Featured resources

From "Down To Write You This Poem Sat" at the Oakville Gallery

Contemporary
  1. Charles Bernstein, "Phone Poem" (2011) (1:30): MP3
  2. Caroline Bergvall, "Love song: 'The Not Tale (funeral)' from Shorter Caucer Tales (2006): MP3
  3. Christian Bôk, excerpt from Eunoia, from Chapter "I" for Dick Higgins (2009) (1:38):  MP3
  4. Tonya Foster, Nocturne II (0:40) (2010) MP3
  5. Ted Greenwald, "The Pears are the Pears" (2005) (0:29): MP3
  6. Susan Howe, Thorow, III (3:13) (1998):  MP3
  7. Tan Lin, "¼ : 1 foot" (2005) (1:16): MP3
  8. Steve McCaffery, "Cappuccino" (1995) (2:35): MP3
  9. Tracie Morris, From "Slave Sho to Video aka Black but Beautiful" (2002) (3:40): MP3
  10. Julie Patton, "Scribbling thru the Times" (2016) (5:12): MP3
  11. Tom Raworth, "Errory" (c. 1975) (2:08): MP3
  12. Jerome Rothenberg, from "The First Horse Song of Frank Mitchell: 4-Voice Version" (c. 1975) (3:30): MP3
  13. Cecilia Vicuna, "When This Language Disappeared" (2009) (1:30): MP3
Historical
  1. Guillaume Apollinaire, "Le Pont Mirabeau" (1913) (1:14): MP3
  2. Amiri Baraka, "Black Dada Nihilismus" (1964) (4:02):  MP3
  3. Louise Bennett, "Colonization in Reverse" (1983) (1:09): MP3
  4. Sterling Brown, "Old Lem " (c. 1950s) (2:06):  MP3
  5. John Clare, "Vowelless Letter" (1849) performed by Charles Bernstein (2:54): MP3
  6. Velimir Khlebnikov, "Incantation by Laughter" (1910), tr. and performed by Bernstein (:28)  MP3
  7. Harry Partch, from Barstow (part 1), performed by Bernstein (1968) (1:11): MP3
  8. Leslie Scalapino, "Can’t’ is ‘Night’" (2007) (3:19): MP3
  9. Kurt Schwitters, "Ur Sonata: Largo" performed by Ernst Scwhitter (1922-1932) ( (3:12): MP3
  10. Gertrude Stein, If I Told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso (1934-35) (3:42): MP3
  11. William Carlos Willliams, "The Defective Record" (1942) (0:28): MP3
  12. Hannah Weiner, from Clairvoyant Journal, performed by Weiner, Sharon Mattlin & Rochelle Kraut (2001) (6:12): MP3

Selected by Charles Bernstein (read more about his choices here)

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Happy Birthday, John Ashbery

Posted 7/28/2021

Today would have been the 94th birthday of John Ashbery, who passed away in September 2017. 

Certainly, Ashbery's place in poetry's pantheon is well-established, and you get a sense of this by trying to take in the immense scale of PennSound's Ashbery author page, which is home to nearly a thousand individual MP3 files, along with countless videos and other resources that run the gamut from a 1951 student presentation of his play Everyman in Cambridge to home recordings made not long before his death. Ashbery held a special place for those of us at PennSound and the Kelly Writers House as well, as evidenced by the poet's rare honor of serving twice as a Kelly Writers House fellow (in 2002 and 2013). As for PennSound, I wrote at length on this day last year about the inarguable positive effects that Ashbery and David Kermani's enthusiasm for the PennSound project in its early years had upon our growth, which is well worth remembering.

It just so happens that on this Ashbery birthday, we have a new addition to his PennSound author page to share with our listeners: a November 27, 1972 television appearance as part of the Brockport Writers Forum. Dubbed "The Writing of John Ashbery," this program includes both readings (he starts with "Leaving the Atocha Station") and conversation with host A. Poulin Jr. and runs for more than an hour. Click here to start watching.


PoemTalk #162: Two by Tuli Kupferberg

Posted 7/26/2021

Today we release episode #162 in the PoemTalk Podcast series, which focuses on two pieces by the legendary Tuli Kupferberg: "Morning, Morning," a classic track from his infamous poetry-rock band the Fugs, and the title track from his "nightmare of popular poetry," the 1966 LP, No Deposit, No Return. For this program, recorded at the Brooklyn home of Charles Bernstein and Susan Bee, host Al Filreis was is joined by a panel that included Bernstein, Lee Ann Brown, Rachel Levitsky, and Pierre Joris.

