Stacy Szymaszek: New Author Page

Posted 7/1/2009 (link)

Today we're highlighting yet another new author page featuring another fantastic poet — this time, it's Stacy Szymaszek, author of the just-released collection, Hyperglossia, and Artistic Director of the Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church in the Bowery. A little less than a month ago, we highlighted Szymaszek's recent Segue Series reading with Patrick Durgin, and since then we've worked with the poet to gather together recordings from the PennSound archives and elsewhere to create a broad retrospective of Szymaszek's work.

Moving backwards from that May 30th reading, we have Szymaszek's contribution to "The Shape of Discourse: George Oppen Centennial Symposium," organized by Poets House, then no less than four recordings dating from 2007. First, we have her appearance on Cross-Cultural Poetics' program on Litmus Press, during which she read from Emptied of All Ships, followed by short performances as part of the kari edwards Memorial Reading at Zinc Bar and the "Queering Language" Launch Reading at Philadelphia's Robin's Books, as well as a reading as part of the Just Buffalo Small Press Reading Series at Rust Belt Books.

Next, there's a January 15, 2006 Segue Series Reading (also at the Bowery Poetry Club), featuring the poems "Shift at Oars," "Radio Silence," "Emptied of All Ships" and a lengthy excerpt from "Hyperglossia," and finally, our earliest reading, dating from April 2003 as part of the Discrete Series in Chicago, features selections from Pasolini Poems, as well as "A Walk With a Cup of Jasmine Tea" and "Roman Evening," before concluding with "Some Mariners."

We at PennSound have a tremendous appreciation for Stacy Szymaszek's work — both as a poet and at the Poetry Project — and so are very happy to be able to share this modest survey of her work with our listeners and her fans throughout the world. From her earliest chapbooks through to Hyperglossia, and looking forward to a new project inspired by New York City's modern potter's field, Hart's Island, you'll be sure to find something you'll love on PennSound's Stacy Szymaszek author page.

Bill Berkson and Joe Brainard: Intersection, San Francisco, 1971

Posted 7/6/2009 (link)

We're starting this week off with yet another marvelous recording culled from the reel-to-reel collection of the late Robert Creeley, who we've increasingly come to respect as much for his writing as his uncanny tendency to be in the right place at the right time with his tape recorder. Today's treasure, taken from the venerable San Francisco artists space, Intersection, is a June 15, 1971 reading by Bill Berkson and Joe Brainard. Because the two poets read intermittently, we've decided not to break up their performances into separate groups of poems on their individual pages, but rather create a special page for this event, which preserves the contextual momentum for each piece.

Brainard reads exclusively from his masterpiece I Remember, present here in its original format (prior to the inclusion of material published under the titles I Remember More and More I Remember More in 1972 and 1973, respectively), while Berkson shares a selection of contemporary work including "Stanky, "When Poets Talk of Love," "Dream Life Goes On Regardless," "Flecks," and "From a Childhood," which he dedicates to his co-reader.

Berkson had relocated to Bolinas the previous year, and Brainard's six-week California vacation to visit his old New York friend (and other acquaintances, including Creeley and his wife, Bobbie Louise Hawkins, Allen Ginsberg, Joanne Kyger and Diane Di Prima) would serve as the basis for his Bolinas Journal (published that same year as the first book from Berkson's new press, Big Sky). It's also likely that the two produced the collaborative work, Recent Visitors — a particularly licentious fiction featuring the artist's frequent muses, Nancy and Sluggo — during this time: this work, available in The Nancy Book and Bill Corbett's Brainard tribute in Pressed Wafer #2, would be co-published that same year under Berkson's Best & Co. imprint and Brainard's Boke Press.

You can listen to this reading by clicking on the title above, but don't forget to visit our individual author pages for Bill Berkson and Joe Brainard, where you'll find a wide array of recordings by both writers.

