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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Paul Dutton: 'Oralizations' (2005)

Posted 12/4/2023

Today we're highlighting a recent addition to the PennSound author page of Canadian author and sound artist Paul DuttonOralizations, a 2005 CD release on Montréal-based label Ambiances Magnétiques. Running nearly seventy minutes, this album presents"works spanning Dutton's more than thirty years of bursting the bonds of convention, testing the extremes of voice and verbalization, and blurring the borders between literature and music," neatly summarized as "richly textured multiphonic vocal virtuosity, laced with rasps, rumbles, honks, howls, and wheezes, featured in freely improvised and formally structured solos, with flights of verbal invention added into the mix."

Reviewing the album in Vital, Dolf Mulder emphasizes the hybrid nature of the work: "The pieces on his new CD range from english spoken poems to pieces mixed of speech and sound, to pure soundpoetry. Verbal, non-verbal or anything in between, Dutton in all pieces is interested in the sound qualities of his voice performance." He continues, "Dutton himself defines the spectrum he covers as ranging from speech to music. So in his vision the border between literature and music is a gradual one," before concluding that Oralizations is "music that has to be seen to be believed!"

PennSound's Paul Dutton author page, houses solo recordings from 1979–2001, as well as links to our Four Horsemen page and other collaborations, and a series of useful links to external resources. First created in 2005, our Dutton page was one of our earliest author pages, but its materials continue to surprise us. Click here to start exploring Oralizations.

Mad Mammoth Monster Poetry Readings: Ginsberg, Lamantia, McClure, Meltzer, Welch, Wieners, Whalen

Posted 12/1/2023

Today we revisit a collection of recordings from the Mad Mammoth Monster Poetry Readings, which were convened by Auerhann Press in San Francisco on August 29, 1963. They include brief but very exciting sets by a total of seven noteworthy Bay Area poets, many of whom had been published by the press. Because we have no context clues to establish the reading order we're presenting these tracks in alphabetical order. Clicking on each poet's name will take you directly to their poem(s).

First up we have Allen Ginsberg, who read "Patna-Benares Express" and "May 22 [1962] Calcutta," followed by Philip Lamantia, who read "Rest in Peace, Al Capone" and "All Hail Pope John XXIII." Michael McClure read from Dark Brown and Ghost Tantras, while David Meltzer read several short pieces: "Baby's Hands," "Rain Poems," "Nerve Root Poem," "Two Poems to My Wife," and "Poem for Lew Welch." For his own set, Welch  read from Hermit Poems, while John Wieners read "A Poem for Cocksuckers" and "A Poem for the Old Man." Finally, we have Philip Whalen bringing our new recordings to a close with an excerpt from "The Art of Literature."

It's a fascinating snapshot of the Bay Area's poetry scene at that time as the late Beat Generation heyday slowly started to give way to the burgeoning Summer of Love ethos. To listen to any of the individual poets listed above, just click their names to be taken to their PennSound author pages.

PoemTalk #190: on Aldon Nielsen's "Tray"

Posted 11/30/2023

We just released the latest episode in the PoemTalk Podcast series, and it's a rare one in which the poet under discussion is part of the panel. At right, you'll see the knock-out trio of Aldon NielenTyrone Williams, and William J. Harris assembled by host Al Filreis to discuss Nielsen's "Tray," from his collection of the same name. Not quit as rare for PoemTalk, but still quite special: this episode was also recorded life in front of an audience at the Kelly Writers Houses' Arts Café.

In his write-up of this new episode on Jacket2, Filreis explains the overall structure of the poem as well as the specific sections covered in this show: "There are 29 sections in the poem; the group discussed the first 6. In the book titled Tray, published by Make Now Press in 2017, the title poem takes up the first 37 pages; the sections we discussed run to page 14." He also notes that, "Usually, of course, we play an audio recording of the poem from we're about to discuss as archived in PennSound, but on this day, because we had the honor of Aldon's presence we asked him to perform those sections."

You can listen to this latest program and learn more about the show here. PoemTalk is a joint production of PennSound and the Poetry Foundation, aided by the generous support of Nathan and Elizabeth Leight. Browse the full PoemTalk archives, spanning more than a decade, by clicking here.

Happy Birthday William Blake

Posted 11/28/2023

Today would have been the 256th birthday of visionary British poet William Blake, whose work continues to captivate audiences almost two centuries after his death. While recording technology did not exist during Blake's lifetime, PennSound is proud to be home to a recently-revamped William Blake author page, that collects a wide array of performances of the poet's work from throughout the archives.

The centerpiece of our Blake page is Allen  Ginsberg's groundbreaking 1970 album, Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake, tuned by Allen Ginsberg, which features an all-star roster of jazz sessionmen (including Don Cherry, Elvin Jones and Bob Dorough) providing an engaging and wide-ranging musical accompaniment for Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky's vocals. The album's twenty-one tracks consist of more or less equal samplings from both volumes, and we've provided links to images of each page of text from Blake's illuminated manuscripts, as archived on the William Blake Archive. An assortment of recordings of Ginsberg performing Blake poems at readings from the 70s through to the 90s complements this classic LP.