Along with contextual information on the two recordings, Filreis' PoemTalk blog post announcing the new episode include this brief summary of the group's sprawing discussion: "The conversation ranged widely, covering Tuli;s various debts to the poetic tradition; his under-recognized influence on avant-garde poetry today; his connections to European modernism and twentieth-century politics (depression, war, postwar); his role in 1960s culture. Yet the discussion kept returning to the central idea of 1966 (or '1968,' as the moment has come to be known). Charles argues at one point that 1968 in fact began, with Tuli's help, in 1960." To figure out what he means by that you're just going to have to listen.

You can tune in to this latest program and read 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. You can browse the full PoemTalk archives, spanning more than a decade, by clicking here.


Raúl Zurita on PennSound

Posted 7/24/2021

We bring this week to a close by shining a spotlight on recordings from Chilean poet Raúl Zurita that you can find in our archives.

One clear highlight of our Zurita author page is his performance at the 2019 Rotterdam Poetry Festival. In this brief clip, he reads excerpts from his iconic Canto a Su Amor Desaparecido (Song for His Disappeared Love) in Spanish, while translations provided by Anna Deeny Morales are projected on the screen behind him (along with the original text). Originally published in 1985 in the midst of Pinochet's horrendous reign, Song for His Disappeared Love was published by the venerable Action Books in a 2010 bilingual edition with translation by Daniel Borzutzky. As Steven Karl notes in his review of that volume, Zurita envisioned the poem as a "[response] to the terror with a poetry that was just as powerful as the pain being delivered by the state." As an Academy of American Poets appraisal of the book acknowledges, the poet knew these atrocities all too well: "Zurita was arrested by the Chilean government and persecuted for being a possibly 'suspicious' poet, and his first volume of poems was tossed into the sea." Karl continues: 
Throughout the poem, Zurita examines and questions the binary opposition of life and death, often conflating the two into a sense of sameness. What does it mean to 'live' when your liberty has been confiscated, when you are silenced either by fear or force? How 'alive' are the oppressed when family has been kidnapped, beaten, abused, or murdered? How does one live a 'life' when the very idea of what constitutes 'life' is defined by a political ideology opposite our own?" 
Sadly, these questions every bit as pressing now as they were decades ago. 

Central to this archive are a half-dozen episodes of Leonard Schwartz's indispensable radio show, Cross Cultural Poetics. Four programs feature Zúrita reading his own work: in episode #219 he reads from Purgatory and Anteparadise (both translated by Anna Deeny and published by University of California Press), in episode #234 he reads from Inre (Marick Press), in episode #245 he reads from the aforementioned Song For His Disappeared Love, and finally in episode #271, he reads from Dreams for Kurosawa (also translated by Deeny and published by Arrow as Aarow).  The remaining two episodes feature other poets discussing Zúrita and his work — Isabel Cadenas Canon discusses translating his work into Basque in program #273, while episode #287 is wholly dedicated to Zúrita and features appraisals by poet and translator Forrest Gander and journalist Magdelena Edwards.

Wrapping things up, we have a quartet of VideoPoesia films made by Ernesto Livon Grosman as part of his 2009 "Sur & North" series: "Canto," "Desierto de Atacama," "Pastoral de Chile," and "Me Llamo ... Raquel," and "Inscripcion 15" — recorded in 2002 and presented as part of Rattapallax — rounds out the collection. Taken together, these recordings represent a generous introduction to the work of an important and uncompromising poet. Click here to start exploring.


Congratulations to Arts Molson Prize Winner M. NourbeSe Philip

Posted 7/21/2021

We send our congratulations to the one and only M. NourbeSe Philip, who was recently announced as one of two winners of the 2021 Arts Molson Prize

The $50,000 lifetime achievement award, granted annually by the Canada Council for the Arts and subsidized by the brewing magnate, recognizes the author's "invaluable contributions to literature." In lieu of formal commendations, the Canada Council has opted for brief interviews with the recipients. Philip offers this compelling advice to emerging writers: "Learn how to trust their gut instincts about their own work — sometimes the critics are wrong; be willing to risk — failure or success; and have someone in your life who loves what you do and will critique your work honestly." You can read more about the Arts Molson Prize and Philip here.

As is frequently the case, good news like this gives us the perfect opportunity to revisit that author's work, or for the uninitiated to get to know her a little better. Towards that end we direct you towards PennSound's M. NourbeSe Philip author page, where you'll find a dozen recordings from 1995 to the present, including two visits to our own Kelly Writers House. You'll hear Philip read from and discuss her work at venues throughout the US and Canada along with radio interviews, conference presentations, and a PoemTalk podcast addressing her poetry. Click here to start listening.



