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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Robert and Bobbie Creeley Perform "Listen" (1972)

Posted 7/2/2022

Our PennSound author page for Robert Creeley (edited by Steve McLaughlin) can be daunting for listeners to navigate, given that it has well over a thousand individual files spanning a half-century. Today we're highlighting one of the more interesting tracks you'll find there: Listen, a radio play performed by the poet and his then-wife, Bobbie Creeley. Originally broadcast by West Germany's Westdeutscher Rundfunk on December 1, 1971 (in a translation by Klaus Reichert), it was later released by Black Sparrow in 1972, both in book and cassette formats, the latter serving as the source for PennSound's recording.

In text-form, Listen is comprised of an extended back-and-forth between two narrators: a HE and a SHE. While listeners are likely to read the dialogue through the frame of the Creeleys' marriage — and here their words embody a broad range of nupital emotions, from acrimony to romance, new love and old love — the two occupy a number of varied discursive relationships, from mother to child, suitor to quarry, interrogator to interrogator, writer to actress. In his essay, "Meaning: I Hear You" (linked on Creeley's page), Kyle Schlesinger notes, "it quickly becomes evident that this conversation can't converge. It isn't quite like two ships passing in the night, but more like a submarine passing below the Mayflower; two vessels vacillating between irreconcilable pasts. Where the constitution of one was once affirmed by its ability to address the other, they now share shards of a language they can never reinhabit together." This disjointed effect is augmented by HE's extended meta-notations on the performance at hand — some of the radio play's most enjoyable moments — which range from suggestions as to sound effects to be (but not to be) added later, to questions (posed to the audience-as-producer) regarding how much of a given song should be shared with the listeners (another delight: Bob Creeley's tender and vulnerable croon).

Schlesinger concludes his essay by noting, "It is here, in the atmosphere of Listen that the reader watches it all through a transparent revolving door; "listening out" for the signal, "listening in" on another conversation as it continues to turn. Tune in. Turn on. You hear." This eliptical effect is one of the radio play's most lasting sensations — in the abrupt aftermath of Creeley's final words, listeners will most certainly want to push "play" again to take another spin. Click here to start listening.

In Memoriam: Kenward Elmslie (1929–2022)

Posted 6/30/2022

Today we pass on the sad news that Kenward Elmslie — a prolific author, editor, librettist, performer, and a member of the New York School's second generation — passed away yesterday at the age of 93. 

A skilled poet and prose writer, Elmslie was also a natural-born collaborator, with many of his books being integrated with visual art, most often his long-term partner, Joe Brainard. His collaborative spirit also lead him into the world of theater, where he wrote lyrics to operas, musicals, and songs, including "Love Wise," recorded by Nat King Cole in 1958. As publisher of Z Press and editor of its magazine — which charmingly, instead of being numbered, simply added a Z to its title (it ran from Z to ZZZZZZ) — Elmslie celebrated the work of his New York School peers and made early connections to Language poetry.

On PennSound's Kenward Elmslie author page you'll find a wide array of recordings going back to at least 1974 (there are also five undated recordings, at least some of which seem likely to have been recorded in the late 1960s), including numerous readings from the St. Mark's Poetry Project. One real treat among the archives are a pair of performances with musical accompaniment by guitarist Steven Taylor (who also famously worked with Allen Ginsberg across several decades) at St. Mark's in 1984 and at the Naropa Institute in 1991. Another highlight is "Snippets: A Gathering of Songs, Visual Collaborations, and Poems," a special event held at our own Kelly Writers House in 2003. You can listen to all of these recordings and more by clicking here.

We send our sincere condolences to Elmslie's family and friends, along with his many fans across multiple artistic realms.

William Bronk: on 'Poems to a Listener,' 1984 and 1989

Posted 6/28/2022

We start off this new week by highlighting a pair of appearances by poet William Bronk on Poems to a Listener, a pubic radio program hosted by Henry Lyman, which was produced for 88.5 WFCR-FM in Amherst, Massachusetts between 1976 and 1994. Bronk's two appearances took place in 1984 and 1989, and these half-hour programs certainly make for pleasurable listening.