PoemTalk 19: Bob Perelman's "The Unruly Child"

Posted 7/8/2009 (link)

Yesterday, we released the latest PoemTalk podcast: a discussion of Bob Perelman's "The Unruly Child." Joining host Al Filreis for the nineteenth program in the series are Rodrigo Toscano (whose "Poetics" was discussed in PoemTalk #17), second-time panelist Tom Mandel (an old friend of Perelman's from The Grand Piano days onward) and Sarah Dowling (who PennSound listeners most recently saw as part of "Six Poets Each Teach One Short Poem to High-School Students").

Dowling kicks off the conversation by considering Perelman's address to the poem's mother, which on first read, she interpreted as an ironic stance before hearing the mournful tone present in the 2004 Studio 111 recording — this leads her to question the identity of the titular unruly child, what makes his relationship to his mother difficult, "what's hard and what's necessary" about filling that role. Mandel sees the poem of being characteristically Perelman-esque, combining an "incredible exuberance and impatience [...] finesse and boldness, that are really hallmarks of his work," and reads Perelman himself as the unruly child, channeling Cesar Vallejo's 1930s prose poem, "The Right Meaning." While his initial take on the poem a quarter of a century ago found disjunction in Perelman's flippancy versus the desperateness of Vallejo's original, he now understands this to represent Perelman's aspirations to leave behind the playful tone of his earlier work to become "a poet of politics." Toscano concurs, seeing the work and its double-tone as "framing the instabilities that come from thinking about the intersection between poetic language and political circumstance."

Filreis then returns to Vallejo's reaching out to his mother nearly two decades after her death and half a world away from his homeland as representing a desire to return to those two womb-like entities, yet establish his distance from them at the same time. When he asked Perelman about this prior to the program, he recalls, "I wanted both the Vallejo sense of longing and also I wanted to establish distance," however what's to be made of the identification of the mother-figure with Marathon Oil? For Toscano, there's an attempt here to preserve the thriving modernism embodied by the Parisian setting, while transposing that moment onto contemporary events. Mandel sees "The Unruly Child" as a self-critical poem framed by the poet's identification with language juxtaposed with "the individuals who finally get the feel of the tenses": "there's the poet, and then there's the people who are suffering under whatever the political particulars of Marathon Oil are."

Coming back to the mother, Filreis sees "the personal history [...] of the socialization of the child to the adult: learning the languages, learning the politics" through the family mechanism as a key preoccupation in Perelman's work, and asks what makes Marathon Oil "very desirable" within this construct. Dowling notes that, due to enjambment, this is capital-D desirability, and so while there's irony here, the line also suggests a narrator who "wants to talk about what is desirable and whether or not he's able to desire these things that other people do find capital-D desirable": while the capitalist might find the Marathon Oil's profitability desirable, the unruly child laments that he doesn't, and it's an important part of one's development to be able to discern and defend his preferences. The other capitalized terms, Operation Patio and Operation Menu, Vietnam-era bombing raids with quaint names, typify a similar dissonance between the innocuous and the insidious.

This leads Filreis to catalogue the poem's political references, finding, in addition to Marathon Oil and the aforementioned bombing missions, hostage situations and the interrogation of citizens, which are reminiscent of the late 1970s international landscape, however, Mandel notes the pajama-ed narrator and witness to this foment, suggesting a parallel hostage situation that is internalized, whether within the mind (as Mandel believes) or within the family (as Filreis reads it). For Toscano, this syntactical cross-hatching suggests that the poem is a site within which language has the potential to navigate "an unstable moment" in history, and Perelman is able to permit himself to speak politically, setting the terms by which he'll be a hostage to representation. Filreis then positions this poetic coming of age against a later Perelman poem, "To My Mother" (from The Future of Memory), where his mother dies "[b]efore / teaching [him] social location," and echoing a distinction Dowling made earlier in the program, observes how, while, for Perelman, a proper orientation to one's social location is not a compliant and complacent "ruly child," but rather an unruly poetic figure who's not afraid to go against the grain.