In Memoriam: George-Thérèse Dickenson (1951–2021)

Posted 7/20/2021

We start this week on a sad note with news that poet, editor, and activist George-Thérèse Dickenson passed away on June 15th in New York City from a brain hemorrhage. She was sixty-nine years old. 

A member of New York's Language Poetry circles, Dickenson was co-editor (with Will Bennett) of Assassin and the author of two books of poetry: Striations (Good Gay Poets, 1976) and Transducing (Segue Foundation, 1986). Her brother John contacted us so that we could share the tragic news with our listeners. He also passed along this brief biographical note:

George-Thérèse Dickenson was born Oct. 23, 1951 in Napa, CA, daugher of Howard George Dickinson, a lawyer and Joanne DePuy (maiden name Cardiff), a wine and travel entrepreneur from Altadena, CA.  Dickinson was a graduate of Wellesely College. She moved to Boston in the late 1960s, where she became involved with the anarchist circle around Murray Bookshin. She also became involved with a group of poets in Boston. She then moved to lower Manhattan.  In the 1980s, in New York, Dickenson was closely involved with Larry Estridge and Peter Seaton. For the last decades she was living in Stockton, NJ. She is survived by her mother and her brothers John and Chuck and her long-time partner Bobby Astarita.

Our Charles Bernstein has posted a memorial note on his Jacket2 commentary page that's currently a work in progress. He welcomes friends and fans to share any further information or photos they might have. As he notes, we are proud to host a total of four Segue Series readings by Dickensen — the first three taking place at the Ear Inn in 1984, 1986, and 1988, with a fourth recorded at Zinc Bar in 2015. Dickensen can also be heard as a respondent during numerous events in the 1984 New York Talk series. We've created a new author page for Dickenson to house all of these recordings in one place and send our sincere condolences to Dickenson's family, friends, and colleagues.



Newly Segmented: Marmer Interviews Rothenberg and Antin, 2015

Posted 7/16/2021

We close this week out with an exciting new addition to the site: segmented MP3 files for Jake Marmer's 2015 interview with two poetic titans: Jerome Rothenberg and David Antin. Recorded in San Diego on December 23, 2015, this sprawling interview runs more than ninety-minutes and has been broken up into fifteen discrete tracks by topic.
In a 2016 Jacket2 commentary post, Al Filreis reprinted Marmer's introduction to the interview, which there was dubbed "Imagining a Poetry That We Might Find: Conversation with Jerome Rothenberg and David Antin." A few paragraphs in, he offers a simple summation of his intentions: "Rothenberg and Antin have been friends for nearly sixty-five years, and for the past decades have been living within a short drive from one another. It is clear that this friendship has been formative for both poets. I wanted to experience what the discourse between the two of them might be like. I also wanted to understand the source of mutual concern, given how vastly different – one might be compelled to say, incompatible – their poetry is."

Appropriately enough, the discussion starts with the two poets talking about how they first met. This segues into more foundational information on each, including how each got started in writing and when they first encountered avant-garde poetry. Rothenberg and Antin also discuss translation and their initial inspirations before moving into questions of recognizing poetry and poetry in performance. They then talk about Rothenberg's "COKBOY," which spurs them to consider both the past in poetry as well as the poetic imagination. Antin then addresses the concept of "dissemblage," central to his own poetics, which was inspired in part by Rothenberg's work as both a poet and anthologist, and this leads into a discussion of how to remove the self from poetry and shadow cast by Cage upon their practice. Questions of retrospection lead into the last phase of the interview, with a brief stop for critiques of Harold Bloom before closing with a very apropos topic: poetry and friendship.

If you're familiar with both of these iconic and iconoclastic poets, then you know that you don't want to miss this illuminating conversation between them. Click here to start listening.


Wanda Coleman at PennSound

Posted 7/15/2021

When Wanda Coleman passed away at the age of 67 in 2013, the headline of her Los Angeles Times obituary remembered her as that city's "unofficial poet laureate." In that same tribute, Richard Modiano of Beyond Baroque recalled that Coleman "wrote not just about the black experience in Los Angeles but the whole configuration of Los Angeles in terms of its politics, its social life," and poet and actress Amber Tamblyn, in a memorial for the Poetry Foundation, echoed those sentiments: 
Wanda was not just a Los Angeles treasure, she was a trove of it. She was the original performance poet, someone who could blow the hair off of any audience’s scalp, who read complex poems of race, suffering, sexual desire, music and love with the same power with which she wrote them. She was the person I refereed to when some shithead from New York wanted to tell me that no one cool or kind or genuine ever came out of Los Angeles. "Maybe you should stop trying to meet your wife at the Chateau, then, and go see Wanda Coleman read instead."
Modiano concurs. In his estimation, she was "a world-class poet. The range of her poetry and the voice she writes in is accessible to all sorts of people."

