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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PoemTalk #160: Two by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Posted 5/14/2021

We've just released the 160th episode in the PoemTalk Podcast series, which is focused on a pair of sonnets by Edna St. Vincent Millay: "I Shall Forget You Presently" and "Love Is Not All." Joining host Al Filreis for this show is a panel that includes Lisa New, Jane Malcolm, and Sophia DuRose.

Filreis starts off his PoemTalk blog post announcing the new episode by establishing the publishing provenance for each poem: "'I Shall Forget You Presently' became widely available as one of the four sonnets presented at the end of the book A Few Figs from Thistles (first published in 1920). 'Love Is Not All' of 1931 was in Millay's collection of fifty-two sonnets, Fatal Interview." That timing is important as he notes, "When Fatal Interview was published in 1931, at the beginning of the worst phase of global economic depression, some reviewers noted that at a time of deep, massive deprivation there was no place for love sonnets." Filreis continues, "At the end of our discussion, the PoemTalk group considers whether indeed, on the contrary, there is a viable political reading of 'Love Is Not All.' It perhaps does convey a desperate general appetitiousness, and it ponders, more seriously than one might first notice, a willingness to sell private love for overall peace — to trade 'the memory of this night for food.'"

You can learn more about this latest program, read both poems, 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.


Melvin B. Tolson on PennSound

Posted 5/12/2021

Today we're taking a look at the recordings you can find on PennSound's Melvin B. Tolson author page.

The heart of this collection is a two-part career-spanning reading at Washington, D.C.'s Coolidge Auditorium, on October 18, 1965 — an event held in coordination with the Library of Congress — which serves as a fitting tribute to the influential poet, politician, and pedagogue, who'd pass away less than one year later. After a lavish introduction, Tolson starts with his debut collection, Rendezvous with America and hits many of the high points of his prestigious career, including his magnum opusDark Symphony, and Libretto for the Republic of Liberia, written during his time as that nation's poet laureate. Running just short of eighty minutes, Tolson's reading includes the poems "Sometimes," "The Gallows," "If You Should Lie to Me," "The Primer for Today," "The Dictionary of the Wolf," "Harlem Gallery," "The Birth of John Henry," "Ballad on Old Satchmo," and "The Sea Turtle and the Shark," among others, with commentary provided along the way.

This retrospective performance is nicely complemented by a second recording of excerpts from Dark Symphony, for which, unfortunately, we have no information regarding its recording date and location. Nevertheless we're grateful to be Tolson's estate and the Library of Congress for the opportunity to present these materials to our listeners. Click here to visit PennSound's Melvin B. Tolson author page.



Soleida Ríos Reads "Pies de Palma," 2021

Posted 5/10/2021

Here's a new recording from Cuban poet Soleida Ríos reading her well-known poem "Pies de Palma" to start the new week off in fine fashion. Recorded in Havana this past February, the track comes to us courtesy of Kristin Dykstra, who also sent along this recent photo of the poet (taken by Omar Sanz). A tribute to Cuba's national tree, the Silken Palm (roystonea lenis), "Pies de Palma" makes music of its myriad uses and unique features:

Boards ceilings canes baskets wrappings
for tobacco plants
bundled fan palm: nourishing sprout and heart
oleaginous fruit. I am:
a Cuban Royal Palm, tall, coronated, barefoot, unarmed
sessile flowers, pinnatisect leaves
This recording of "Pies de Palma" joins a modest set of recordings on PennSound's Soleida Ríos author page — a very old page, created in 2004 before our official launch — including a 15 minute interview with Rosa Alcalá from 2001 and a half-dozen poems. Click here to start listening.


Hanif Abdurraqib: New Author Page

Posted 5/7/2021

We're bringing this week to a close with a new author page for poet and critic Hanif Abdurraqib, which is anchored by his virtual reading at our own Kelly Writers House on April 19th. Video footage from that event is available, along with segmented MP3 audio that you can stream or download. In the first half, Abdurraqib reads the ten-part poem "All the TV Shows Are About Cops," which is split into individual tracks. The Q&A session that followed has also been split into thematic segments, such as "on the writing process," "on making an office space," "tips for aspiring cultural critics," "on being influenced by his favorite books," and "on sneakers."

These new tracks join an old favorite, a January 2019 reading of "USAvsCuba," taken from his debut collection The Crown Ain't Worth Much (Button Poetry, 2016). Listeners can read along with that poem in Western Beefs here. To listen to all of the aforementioned recordings, click here.



Grzegorz Wroblewski reads at Woodland Pattern's 27th Annual Marathon, 2021

Posted 5/5/2021

Here's a brief recording taken from the 27th annual marathon reading at Woodland Pattern, which took place between January 30–31st this year. Grzegorz Wroblewski's contribution was a four-minute recording of him reading two of his poems — "Android and an Anecdote" and "The King of Flight" — in Polish, while Peter Burzynski handled the English-language translations.

Last summer we announced a new video of five poems by Wroblewski, translated by Piotr Gwiazda and read by Marcus Slease, which had originally appeared as part of Marit MacArthur and Kacper Bartczak's 2015 Jacket2 feature "(Polish) Poetry after Różewicz." On PennSound's Grzegorz Wroklewski author page you'll also find a number of additional one-off collaborative tracks and readings recorded in Denmark, Sweden, and the UK between 2012 and 2016. Click here to start listening.