The panelists next consider Perelman's phrase, "get the feel of the senses," which Toscano interprets as a sort of political déjà-vu involving both a distancing from an crisis and an attempt to grasp its root causes, which, in the following line, veers into a sort of predestination. Moving through to the final lines "the one language not called money, and the other not called / explosions," Mandel and Dowling find a distinction being made between discourse and reality — the ways in which language obscures truth and the ways in which it sheds light upon it.

Before concluding, each panelist shares one final thought on the poem. Dowling empathizes with the sadness inherent in the figure of the unruly child, both in the difficulties he faces within the world at large, and the rift created between him and the mother figure through his difference. Mandel recalls his old friend's prodigious and multifaceted poetic energies and appreciates a new and deeper understanding of "The Unruly Child" in light of the day's conversation. Toscano offers "To Kill While Falling Asleep" as an alternate title, wondering whether that line and idea is offered as a good thing or a bad thing — whether political deaths are necessary or not — and offers that the mother here might be just as unruly as her child. Finally, Filreis reiterates his psychological "mother-reading," stressing the need of a complete and unambiguous separation from the mother to truly and freely develop within the social sphere.

PoemTalk is a co-production of PennSound, the Kelly Writers House and the Poetry Foundation. If you're interested in more information on the series or want to hear the previous eighteen episodes, please visit the PoemTalk blog, and don't forget that you can subscribe to the series through the iTunes music store. Our next episode will focus on Amiri Baraka's "Kenyatta Listening to Mozart," with a panel that includes Al Filreis, Mecca Sullivan, Herman Beavers and Alan Loney. You'll also want to stay tuned for future programs in the series including conversations on poems by Charles Bernstein, Louis Zukofsky, Cid Corman, Barbara Guest and Alice Notley.

PennSound Podcast 17: Honoring Gil Ott

Posted 7/10/2009 (link)

Earlier this week, we launched the seventeenth and latest episode in the PennSound Podcast series, a twenty-three minute distillation of an October 27, 2001 celebration of the life and work of Gil Ott, which took place at the Kelly Writers House. As Al Filris tells us in a recent blog post, the late poet and publisher was "sorely missed in Philly poetry scenes, and (to be specific about one of many such sites where we miss Gil) at the Writers House where Gil was fairly regularly a member of audiences for PhillyTalks, poetry readings, book celebrations for poetry-world colleagues (especially Philly poets)."

Organized to commemorate the publication of The Form of Our Uncertainty: A Tribute to Gil Ott, edited by Kristen Gallagher and published by Chax Press earlier that year, this event featured Ott's performance of a number of his own works, including "A Walk," "I Make Plans" and "PRSPHNE," as well as a collaboration with his wife, poet Julia Blumenreich. A wide array of poets (from Philadelphia and beyond), including Charles Alexander, Ammiel Alcalay, Linh Dinh, Craig Czury, Eli Goldblatt and Chris McCreary, along with Gallagher, also pay tribute to the poet.

Thanks to the efforts of Steve McLaughlin, we now have this sampler of the evening's proceedings, featuring brief snippets from all of the event's participants. You can hear the entire ninety-minute program on PennSound Gil Ott author page, where you'll also find links to two poems Ott contributed to Frequency Audio Journal. While Gil Ott is no longer with us, his voice lives on in these recordings, and in Chax Press' Gil Ott Memorial Book Award, which, to date, has been bestowed upon two ambitious and exciting volumes of poetry: Trace Peterson's Since I Moved In, and CAConrad's The Book of Frank.

Carla Harryman and Barrett Watten: Segue Series Reading at the Ear Inn, 1993

Posted 7/14/2009 (link)

We've been taking advantage of the freedoms of the summer schedule to digitize dozens of classic recordings from the Segue Series' first incarnation at the Ear Inn (its home from the first event in 1977 through to the mid-1990s), including this reading featuring Carla Harryman and Barrett Watten, recorded January 2, 1993.