Ginsberg's performance of "The Garden of Love" (from Songs of Experience) was the subject of PoemTalk Podcast #4 — featuring a panel of Al Filreis, Charles Bernstein, Rachel Blau DuPlessis and Jessica Lowenthal — and Ginsberg's great friend and Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics co-founder, Anne Waldman, performed her own version of this setting on her 2002 album By the Side of the Road. Bernstein too has a pair of recordings here: The Grey Monk" (originally recorded for the Romantic Circles website) and "The Sick Rose" (edited from his montaged set from the Kelly Writers House event celebrating the release of Poets for the Millennium, Vol. 3). From that same event, we also have Jerry Rothenberg reading excerpts from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

Another formidable set of Blake recordings comes from UPenn professor emeritus John Richetti, who recorded a set of 15 tracks for the site in 2014, including "The Lamb," The Chimney Sweeper," "Holy Thursday," "The Sick Rose," "The Tyger," and "The Poison Tree." You'll also find a pair of recordings from Aaron Kramer reading from and discussing Blake's poetry, along with 
Lee Ann Brown's spirited rendition of "Ah! Sunflower," and the late, great Naomi Replansky reading a trio of poems — "London," "The Question Answered," and "The Sick Rose" — in 2015.

To listen to any and all of these recordings, click here to visit our William Blake author page.

Dawn Lundy Martin on PennSound

Posted 11/24/2023

We wrap up this week by taking a look at the recordings available on our Dawn Lundy Martin author page, which offers listeners the opportunity to check out readings and talks from 2006 to 2016.

The earliest pair of recordings come from an April 2006 visit to New York City, which yielded sets for both Belladonna* and the Segue Series; Martin would return for another Segue reading at the Bowery Poetry Club in December 2008. Our first recording from A. L. Nielsen's Heatstrings Theory archives is an October 2009 reading at Penn State University, and Nielsen was also kind enough to share a March 2016 appearance by the poet as part of a reading celebrating What I Say: Innovative Poetry by Black Writers in America, held in Brooklyn for that year's National Black Writers Conference at AWP. Then, from Andrew Kenower's A Voice Box archives, we have a pair of Bay Area readings: a 2010 reading at David Buuck's house and a 2013 reading at Tender Oracle held as part of the East Bay Poetry Summit. Finally, we have "On Discomfort and Creativity," the 2016 Leslie Scalapino Lecture in Innovative Poetics, held at Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. Video of that event is available, along with a link to the text in Something on Paper.

Four of the earlier readings mentioned above have been segmented into individual MP3s, providing listeners the unique opportunity to listen to multiple iterations of the same poems — including "The Undress," "The Morning Hour," "Bearer of Arms 1775-1783," and "The Symbolic Nature of Chaos" — read at separate events. Taken together, they also provide an interesting document of Martin's evolving style from her first publications up to just before her most recent collection, Good Stock, Strange Blood (Coffee House Press, 2017), which earned Martin the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award in 2019 for "creating 'fascinating, mysterious, formidable, and sublime' explorations of the meaning of identity, the body, and the burdens of history along with one’s own private traumas." You can experience Dawn Lundy Martin's formidable voice by clicking here.

PennSound Presents Poems of Thanks and Thanksgiving

Posted 11/22/2023

With the US celebrating Thanksgiving this week, it's time to revisit a perennial PennSound Daily tradition that started way back in 2010: a mini-mix of poems of thanks and thanksgiving — some old, some new — taken from the PennSound archives.

In a classic recording of "Thanksgiving" [MP3] from the St. Mark's Poetry Project, Joe Brainard wonders "what, if anything Thanksgiving Day really means to me." Emptying his mind of thoughts, he comes up with these free associations: "first is turkey, second is cranberry sauce and third is pilgrims."

"I want to give my thanks to everyone for everything," the late John Giorno tells us in "Thanx 4 Nothing" [MP3], "and as a token of my appreciation, / I want to offer back to you all my good and bad habits / as magnificent priceless jewels, / wish-fulfilling gems satisfying everything you need and want, / thank you, thank you, thank you, / thanks." The rolicking poem that ensues offers both genuine sensory delights ("may all the chocolate I've ever eaten / come back rushing through your bloodstream / and make you feel happy.") and sarcastic praise ("America, thanks for the neglect, / I did it without you, / let us celebrate poetic justice, / you and I never were, / never tried to do anything, / and never succeeded").

"Can beauty save us?" wonders Maggie Nelson in "Thanksgiving" [MP3], a standout poem from her marvelous collection, Something Bright, Then Holes, which revels in the holiday's darker edges and simplest truths: "After dinner / I sit the cutest little boy on my knee / and read him a book about the history of cod // absentmindedly explaining overfishing, / the slave trade. People for rum? he asks, / incredulously. Yes, I nod. People for rum."

Yusef Komunyakaa gratefully recounts a number of near-misses in Vietnam — "the tree / between me & a sniper's bullet [...] the dud / hand grenade tossed at my feet / outside Chu Lai" — in "Thanks" [MP3], from a 1998 reading at the Kelly Writers House.

"I miss everything / all the time, even / what's in front of me," Kate Colby reflects in "Home to Thanksgiving (1867)" [MP3], ably mimicking the sense of loss that simultaneously haunts and heightens the holiday season for many of us.