For those reasons and many more, we're very glad that Coleman is a part of our archives. On her PennSound author page, you'll find a modest but vital collection of recordings that make clear the breadth of her immense talents.  The most recent material you'll find there is a fifteen-minute set from a 2008 benefit for poet Will Alexander in Los Angeles, and we also have a few poetic selections from albums released by Coleman — Our Souls Have Grown Deep Like the Rivers (Rhino, 2000) and Jazzspeak: A World Collection (New Alliance Records, 1991) — along with the 1988 New Alliance LP Black Angeles in its entirety. Finally, thanks to David Buuck, we have recordings from the conference Expanding the Repertoire: Continuity and Change in African-American Writing, held at Small Press Traffic in April 2000.

Speaking in 2001, Coleman acknowledged that "Others often use the word 'uncompromising' to describe my work," before noting, "I find that quite pleasing." You can see for yourself by clicking here.


EPC@20 Celebrations at SUNY-Buffalo, 2014

Posted 7/13/2021

Today we're revisiting EPC@20, the two-day celebration of two decades of the Electronic Poetry Center, which was held at SUNY-Buffalo in the fall of 2014 to celebrate the archive's twentieth anniversary. EPC@20 featured readings, talks, and performances by poets who've had a close affiliation with the site over its lifespan. 

The proceedings on Thursday, September 11th  began with an afternoon session that included talks by Steve McCaffery, Danny Snelson, Laura Shackelford, cris cheek, Elizabeth Willis, and Loss Pequeño Glazier. Evening performances followed in two sets: the first featuring Tammy McGovern, Snelson, and Wooden Cities with Ethan Hayden; the second with Joan Retallack, cheek, and Tony Conrad.

Friday, September 12th began with afternoon readings and talks by Myung Mi Kim, Retallack, Charles Bernstein, and a panel talk featuring Bernstein, Glazier, Jack Krick, Shackelford, and Snelson. The celebration concluded with evening performances from Glazier, Willis, and Bernstein.

Video and audio recordings of the proceedings are available here. The program for the celebration can be found here.


Julie Patton: Two Short Films by Ted Roemer

Posted 7/9/2021

We're closing out this week by revisiting a wonderful pair of videos of Julie Patton performing her poetry, which were made by Ted Roemer circa 2013. Filmed in an intimate domestic setting, traffic noises and birdsong drifting through open windows, Patton sits comfortably in a chair before the camera, reading from typescript pages, a pen poised in one hand. She performs in a fluid sprechtstimme, easing in and out of accents and personas, casually adding various musical accompaniments from time to time: she forces the knob on a toddler's toy music box, galloping through the lullabye at a hectic gait, then backs off, plinking it forward in little tonal constellations; she reaches down, offscreen, to plunk a guitar note or stroke the strings behind the nut, producing glassy little accents; her foot settles into a restless and insistent rhythm that resonates through the room. Papers flutter as pages turn, her hands trace and stretch notes through the air. She stares you down, then returns to the poem.

These remarkable clips demand and reward your attention, whether you're watching or simply listening in, the various sonic elements creating one sort of experience with their visual counterparts and a different one without. You'll find these two films here on PennSound's Julie Patton author page, which is also home to a wide variety of audio and video recordings of readings, performances, panel discussions, interviews, and more, from 1997 to the present.



Remembering Kenneth Koch

Posted 7/6/2021

Kenneth Koch, New York School titan and an inventive proselytizer for poetry, passed away on July 6, 2002. Nineteen years later, we're remembering him by taking a look at the recordings housed on PennSound's Kenneth Koch author page.

While we only have one full-length reading from Koch in our archives, it's a great one from the early years of our own Kelly Writers House. Recorded on April 15, 1998, Koch's set is largely focused on his iconic One-Thousand Avant-Garde Plays, showcasing a number of songs taken from individual plays, followed by a selection of plays themselves, before closing with a strong late poem, "One Train." Additionally, we have a few discrete tracks, including "The Boiling Water" and "The Circus," as well as a five minute set at the St. Mark's Poetry Project from 1996.

Those audio recordings are joined by some pretty interesting videos. First, we have a pair of collaborations with filmmaker Rudy Burckhardt, featuring his New York School compatriot Kenneth Koch that you can see on our PennSound Cinema  page for filmmaker and photographer. The earlier of the two, The Apple (1967), features a lyric and spoken interlude written by Koch, which was set to music by Tony Ackerman and Brad Burg, and sung by Kim Brody. In stop-motion and live action, it traces the sprawling adventures of its titular fruit. Running just one minute and fifty-four seconds, the film is nevertheless the subject of a marvelous essay by Daniel Kane — "Whimsy, the Avant-Garde and Rudy Burckhardt's and Kenneth Koch's The Apple" — in which he praises it for "the ways in which ideas of temporality, spontaneity, childishness, and parody are expressed within this tiny little film work," thus "revealing the latent and hilarious power of the whimsical affect."