Harryman's set begins with "Magic, or Rousseau," before devoting the rest of her set to a reading from Memory Play, which would be published the following year from O Books. Watten starts off with an excerpt from Under Erasure, which is followed by a lengthy excerpt from a then in-progress, Bad History, published by Atelos five years later. Given the poets' interplay with an enthusiastic audience — particularly Watten's banter with Hannah Weiner between sections of Bad History — it's clear that the two are amongst a community of friends, and it's also worth noting that this is the only recording in our archives of the husband-and-wife duo reading together.

If you enjoy this reading, there are plenty more waiting on our PennSound author pages for both poets. Our Carla Harryman page features no less than five Segue Series readings, from a 1983 set at the Ear Inn up through a reading at the Bowery Poetry Club last fall, along with her LINEbreak interview with Charles Bernstein and recordings from the Kelly Writers House, the Line Reading Series and Providence, RI's Down City Poetry Series. Our Barrett Watten author page begins with two 1979 recordings from San Francisco (a talk on the Russian Formalists and a vintage reading at The Grand Piano with Bernstein), and includes three Segue Series readings, three poems from the MLA Offsite Readings, sets from the Line Reading Series, the Kelly Writers House and Berkeley, as well as a pair of lectures from the early 1980s.

Click on the individual links above to visit the poets' author pages, and to listen to this 1993 Segue Series reading, click on this entry's title.

Newly Segmented Readings from Trace Peterson, Tyrone Williams

Posted 7/15/2009 (link)

While there are dozens of new recordings being added to PennSound every week, we also occasionally go back to recordings which were originally presented as one file of the entire reading and break them down into individual tracks. Today, we're highlighting the work of two notable poets for whom we've recently segmented a number of readings: Trace Peterson and Tyrone Williams. When we launched both poets' pages, they consisted solely of a handful of complete recordings, but now more than thirty poems are available as single files between the two authors.

We were so excited to add Trace Peterson to our roster of poets this spring that we didn't have time to break up the four full-length readings available on his author page before doing so. Now, however, you can listen to his 2008 recording session at Chax Press Studios and his 2007 Belladonna Reading Series set as individual files. Included in these two readings are five poems from his 2007 collection, Since I Moved In — "Bricky," "My Organelles Monitored as a Single Unit," "A Casualty," "Sites of Likeness," and the concluding suite, "Spontaneous Generation" — as well as other titles such as "Junk Tropics," "Wig Cap" and "The Barometer in My Neck." Visit his PennSound author page to hear all of these tracks and much more.

Likewise, we first put together a Tyrone Williams author page last summer, bringing together a few singles from recent MLA Off-Site Readings and two new additions dating from late 2007: his Segue Series Reading at the Bowery Poetry Club and a POG Sound set at Tucson's Stone Ave. Gallery. We've recently added a few new readings to his page — a reading with Thom Donovan at Brooklyn's Unnameable Books from this past January, and two California readings from the archives of A Voice Box — and segmented his Segue Series set, which includes eighteen selections from his most recent volume, 2008's On Spec. You can hear all of the recordings mentioned above on our Williams author page by clicking the links above.

Paul Blackburn: 1971 SUNY-Cortland Reading Now Segmented

Posted 7/17/2009 (link)

We mentioned Daniel Kane's groundbreaking volume, All Poets Welcome: the Lower East Side Poetry Scene in the 1960s, a few weeks ago, when we announced PennSound Podcast #15, featuring Poets at Le Metro editor Dan Saxon. While Kane duly notes Saxon as a germinal figure in New York's underground poetry and publishing circles, it is the late, great Paul Blackburn who emerges as the volume's unsung and often-underestimated hero — the author goes so far as to credit Blackburn as "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."