Kenneth Irby begins his 1968 poem, "Thanksgiving Day and Lowell's Birthday" [MP3] with a succinct synopsis of the holiday's meaning: "This is / the day set aside / for public harvest's / gratitude, / giving back of all the energies of devotion /for an instant equal / to the energies gathered / of earth's sustenance given / or what was attended / watching the slow shift of season / knowledge thankful for to have gathered /before the shift — not so slow and more like a / sudden awareness come on too late — / before cold winter." You can read along with Irby at Jacket2, where the poem was published as part of the career-spanning 2014 feature, "On Kenneth Irby."

While many might be familiar with Charles Bernstein's delightfully-thorny "Thank You for Saying Thank You," I'm offering up a recording of his 2015 mutation of that poem, "Thank You for Saying You're Welcome" [MP3], which inverts the sentiments of the original: "This is a totally / inaccessible poem. / Each word, / phrase & / line / has been de- / signed to puz- / zle you, its / read- / er, & to / test whether / you're intel- / lect- / ual enough — / well-read or dis- / cern- / ing e- / nough — to ful- / ly appreciate th- / is / poem."

Finally, we turn our attention to the suite of poems that concludes Mark Van Doren's Folkways album, Collected and New Poems — "When The World Ends" / "Epitaph" / "Farewell and Thanksgiving" [MP3] — the last of which offers gratitude to the muse for her constant indulgence.

To keep you in the Thanksgiving spirit, don't forget this 2009 PennSound Podcast (assembled by Al Filreis and Jenny Lesser) which offers "marvelous expressions of gratitude, due honor, personal appreciation [and] friendship" from the likes of Amiri BarakaTed BerriganRobert CreeleyJerome RothenbergLouis Zukofsky and William Carlos Williams.

Susan Howe and David Grubbs: "Frolic Architecture," 2011

Posted 11/21/2023

Over the years, we've been able to bring you a wide variety of audio and video from the fruitful and long-running collaboration of poet Susan Howe and musician/composer David Grubbs (Squirrel Bait, Bastro, Gastr del Sol) and today we're happy to present footage of a recent performance of their piece, Frolic Architecture, recorded at Harvard University on November 1, 2011.

The stunning center section of Howe's 2010 book, That This (New Directions), Frolic Architecture was "inspired by Susan Howe's experience of viewing various manuscripts, sermon notebooks, books, and pamphlets of the eighteenth century American Calvinist theologian Jonathan Edwards in the vast collection of Edwards family papers at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in New Haven, Connecticut. Especially by the folder in Box 24 titled 'Wetmore, Hannah Edwards, 1713–1773, Diary, 1736–39, copy in the hand of Lucy Wetmore Whittelsey, with commentary/n.d.'" The texts were composed "using multi-purpose copy paper, scissors, 'invisible' scotch tape, and a Canon copier PC170 [to] collage fragments of this 'private writing' with a mix of sources from other conductors and revealers in the thick of things — before." Howe and Grubbs released a studio version of Frolic Architecture on Drag City subsidiary Blue Chopsticks (home to their previous albums, 2008's Souls of the Labadie Tract and 2005's Theifth) in 2011, which further develops the collaborative nature of the piece — aside from Howe's appropriation of Hannah Edwards Wetmore's diary, Frolic Architecture was originally published as a limited-edition artist's book by Grenfell Press, featuring ten photograms by James Welling (also reproduced in That This).

Working in a similar mode to their earlier collaborations, Grubbs creates an airy and haunting bed of sound, consisting of laptop manipulations of Howe's pre-recorded voice — rhythmic and chaotically scattered phonemes that mimic the poem's collaged scraps and flutter around the poet's live performance — wed to modulated Hammond organ drones. Much like Souls of the Labadie Tract, the two artists' interaction on Frolic Architecture began at a very early and unpublished stage in the text's development, and as Howe acknowledges in the Q&A session that follows the performance, her association with Grubbs has shaped her approach to writing and language in general. While, at first, she deemed Frolic Arcitecture to be an "unperformable poem," Grubbs' efforts to "match [his] fragmentation to [her] fragmentation" yield fantastic results once again.

Congratulations to National Book Award Winner Craig Santos Perez

Posted 11/18/2023

We send our heartiest congratulations to indigenous Chamoru poet Craig Santos Perez (shown at right with jury chair Heid E. Erdrich) who won this year's National Book Award for from unincorporated territory [åmot] earlier this week.

The fifth book in the from unincorporated territory series devoted to Perez's native Guam, [åmot] was hailed in the judges citation for "observ[ing] and assert[ing] storytelling as an act of resistance — a written form of 'åmot,' the Chamoru word for 'medicine.'" Accepting the award, Perez told the audience that "When I started writing, my mission was to inspire the next generation of Pacific Islanders." Without a doubt, he's already accomplished that, and this win will allow his work to reach even wider audiences.

On Perez's PennSound author page you can listen to readings from earlier installments in the from unincorporated territory series, in readings from Oakland and our own Kelly Writers House, along with a 2009 appearance on Cross Cultural Poetics, hosted by Leonard Schwartz. Listeners may also be interested in "Last Commentator in Paradise," Perez's series of commentary posts on Jacket2, where he explored "issues of representation, displacement, witness, and resistance." Again, we congratulate Perez for this monumental honor.