In Memoriam: Gary Lenhart (1947–2021)

Posted 5/3/2021

We're a little late hearing about the passing of poet, editor, and teacher Gary Lenhart, who succumbed to cancer on March 31st, but didn't want to miss the opportunity to commemorate his life and work. A thoughtful obituary in Valley News notes that "Ever attentive to his craft, he was working on poems and a book review the last morning of his life." It continues:

To his devoted wife and daughter he was the fine mind that enlivened theirs, the wry wit that brightened their days, and the heart so true they never felt alone. He lived with deep personal integrity and unfailing courtesy to all. He was, in the words of one friend, the best of men. His broad knowledge and inventive attention to thought and language combined with a profound love of poetry to inform the rich body of work he left behind.

PennSound listeners might best be acquainted with Lenhart through his work as (co-)editor of the journals Mag City and Transfer or as part of the group behind the groundbreaking Public Access Poetry, and while the videos on our PAP series page are currently unavailable due to the absence of Adobe Flash, we're currently working to make them — and our other video holdings — available as soon as possible. Lenhart appeared a total of three times on the program, reading on July 14, 1977; February 14, 1978; and July 27, 1978. We also enthusiastically direct our listeners towards "'Readers of the Future' Would Be Interested," at Jacket2, an astounding interview with Lenhart conducted by Ben Olin, which provides a lot of inside information on the development and history of Public Access Poetry

In a remembrance posted last month, Michael Lally recalls that Lenhart "was always a calm but radiant presence on the downtown scene and I admired him a lot." Certainly, many others felt the same, and we send our condolences to Lenhart's friends, family, colleagues, and fans, as well as thank him for his visionary work with poetry and media, prefiguring projects like our own.



PoemTalk #159: Two by bpNichol

Posted 4/28/2021

Last week we released episode #159 in the PoemTalk Podcast series, which addresses two poems by the legendary bpNichol: "Dada Lama" and "A Small Song That Is His." For this program, host Al Filreis assembled a virtual panel that included "Tracie Morris, Douglas Kearney, and Derek Beaulieu, from Brooklyn, Minneapolis, and Banff, respectively."

Filreis starts off his PoemTalk blog post announcing the new episode by establishing the complex provenance of both poems and recordings under discussion: 
The two pieces we discuss are “Dada Lama” of 1966 (recorded in 1969) and “A Small Song That Is His” of 1974. “Dada Lama” was published by Cavan McCarthy in an edition of three hundred copies and is available from bpNichol.ca as a PDF. A recording was included in Journeying and the Returns (Coach House Press, 1967). “A Small Song That Is His” has long been part of PennSound’s extensive bpNichol page. It has been segmented from a rare sixty-minute cassette published in 1971 by High Barnet Company in Toronto. “A Small Song” is performed on that tape along with “Love Poem for Gertrude Stein,” “Beast (for Hugo Ball),” and other bpNichol favorites. The text of “A Small Song” later appeared in Love: A Book of Remembances, published by Talonbooks in 1974.
From there, the discussion begins with Beaulieu providing some context for this work: "Derek notes of 'Dada Lama” that it's an early piece in which bpNichol's clearly working through his influences. At that point the sound poem was 'really new to the Canadian conversation.' It echoes Hugo Ball and Tristan Tzara. By the time you get to 'A Small Song' there's more confidence in bpNichol’s grasp of the sound poem, such that he can begin to 'come up with a poetics of the letter.'" He continues, "'And poems are not made of feelings,' Derek reminds us. 'Poems are made of letters.'"

You can learn more about this latest program, read both poems, 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.


Join KWH Fellow Gabrielle Hamilton Tonight and Tomorrow

Posted 4/26/2021

Here's a reminder that our final Kelly Writers House Fellow of 2021 — chef, memoirist, and food writer Gabrielle Hamilton — will be joining us for two events starting this evening. On April 26th at 6:30PM EDT there will be a discussion of her life and writing, with readings from her work. Then on April 27th at 11:00AM EDT, Hamilton will return for a conversation and Q&A session moderated by Al Filreis. Both events will stream live over the KWH YouTube channel and the Q&A will be archived for later viewing afterwards. RSVPs are not required, but we look forward to you joining us.

Hamilton is the chef and owner of the acclaimed Prune restaurant in New York City’s East Village, and the author of Prune, the cookbook. Hamilton has won four James Beard awards over her career, perhaps most notably for her New York Times bestselling memoir, Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef (Random House, 2011). Her other James Beard awards were for Best Chef in New York City in 2011, an award for journalism in 2015 for her essay “Into the Vines” for Afar magazine, and Outstanding Chef in 2018.

Her work has appeared in The New YorkerThe New York TimesGQBon AppetitSaveur, and Food & Wine. She is an Eat columnist in The New York Times Magazine contributing regularly, and most recently wrote the widely praised essay "My Restaurant Was My Life For 20 Years. Does The World Need It Anymore?" for the April 26, 2020 issue, just a month or so into the 2020 Coronavirus epidemic, about closing her restaurant and the state of the industry generally. Her writing has also been collected several times in the annually published Best Food Writing, and was a featured subject of season 4 of the PBS docuseries Mind of a Chef in 2015. Hamilton received an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Michigan and a BA from Hampshire College. She lives in New York City.

Funded by a grant from Paul Kelly, the Kelly Writers House Fellows program enables us to realize two unusual goals. We want to make it possible for the youngest writers and writer-critics to have sustained contact with authors of great accomplishment in an informal atmosphere. We also want to resist the time-honored distinction — more honored in practice than in theory — between working with eminent writers on the one hand and studying literature on the other.

You can read more about the program and browse through past Fellows going back to the program's start in 1999 by clicking here.