The latter film, On Aesthetics (1999) has a sense of finality about it, coming during Burckhardt's last year and not long before Koch developed leukemia that would ultimately take his life. Running nine minutes and taking its name from the last poem in Koch's 1994 collection One TrainOn Aesthetics — charmingly presented by "KoBu Productions" — features the poet's voice-over reciting the various micropoems contained under that title, from "Aesthetics of the Man in the Moon" and "Aesthetics of Creating Light" to "Aesthetics of Being with Child" and "Aesthetics of Echo," while Burckhardt's camera eye finds appropriate accompanying images, whether literary or abstract.

Finally, there's a link to Niels Plenge, Lars Movin, and Thomas Thurah's 2001 documentary Something Wonderful May Happen. Largely focused on Koch and John Ashbery, the two surviving members of the core quartet, the film features insightful commentary from our own Charles Bernstein and David Lehman.


Andrews, Mac Low, Pettet read at PROSPECT Conference, 1996

Posted 7/2/2021

Here are a trio of short recordings that we recently added to the archive from "PROSPECT: The Second Sensational Festival of Russian and American Poetry and Poetics," which was co-curated by Ed Foster and Vadim Mesyats at Hoboken's famed Stevens Institute of Technology in May 1996. In the POETICS List archives, I managed to turn up Foster's original announcement of the event and invitation for participants, which offered this initial list of participants:

Arkadii Dragomoshchenko, Vadim Mesyats, Maya Nikulina, Lev Rubenshtein, Elena Shvarts, Ivan Zhdanov — Bruce Andrews, Eileen Myles, Ron Padgett, Leslie Scalapino, Aaron Shurin, John Yau — plus a most stellar assembly of other great poets, critics, academics, surprise guests, and more totally terrific people.

While we don't have documentation of the vast majority of the conference, we're grateful to have these three short (10–15 minute) recordings of the contributions of Bruce Andrews, Jackson Mac Low, and Simon Pettet. Click on each poet's name to be taken directly to the recording on their individual PennSound author page.



Celebrate Canada Day with North of Invention

Posted 7/1/2021

We can't think of a better way to mark Canada  Day than revisiting the marvelous North of Invention: A Canadian Poetry Festival, which was co-organized by Sarah Dowling and Charles Bernstein, at the Kelly Writers House. Extensive audio and video documentation from the multi-day event is available on PennSound's homepage for the event. Here's a description of the festival's aims, taken from its event page on the KWH website:
North of Invention presents 10 Canadian poets working at the cutting edge of contemporary poetic practice, bringing them first to the Kelly Writers House, then to Poets House in New York City for two days of readings, presentations and discussion in each location. Celebrating the breadth and complexity of poetic experimentation in Canada, North of Invention features emerging and established poets working across multiple traditions, and represents nearly fifty years of experimental writing. North of Invention aims to initiate a new dialogue in North American poetics, addressing the hotly debated areas of "innovation" and "conceptual writing," the history of sound poetry and contemporary performance, multilingualism and translation, and connections to activism.
Poets involved in the festival include Lisa Robertson, M. NourbeSe Philip, Stephen Collis, Christian Bök, Nicole Brossard, Adeena Karasick, a.rawlings, Jeff Derksen Fred Wah and Jordan Scott, and the full schedule includes both readings and presentations from all participants. You can start exploring this wonderful resource by clicking here. A companion feature of the same name, edited by Dowling, was published by Jacket2 in 2013, and is likewise well worth your time.


Daphne Marlatt reads "Steveston, BC," May 2021

Posted 6/29/2021

Here's a new addition to our PennSound author page for Canadian poet Daphne Marlatt: a short recording of her reading "Steveston, BC" from her landmark volume Steveston. Captured as part of a virtual reading on May 27th of this year, this single MP3 runs for just over five minutes.

If you'd like to hear more from Steveston — which Douglas Barbour hails as "a carefully documented and deeply personal overview of the town in history" — we recently added the 2008 album Like Light off Water: Passages from Stevestonwhich presents passages from Marlatt's book with musical embellishments written and performed by Minden and Carla Hallett. 

These recordings and more can be found on our Daphne Marlatt author page, along with a wonderful 2017 Close Listening program with Charles Bernstein and two concurrent Philadelphia readings, and a pair of recordings from the Kootenay School of Writing made in 2007 and 1985. Click here to start listening.