Both shows are content-dense yet remarkably intimate, with Bronk offering poems at his own pace and Lyman posing questions, often hinging on a certain turn of phrase or image, as they come to him. Sometimes they're quick exchanges, sometimes protracted. Lyman isn't afraid to needle, and Bronk is willing to tussle as well — at one point, he says "I'm not going to tell you what the light is," then, after a pregnant pause, adds, "you know what the light is!" — and occasionally, if the edit's a bit too tight, it almost feels like Bronk offering his dissension to the line of questioning by moving on to the next poem, but that only makes the back-and-forth more charming. Both are fine examples of why we find public radio compelling, and, of course, recorded poetry as well: there's nothing more than human voices and the breathing space between them, and that's enough. Play one (or both) of these programs through a good set of speakers, sit back, and get carried away for half an hour. Click here to start listening.


'Dome Poem NC,' a Film by Lee Ann Brown and Tony Torn, 2011

Posted 6/26/2022

We wrap this week up with an old favorite from the marvelous Lee Ann Brown, which takes us back to 2011. 

As you might know, Brown and her husband, Tony Torn, split their time between New York City and North Carolina, where they run the FBI or French Broad Institute (of Time and the River). This short film, Dome Poem NC, is a product of the pair's time down south,  and was produced coterminously with Brown's work on the book The Spirit of Black Mountain College (co-edited by Rand Brandes). Brown calls it a "lecture demo and call for work" inspired by R. Buckminster Fuller and his geodesic domes. Blending text, images, music and live action scenes, Dome Poem NC includes poems by Brown ("Geodesic Dome"), along with Erin O'Neal ("Ephemeralization"), Cheryl J Fish ("Pleasure Dome/Supine Dome"), Timothy Dyke ("Symmetry to Mound and Minds Are Bumps") and Leah Souffrant ("My Long Short Talk on Black Mountain Which Is Invisible") and invites viewers to consider what their own geodesic dome poems might be. 

You'll find Dome Poem NC on PennSound's Lee Ann Brown author page, which is home to a wide variety of readings, performances, talks and films from 1988 to the present. Click here to start watching.


Larissa Lai on PennSound

Posted 6/22/2022

Today we're highlighting the author page of Canadian author and critic Larissa Lai, whom we recently mentioned as a panelist for the latest PoemTalk episode on Harryette Mullen.

In terms of readings, we start with an April 1993 set at the Kootenay School of Writing, where she read "China Girl," "Spoiled Journey," and "The Homebody." We then jump forward to a July 2009 reading at Vancouver's Rhizome Cafe where Lai read "Rachel" from The Automaton Biographies. That's followed by her February 2010 appearance at In(ter)ventions: Literary Practice at the Edge: A Gathering in Banff, where she read excerpts from "Nascent Fashion" and "Ham," plus an untitled piece. Finally, from December of the same year we have Lai's reading at the Institute for Canadian Studies of the University of Augsburg, where she read two excerpts from "Salt Fish Girl" and an excerpt from "Nascent Fashion."

In addition to Lai's recent appearance on PoemTalk, she was also a panelist for episode #161, on Sarah Dowling's "Entering Sappho." Lai's poem "Nascent Fashion" was the subject for episode #117 in the series. You'll find links to all three of these podcasts at the top of her author page.

You can browse any of the above recordings by clicking here to visit PennSound's Larissa Lai author page.


Congratulations to Lammy Award Winner John Keene

Posted 6/22/2022

We'll keep the cavalcade of congratulations going for one more day as we celebrate John Keene, winner of the 2022 Lammy Award in Gay Poetry from Lambda Literary for his latest, Punks: New and Selected Poems (The Song Cave). 

The judging panel is not alone in their enthusiasm for Punks. Tyehimba Jess praised the book as "utterly brilliant," observing that "The range, vision, depth and humanity he brings to the page are as galactic as Banneker's astral wanderings, as crisp as the chordal cutting of a searching horn, as courageous and small as a nose wide open." He concludes, "Keene's masterfully inventive inquiry of self and history is queered, Blackened, and joyously thick with multitudes of voice and valence. Amen to this exploration!" Dawn Lundy Martin concurs, hailing the collection as "the gayest, most reverent homosexual book of poems I have read in decades." "It drips with ecstatic faggoty desire, sings a uniquely black love, and invokes Marlon Riggs' contention that 'every time we kiss, we confirm the new world coming,'" she continues, asserting that Punks "will make you want to fall in love with everything, including yourself." 

While we don't have a PennSound author page for John Keene, he was one of 2019's Kelly Writers House Fellows, and on the KWH page for his visit, you can listen to his complete reading from the evening of February 11th and his Q&A session with Al Filreis from the following morning by clicking here.

