal reel-to-reel collection — a December 8, 1978 reading at the Just Buffalo Literary Center. Dorn starts with a long letter from Simon Shocket, then reads eight poems from Recollections of Gran Apacheria, concluding with "Creation." Dorn's reading partner for that evening was Amiri Baraka, whose work is every bit as uncompromisingly political as Dorn's Apache lamentations. Unfortunately, the start of Baraka's reading is lost, but we are able to present four complete poems, including an excerpt from his long-form work, "Caution" and his John Coltrane tribute, "I Love Music," as well as "Dope" and "War Clouds Over the World." Baraka is in top shape in this reading, peppering his energetic delivery with fervent scatting, jazz beatboxing and dizzying syllabic runs which emulate Coltrane's "sheets of sound" technique.

These readings are only a small selection of the recordings available by both of these highly influential poets. Baraka's PennSound author page features a pair of epochal readings from the mid-1960s, recorded prior to his leaving behind the name LeRoi Jones, along with a number of poems from the 1990s. On Dorn's PennSound author page, you'll find two complete readings of his masterpiece, Gunslinger, plus readings from later volumes Abhorrences and Captain Jack's Chaps.

Charles Borkhuis' Black Light: Two Radio Plays

Posted 5/22/2008 (link)

We recently created a new PennSound author page for poet and playwright Charles Borkhuis, anchored by his 2002 album, Black Light, which contains two radio plays originally aired on New York's WNYC: "The Sound of Fear Clapping" and "Foreign Bodies." Both works vividly update the hallmarks of classic noir radio drama for the contemporary setting, weaving stories of crime and tainted love which drip terror and paranoia. These postmodern psychological thrillers are carried along by marvelous soundtracks and a rich array of aural effects — "Foreign Bodies" showcases a cool jazz soundtrack, while "The Sound of Fear Clapping" features a synthesized score reminiscent of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. In addition these two productions, you'll also find recordings of a 2004 appearance on Cross-Cultural Poetics, along with a Segue Series Reading from the Bowery Poetry Club from 2006. Clicking on the title above takes you directly there.

A New Close Listening Reading and Conversation with Peter Gizzi

Posted 5/23/2008 (link)

The latest installment of Charles Bernstein's Close Listening series has recently been posted — a reading and conversation with poet and editor Peter Gizzi, recorded March 17, 2008, which serves as a companion-piece of sorts to the program featuring his wife, Elizabeth Willis, recorded the same day.

Gizzi's reading serves as a broad consideration of his life's work, starting with his earliest poetry, contained in 2004's Periplum and other poems 1987-1992, and briefly moving through Artificial Heart (1998) and Some Values of Landscape and Weather (2003), before sharing a number of poems from his most recent volume, 2007's The Outernationale, including its title poem, "The Quest," "Untitled Amherst Specter," "Protest Song" and "A Panic That Can Still Come Upon Me." This final poem — its title and inspiration taken from a work by the painter Jess (the long-term partner of poet Robert Duncan) — figures prominently in Bernstein and Gizzi's conversation, in which notions of "panic" are contrasted with "beauty," a peculiarly human urban aesthetic which Gizzi cherishes. The discussion of Jess' work also leads to the topic of collage and its role in Gizzi's work, which blossoms into a larger exploration of his poetics, including the role of the lyric, and more basic sonic and rhythmic considerations. The two poets also discuss poetic pedagogy and the role of the poet in the classroom, as well as the vast and various field of influences which shape a poet's work — or as Gizzi puts it, the difference between one's biography and bibliography.

On Gizzi's PennSound author page, you'll also find his 2007 appearance on Cross-Cultural Poetics, which showcases poems from The Outernationale, as well as his 2004 reading at the Kelly Writers House. There's also a 1999 appearance as part of the PhillyTalks series, and don't miss the Gizzi-curated Exact Change Yearbook #1, featuring recordings of poets including Barbara Guest, Alice Notley, Robert Creeley, John Ashbery, Jack Spicer, Bernadette Mayer and Ted Berrigan, among others.

Newly Segmented Charles Olson: Boston 1962

Posted 5/27/2008 (link)

Last week, we posted a newly-segmented version of Charles Olson's June 1962 reading in Boston — a recording which came to us from the reel-to-reel collection of Robert Creeley.

Running over an hour, this reading contains a number of Olson's best-known works, such as "In Cold Hell, In Thicket" and excerpts from "Maximus, to Gloucester" and "Maximus, from Dogtown," as well as poems such as "ABC," "Going Right Out of the Century," "The Librarian" and "So Sassafras." It's one of eight full readings you'll find on Olson's PennSound author page, including recordings from Beloit College, Gratwick's Highlands, Goddard College, the Vancouver Poetry Festival, the Poetry Center at San Francisco State University plus a brief 1952 recording from Black Mountain College. You can also hear Olson's 1962 Goddard College discussion of Herman Mellville's work, which runs nearly two hours.

We're glad to be able to further augment our present collection of Olson's work, and hope to be able to add more recordings in the future. Also, keep your eyes on PennSound Daily for upcoming announcements of more recordings from the Robert Creeley tape collection.

A New Author Page for Rachel Zolf

Posted 5/29/2008 (link)

We recently created a new PennSound author page for Canadian poet and editor, Rachel Zolf, showcasing a number of recent readings.

The first, recorded just over a month ago at the Friends Meeting House in Toronto, ON, features a new piece entitled "Shoot and Weep," as well as a Q&A session with her co-reader, M. NourbeSe Philip, and the evening's host, Kate Eichhorn. You'll also find four readings featuring selections from Zolf's most recent collection, 2007's Human Resources (Coach House Books). Spanning the last two years, these recordings come from Montreal's Atwater Library, the Kootenay School of Writing, Toronto's Test Reading Series and the Buffalo Small Press Reading Series. Finally, there's a 2007 appearance alongside Amiri Baraka on Cross-Cultural Poetics, during which she reads from Human Resources, and discusses, with host Leonard Schwartz, "what happens to language when words are wasted, as in the commodity culture that encircles us." Click on the title above to start listening.

Bob Perelman: Newly Segmented 2007 Segue Reading

Posted 5/30/2008 (link)

Recorded March 24, 2007, this Segue Series Reading at the Bowery Poetry Club showcases work from Bob Perelman's most recent collections, IFLIFE (2006) and Playing Bodies (2003) (the latter a collaboration with his wife, the painter Francie Shaw), including "Here Here," "Only One of Us is Henry James," "Liquid Assets, "Epic Proportions" and "Poetic Sex. Originally available only as a complete recording, it's now been broken down into individual poems, and is one of several recent readings available on Perelman's PennSound author page, such as the IFLIFE launch party from January 2007, another Bowery Poetry Club reading from a year earlier, and a November 2006 reading at UC Berkeley. Of course, you'll find more than a dozen additional recordings as well — both poetry and criticism, including Perelman's perspectives on George Oppen and Louis Zukofsky.

Bob Perelman is an important part of UPenn's writing community, and we're glad to able to present a generous selection of his work. Click on the title above to begin listening