James Schuyler at Dia Art Foundation, 1988

Posted 11/15/2023

Today we are remembering a historic reading took place exactly 35 years ago today: James Schuyler's November 15, 1988 reading at the Dia Art Foundation, which is available as both video and segmented audio on Schuyler's PennSound author page.

Schuyler materials are very hard to come by, largely due to the the ways in which his mental illness hindered his considerable talents. One oft-cited example: his first major collection of poetry, Freely Espousing, wasn't published until 1969 — long into the careers of his core New York School comrades John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, and Frank O'Hara, and closer to when second-generation poets like Ted Berrigan, Ron Padgett, and Anne Waldman released their first books. Likewise, this reading, which took place not long after Schuyler turned 65, was his first ever; he'd die less than two-and-a-half years later.

When we first launched the video in 2015, it elicited many excited responses among fans and scholars. One particularly useful commentary came from New York School specialist Andrew Epstein, who offered some very useful contexts for the reading on his blog, Locus Solus: "Reclusive, plagued by intermittent bouts of severe mental illness, painfully shy, Schuyler had never before read his work in public, even though he'd been publishing since the 1950s. That evening, Schuyler's close friend John Ashbery gave a wonderful and incisive introduction (which can also be found in Ashbery's Selected Prose), and throngs of Schuyler's admirers from the literary and art world flocked to the Dia Center on Mercer Street." He continues, quoting David Lehman's The Last Avant-Garde — "For many in the audience it felt like a historic occasion. The line of people waiting to get in, many poets, writers, and artists among them, snaked around the corner" — and offering up Charles North's assessment: "The Dia reading was the most thrilling I think I've ever been to, the loudest applause I've ever heard — thunderous."

His authoritative report continues, observing that "the reading was a very big deal for Schuyler himself and his letters and diaries record the anxious build-up and the exhilarated aftermath of his debut performance," before offering up copious excerpts from those documents, concluding with Schuyler's estimation that "I was a fucking sensation." Epstein can't help but agree, and neither will you once you get a chance to see the venerable poet reading "February," "Empathy and New Year," "December," "Unlike Joubert," or other favorites.

We'd like to thank Schuyler's literary executor Raymond Foye and the Dia Art Foundation for allowing us to share this remarkable document with our listeners.

In Memoriam: Hugh Seidman (1940–2023)

Posted 11/14/2023

We start this week off with sad news via Michael Heller that poet Hugh Seidman passed away last week at the age of 83. To honor the late poet, we've assembled a PennSound author page for Seidman from various recordings scattered throughout the site.

The earliest of these is a half-hour Segue reading at the series' first home, the Ear Inn, alongside James Sherry on November 16, 1991. Next up, we have a trio of recordings of Seidman and poets Lawrence Joseph and D. Nurkse made for the WBAI-FM radio program Cat Radio Cafe on December 4, 2005, including an hour-long reading, a forty-five minute discussion segment, and a brief concluding track with author bios. Finally, from the Poets House-organized George Oppen Centennial Symposium at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center in April 2008, we have a brief set by Seidman reading five sections from Oppen's "Route."

We send our sincere condolences to Seidman's friends, family, and colleagues. Click here to start exploring his work.

Richard Foreman: 'Astronome: A Night at the Opera,' 2010

Posted 11/11/2023

In celebration of the 70th birthday of composer John Zorn, we are proud to announce the addition of Richard Foreman's presentation of Zorn's opera,  Astronome: A Night at the Opera to the PennSound archives.

Astronome: A Night at the Opera was originally released on DVD by the iconic label Tzadik in July 2010 (you can still purchase a copy here) and we're grateful to their permission (and Zorn's) to share this recording through our site. As the liner notes comment: "Foreman's dynamic staging of John Zorn's opera Astronome premiered in February of 2009 at his Ontological-Hysteric Theatre in New York. For this video, ten performances were captured on film from hundreds of angles and edited by filmmaker Henry Hills.

Our Richard Foreman author page is home to a comprehensive survey of his work spanning five decades.  Edited by Jay Sanders, the collection begins with excerpts from early works — Rhoda in Potatoland (1975), Livre des Splendeurs (1976, Paris), Blvd. de Paris: I've Got the Shakes (1977), Threepenny Opera (1976), Book of Splendors; Part II (Book of Leaves) Action at a Distance (1977), Sophia = (Wisdom): Part 3: The Cliffs (1972) — before moving on to films and complete plays. They include Luogo and Barsaglio (Place and Target) (1980), La Robe de Chambre de Georges Bataille (1983), Cure (1986), Symphony of Rats (1988), Lava (1989), Eddie Goes to Poetry City Parts 1 and 2 (1990-1991), The Mind King (1992), Samuel's Major Problems (1993), My Head Was a Sledgehammer (1994), I've Got the Shakes (1995), The Universe (1996), Permanent Brain Damage (1996), Benita Canova (1997), The Missing Jewels of Benita Canova (1997; Elka Krajewska's behind-the-scene documentary [with interviews] of Benita Canova), Pearls for Pigs (1997), Paradise Hotel (1998), Bad Boy Nietzsche! (2000), Now That Communism Is Dead My Life Feels Empty! (2001), Maria del Bosco (2002), Panic! (How to be Happy! (2003), King Cowboy Rufus Rules the Universe (2004), The Gods Are Pounding My Head! (aka Lumberjack Messiah) (2005), What to Wear (2006), and  Zomboid (2006). Next up there's Foreman's 2006 appearance on Close Listening, a pair of Segue Series readings, a 2006 appearance at the Penn Humanities Forum, a half-dozen appearances on Cross-Cultural Poetics, and Foreman's 2017 film, Now You See It Now You Don't

To start browsing through all of these amazing documents, click here to visit PennSound's Richard Foreman author page.