In Memoriam: Al Young (1939–2021)

Posted 4/19/2021

We start this week off with sad news: Al Young — beloved author and editor with more than twenty books to his name (including poetry collections, novels, and musical memoirs) and a former Poet Laureate of California — has passed away at the age of 81 from complications of a stroke suffered in 2019. Writing on her Stanford University blog, The Book Haven, Cynthia Haven offers this summary of Young's impressive life and career:
Young has received the American Book Award twice, for Bodies and Soul: Musical Memoirs (1982) and The Sound of Dreams Remembered: Poems 1990-2000 (2002). He was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Whittier College in 2009. He is a recipient of Guggenheim, Fulbright, and Wallace Stegner fellowships, and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the PEN-Library of Congress Award for Short Fiction, the PEN-USA Award for Non-Fiction, the Pushcart Prize, and two New York Times Notable Book of the year citations.
We recently highlighted Young's reading at our own Kelly Writers House on November 15, 2018 here on PennSound Daily. That event starts off with a warm welcome from Al Filreis and a longer introduction by William J. Harris, who details his personal history with Young more than fifty years ago as a grad student, and observes that "like Langston Hughes and Amiri Baraka, Al is a blues jazz poet." Later, he tells us that "like a blues in the heart, there's much pain and joy in the poems of Al Young," before enumerating his many publications and achievements of this "man of great craft and soul." After a long and charming salvo of opening comments, that moves from Ben Franklin to Bahrain and back again, Young delivers a fantastic reading for the appreciative audience.

You can find audio and video of this event on PennSound's Al Young author page, which is also home to a 2006 reading in San Francisco and a 1990 set at Printer's Ink in Palo Alto, CA. To listen to any of these recordings, click here. We send our deepest sympathies to all those who's lives were touched by Young's friendship and his writing.



Don't Miss KWH Fellow Gabrielle Hamilton on April 26–27

Posted 4/16/2021

Here's a reminder that our final Kelly Writers House Fellow of 2021 — chef, memoirist, and food writer Gabrielle Hamilton — will be joining us one week from Monday. On April 26th at 6:30PM EDT there will be a discussion of her life and writing, with readings from her work. Then on April 27th at 11:00AM EDT, Hamilton will return for a conversation and Q&A session moderated by Al Filreis. Both events will stream live over the KWH YouTube channel and the Q&A will be archived for later viewing afterwards. RSVPs are not required, but we look forward to you joining us.

Hamilton is the chef and owner of the acclaimed Prune restaurant in New York City’s East Village, and the author of Prune, the cookbook. Hamilton has won four James Beard awards over her career, perhaps most notably for her New York Times bestselling memoir, Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef (Random House, 2011). Her other James Beard awards were for Best Chef in New York City in 2011, an award for journalism in 2015 for her essay “Into the Vines” for Afar magazine, and Outstanding Chef in 2018.

Her work has appeared in The New YorkerThe New York TimesGQBon AppetitSaveur, and Food & Wine. She is an Eat columnist in The New York Times Magazine contributing regularly, and most recently wrote the widely praised essay "My Restaurant Was My Life For 20 Years. Does The World Need It Anymore?" for the April 26, 2020 issue, just a month or so into the 2020 Coronavirus epidemic, about closing her restaurant and the state of the industry generally. Her writing has also been collected several times in the annually published Best Food Writing, and was a featured subject of season 4 of the PBS docuseries Mind of a Chef in 2015. Hamilton received an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Michigan and a BA from Hampshire College. She lives in New York City.

Funded by a grant from Paul Kelly, the Kelly Writers House Fellows program enables us to realize two unusual goals. We want to make it possible for the youngest writers and writer-critics to have sustained contact with authors of great accomplishment in an informal atmosphere. We also want to resist the time-honored distinction — more honored in practice than in theory — between working with eminent writers on the one hand and studying literature on the other.

You can read more about the program and browse through past Fellows going back to the program's start in 1999 by clicking here.


In Memoriam: Bernard Noël (1930–2021)

Posted 4/15/2021

This week brought the sad news that French poet and author Bernard Noël had died at the age of 90. His long and fruitful career, which often saw him engage with political issues, started with the 1955 publication of Les Yeux Chimeres and would eventually see him garner high cultural honors, including le Grand Prix national de la poésie in 1992 and le Prix Robert Ganzo in 2010. He passed away this past Tuesday, April 13th.

Our PennSound author page for Noël is home to two readings spanning two decades. From November 1996, we have Noël's contribution to SUNY-Buffalo's Third Annual French Poetry Festival, where he read alongside Josée Lapeyrère and was introduced by Charles Bernstein. Then, from 2010, we have Noël's reading with Elena Rivera as part of Paris' venerable Double Change Poetry Series.

You can listen to both of the aforementioned readings by clicking here. We send our condolences to Noël's family, friends, and fans worldwide.


Newly Segmented: Maggie O'Sullivan at KWH, 2013

Posted 4/12/2021

Thanks to the good graces of PennSound staffer Wes Matthews we start this week off with segmented audio from Maggie O'Sullivan's memorable 2013 visit to our own Kelly Writers House. Recorded on April 1st of that year, as part of the Writers Without Borders series, O'Sullivan's set included fourteen poems in total, in addition to introductory comments and an eighteen-minute Q&A session to wrap things up.

You can now download or stream to individual MP3 files for titles like "Homage to a City," "All Origins Are Lonely," "For Making Dying Illegal," "That Bread Should Be," "Jugular Parting," "Courtship of Lapwings," "Circles from Which," and "Placard of the Candle." Video footage of the complete reading is also available. 