Congratulations to Griffin Prize Winner Douglas Kearney

Posted 6/17/2022

Back in April in this feed we shared the exciting news that two PennSound poets, Douglas Kearney and Ed Roberson, had been shortlisted for the international category of Canada's prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize (which is awarded annually to one Canadian poet and one from outside of the country). Today we're very happy to announce that Kearney was recently named as this year's winner of the international prize.

Kearney wins the award for his latest collection, Sho (Wave Books), which the judges' citation summarizes as the poet's "genius, vulnerability, and virtuosity on full display." "These poems live in the rhythms of negotiation and navigation, at the root of saying. They elide, slide, exist in fitful comprehension of our world – where the public and private collide," they observe, before concluding: "Always playful, forever in dialogue, Kearney’s poems come at being from all sides. This book is the crowning achievement of Kearney’s body of work to date." On PennSound's Douglas Kearney author page you'll find a selection of readings from 2005– 2018 from Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Cambridge. With any luck, we might hope to have some recordings of material from Sho in the near future.

We send our congratulations to Kearney, along with Roberson and the rest of the very deserving finalists, for this tremendous and well-deserved honor.


PoemTalk #173: On Divya Victor's "Curb"

Posted 6/15/2022

Today we launch episode #173 in the PoemTalk Podcast series, which addresses a number of poems from Divya Victor's 2021 Nightboat Books release, Curb, including poems 3–5 from the "Curb" series and "Frequency (Alka's Testimony)." For this program, host Al Filreis was joined by a panel that included Timothy Yu, Josephine Nock-Hee Park, and Piyali Bhattacharya.

After introductory comments, Filreis' Jacket2 blog post announcing the new episode starts by characterizing the poems from the "Curb" series as follows: "In each of the 'Curb' poems one encounters instances of anti-Asian violence, one at a time, in three forms: a prose note, typically providing a description of the attack and/or historical context; latitudunal and longitudinal coordinates (printed in the top right corner of the recto); and a poem, which the PoemTalk group identifies variously as documentary, lyric, narratively disrupted, open-ended and persuasive (at once), and elegaic." Later on, he makes this key connection between those pieces and the last poem considered by the group: "'Frequency (Alka's testimony)' picks up two key issues from the 'Curb' poems: sound and safety. The 'Curb' poems we chose take place in a subway station, outside a diner, at a township football field, while Divyenda Sinha of 'Frequency' was 'mere yards away from his suburban home,' on a post-dinner walk with his family. Faced with such a desperately urgent sense of insecurity and vulnerability, Victor chooses for the accompanying poem to define the term 'frequency' multiply — it happens often, regularly; it happens despite humanizing sociality (frequentia, “a gathering of people”); it must be listened to, must be heard in the ears to be understood as testimony."

You can listen 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. Browse the full PoemTalk archives, spanning more than a decade, by clicking here.


Ted Pearson: Three Newly Segmented Segue Recordings

Posted 6/13/2022

We're starting this week off with a trio of newly segmented readings by poet Ted Pearson, which were broken up into individual MP3 files by PennSound staffer Camara Brown. These are vintage Segue Series sets taking place at the series' initial home, the historic Ear Inn, which were recorded in 1989, 1992, and 1993.

First up is Pearson's February 4, 1989 reading, which began with the poem "Reaped Figures" and continued with "Coulomb's Law" before concluding with "Descant." Next we have a set from March 21, 1992, which also includes a rendition of "Descant" along with the poem "Planetary Gear." Finally, Pearson's reading on December 4, 1993 also included just two poems: "Cantenary Odes" and "Acoustic Masks."

Click here to start listening to any of the aforementioned recordings on PennSound's Ted Pearson author page.

Happy 85th Birthday to Susan Howe

Posted 6/10/2022

This June 10 is the 85th birthday of legendary poet Susan Howe. Howe was an early supporter of the PennSound project and as a result her author page serves as an extensive documentation of her prodigious career, with recordings going back nearly fifty years. To celebrate her today, we'll explore some of those recordings.