Harryette Mullen on 'The Poetry Show,' 1987

Posted 11/7/2023

We've got an exciting recent addition to our Harryette Mullen author page to kick off this new week: a March 18, 1987 appearance on Morton Marcus' long-running The Poetry Show on Santa Cruz, CA's KUSP-FM. Running just shy of an hour, this program features Mullen reading selections from and discussing her 1991 Tender Buttons collection, Trimmings.

Writing in Boston Review about Recyclopedia — the 2006 Graywolf Press reissue of Trimmings and two other related early books, S*PeRM**K*T, and Muse & Drudge — Joyelle McSweeney cites Trimmings as the collection that "broke with both the form and content of [Mullen's] earlier lyrics, which largely concerned memory and family narratives." Inspired by and speaking to the “Objects” section of Stein’s Tender Buttons, these poems "investigate the dual trappings in which women go out to meet the world: their clothing and their bodies. Flinty shards of language line up in herky-jerk sentences to act out different parts of speech."

Listen in to this program and many more recordings spanning more than thirty years on PennSound's Harryette Mullen author page, including numerous readings from the Segue Series, the St. Mark's Poetry Project, Cornell University, Woodland Pattern Book CenterSUNY-Buffalo, UT Austin, Poets House NYC, the Belladonna* Reading Series, and our own Kelly Writers House, as well as the radio program Cross Cultural Poetics. Also, don't forget that Mullen will be joining us in April as one of the 2024 Kelly Writers House Fellows.

Remembering Carl Rakosi on his 120th Birthday

Posted 11/6/2023

This November 6th would have been the 120th birthday of Objectivist poet Carl Rakosi, who passed away at the venerable age of 100 in the summer of 2004. To celebrate this milestone, today we survey the recordings of Rakosi available on his PennSound author page.

Much like his friend George Oppen, Rakosi took a quarter-century break from poetry from the early 40s until the release of Amulet in 1967, so all of our holdings come from that second act. Our earliest recording you'll find there is a May 13, 1971 appearance on Charles Armakanian's KPFA program Ode to Gravity, in which Rakosi reads and discusses a dozen or so poems. That's followed by two half-hour films that capture the "Objectivists and After" panel at the National Poetry Festival, in June 1973. Next up are two readings at the Library of Congress that took place twenty years apart: the first at the LOC Recording Laboratory on May 4, 1976 (where, per the catalogue listing, "Mr. Rakosi reads four poems from his collection entitled Amulet; seven from Ere-voice; and nine from Ex-cranium, night."), while the latter, introduced by Robert Hass, took place in the Mumford Room on April 11, 1996. 

Jumping forward two years, we have a three-hour panel discussion on the Objectivists from Naropa University's Summer Writing Program also featuring  Michael Heller, Jenny Penberthy, and Rachel Blau DuPlessis recorded on June 17, 1998. Then, from our own Kelly Writers House, we have a 99th birthday celebration that took place on October 30, 2022. Our final recording of Rakosi is a silent five minute clip from filmmaker Nathaniel Dworsky filmed during the last year of the poet's life at the Arboretum of Golden Gate Park, which shows Rakosi strolling with his companion, Marilyn Kane, talking and writing.

You can listen to all of the aforementioned recordings — plus a single track from The World Record: Readings at the St. Mark's Poetry Project, 1969-1980 and PoemTalk #83, which focuses on "In What Sense I Am I" from the 99th birthday celebration — on PennSound's Carl Rakosi author page. Click here to start browsing.

Haroldo de Campos at PennSound

Posted 11/3/2023

We'll bring this week to a close by highlighting our author page for poesia concreta pioneer, Haroldo de Campos, which is anchored by a 2002 video from the Guggenheim Museum celebrating his life and work. Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Brazil: Body and Soul, this January 12, 2002 event featured both performances and discussion of de Campos' work by a wide variety of poets, translators and critics.

The video begins with introductory comments by Pablo Helguera and organizer Sergio Bessa, who are followed by a staging of de Campos' 1950 poem/play "Auto do Possesso (Act of the Possessed)," translated by Odile Cisneros and directed by Cynthia Croot. Craig Dworkin is next, reading his translation of "Signantia quasi coelum / signância quase céu," follwed by a brief set by Cisneros, who reads her translations. The performances conclude with Marjorie Perloff and Charles Bernstein reading Bessa's translation of "Finismundo," after which Perloff and Bernstein take part in a panel discussion moderated by Bessa.

Next, from 2005's Rattapallax we have a single track, "Calcas Cor de Abobora." Finally, we have a 2017 video of our own Charles Bernstein performing at New York's Hauser and Wirth Gallery with Sergio Bessa on September 28, 2017. This event, co-sponsored by the Poetry Society of America and held in conjunction with an exhibit by Mira Schendel at the gallery, included Bessa speaking about de Campos and Bernstein reading his translations of Drummond, Cabral, Cruz e Sousa, Leminksi, and Bonvicino.