When we first launched our Paul Blackburn author page in May of 2008, it contained two full-length readings, both dating from 1971, the year he tragically succumbed to esophageal cancer at the age of 44: a springtime reading at SUNY-Cortland, and a briefer set from that summer, taken from Robert Creeley's reel-to-reel collection. At that time, we'd segmented the latter recording, but now we're very happy to announce that we've also split up the April reading from Cortland — a one hour and forty-five minute tour de force performance recorded by his friend and fellow faculty member, Bernie Earley.

As with the later set, Blackburn draws upon a particularly strong body of work written during his final decade, including 1961's The Nets, 1967's The Cities, 1968's In. On. Or About the Premises and his Journals. Blackburn's sharp urban observations, his unbridled (and unabashed) lusts, his ability to discern providence and wisdom in the everyday, his deadpan humor and accurate ear for speech, sound and music — all of these treasured characteristics are present in favorite poems like "Brooklyn Narcissus," "7th Game : 1960 Series," "The Unemployment Bureau," "Clickety-Clack," "Sunflower Rock" and "A Dull Poem," among others. Altogether, there are forty-five tracks, including lengthy introductions to several poems, and we think you'll enjoy this set immensely.

Aside from these two readings, our Paul Blackburn author page also includes a discussion with his good friend, Robert Kelly, to his dedication to recording the poetry of his friends and peers, courtesy of Steve Evans' The Lipstick of Noise. We're also happy to direct you to the Paul Blackburn page at the Electronic Poetry Center, where you can read a selection of his poems, translations and essays, along with a number of interviews and testimonials by Creeley, Kelly George Economou, Clayton Eshleman, Edith Jarolim and Jerome Rothenberg, among others.

Basil Bunting: New Author Page

Posted 7/20/2009 (link)

We're very proud to kick off this week with the launch of a new author page showcasing the work of British modernist poet Basil Bunting, which includes recordings of several of his best known works, taken from various readings in London between the late sixties and early eighties.

We begin with two excerpts from his autobiographical masterpiece, Briggflatts — Part 4 and the poem's coda — dating from 1967, one year after its initial publication. We've also made four titles from The Odes available for streaming or download: two versions each of "At Briggflatts Meeting House" (from 1979 and 1982) and "On the Fly Leaf of Pound's Cantos" (from 1980 and 1982), as well as "Dear Be Still" and "Now We've No Hope." Given Bunting's preoccupation with sound and music throughout his body of work, it's fitting that select audio recordings of his work are now available, and his rich and lively reading voice makes the experience a pure pleasure for listeners.

We're particularly grateful to Neil Astley, founder and editor of Bloodaxe Books — publishers of Briggflatts and Bunting's Complete Poems — for their permission to share these recordings with a worldwide audience. Click on the title above to start listening.

The Vancouver Poetry Conference: 46 Years Later

Posted 7/22/2009 (link)

Tomorrow marks the forty-sixth anniversary of the start of the Vancouver Poetry Conference, a momentous occasion in 20th century poetry and poetics, which will be commemorated next month by The Line Has Shattered: Revisiting Vancouver's Landmark 1963 Poetry Conference, a symposium co-sponsored by Simon Fraser University and the Kootenay School of Writing. Organized by Warren Tallman and Robert Creeley, the three-week conference — offered as a summer course at the University of British Columbia — began with a series of lectures and a reading by Robert Duncan, who was followed by a who's-who of contemporary North American poetry, including Creeley, Allen Ginsberg, Charles Olson (shown at left in a photo taken by Ginsberg at the conference), Denise Levertov and Margaret Avison.