Our earliest reading by Howe is a 1978 Segue Series reading at The Ear Inn — one of six total Segue sets between then and 2008. We also have readings, talks, performances, interviews, and lectures from the St. Mark's Poetry Project, the Kootenay School of Writing, the New School, SUNY-Buffalo, the Naropa Institute, the 92nd Street Y, London's Southbank Centre, Paris' Double Change series, the Walker Art Center, Harvard University, the CUNY Graduate Center, Dia Art Foundation, and our own Kelly Writers House among others. Beyond that, it's well worth mentioning a few particularly special recordings. First, we must start with Howe's radio program on WBAI-Pacifica Radio, which ran from 1975–1981 and featured an all-star roster of poets including Helen Adam, Bruce Andrews and Charles Bernstein, John Ashbery, Elizabeth Bishop, Ted Greenwald, Barbara Guest, Eileen Myles, Bernadette Mayer, Maureen Owen, Charles Reznikoff, Adrienne Rich, and Audre Lorde. Next, there are Howe's electric musical collaborations with David Grubbs, which encompass both live performances and studio albums including Thiefth, Souls of the Labadie TractFrolic Architecture, and WOODSLIPPERCOUNTERCLATTER. Finally, for those looking for a solid introduction to Howe's life and work, we might point you towards Howe's reading and conversation with Al Filreis from her 2010 Kelly Writers House Fellows visit, or Howe's 1995 appearance on Charles Bernstein's LINEbreak radio program.

To start exploring PennSound's Susan Howe author page click here.


Harryette Mullen: New Author Page

Posted 6/8/2022

Today we are proud to unveil a new author page for the one and only Harryette Mullen. Speaking personally, I've spent the last fifteen years at PennSound wanting to make this page a reality and I am ecstatic that the day has finally arrived.

Our Harryette Mullen author page archives more than thirty years of recordings, starting with a 1991 Segue Series reading at the Ear Inn, one of five total Segue Series events in the collection. There are also readings, panel discussions, and talks from the St. Mark's Poetry Project, Cornell University, Woodland Pattern Book Center, SUNY-Buffalo, UT Austin, Poets House NYC, the Belladonna* Reading Series, and our own Kelly Writers House, as well as the radio program Cross Cultural Poetics. All of Mullen's foundational books are well represented here, with copious readings from Sleeping With the Dictionary, as well as the three influential early books collected in one volume in Recylopedia — TrimmingsS*PeRM**K*T, and Muse and Drudge — though sadly material from her last full-length collection, the tanka diary Urban Tumbleweed, is not present. We've also compiled a small appendix of recordings related to Mullen from within the PennSound archives, including events at which she was present and short sessions of other poets teaching her work.

We're sure that our listeners will be every bit as excited about this new addition as we are. To start browsing PennSound's brand new Harryette Mullen author page, click here.




Tyrone Williams: Stephen Henderson Award Ceremony, 2022

Posted 6/6/2022

On Friday May 27th in Chicago, Tyrone Williams was presented with the Stephen Henderson Award from the African American Literature and Culture Society, recognizing not his poetry as one might expect, but rather his long and dedicated career as a poetry critic. Established in 1995, the Henderson Award "recognizes authors for outstanding achievement in literature and poetry," with past recipients including Quincy Troupe, E. Ethelbert Miller, Al YoungNathaniel Mackey, Elizabeth Alexander, C. S. Giscombe, Ed Roberson, Harryette Mullen, Michael S. Harper, Evie Shockley, Fred Moten, Jamaica Kincaid, and John Edgar Wideman.

PennSound's intrepid correspondent A. L. Nielsen — who presented the award to Williams — sent along the photo at right along with a recording of his introductory comments and Williams' brief poetry reading that followed. You can listen to this new MP3 on PennSound's Tyrone Williams author page, where you'll also find a wide array of recordings spanning the past sixteen years. We send our heartiest congratulations to Williams for this well-deserved honor.


In Memoriam: Peter Lamborn Wilson (1945–2022)

Posted 6/4/2022

We close this week out by remembering poet, translator, and political theorist Peter Lamborn Wilson, who passed away from a heart attack on May 22nd of this year. Our author page for Wilson, curated by Chris Funkhouser, is equally a tribute to Wilson's own talents and Funkhouser's dedication to documenting them.