On our Haroldo de Campos author page, you'll also find a link to Bernstein's 2003 essay "De Campos Thou Art Translated (Knot)", first published in the Poetry Society of America's Crosscurrents.

Joseph Ceravolo on PennSound

Posted 11/1/2023

Today we're highlighting our holdings from beloved New York School poet Joseph Ceravolo (1934–1988), which we're very proud to be able to present through the generosity of his widow, Rosemarie.

Our earliest recording was made at the poet's home in the spring of 1968 and largely consists of poems from Wild Flowers Out of Gas (published the previous year) including "A Song of Autumn," "Drunken Winter," "Skies," "Happiness in the Trees," "White Fish in Reeds," and "Dangers of the Journey to the Happy Land." That's followed by "Poems and Background" from the 1969 album Tape Poems (ed. Eduardo Costa and John Perreault) and another set of home recordings from 1971. Running a little more than half an hour, this set also includes selections from Wild Flowers Out of Gas, plus "Ho Ho Ho Caribou" (here divided into its ten sections), the first three sections of "The Hellgate," and "Where Abstract Starts." 

Up next is a lengthy set of forty-nine poems recorded at the University of Chicago on May 11, 1976. Some titles included in this set: "Winds of the Comet," "Sleeping Outside My Mind," "The Spirit Mercury," "Interior of the Poem," "Kyrie Eleison," and "Good Friday." As Rosemary Ceravolo notes, there are some differences in titles between these recordings and the table of contents of 2012's Collected Poems since "Joe must have changed or added titles after he did the readings." Our last recording is Ceravolo's October 21, 1978 set at the Ear Inn that contains a number of poems-in-progress from the collection Mad Angels, often represented by a first line rather than its finished title, including "Tongues" and "Night Ride," along with a selection of early poems published in 1979's Transmigration Solo: "Sleep in Park," "Descending the Slope," "Romance of Awakening," and "Migratory Noon."

Along with these original recordings, we offer our listeners two marvelous complements. First, there's the September 2013 celebration of Ceravolo's work at the Kelly Writers House, organized by CAConrad, along with "The Lyrical Personal of Joe Ceravolo," an ambitious 2013 Jacket2 feature organized by Vincent Katz. Click here to listen to everything mentioned above.

Halloween Poems: a Brief Playlist

Posted 10/31/2023

With Halloween coming up tomorrow we've sharing our annual playlist of poems celebrating the spookier side of life. With a mix of poets both old and new you're bound to find something to set your nerves on edge.

Lewis Warsh, "Halloween" MP3

Kimberly Lyons, "Halloween Parade" MP3

Aaron Kramer, "Halloween" MP3

Robert Grenier, "Measure's Halloween" MP3

Cecilia Corrigan, "Christmas Halloween is in a body bag..." MP3

Elizabeth Willis, "The Witch" MP3

John Giorno, "The Wisdom of Witches" MP3

Lee Ann Brown, "Witch Alphabet, Mistranslation of Mayakovsky, Pledge & Love" MP3

Robert Duncan, "Witch's Song" MP3

Edgar Allan Poe (read by John Richetti), "Annabel Lee" MP3

Edgar Allan Poe (read by Jerome McGann), "The Raven" MP3

Yuri Andrukhovych, "Werewolf Sutra" MP3

Matthew Rohrer, "Werewolves" MP3

Adrienne Rich, "What Ghosts Can Say" MP3

Michael McClure, "Ghost Tantra #49" MP3

Bernadette Mayer, "Spooky Action from a Distance" MP3

Bob Kaufman (read by Chuck Perrin), "All Hallows, Jack O'Lantern Weather, North of Time" MP3

PoemTalk #189: on Gregory Corso's "Vision of Rotterdam"

Posted 10/29/2023

We recently released the latest episode in the PoemTalk Podcast series, which focuses on "Vision of Rotterdam" from Gregory Corso's collection Gasoline. For this program, host Al Filreis is joined by a panel including (from left to right) Rita Barnard, J.C. Cloutier, and M.C. Kinniburgh.

Filreis begins his write-up of this new episode on Jacket2 with some provenance for both the poem itself and the recording under discussion: "The poem records or remembers a moment of encounter and geo-historical reflection that took place in September 1957; the reflection casts the poet's visionary eye upon the German bombings of cities in the Netherlands of 1940. Corso performed and recorded the poem in 1969 — at Fantasy Studios on Natoma Street in San Francisco, 1969." "Thus the PoemTalk group decided," he continues, "that we are dealing with a convergence of three crucially distinct times: wartime 1940; Cold War-time (and Beat time) 1957; anti-war (post-)Beat 1969. It's eventually the consensus of the group, as it associationally emerges, that Corso's visionary romanticism, and his detailed, contextual awareness of that tradition, is an apt mode and motivation for this devastating contemplation of cycles of destruction and reconstruction." 

You can listen to this latest program and learn more about the show here. PoemTalk is a joint production of PennSound and the Poetry Foundation, aided by the generous support of Nathan and Elizabeth Leight. Browse the full PoemTalk archives, spanning more than a decade, by clicking here.

Remembering Lou Reed Ten Years Later

Posted 10/27/2023

We bring this week to a close with a remembrance of iconic singer-songwriter Lou Reed, who died ten years ago today. 