We're proud to have audio selections from several of the conference participants available as part of the PennSound archives. On our Robert Duncan author page, you'll find his complete ninety-minute reading from July 26th, which includes "Structure of Rime 9, 10 and 11," "Apprehensions," "A Poem Beginning with a Line from Pindar" and "Witch's Song" from Faust Foutu, among others. Our Robert Creeley page features his set from August 12th, which, due to a power outage, was unfortunately limited to the first eighteen poems, though it contains a number of classics such as "I Know a Man," "The Immoral Proposition," "The Lover" and "La Noche." Thankfully, no such issues affected our recording of Charles Olson's reading from the same day, which runs a full two hours and forty-five minutes, showcasing numerous selections from The Maximus Poems, along with "The Kingfishers" and "For Robert Duncan, Who Understands." Finally, last month, you'll recall we added several new recordings by Allen Ginsberg, including his July 31st set as part of the conference, which mixed a sampling of his earliest compositions with some of his strongest contemporary work ("Transcription of Organ Music," "A Strange New Cottage in Berkeley," "My Sad Self" and an excerpt from "Kaddish," among others). Click on the highlighted links above to listen to any and all of the readings mentioned.

Philip Whalen on PennSound

Posted 7/24/2009 (link)

In our last PennSound Daily entry, discussing recordings of Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, Charles Olson and Allen Ginsberg taken from the 1963 Vancouver Poetry Conference, we neglected to mention that our archives also include a lengthy recording of Philip Whalen's July 31st reading as part of the conference. Containing twenty-nine poems altogether, including "Dream & Excursus, Arlington, Massachusetts," "Life and Death and a Letter to My Mother Beyond Them Both," "Letter to Michael McClure," "A Vision of the Bodhisattvas" and "Invocation and Theophany," we first announced a segmented version of this reading on PennSound Daily in March 2008, alongside an August 1971 set at San Francisco's Intersection for the Arts showcasing a lengthy excerpt from Whalen's 1970 book-length poem Scenes of Life at the Capital.

On PennSound's Philip Whalen author page, you'll also be able to listen to a pair of recently-discovered fragments found on a reel-to-reel tape in Robert Creeley's archives (and potentially taken from the same reading), which we first wrote about last December. Along with titles including "Homage to Robert Creeley," "Small Tantric Sermon" and "The Letter to Thomas Clark 22:VII:71 From Bolinas Where He Sat Beside Me To Help Write It," these two brief recordings include a number of unpublished works. Finally, there's an hour-long reading of "By and Large," recorded in Albuquerque, NM in 1987. Interested listeners will also want to visit the Electronic Poetry Center's Philip Whalen page, which archives select writings, photographs, web resources, reviews and remembrances.

New Series: Wednesdays @ 4 Plus at SUNY-Buffalo

Posted 7/27/2009 (link)

Today, we're showcasing the newest addition to our series page: the historic Wednesdays @ 4Plus Reading Series, which ran from 1990 to 2000 at SUNY-Buffalo. Curated by Charles Bernstein for UB's Poetics Program (with the assistance of his colleagues, Robert Creeley, Dennis Tedlock, Raymond Federman, Robert Bertholf and Susan Howe), this series brought together some of the preeminent voices in American and international poetics together for an appreciative and intimate audience at the University at Buffalo.

Over the course of the summer, we've been adding recordings to the Wednesdays @ 4Plus archive, and now, with nearly twenty readings featuring sets by twenty-five individual poets, we're finally ready to make a formal announcement to our listeners. Among many wonderful events, several highlights include John Ashbery's 1996 set as part of the celebration for Creley's 70th birthday, the April 12, 1995 pairing of Kathy Acker and Lydia Davis, the 1994 husband and wife duo of P. Inman and Tina Darragh, and sets from Mei-mei Berssenbrugge in 1994 and 2000. You'll also find, among many others, recordings by Paul Auster, Bob Perelman, Robin Blaser, James Sherry, M. NourbeSe Philip and Rod Smith, and we'll continue adding to the collection until the complete series is available. All of these recordings were made by Charles Bernstein on his trusty Walkman Pro, and together with his field recordings of the earliest Segue Series Readings at the Ear Inn, they represent a prescient anticipation of poetry audio archives like PennSound long before technology would make such ambitious hopes possible.