Funkhouser and Wilson's collaboration began in the summer of 2015 when he traveled to Wilson's Woodstock, NY home for a series of nine recording sessions. Split into twenty sets in total, these recordings encompass hundreds of poems, all drawn from an "unpublished six hundred page-long [manuscript of] collected poems." These sessions are presented with organizational links to each of the recording dates, along with bracketed references to the placement of individual tracks within each larger set and the page numbers corresponding to a PDF version of the uncollected poetry manuscript. In conjunction with the launch of this archives, we published Funkhouser's essay "Peter Lamborn Wilson: A PennSound Archive" at Jacket2, in which he details the origins and progress of the project. Here, Funkhouser explains his long, complicated history with Wilson:

I met Peter Lamborn Wilson in the late '80s at Naropa Institute, and after acquiring his pamphlet Chaos, written under the takhallus Hakim Bey, became a devotee to his work. His support of DIY efforts was encouraging and validating, and We Press took up the invitation to "pirate" Chaos by way of corporate resources we had at our disposal at the time. 

After falling in and out of touch over the years, on a visit to Woodstock in 2013 I learned he now resides there. Less than a year later — two days after my family moved to the Hudson Valley in August 2014 — I found my way to a poetry reading featuring Wilson, Sparrow, and Michael Brownstein at the Golden Notebook in Woodstock. Knowing him primarily as a cultural critic and writer of prose, to hear Wilson's verse was something new, and a delight. 

And here, Funkhouser details how this project finally came together:
In March 2015, seeking a collaborative project, I discussed doing a recording session with him. He brought up the six hundred pages of unpublished poems, suggesting we could document them. Having high regard for his writing, knowing his work as a poet is essentially unknown beyond the circle of people who are part of his community, this was a grand idea, and something different than any other previous audio project I'd done before: focusing on the work of a single poet over a course of many weeks. For one thing, the duration, scale, and informal approach enabled a series of routines to develop. Some were minor, some technical and pragmatic, and others symbolic. I decided, for example, to bring a different piece of small visual art along to each of our nine sessions, to "keep us company" and temporarily transform decor in his studio apartment during the many hours we spent at work on our endeavor.

Funkhouser would go on to supplement this impressive body of work with a 2019 recording of the book Hoodoo Metaphysics read in its entirety, and after news of Wilson's passing spread, he contacted us and sent along three additional recordings: a 2016 reading with Charles Stein at the Hudson Opera House and a pair of 2015 recordings from the Woodstock Public Library and Olana State Historic Site. We are grateful, as ever, to Funkhouser for his passionate work as an archivist and send our condolences to Wilson's friends, family, and fans.


PoemTalk #172: Two by Harryette Mullen

Posted 6/1/2022

We recently launched episode #172 in the PoemTalk Podcast series, which addresses a pair of poems by the legendary Harryette Mullen's equally legendary collection, Sleeping with the Dictionary: "Dim Lady" and the title poem. For this program, host Al Filreis was joined by a panel that included Maxe Crandall, Larissa Lai, and Julia Bloch.

After dispensing with preliminaries, Filreis' Jacket2 blog post announcing the new episode does a deep dive on one of the collection's more memorable poems: "'Dim Lady' is a rewriting — both respectful and satirical, comic in its commercialization and serious in its reflection on beauty's conventional superficiality — of Shakespeare's sonnet 130." "Imagine that," he continues, "a prose poem sonnet composed by synonymous word substitution! A convergence of forms, of traditions. In the process, the natural sun becomes a garish, mod neon. The red of Shakespeare's Dark Lady derives its new hue from Red Lobster." Filreis concludes, "Overall 'false compar[ing]' has become demotic, idomatic — 'hyp[ing] beyond belief.' 'Dark' (swarthy, with its negative — arguably, racist — value tone) is now 'dim' (hard to discern but also: unsmart)."

You can listen 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. Browse the full PoemTalk archives, spanning more than a decade, by clicking here.


Spend Memorial Day with Ted Berrigan and Anne Waldman

Posted 5/30/2022

Today is Memorial Day in the United States and at  PennSound we're marking the occasion by revisiting Ted Berrigan and Anne Waldman's collaborative masterpiece, "Memorial Day," and our recording of their May 5, 1971 reading of the work in its entirety at the Saint Mark's Poetry Project.

This recording is notable not only because "Memorial Day" is a landmark collaboration between two of the New York School's finest poets, but also due to its seeming rarity. Berrigan and Waldman were rumored to have only read the poem together and in its entirety once — in fact, "Memorial Day" was composed specifically for their joint reading in the spring of 1971 — and while the event was recorded, it would seem that the tape had been missing for several decades, presumably lost forever.