Kristin Prevallet and Steven Brent, "What She Said" (2018)

Posted 6/25/2021

Here's a fascinating performance from Kristin Prevallet to bring this week to a close: a 2017 collaboration with musician Steven Brent, titled "What She Said," which first appeared on Brent's 2018 album, Even the Failures Are Beautiful, which you can listen to in its entirety here.

In "What She Said," Prevallet presents us with a lengthy inventory of questions asked of an unnamed "she," which casts a wide net, encompassing all manner of somatic and psychological experience, and occasionally folds back on itself, before evolving into a more objective narrative in the final section. It's undergirded by Brent's subtle soundscape, which blends a foundation of menacing drones, atonal guitar chime, and orchestral gravity with periodic overlays of ticking typewriters and threshing clacks, and Prevallet's performance here is just as musical and important, wavering from sedate calm to a more fervent delivery, sometimes speaking naturalistically and other times veering into stop-start Creeley-style hesitations, which interact beautifully with the sounds around it. Click here to listen now. It will be nine and a half minutes well spent.


Derek Beaulieu: Many New Recordings Added

Posted 6/24/2021

Back in February we announced a newly-created author page for Canadian poet and publisher Derek Beaulieu, who you might know as founder of both housepress and no press, or in his current role as the Director of Literary Arts at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. We had a modest set of recordings to start with — a pair of readings at our own Kelly Writers House (from 2011 and 2020) along with a 2012 Segue Series reading at the Bowery Poetry Club — as well as hopes to expand that in the near future. With thanks from Derek, we've done just that. 

Take a spin by our Beaulieu author page today and you'll find fifteen new recordings, most videos, going as far back as 2008. That includes readings, performances, interviews, and more from throughout Canada and the UK. From plein air recitations in a public park to university seminar rooms, award show stages, and the claustrophobia of pandemic-era Zoom readings, this much-augmented collection provides listeners with an excellent opportunity to witness Beaulieu's aesthetics expand and develop over more than a dozen years. Click here to start browsing all the exciting new additions to PennSound's Derek Beaulieu author page.


Cliff Fyman: 'Taxi Night' Launch Reading, 2021

Posted 6/22/2021

Here's a new video addition to our Singles Database: a launch reading for Cliff Fyman's collection, Taxi Night, which was published by Long News Books in April of this year. This hour-long event — hosted by Long News publisher Barbara Henning — featured sets by Kim Lyons, Peter Bushyeager, and Ron Kolm in addition to Fyman.

Bushyeager and Kolm were among those offering back-cover blurbs for Taxi Night, with the former opining that:

There's no better place to view the human condition than the driver's seat of a New York City cab. Just ask poet Cliff Fyman, who has transformed his stint behind the wheel into Taxi Night, a touching, sometimes mind blowing work. Through lovingly handled "found" material; curious diction; and acute, sometimes deadpan observation, Fyman gives the reader all the drama, humor and pathos that comes from a steady stream of humanity in the backseat. He has an excellent ear for everyday speech and the sharp editing skills of a top-notch documentarian. Read Taxi Night slowly or breathlessly. Read it all the way through or read it in bits. Either way, you're in for a great ride.

Kolm offers more concise praise: "Dude, they are pure gold! They capture the upper class in unguarded moments. Yr bits are the highlight of my day!" 

You can start watching this exciting reading by clicking here.


Lorenzo Thomas, "Ego Trip" (1976)

Posted 6/18/2021

We close out this week in energetic fashion with 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.


PoemTalk #161: on Sarah Dowling's 'Entering Sappho'

Posted 6/17/2021

Today we release episode #161 in the PoemTalk Podcast series, which is centered on Sarah Dowling's Entering Sappho (Coach House Books, 2020). For this program, host Al Filreis for is joined by a panel including Larissa Lai, Maxe Crandall, and Julia Bloch.

Filreis starts off his PoemTalk blog post announcing the new episode by establishing the concept behind Entering Sappho, "a book in which an abandoned town named for the classical lesbian leads to vexing questions of history, settlement, translation, violence, 'impossible geographies' [to borrow a term from Juliana Spahr], the idea of the 'unwitting monument,' and the abusive economics of the so-called company town." He also details specific sections of the book discussed by the panelists and provides links to videos Dowling was kind enough to make of her reading those excerpts.

You can learn more about this latest program, watch Dowling's videos reading from the work, and listen to the podcast here. PoemTalk is a joint production of PennSound and the Poetry Foundation, aided by the generous support of Nathan and Elizabeth Leight. You can browse the full PoemTalk archives, spanning more than a decade, by clicking here.