You can start browsing the aforementioned tracks by clicking here. PennSound's Maggie O'Sullivan author page is home to a wealth of recordings — of readings, talks, interviews, albums, and more — spanning nearly thirty years.


Celebrate Baudelaire's Bicentennial with Waldrop & Bernstein's Translations

Posted 4/9/2021

Today is the 200th birthday of beloved misanthrope Charles Baudelaire, and while there are no extant recordings of the poet that doesn't mean that we don't have some fascinating recordings for your listening pleasure.

First up, from 2006 we have Keith Waldrop reading from his translations of Paris Spleen, released that same year by Wesleyan. This session — recorded and edited by Steve Evans — consists of eleven tracks in total, including "Benediction," "The Life Before," "Don Juan in Hell" "Giantess," "Posthumous Remorse," "Invitation to the Voyage," "Spleen," and "Danse Macabre." Writing in The New York Times, Joshua Clover observed that Waldrop's translation is "by no means the first prose translation, but it's the most charming: I don't recall another version, verse or prose, that slips so easily into the comradely 'we.' Or that uses the phrase 'dropsical dame.' If such choices tilt the anxious balance of the author's sensibility, this is inevitable — and the poems slink toward us from their historical distance." 

Then, we'd be remiss if we didn't include co-Founder Charles Bernstein's well-known translation of Baudelaire's "Be Drunken." This recording [MP3] was recorded at a 2009 reading for Harvard's Woodberry Poetry Room, and it's one of several versions you can hear on Bernstein's Readings page. You can read the poem, taken from Recalculating, here.



Caroline Bergvall in Conversation with David Wallace and Orchid Tierney, 2014

Posted 4/7/2021

Today we're looking back at Caroline Bergvall's 2014 conversation with David Wallace and Orchid Tierney at our own Kelly Writers House. Recorded on November 14th of that year, this hour-long conversation has been segmented into thirteen discrete files by topic, including "Connecting the contemporary and the medieval," "Transformations in the English language," "Gender and desingularizing voices," "Fascination with the letter H and phonetics," "Anonymity and voicing," and "Apocalyptic nature of medieval times," along with the all-important "On the artistic next steps." At the time, Bergvall had just release Drift, the second of three books in a planned trilogy of works influenced by medieval sources that also includes Meddle English and Alisoun Sings. It's especially fitting to hear Bergvall and Wallace talk about the former's work since this trilogy has deep roots in her "Shorter Chaucer Tales," which was initially written at the invitation of Wallace and Charles Bernstein and first presented at the Fifteenth Annual Conference of the New Chaucer Society in New York in 2006.

You can hear much more from Bergvall's trilogy, along with earlier work like Fig and Goan Atom on her PennSound author page. Click here to start exploring.


Al Young at the Kelly Writers House, 2018

Posted 4/5/2021

We're revisiting this wonderful reading by Al Young, recorded at our own Kelly Writers House on November 15, 2018, to start off the week. If you're not familiar with Young, he's a prolific author and editor with more than twenty books to his name (including poetry collections, novels, and musical memoirs), and a former Poet Laureate of California, hailed by no less than Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as "an educator and a man with a passion for the Arts. His remarkable talent and sense of mission to bring poetry into the lives of Californians is an inspiration." 

This seventy-minute reading starts with a welcome from Al Filreis and a longer introduction by William J. Harris, who details his personal history with Young more than fifty years ago as a grad student, and observes that "like Langston Hughes and Amiri Baraka, Al is a blues jazz poet." Later, he tells us that "like a blues in the heart, there's much pain and joy in the poems of Al Young," before enumerating his many publications and achievements of this "man of great craft and soul." After a long and charming salvo of opening comments, that moves from Ben Franklin to Bahrain and back again, Young delivers a fantastic reading for the appreciative audience.

You can find audio and video of this event on PennSound's Al Young author page, which is also home to a 2006 reading in San Francisco and a 1990 set at Printer's Ink in Palo Alto, CA. To listen to any of these recordings, click here.


Happy Birthday, Anne Waldman

Posted 4/2/2021

PennSound sends birthday greetings to the one and only Anne Waldman, who turns seventy-six today. Where does one start to appreciate the indelible influence Waldman has had upon our aesthetic community? Her prolific poetic output over the last half-century, which, while always evolving, still feels immediately and unmistakably recognizable? Her tireless work as an editor for Angel Hair and United Artists up to her present guidance of Fast Speaking Music? Her fostering presence as an early Artistic Director of the St. Mark's Poetry Project and her co-founding of Naropa University's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics?

PennSound's Anne Waldman author page provides a thorough survey of the poet's long and fruitful career, provides a thorough survey, with recordings from 1969 ("Three Minutes of My Life" from the LP anthology Tape Poems) all the way up to a 2017 reading at the Dia Art Foundation. There are numerous full readings for Belladonna*, the Bowery Poetry Club, the Naropa Institute, the Sue Scott Gallery, the CUNY Graduate Center, Zinc Bar, the St. Mark's Poetry Project, and our own Kelly Writers House, along with a number of complete album releases and myriad individual tracks, talks, radio interviews, films, and more. There's no better way to celebrate this legendary poet on her birthday than to share some of her work. Click here to start browsing and listening!


PigeonSound Turns 12!

Posted 4/1/2021

This April Fool's Day marks twelve years since our PennSound Daily announcement of our PigeonSound ™ service, which sadly never got off the ground given — among other things — the widespread rejection of pigeon post in the United States. Turntables still continue to sell healthily, flip phones are coming back, and every hipster has a vintage typewriter they paid too much money for, but the same enthusiasm could not be rekindled for avian poetry delivery, and so our fleet coos in waiting for more genteel and discerning times.