Our PennSound author page for Reed is home to his 2012 appearance at our own Kelly Writers House as the honored guest of that year's Blutt Singer-Songwriter Symposium. That hour long conversation with Anthony DeCurtis, has very usefully been segmented thematically, including individual tracks covering "his early interest in rock and roll and songwriting," "writing rock lyrics about drug culture and the ignored netherworld," "his constantly shifting artistic focuses," "his formal education," "improvisation in relation to his concept albums," and "being unaware of his influence" among others, along with comments on friends, collaborators, and influences, including Delmore Schwartz, Andy Warhol, the Velvet Underground, Laurie Anderson, Leonard Cohen, Edgar Allan Poe, Bob Dylan, and Metallica. 

When Reed died of liver disease in October 2013, we paid tribute to him here on PennSound Daily, making an argument for his literary bonafides:
From his earliest recordings, Reed established the archetype of literate rock star, blending the urban dystopianism of William Burroughs and Hubert Selby, Jr. with the sensibilities of his Syracuse University mentor, Delmore Schwartz (to whom he dedicated "European Son," the incendiary closing track of 1967's The Velvet Underground & Nico), and while listeners typically relish his memorable (if bedraggled) characters and offbeat sense of narrative, he was certainly capable of formal innovations every bit as adventurous as the stories he told. Consider, for example, the binaural poetics of "The Murder Mystery," (off of the Velvet's 1969 self-titled record, later published as a standalone poem in The Paris Review) alongside John Ashbery and Ann Lauterbach's two-channel realization of the former's "Litany," or Jackson Mac Low's and John Giorno's experiments with multi-track renderings of their works. Brian Eno famously claimed that everyone who originally bought the first Velvet Underground album went out and started a band, and without a doubt there are also a great many poets who were first moved to pick up a pen by Reed's lyrics.
A decade later, his presence is still sorely missed. You can listen to Reed's Blutt conversation by clicking here.

For the Levertov Centennial: Woodberry Oral History Initiative Panel, 2010

Posted 10/24/2023

Today we celebrate germinal poet Denise Levertov, who was born 100 years ago on October 24, 1923. Listeners looking to learn more about Levertov can check out a wonderful event staged as part of the Oral History Initiative at Harvard's Woodberry Poetry Room on March 26, 2010, which features  several of the poet's close friends and associates in conversation.

The event begins with brief preliminary statements by the three participants — Mark Pawlak (poet and editor of Hanging Loose, who befriended Levertov at MIT in 1969), Dick Lourie (founding editor of Hanging Loose Press and a member of Levertov's very first writing workshop in 1965) and Donna Hollenberg (author of the first full-length biography of Levertov) — which is followed by a fifty-minute open discussion, including questions by audience members. Woodberry Poetry Room curator, Christina Davis, who was kind enough to record the proceedings and send them our way, notes that the event had, "some wonderful and unexpected and cacophonous content and its free-form quality elicited much that I could not have foreseen." We're grateful to Christina for her generosity and know that you'll enjoy this spirited and intimate discussion of Levertov's life and times. You can listen in by clicking here.

Tracie Morris and Tongo Eisen-Martin in Hudson, NY, 2023

Posted 10/23/2023

We kick off this week with a newly-ad
ded recording of two stellar poets at Second Ward Foundation in Hudson, NY Billed as "Tracie Morris & Tongo Eisen-Martin—Poetry . Performance . Conversation ." this event was organized by the Flow Chart Foundation and took place on September 22nd of this year. 

The Flow Chart Foundation's announcement invites folks to "
Join us for an exciting evening at the Second Ward Foundation in Hudson, NY. Get ready to be blown away by their incredible performances, thought-provoking poetry, and conversation. Prepare to be inspired and energized. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to witness the talent of these two exceptional artists. Mark your calendars and get ready for an evening filled with creativity and passion. See you there!"

You'll find this ninety-minute video on PennSound's Tracie Morris author page, which is home to a wide array of readings, interviews, podcasts, radio appearances, and more spanning a quarter century.

George Quasha Reads 'non binding horizon' and 'mirroring by alterity,' 2023

Posted 10/20/2023

We bring this week to a close with the latest installment of PennSound Contributing Editor Chris Funkhouser's long-running project to document the poetry of friend and neighbor George Quasha. So far this year we've had three previous batches of recordings from Quasha's Waking from Myself: tuning by fire, ripping scales, and flayed flaws & other finagled opacities. Today, Quasha brings that collection to a close with its final two sections, non binding horizon and mirroring by alterity. These recordings run approximately ninety minutes each, and were recorded in Barrytown, NY on September 1st and 29th of this year.

You'll find these recordings on PennSound's George Quasha author page, along with lengthy selections from many of his books including Not Even Rabbits Go Down This Hole, Dowsing Axis, Hearing Other, The Ghost In Between, Verbal Paradise, Glossodelia Attract: Preverbs, The Daimon of Moment: Preverbs, Scorned Beauty Comes Up Behind: Preverbs, Things Done for Themselves: Preverbs, and Polypoikilos: Matrix in Variance: Preverbs, among others. Click here to start listening.

'Poker Blues' (1991) by Les Levine and Ted Greenwald

Posted 10/18/2023

Today we're highlighting Poker Blues a 1991 video collaboration by artist Les Levine and Ted Greenwald, and published by Museum of Mott Art, Inc. (the conceptual museum Levine founded in 1970).