New at PennSound: Neeli Cherkovski

Posted 6/15/2021

We've just created a new PennSound author page for San Francisco-based poet Neeli Cherkovski. With a vintage hometown reading and a number of more recent video offerings, listeners will get a good introduction to this author's long and fruitful career.

First up, we have a 1980 set at Caffe Malvina in North Beach, which consists of eleven titles in total, including "The Length," "East Hollywood," "Lost Canyon," "Conspiracy," "The Knowing Without Name," "Guadalupe," "The Northe Cascades," "Windows," and "1967." That's followed by a 2009 interview of Cherkovski for the Georgia State University Library, a 2011 reading at Litquake XII, a 2012 reading from the San Francisco International Poetry Festival, and a 2013 reading at Adobe Books. Jumping forward to 2018, we have Cherkovski's contribution to the event "Imagination of American Poets" at the San Francisco Public Library, as well as a conversation between Clark Coolidge and Cherkovski recorded in Petaluma by Kyle Harvey. A 2020 recording of "I Want to Be a Dead Poet" brings our collection to a close.

You can listen to any and all of the aforementioned recordings on our brand new Neeli Cherkovski author page. Click here to start browsing.



Happy Birthday to William Butler Yeats

Posted 6/13/2021

June 13th is the 165th birthday of William Butler Yeats, a true titan of Irish literature, which makes it an excellent occasion to revisit the recordings housed on his PennSound author page.

First and foremost, there are eight tracks of the poet himself, taken from various sources and recorded between 1931 and 1937. "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" is best represented here, with three separate renditions (from 1932, 1936, and 1937) plus a brief track of Yeats discussing the poem in 1932. Other tracks include two stanzas from "Coole and Ballylee," "The Fiddler of Dooney," and "The Song of the Old Mother," plus a six-and-a-half minute track from 1936 in which Yeats discusses modern poetry.

You'll also find three readings by John Trimmer — of "The Wild Swans at Coole," "Leda and the Swan," and "Sailing to Byzantium" — as well as excerpts from a pair of titles read by Naomi Replansky, along with an extensive survey of Yeats poetry read by UPenn professor emeritus John Richetti. This Wexler Studio session from 2017 includes forty-two titles in total, among them "The Lake Isle of Innisfree," "September 1913," "Easter 1916," "Sailing to Byzantium," "Leda and the Swan," and "Crazy Jane Talks with the Bishop," along with many more. Finally, you'll find a link to PoemTalk Podcast #66 from 2013, in which Taije Silverman, Max McKenna, and John Timpane joined Al Filreis to discuss "The Lake Isle of Innisfree."

Ariel Resnikoff: 'Unnatural Bird Migrator' Canada Launch Now Segmented

Posted 6/9/2021

Back in February we used this space to highlight two newly-added recordings of launch events for Ariel Resnikoff's debut poetry collection, Unnatural Bird Migrator, which had taken place over the previous few months. Today we're announcing that segmented audio from the latter of these two events is now available for your listening pleasure.

Hosted by Stephen Ross of Concordia University's Center for Expanded Poetics, this January 12, 2021 celebration was introduced and moderated by Charles Bernstein with an opening performance by Adeena Karasick. Running ninety-minutes, the launch event recording has been broken into twenty-six individual MP3 files, including separate tracks for each of Karasick's opening pieces, Bernstein's two introductory statements, Resnikoff's individual poems (which are also organized by their section within the book), and finally even the Q&A session has been broken into discrete tracks featuring questions and comments by the likes of Divya Victor, Norman Finkelstein, Pierre Joris, and Adam Sax, along with the participants. 

Click here to listen in on PennSound's Ariel Resnikoff author page, which is also home to a wide array of readings, podcasts, interviews, and more from 2015 to the present. You can learn more about Unnatural Bird Migrator, and read its back-cover blurbs by clicking here.


New at PennSound: Bob Kaufman

Posted 6/8/2021

Recent years have brought a heightened critical focus to the groundbreaking work of poet Bob Kaufman, and rightly so — a quintessential San Francisco poet of the post-war period, Kaufman served as a vital bridge between jazz poetry's development during the Harlem Renaissance and its ongoing evolution during the Beat era on both coasts, and was an innovator in the surrealist tradition, as well as co-founder of the germinal journal Beatitude. For those reasons and more, we are very excited to announce the launch of PennSound's new Bob Kaufman author page.