Here's our original announcement, which, in true April Fool's Day fashion, came a month early, alongside the unveiling of our Twitter account:
It's been less than 24 hours since we launched our PennSound Twitter page, and already we have 50 followers. Sign up to follow our feed to get micro-updates — from co-directors Al Filreis and Charles Bernstein, and managing editor Michael S. Hennessey — highlighting changes to the site, new additions and favorite recordings from our archives. Recent tweets have featured Bernadette Mayer & Lee Ann BrownTracie Morristhe PennSound Podcast series and our video page

Are you getting the most out of your PennSound experience? Aside from Twitter, don't forget all of the other ways in which you can keep up to date with the site through the web or your cell phone: first, there's the PennSound Daily newsfeed, which automatically delivers entries like this one to your iGoogle page, Google Reader, or favorite feed reader.PennSound is also on FaceBook, along with pages for our sister sites, including the Kelly Writers House and the Electronic Poetry Center. One additional option is the Kelly Writers House's Dial-a-Poem service: just dial 215-746-POEM (7636), and aside from news on upcoming KWH events, you can also hear a recording from a past reading, courtesy of the PennSound archives.

Finally, for those of you who feel overwhelmed by all this new technology, and liked the world a lot more before it Twittered, Tumblred and Bloggered, we're currently beta-testing yet another, more traditional means of transmission. Utilizing homing pigeons equipped with state-of-the-art (well, state-of-the-art circa WWI) wire recording technology, PigeonSound ™ (see prototype at right) will be able to deliver three minutes of telephone-quality audio up to several hundred miles from our home base at UPenn's Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing (our apologies to the rest of the world). Though there have been numerous unfortunate setbacks to date, we hope to have the program up and running by the first of next month with our inaugural offering: The Selected Poems of Ern Malley (read by the author himself). From sites that tweet to birds that tweet, we have all of your poetry options covered at PennSound.

For what it's worth, I still think it's funnier than Voltswagen


Don't Miss Hilton Als' KWH Fellows Events Tonight and Tomorrow

Posted 3/29/2021

Here's one final invitation to join us tonight and tomorrow for Hilton Als' events as part of this year's Kelly Writers House Fellows program. Tonight, Monday March 29 at 6:30 PM EDT, we will host Hilton for a reading of his work followed by a brief Q&A session. Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 30 at 11:00 AM EDT, Hilton will return for an interview and conversation moderated by Al Filreis. Both events will stream live over the KWH YouTube channel and the Q&A will be archived for later viewing afterwards. RSVPs are not required, but we look forward to you joining us.

Als began contributing to The New Yorker in 1989, writing pieces for "The Talk of the Town," and later became a staff writer in 1994, theatre critic in 2002, and lead theater critic in 2012. His reviews are not simply reviews; they are provocative contributions to the discourse on theatre, race, class, sexuality, and identity in America. He is currently working on a new book titled I Don’t Remember (Penguin, early 2021), a book length essay on his experiences in AIDS era New York. Before coming to The New Yorker, Als was a staff writer for the Village Voice and an editor-at-large at Vibe. Als edited the catalogue for the 1994-95 Whitney Museum of American Art exhibition "Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art." His first book, The Women, was published in 1996. His book, White Girls, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2014 and winner of the 2014 Lambda Literary Award for Non-fiction, discusses various narratives of race and gender. He wrote the introduction to the Penguin Classics edition of The Early Stories of Truman Capote, and was guest editor for the 2018 Best American Essays. He wrote Andy Warhol: The Series, a book containing two previously unpublished television scripts for a series on the life of Andy Warhol. His in-progress debut play, Lives of the Performers, has been performed at Carolina Performing Arts and LAXART in Los Angeles.

In 1997, the New York Association of Black Journalists awarded Als first prize in both Magazine Critique/Review and Magazine Arts and Entertainment. He was awarded a Guggenheim for creative writing in 2000 and the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism for 2002–03. In 2016, he received the Lambda Literary’s Trustee Award for Excellence in Literature, as well as the Windham Campbell Prize for Nonfiction. In 2017 Als won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, and in 2018 the Langston Hughes Medal. In 2016, his debut art show "One Man Show: Holly, Candy, Bobbie and the Rest" opened at the Artist’s Institute. He has curated "Alice Neel, Uptown" and "God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin" at the David Zwirner Gallery in New York City. He is also curating three successive solo exhibitions at the Yale Centre for British Art, the first exhibit in 2018 featured Celia Paul, the second, in 2019, features Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, the third will feature Paul Doig. In 2019 Als partnered with WNYC's Greene Space on a limited podcast series titled The Way We Live Now: Hilton Als and America’s Poets. He recently contributed an essay to Moonlight, a limited edition book about the film of the same name. Als is an associate professor of writing at Columbia University’s School of the Arts and has taught at Yale University, Wesleyan, and Smith College. He lives in New York City.