My brief Jacket2 essay from 2010, "Recovering 'Memorial Day,'"  is both a rumination on the poem itself and a retelling of its being lost and found again in the reel-to-reel tape collection of Robert Creeley. To listen to the recording directly, you can click here. In a wonderful twist, video footage of a 1973 reading of the poem by Berrigan and Waldman has since been located, and you can watch that here.


"The Book Undone: Thirty Years of Granary Books"

Posted 5/2/2022

Today we're highlighting recordings from three events surrounding "The Book Undone: Thirty Years of Granary Books," which was held at Columbia University's Rare Book and Manuscript Library during the fall/winter of 2015–2016.

First, there's audio from the launch event, which took place on September 16th. After an introduction from Sean Quimby, Rare Books Curator, and opening remarks from exhibition curators Karla Nielsen and Sarah Arkebauer, Granary Press founder Steve Clay took the podium. After his comments, the even continued with brief presentations from Charles Bernstein, Johanna Drucker, Vincent Katz, Daniel Kelm, Emily McVarish, Jerome Rothenberg, and Buzz Spector. 

Cecilia Vicuña and Jen Bervin were part of a second event connected with the Granary celebration at Columbia on November 17th. Billed as "The Book as Performance", this performance and discussion session is available as both audio and video with links to HD video on Vimeo.

Finally, we have audio from the exhibition's closing event on January 26, 2016. Billed as "The Plan Without a Plan," this conversation between Steve Clay and Karla Nielson was introduced by Sean Quimby. Timestamped questions from the Q&A session that followed accompany this recording are also available, with participants including Phil Aarons, Duncan Hannah, Tom Damrauer, Jan Herman, and Robert C. Morgan, among others.

You can find audio from the opening and closing events on PennSound's Threads Talk Series page, also curated by Granary Books editors Steve Clay and Kyle Schlesinger, where many of those gathered to celebrate the press have given talks over the year. Vicuña and Bervin's performance is available on their individual author pages.



Adonis on PennSound

Posted 4/29/2022

This week closes with us shining a spotlight on our author page for Syrian poet, essayist and translator Adonis, for which we owe our gratitude to Pierre Joris (shown at left with the poet), who provided the recording to us back in 2013. 

This Poets House-sponsored reading took place on March 7, 2013 as part of that year's AWP conference in Boston. For this event, Adonis was joined by Khaled Mattawa, whose Adonis: Selected Poems was shortlisted for the 2011 Griffin Poetry Prize, and after the reading, the two engaged in a lively discussion about poetry and contemporary issues.

Unfortunately, in the intervening years, we have not had the opportunity to add more recordings to our Adonis author page, but this modest gem is still well worth sharing with our listeners. 


Hilda Morley on PennSound

Posted 4/27/2022

Our author page for Black Mountain-associated poet Hilda Morley (1916–1998) is admittedly a scant archive, containing just one three minute recording — the poem "Provence" from a March 15, 1992 reading at New York's Alice Tully Hall — but as PennSound co-director Charles Bernstein notes, "it is the only recording of Morley now available."

In her New York Times obituary, Wolfgang Saxon observed that "Ms. Morley published five books of poetry in which she articulated emotions and feelings in free verse, but a type of verse as measured as dance or music. She was a 'master of that ability,' Robert Creeley, a fellow poet, said." He continues: "She wrote that her poetry was shaped by the visions of Abstract Expressionism, which can create metamorphoses. Artists like Klee and Picasso, she said, gave her the means to create word canvases depicting the world around her."

We're grateful to be able to share this document of Morley's life, no matter how brief, and thank Patrick Beurard-Valdoye and Austin Clarkson for their assistance in making this recording available.


Robert Ashley: Music with Roots in the Aether (1974)

Posted 4/25/2022

We start this new week off by taking a look at one of the most remarkable series housed on our PennSound Cinema page: Robert Ashley's seven-part "opera for television," Music with Roots in the Aether. We've hosted a copy of this series for many years, and replaced our original lo-fi copies with new remasters in January 2011. Here's how Ashley describes his ambitious project, first released in 1974:
Music with Roots in the Aether is a music-theater piece in color video. It is the final version of an idea that I had thought about and worked on for a few years: to make a very large collaborative piece with other composers whose music I like. The collaborative aspect of Music with Roots in the Aether is in the theater of the interviews, at least primarily, and I am indebted to all of the composers involved for their generosity in allowing me to portray them in this manner.

The piece turns out to be, in addition, a large-scale documentation of an important stylistic that came into American concert music in about 1960. These composers of the "post-serial" / "post-Cage" movement have all made international reputations for the originality of their work and for their contributions to this area of musical compositions.