Curated by Raymond Foye — who co-edited 2019's Collected Poems of Bob Kaufman from City Lights with Neeli Cherkovski and Tate Swindell — our Kaufman page is anchored by Bob Kaufman, poet: the life and times of an African-American man, a stunning 1992 audio documentary written and produced by David Henderson, which comes to us courtesy of Naropa University Audio Archive, Henderson, and Cherkovski. Extensive timetables have also been generated for both one-hour installments, providing details on the various speakers, topics discussed, etc. Individual poems read by Kaufman have also been broken out into their own MP3 files.

Additionally, we're proud to be able to share a twenty-one minute recording made by A. L. Nielsen, for which we have no details regarding date or location, and a brief recording of Kaufman reading the poem "Suicide," which comes to us courtesy of Will Combs. We look forward to adding more Kaufman materials over time, but were too excited to share these astounding recordings with our listeners. Click here to start browsing.


Announcing the 2022 Kelly Writers House Fellows

Posted 6/6/2021

While we're all still percolating with excitement from this year's fantastic slate of Kelly Writers House Fellows, any withdrawal symptoms you might be experiencing can easily be remedied with today's exciting news of next year's trio of Fellows. KWH Faculty Director Al Filreis recently shared preliminary information on who'll be joining us in the spring of 2022:

Dear friends and colleagues:

I am excited to announce next year's Kelly Writers House Fellows. More information about their visits to the Writers House in winter/spring 2022 will come later, but in the meantime if one or more of these Fellows especially interest you please do not hesitate to write us to whfellow@writing.upenn.edu and reserve a seat at our programs. We host a 6:30 PM reading on the Monday evenings and an interview/conversation on the Tuesday mornings starting with brunch at 10 AM.

  • novelist/essayist Amitav Ghosh: February 21-22
  • poet/text and sound-art performer Caroline Bergvall: March 28-29
  • memoirist/sports commentator, and NY Times columnist, Doug Glanville: April 25-26

These events are entirely open to the public, although seating is limited. In addition, in an undergraduate seminar, the "Kelly Writers House Fellows Seminar," twenty or so students will read the work of each Fellow and then meet privately with them during that week's three-hour class session. If you are a current Penn student and are interested in being a member of the seminar, contact me at afilreis@writing.upenn.edu.

For more about Writers House Fellows, including the 22-year history of video recordings of Fellows' visits, please visit this site.

Best wishes to all,


Of course, we'll keep our readers posted with more info as it becomes available. In the meantime, if you'd like to spend a little time some of the wonderful visitors we've had over the years, you can do so here.


In Memoriam: Friedericke Mayröcker (1924–2021)

Posted 6/4/2021

We regrettably close this week out with another remembrance, for multi-modal Austrian author Friederike Mayröcker — hailed in her New York Times obituary as a "Grande Dame in German Literature" — who passed away today in Vienna at the age of ninety-six. 

While A. J. Goldman's article begins by ranking Mayröcker as "among the most influential and decorated German-language poets of the postwar period," it quickly amends that to note that "[t]hough acclaimed as a poet, Ms. Mayröcker ranged far more widely, producing an immense body of work that encompassed nearly every literary genre: novels, memoirs, children's books, drama and radio plays as well as poetry," along with the lamentable fact that "[o]nly a handful of her works have been translated into English." Thankfully, that includes The Communicating Vessels, released this spring by A Public Space Books, a much-anticipated document of her mourning process for her lifelong partner and collaborator, Ernst Jandl, which will now also serve to shape her many fans mourning for Mayröcker herself.

Mayröcker released the cassette Pick me up on my wing. Poems, prose, statements in 1980, and while publishers restrictions prevent us from sharing the audio on our S Press Collection page, you can still browse the liner notes here. PennSound offers our sincere condolences to Mayröcker's family and many admirers worldwide.


In Memoriam: Michael Waltuch (1949–2021)

Posted 6/1/2021

We've recently received word that Michael Waltuch — poet and publisher behind Whale Cloth Presshas passed away at the age of seventy-one.

While we don't have a proper author page for Waltuch, we have two wonderful recordings from the early days of Language-oriented poetry that demonstrate his place within that scene. First, from January 5, 1979, we have Waltuch's half-hour appearance on KPFA-FM's radio program, In the American Tree: New Writing by Poets, hosted by Alan Bernheimer. Waltuch also makes a key appearance in this sprawling, two-hour conversation on Robert Grenier's work from 1964 into the 1970s with Al Filreis, Charles Bernstein, and Waltuch. This discussion — recorded  in New York City on March 19, 2010 — follows up on an October 2009 Kelly Writers House conversation on Grenier's work from 1959–1964 that featured Filreis, Ron Silliman, and Bob Perelman. at the Kelly Writers House, October 27, 2009. You can hear both conversations by clicking here. We send our sincere condolences to Waltuch's family, friends, and his fans.



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