New at the EPC: Peter Seaton

Posted 3/26/2021

The latest addition the our sister site, the Electronic Poetry Center, is a brand new author page for poet Peter Seaton. Our own Charles Bernstein recently announced the new page and shared these observations on the occasion of its launch:

Peter Seaton (1944–2010) was a gloriously radical poet, one of the stellar writers working in New York in the 1970s and 1980s. Featured in L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, ROOF, Tuumba, ++. For some years, Steve McLaughlin has been working on a collection of his "complete" work — everything Seaton published, with reproductions from his  magazine and anthology appearances, plus a substantial file of holographs. While his papers went to UCSD's Archive for New Poetry, and his three books are available at Eclipse (and linked here), this EPC page gives you access to a trove of significant works not included in his books or otherwise available, plus biographical information, a bibliography, and a few things written about or for Seaton. I am very grateful to Steve for this great job he has done on this digital edition. As always at EPC: free and without advertising.

We couldn't agree more with Charles' assessment: this is both a labor of love and an astounding resource for well-established fans of Seaton's work along with those encountering him for the first time. If you'd like to hear some of these poems in performance, PennSound's Peter Seaton author page is home to a half-dozen vintage recordings from Segue Series events at the Ear Inn, taking place in December 1978, April and September 1971, July 1982, December 1984 and February 1987 — the first and last of which have been segmented into individual tracks. There's also a 1980 home recording of The Son Master and a pair of recordings from 1985: a reading at the Segue Foundation offices and an interview with filmmaker and friend Henry Hills. Click here to start listening, and here to browse Seaton's work at the EPC.



Congratulations to PEN Career Achievement Award Winner Pierre Joris

Posted 3/24/2021

Yesterday, PEN America announced its 2021 career achievement award winners, including the PEN/Manheim Award for Translation, which went to Pierre Joris.

The judges' citation begins by noting Joris' unique position within the field: "In a landscape of literary translation that is still beholden to linguistic and national silos, Pierre Joris's work has long been and remains essential in mapping currents and countercurrents of global modernity. As literary translation struggles to confront imperial histories of violence and erasure, and to engage with and encourage voices of cultural and linguistic differences, Joris has blazed a path for generations of emerging translators to follow." They continue: 
Having spent over half a century moving between Europe, the U.S., and North Africa, and working across multiple languages, Joris has built a stunning and unparalleled career as a translator, poet, essayist, editor, critic, performer, and academic. Indeed, Joris's personal trajectory has fueled his articulation of a "nomad poetics" that cannot be contained by national or linguistic boundaries, one in which Anglo-European perspectives are enriched and complicated by those of the Global South, and where translation models the potentialities and necessary complexities of cross-cultural contact.

They conclude by singling out Joris' work on Paul Celan and listing some of the iconic authors he's translated into English (Adonis, Jean-Pierre Duprey, Safaa Fathy, Abdelwahab Meddeb, Pablo Picasso, Rainer Maria Rilke, Kurt Schwitters, Habib Tengour, and Tristan Tzara) and French (Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Sam Shepard, and Pete Townshend). You can read more here

If you'd like to engage with some of Joris' award-winning work, we gladly point you in the direction of his PennSound author page, which is home to dozens of recordings spanning the past twenty-five years, including readings, talks, interviews, and podcast appearances. We send our heartiest congratulations to Joris for this great honor.



In Memoriam: Robert Herson (1936–2021)

Posted 3/23/2021

We start this week off with sad news: Robert Hershon, poet and co-founder of Hanging Loose Press and Hanging Loose, has died at the age of 84. 

Hanging Loose is rightly celebrated for its longevity, having published a whopping 111 issues since its launch 55 years ago, as well as its dedication to publishing emerging writers, including high school students. The press is likewise beloved for its prescience in recognizing voices that would go on to greatly shape the field of contemporary poetry. As they note on their website:

The editors are proud of having published many first books, including the first full collections by Sherman Alexie, Kimiko Hahn, D. Nurkse, Jack Agüeros, Cathy Park Hong, Eula Biss, Joanna Fuhrman, Hayan Charara, Maggie Nelson, Indran Amirthanayagam, R. Zamora Linmark, and Beth Bosworth, among others. Some of the other writers published by HL are Harvey Shapiro, Elizabeth Swados, Joan Larkin, Gary Lenhart, Jack Anderson, Maureen Owen, Donna Brook, Ha Jin, Charles North, Paul Violi, Tony Towle, William Corbett, Ed Friedman, and Jayne Cortez.

Over the years, the journal and press would receive a number of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Poetry Fund. Among more than 200 books published by the press, you'll find recipients of the Theodore Roethke Memorial Prize, The Poetry Society of America's Norma Farber First Book Award, and the Paterson Poetry Prize, along with other notable accolades.

Of course, it would be a mistake to overlook Herson's own creative output, as John Yau recognizes with the title of a recent tribute in Hyperallergic: "Did You Know That Robert Hershon Is a Major Poet?" Therein, Yau praises Hershon for his plainspoken tone and subtle experimentalism, along with his candor, observing, "I cannot think of another contemporary poet who is willing to expose his vulnerability, worry, and pettiness through the lens of humor."

Hershon was a guest of the Kelly Writers House on October 11, 2006, where he read alongside poet Donna Brook. His half-hour set from that evening consisted of eleven poems in total, including "Big Blue Chair," "Calls from the Outside World," "Mysteries of Marriage," "International Incidents," and "Three Photographs Taken Around the House at the Request of Anselm Berrigan and Tom Devaney for a Mysterious Future Project." You can listen to that reading here. We send our deepest sympathies to Hershon's family, friends, and fans, as well as the great many readers whose lives have been touched by the work of Hanging Loose and its press.



Fred Wah: "Standing in the Doorway - the Hyphen in Chinese-Canadian Poetry"

Posted 3/19/2021

Here's a wonderful new addition from Fred Wah to wrap up our week. "Standing in the Doorway - the Hyphen in Chinese-Canadian Poetry" is a lecture delivered by Wah at the Richmond Public Library in British Columbia, on March 25, 2013. We're able to present both audio and video (via YouTube) of this talk, along with a written summary prepared by Husnaa Hashim.