The style of the video presentation comes from the need I felt to find a new way to show music being performed. The idea of the visual style of Music with Roots in the Aether is plain: to watch as closely as possible the action of the performers and to not "cut" the seen material in any way — that is, to not editorialize on the time domain of the music through arbitrary space-time substitutions.

The visual style for showing the music being made became the "theater" (the stage) for the interviews, and the portraits of the composers were designed to happen in that style.
The seven installments focus on the work of (in order) David Behrman, Philip Glass, Alvin Lucier, Gordon Mumma, Pauline Oliveros, Terry Riley and Ashley himself — representing the vanguard of contemporary composers — and include both lengthy interviews as well as performances. We've also included a link to a 2004 essay in The Brooklyn Rail by Kenneth Goldsmith: in it, Goldsmith appraises Music with Roots in the Aether as "a great snapshot of the period," and observes that "we're lucky that someone went through all this trouble to preserve a very valuable piece of musical history."


PoemTalk #171: Two Poems by Eugene Ostashevsky

Posted 4/22/2022

Today we launched episode #171 in the PoemTalk Podcast series, which takes as its subject a pair of poems by Eugene Ostashevsky from his 2000 collection, The Unraveller Seasons: "Language" and "The Anatomy of Monotony." For this program, host Al Filreis was joined by a panel that included Matvei Yankelevich, Ahmad Almallah, and Kevin Platt.

"Our discussion takes us to the great Ostashevskyan topics" writes Filreis in his Jacket2 blog post announcing the new episode: "knowledge otherwise somehow alienated; language that embodies or transliterates a kind of violence; the (sound) differences between knowing and saying no (and similarities); his sincere (and doubtless Russian Absurdist-influenced) plea to 'teach us love / teach us love / teach us love / teach us love' even though 'We are wholly unfamiliar with it."" Filreis also offers this contextualization for the recording date of this new episode: "Because the episode was recorded before the February 24, 2022, Russian military invasion into Ukraine, listeners will have to reckon for themselves the many places in our conversation when we would no doubt have commented on the war (continuing at the time of the podcast's release) and on the role of the avant-garde Russian American poet in relation to Russian cultures historical and contemporary."

You can listen 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.


Steve McCaffery, "Wot We Wokkers Want" b/w "One Step to the Next"

Posted 4/20/2022

We begin this week with an interesting artifact from Steve McCaffery"Wot We Wokkers Want" b/w "One Step to the Next" was released on LP and cassette in 1980 by the Underwhich Audio Collective, a small Canadian independent label (based in Toronto, Ontario and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) that also issued small run releases (usually about 100 copies) by the likes of Owen Soundthe Four HorsemenPaul DuttonBob Cobbing, Susan Frykberg, Larry Wendt, and DUCT, among others.

Better known by its full title, The Kommunist Manifesto or Wot We Wukkerz Want Bi Charley Marx un Fred Engels, the leadoff track is McCaffery's translation of The Communist Manifesto into the dialect of West Riding of Yorkshire, or, as he puts it, "Redacted un traduced intuht’ dialect uht’ west riding er Yorkshuh bi Steve McCaffery, eh son of that shire. Transcribed in Calgary 25 November to 3 December 1977 un dedicated entirely to Messoors Robert Filliou and George Brecht uv wooz original idea this is a reullizayshun." You can read the piece in its entirety here as part of the PECP Library. Side A also includes "Mid●night Peace" ("a nostalgic translation of the Dadaphony of hell") and "A Hundred And One Zero S One Ng," which is McCaffery's translation of Brecht's translation of the closing section of Robert Filliou's 14 Chansons et Charade.

Side B starts with "One Step Next to the Next," co-created with Clive Robertson, which centers around turntable manipulations of a National Geographic flexi-disc on the Apollo space flights. The closing track, Emesin which "a phrase is intercepted, reversed, synthesized, and obsessively repeated as a stolen micro-unit." As the liner notes explain, "it represents McCaffery's first theft from himself." Listen in to all of these tracks here.


Happy Birthday, Bob Kaufman!

Posted 4/18/2022

April 18th is the birthday of Bob Kaufman, a quintessential San Francisco poet of the post-war period, who 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. Kaufman was an innovator in the surrealist tradition, as well as co-founder of the germinal journal Beatitude, and a vital voice that continues to inspire generations of writers. Born in 1925, Kaufman — who died in 1986 — would have turned 97 today.