A marvelous fugue constructed from the lexicon of card players, Poker Blues is filmed in a two-camera setup, alternating between perspectives so that Greenwald becomes his own interlocutor, while Levine remains faceless off-screen. The claustrophobic feel is underscored by quick edits and tight close-ups, along with the looped soundtrack of Diana Ross' "I Love You (Call Me)."

Over at Mimeo Mimeo, Kyle Schlesinger offers up a brief write-up of the film as well as the mimeographed book that resulted from it, noting that "according to Greenwald, the performance was improvised and later transcribed by Levine for the book (above) along with several stills from the film."

We've made video footage of the sixteen-minute film available, along with the isolated audio track. You can experience both by clicking here.

Bern Porter on PennSound

Posted 10/16/2023

Today we're highlighting our holdings from the influential author, artist, and publisher Bern Porter, perhaps best known for his pioneering work in the field of Found Poetry.

Our earliest recording is parts one and two of "For Our Friends in Germany," recorded by Mark Melnicove in 1979 at the Eternal Poetry Festival in South Harpswell, Maine. Then there's "Aspects of Modern Poetry," a 1982 WBAI program with Bob Holman that was broadcast live. It's presented in two parts that are roughly a half-hour each.

Next, we have the New Wilderness Audiographics cassette release, Found Sounds, whose two sides consist of two separate sessions, the first made on December 2, 1978 with Dick Higgins and Charlie Morrow; the second from May 9, 1981 and featuring Patricia Burgess (tenor saxophone), Glen Velez (bodhrán, cymbal, tambourine), and Morrow (brass, ocarina, and voice). 

Jumping forward to December 1989, we have a recording from "Williamson Street Night" at the Avant Garde, Museum of Temporary Art in Madison, Wisconsin with contributions by Malok, Elizabeth Was & mIEKAL aND, and our final recording is an interview with Higgins and aND from Woodland Pattern Book Center on March 16, 1990. You can browse all of the aforementioned recordings by visiting our Bern Porter author page.

Lorenzo Thomas, "Ego Trip," 1976

Posted 10/13/2023

We're wrapping up this week in energetic fashion, shining the spotlight on an old favorite track from Lorenzo Thomas that A.L. Nielsen was kind enough to share with us back in 2016. "Ego Trip" features Thomas performing with the Texas State University Jazz Ensemble and was originally released on the album 3rd Ward Vibration Society (shown at right) on the SUM Concerts label in 1976. Lanny Steele is the composer for the track, which rubs shoulders with a cover of Carole King's "Jazzman" and the amazingly-titled suite, "Registration '74. The Worst I've Ever Endured / The Girl on the Steps / Drop and Add."

Internet commenter John Atlas provides a little context for the recording: "The TSU Jazz Ensemble was directed by Lanny Steele, who also founded and directed a nonprofit called Sum Arts. During the 70's and 80's, Sum Arts produced shows by, among others, Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, Max Roach, Sun Ra, Pharoah Sanders, The Art Ensemble of Chicago, The World Saxophone Quartet, Anthony Braxton, Cecil Taylor, The Leroy Jenkins Octet, Old and New Dreams, and a host of notable poets. In the process he exhausted an inheritance from his parents, and more."

Thomas' solo voice starts us off riffing on "Stormy Monday"'s litany of days — "Every dog has his day. / Monday is my day / even if it is blue. / Come trifling Tuesday / that's my day too ..." — and is soon joined by congas and funky wah-wah guitars, then a defiant bassline, Rhodes piano, and a fuzzed out lead, before the full ensemble kicks in as Thomas' final syllable echoes out ("I ... I ... I ... I ..."). After a series of solos and some stop-start time changes Thomas returns over the band — "Let me testify! / Every day his his dog, / but I'm tired! / I want the sun shine just over me. / I want the wind blow just over me. / I want your policemen to be just to me." — which leads into the track's closing section.

You can listen to this smoldering track on PennSound's Lorenzo Thomas author page along with a slew of readings and talks from 1978 up until just a few years before his death in 2005.

Zukofsky's '"A"-24' Act I Performed at UCSD, 1986

Posted 10/11/2023

Today we highlight a recently-added recording of Act I of Louis Zukofsky's "A"-24, made by a group of poets that included Dorothy Roberts, Brad Westbrook, Bill Luoma, Becky Roberts, and Chuck Cody, which was staged as part of the New Writing Series at UCSD. Running twenty-four minutes, this recording was made on April 11, 1986. It's one of three performances of "A"-24 that you'll find on PennSound's Zukofsky author page, the other two presented by a cohort of Bay-Area poets — Steve Benson, Carla Harryman, Lyn Hejinian, Kit Robinson and Barrett Watten with Bob Perelman on piano — at both San Francisco's Grand Piano and UC Davis in 1978.

For those interested in hearing more from the final installment of Zukofsky's most iconic work, his PennSound author page contains several recordings of him reading from "A"-24, made at Bard College, Glassboro State College, and Temple University, all made in the course of 1972. Other sections from "A" documented on Zukofsky's page include 2, 4 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 19, 20, 21, 22, and 23. Listene in by clicking here.

Want to read more? Visit the PennSound Daily archive.