Wah begins by discussing his own ethnic identity and his grandfather's emigration from China to Canada followed by "the cultural inability to write about race in the late 1950s–early 1960s after he (himself) arrived at the University of British Columbia." From there he addresses "the introduction of bilingualism and biculturalism in Canada in the 1970s," via Joy Kogawa's novel Obasan (set in Japanese-Canadian internment camps), which "allowed for conversations about race to begin in English departments in Canada," as well as "the chronology of national racial conversations and redress (for internment)." Wah shares that he was pleasantly surprised "about race suddenly becoming discussable in English literary spaces in comparison to the conversations he had been having with white colleagues (mostly on class)," then goes on discuss several highlights in that growing discourse from the 70s, 80s, and 90s, including the work of the Vancouver-based Chinese-Canadian Writers Workshop (later the Asian-Canadian Writers Workshop), Sky Lee's Disappearing Moon Cafe, Jim Wong-Chu and Bennett Lee's anthology Many-Mouthed Birds: Contemporary Writing by Chinese Canadians, and Rita Wong's Monkey Puzzle, along with contemporaneous cultural developments.

As he nears the end of his talk, Wah explains its metaphoric title through a poem from his Diamond Grill reflecting upon the importance of hybridity to his poetics: "If I stand in the doorway and don’t go through, I can see both rooms.” Thus the hyphen, representative of his hybrid identity, serves a similar purpose, allowing multiple perspectives. He shares more of his poetry and answers questions about his writing process along with culture and memories. You can listen (or watch) this fascinating talk by clicking here.


Join us for Kelly Writers House Fellow Hilton Als, March 29–30

Posted 3/17/2021

The 22nd annual Kelly Writers House Fellows program continues this month with a two-day visit from Hilton Als on March 29th and 30th. 

Als began contributing to The New Yorker in 1989, writing pieces for "The Talk of the Town," and later became a staff writer in 1994, theatre critic in 2002, and lead theater critic in 2012. His reviews are not simply reviews; they are provocative contributions to the discourse on theatre, race, class, sexuality, and identity in America. He is currently working on a new book titled I Don’t Remember (Penguin, early 2021), a book length essay on his experiences in AIDS era New York. Before coming to The New Yorker, Als was a staff writer for the Village Voice and an editor-at-large at Vibe. Als edited the catalogue for the 1994-95 Whitney Museum of American Art exhibition "Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art." His first book, The Women, was published in 1996. His book, White Girls, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2014 and winner of the 2014 Lambda Literary Award for Non-fiction, discusses various narratives of race and gender. He wrote the introduction to the Penguin Classics edition of The Early Stories of Truman Capote, and was guest editor for the 2018 Best American Essays. He wrote Andy Warhol: The Series, a book containing two previously unpublished television scripts for a series on the life of Andy Warhol. His in-progress debut play, Lives of the Performers, has been performed at Carolina Performing Arts and LAXART in Los Angeles.

In 1997, the New York Association of Black Journalists awarded Als first prize in both Magazine Critique/Review and Magazine Arts and Entertainment. He was awarded a Guggenheim for creative writing in 2000 and the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism for 2002–03. In 2016, he received the Lambda Literary’s Trustee Award for Excellence in Literature, as well as the Windham Campbell Prize for Nonfiction. In 2017 Als won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, and in 2018 the Langston Hughes Medal. In 2016, his debut art show "One Man Show: Holly, Candy, Bobbie and the Rest" opened at the Artist’s Institute. He has curated "Alice Neel, Uptown" and "God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin" at the David Zwirner Gallery in New York City. He is also curating three successive solo exhibitions at the Yale Centre for British Art, the first exhibit in 2018 featured Celia Paul, the second, in 2019, features Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, the third will feature Paul Doig. In 2019 Als partnered with WNYC's Greene Space on a limited podcast series titled The Way We Live Now: Hilton Als and America’s Poets. He recently contributed an essay to Moonlight, a limited edition book about the film of the same name. Als is an associate professor of writing at Columbia University’s School of the Arts and has taught at Yale University, Wesleyan, and Smith College. He lives in New York City.

You can RSVP for one or all of this year's events by dropping us a line at whfellow@writing.upenn.edu.

Tango with Cows: Book Art of the Russian Avant Garde, 1910-1917

Posted 3/15/2021

Here's a deep-cut from the PennSound archives to start out the week in grand fashion: "Tango with Cows: Book Art of the Russian Avant Garde, 1910-1917," a groundbreaking exhibition that ran through the spring of 2009 at Los Angeles' Getty Center.

PennSound Senior Editor Danny Snelson, who organized this multimedia resource, provides an introduction for our listeners:
PennSound has been working in collaboration with the Getty Research Institute to present this remarkable collection of historical and contemporary transrational poetry, centered on an exhibition of Russian Futurist book art held at the Getty earlier this year. The exhibition's title — "Tango with Cows" — taken from a poem by Vasily Kamensky, points to the sense of hilarity and irreverence you'll hear in these startlingly original 'beyonsense' poems. Our page of recordings compliments the extensive media collected online at the Getty's website. There, you can find programs, essays, video footage, full scans of the Futurist books, and even a fully interactive slideshow of key books from the exhibition! 
Our archive of sound recordings comes in two parts: first, Tango with Cows features Oleg Minin's bilingual readings of essential poems found in book art projects from poets such as Alexei Kruchenykh, Velimir Khlebnikov, and Pavel Filonov. By reading from the Russian before the accompanying English translation, Minin offers listeners the pleasure of sound before recognition — an ideal situation for the revolutionary poetics on display here.