New POG Sound Readings on PennSound

Posted 7/29/2009 (link)

Around this time last summer, we first announced a new POG Sound page on PennSound, collecting recordings of Tucson, AZ-area poetry events co-sponsored by Chax Press and POG (a local cultural non-profit), between 2006 and 2008. Highlights of that initial batch of readings included sets by Steve McCaffery, Charles Alexander, Lewis Warsh, Leslie Scalapino, Tyrone Williams and Tenney Nathanson. Today, we're very happy to update our POG Sound series page with seven additional readings which took place between last fall and this spring.

We begin with four readings at The Drawing Studio, the first of which is a September group reading featuring Renee Angle, Sue Carnahan, Jefferson Carter, Mildred Chapin, Annie Guthrie, Rodrigo Toscano (with Brendan Lorber and Aaron Kiely) and Tony Luebbermann. This is followed by a November set by Norman Fischer and Heather Nagami, the January trio of Lisa Cooper, K. Lorraine Graham and Mark Wallace, and a February event with Renee Angle and Renee Gladman. You'll also find a December reading by Mei-mei Berssenbrugge and Laynie Browne at St. Andrew's Church, the pairing of Barry Alpert and Sheila Murphy, recorded at the Revolutionary Grounds Coffee Shop, and Tracie Morris' March reading at the University of Arizona's Poetry Center.

Undoubtedly, the vital heart of contemporary American poetry is in its local scenes, and while we're always glad to be able to bring our listeners the latest events in New York and our homebase, Philadelphia, we're equally proud to be able to put the spotlight on burgeoning poetry communities that are fostered in universities, galleries, cafés and apartments in places like Tucson, Chicago, Cincinnati and the San Francisco Bay Area. To explore PennSound's POG Sound series page, click on the title above.

An Amiri Baraka Primer

Posted 7/31/2009 (link)

Yesterday, the latest installment of the PoemTalk Podcast Series — a spirited discussion of Amiri Baraka's "Kenyatta Listening to Mozart," featuring host Al Filreis and panelists Herman Beavers, Alan Loney and Mecca Sullivan — was launched on both the PoemTalk Blog and the Poetry Foundation website. We'll discuss the program in greater depth in Monday's PennSound Daily, but for now, we wanted to direct listeners to the Amiri Baraka resources available on our Baraka author page.

Our oldest recordings date from the mid-sixties, a particularly tumultuous time for the young author, who was slowly but surely making the transition from LeRoi Jones — co-publisher, with his wife, Hettie Jones, of Yugen, whose literary friendships with writers such as Frank O'Hara, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and Joel Oppenheimer, transcended boundaries of race and class (as well as the geographical and aesthetic groupings found in Donald Allen's The New American Poetry) — to Amiri Baraka, "black cultural nationalist." In two full-length readings, one from the 1964 Asilomar Negro Writers Conference (from which the recording of "Kenyatta Listening to Mozart" discussed on PoemTalk was taken), the other from the Poetry Center at the San Francisco State University in 1965, we see Jones struggling with questions of integration and ideology in poems such as "Black Dada Nihilismus," "Short Speech to My Friends," "A Poem Some People Will Have to Understand" and "Black Bourgeoisie." As we noted in a 2007 PennSound Daily entry, the latter reading was recorded shortly after the assassination of Malcolm X, the event which most precipitously drove Jones shift in identity and politics. These two longer readings are nicely complemented by a recently-added recording of "The Revolutionary Theatre," taken from the Berkeley Poetry Conference in July 1965.

The final complete reading on our Baraka pages jumps forward more than a decade to 1978, when he read alongside Ed Dorn at the Just Buffalo Literary Center. His set begins in the middle of "Against Bourgeois Art," and also includes his John Coltrane tribute, "I Love Music," and "War Clouds Over the World," among other titles. Finally, there are a selection of scattered (or otherwise unidentified) poems recorded throughout several decades, which feature several home recordings and a number of jazz collaborations, as well as a marvelous DJ Spooky remix of "Black Dada Nihilismus." You can hear all of the aforementioned recordings on PennSound's Amiri Baraka author page, while the latest PoemTalk program can be found on the PoemTalk blog.