However, the real highlight of this great resource sounds from the second half: we're pleased to present high quality recordings of Explodity: An Evening of Transrational Sound Poetry held on February 4th, 2009. This blockbuster reading casts the zaum' poetries of Khlebnikov and Kruchenykh in the parallel light of historic and contemporary sound poetry, as presented by Christian Bök and Steve McCaffery. After virtuoso performances of English translations of historical Russian poems, Bok and McCaffery present personal selections from the history of sound poetry alongside their own original compositions. On the short list are works by Aristophanes, Raoul Hausmann, F.T. Marinetti, Hugo Ball, Kurt Schwitters, and R. Murray Schafer, just to mention a few.

You can hear more work in this vein on PennSound pages for Christian BökSteve McCafferyJaap BlonkTomomi Adachi, and The Four Horsemen. Additionally, we'd like to suggest our historic pages for F.T. Marinetti and Vladimir Mayakovsky. Our partner UbuWeb offers a huge index of this exciting brach of poetry; we suggest in particular that you visit a companion set of Russian Futurist recordings from the GLM Collection.

Special thanks to Nancy Perloff and everyone at the Getty Research Institute for making this resource possible. We hope these recordings lend the same vision of language that mystified Benedikt Livshits in 1911 (from Nancy Perloff, Curator's Essay): "I saw language come alive with my very own eyes. The breath of the primordial word wafted into my face."
You can start browsing our PennSound page for this event by clicking here.


Happy 99th Birthday, Jack Kerouac!

Posted 3/12/2021

We'll close this week out by marking what would have been the 99th birthday of Beat Generation icon Jack Kerouac (1922–1969). While we don't have permission from the Kerouac estate to share recordings of the poet's work — multiple albums, including collaborations with Al Cohn and Zoot Sims, along with polymath Steve Allen, are widely available — we do have a few noteworthy recordings of others reading him within our archives.

Of course, you'll recall that we only recently announced Vivien Bittencourt and Vincent Katz's short film documenting a 1988 tribute reading of Kerouac's Mexico City Blues, which took place at the Knitting Factory. This stunning half-hour video includes live performances by Barbara Barg, Charles Bernstein, Lee Ann Brown, Maggie Dubris, Allen Ginsberg, Richard Hell, Bob Holman, Lita Hornick, Vicki Hudspith, Vincent Katz, Rochelle Kraut, Gerard Malanga, Judith Malina, Eileen Myles, Simon Pettet, Hanon Reznikov, Bob Rosenthal, Jerome Rothenberg, Tom Savage, Elio Schneeman, Michael Scholnick, Carl Solomon, Steven Taylor, David Trinidad, Lewis Warsh, Hal Willner, and Nina Zivancevic, with Mark Ettinger, Dennis Mitcheltree, Charlie Morrow, and Samir Safwat, among others, providing live, improvised accompaniment. Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Michael McClure also appear in brief interview segments. You can watch here.

Then we have another old favorite from the archives: Clark Coolidge and Michael Gizzi reading Kerouac's iconic spontaneous prose piece, "Old Angel Midnight," taken from a 1994 recording session at the West Stockbridge, MA home studio of Steve Schwartz. Coolidge is, of course, well-known for, as Al Filreis phrases it, "his advocacy for Kerouac as properly belonging to the field of experimental poetry and poetics." Here's how he lays out his sense of what he refers to as Kerouac's "babble flow":
[S]ound is movement. It interests me that the words "momentary" and "moments" come from the same Latin: "moveo, to move. Every statement exists in time and vanishes in time, like in alto saxophonist Eric Dolphy's famous statement about music: "When you hear music, after it's over it's gone in the air, you can never capture it again." That has gradually become more of a positive value to me, because one of the great things about the moment is that if you were there in that moment, you received that moment and there's an intensity to a moment that can never be gone back to that is somehow more memorable. Like they used to say, "Was you there, Charlie?" 
Kerouac said, "Nothing is muddy that runs in time and to laws of time." And I can’t resist putting next to that my favorite statement by Maurice Blanchot: "One can only write if one arrives at the instant towards which one can only move through space opened up by the movement of writing." And that’s not a paradox.
Here's how Kerouac himself described the project (which famously appeared in the premier issue of Big Table, along with excerpts from William S. Burroughs' Naked Lunch — content liberated from the suppressed Winter 1958 issue of The Chicago Review): 
"Old Angel Midnight" is only the beginning of a lifelong work in multilingual sound, representing the haddalada-babra of babbling world tongues coming in thru my window at midnight no matter where I live or what I'm doing, in Mexico, Morocco, New York, India or Pakistan, in Spanish, French, Aztec, Gaelic, Keltic, Kurd or Dravidian, the sounds of people yakking and of myself yakking among, ending finally in great intuitions of the sounds of tongues throughout the entire universe in all directions in and out forever. And it is the only book I've ever written in which I allow myself the right to say anything I want, absolutely and positively anything, since that's what you hear coming in that window... God in his Infinity wouldn't have had a world otherwise — Amen."
You can listen to Coolidge and Gizzi's rendition of this classic here, and might also want to check out PoemTalk #124, wherein Coolidge and Filreis, along with J.C. Cloutier and Michelle Taransky, discuss their recording of the poem.


Want to read more? Visit the PennSound Daily archive.