PennSound's 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 — 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. Combs' recording forms the basis for PoemTalk #158, in which Christopher Stackhouse, Maria Damon, and Devorah Major join host Al Filreis for a discussion of the poem. Click here to start browsing.



Congratulations to Griffin Prize Shortlist Poets Kearney and Roberson

Posted 4/15/2022

Each year the Griffin Poetry Prize judges name a shortlist comprised of four international poets and three Canadian poets, from which the two eventual winners are chosen. This week brought news of this year's shortlist, and we were glad to see two PennSound poets among those honored: Douglas Kearney and Ed Roberson.

Kearney is honored for Sho (Wave Books), which the judges' citation summarizes as the poet's "genius, vulnerability, and virtuosity on full display." "These poems live in the rhythms of negotiation and navigation, at the root of saying. They elide, slide, exist in fitful comprehension of our world – where the public and private collide," they observe, before concluding: "Always playful, forever in dialogue, Kearney’s poems come at being from all sides. This book is the crowning achievement of Kearney’s body of work to date." On PennSound's Douglas Kearney author page you'll find a selection of readings from 2005– 2018 from Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Cambridge.

Roberson is nominated for Asked What Has Changed (Wesleyan University Press). The judges' citation notes in part that "Poised between the vertical forces of social inequality and racial injustice, the horizontal sprawl of ghettoized urban growth and environmental degradation, and the temporal trajectories of a glacial past and a climate-changed future, these poems position a poetic eye attuned not only to seeing, 'but with understanding sight.'" They continue, "Through inventive language that moves with the sonic beauty and unpredictability of lake breakers, or wheeling swallows, [this book] is a challenging and urgent interrogation of and reckoning with the history, violence, and revelatory inevitability of interconnectedness between humans and nonhumans." In conclusion, they hail the collection as "a crucial contribution to pressing political, artistic, and environmental questions." On PennSound's Ed Roberson author page, you'll find a treasure trove of readings, performances, interviews, panel discussions and more from the beloved poet, starting in 1993 and going all the way up to 2018.

We send our congratulations to Kearney, Roberson, and the rest of the very deserving finalists, and will look forward to hearing who eventually takes the prize.




"Chanson Tzara" with Lee Harwood by Alexander Baker, 2012

Posted 4/13/2022

In the early 60's the late poet Lee Harwood heard for the first time, in a London cafe, a poem by Tristan Tzara. An "immediate convert" to Dada, Harwood tracked down a few of Tzara's then difficult to find poems and translated them; he eventually also tracked down Tzara himself and met him in Paris. "Chanson Tzara" — with text, translation, and narration by Harwood, and sound and realization by Alexander Baker — is a sound work created around that encounter.

This twenty-seven minute audio composition is an ambitious and fully-dimensional tribute to both Tzara and the chaotic spirit of Dada made contemporary, starting with a hectic sound collage of found samples, ring modulated radio noise, music, and text-to-speech voice generation, which eventually gives way to a touching and elegiac voiceover by Harwood that weaves together memories, translations, and the young poet's conversation with Tzara.

You can listen to this recording on PennSound's Lee Harwood author page, which is also home to his contribution to the Rockdrill series, The Chart Table, Lee Harwood: Poems 1965–2002, and a 2008 reading as part of the Shearsman Reading Series at Swedenborg Hall in London.


Cid Corman Recordings by John Levy, 1974

Posted 4/12/2022

We're starting this new week off by showcasing a remarkable treasure trove of recordings of Cid Corman — approximately eighteen hours in total — made by John Levy in 1974. They come to us courtesy of  Steel Wagstaff, who originally digitized and posted these recordings and was kind enough to share them with us, so that they might coexist alongside the wonderful bevy of materials — both Corman reading his own work and critical commentary by others — available on his PennSound author page. Wagstaff provides this context for the recordings:
In 1973, Cid Corman and his wife Shizumi Konishi Corman opened CC's, a coffeeshop in Kyoto, Japan. The second floor was a tatami space with a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf and a space where Cid hosted readings and talks. Soon after opening the shop Cid invited one of his many correspondents, an American named John Levy, to work at the shop for room and board. In 1974 and 1975 John taped some of the readings and talks on poetry Cid gave. During these gatherings of Cid's friends and customers (often other American & British writers), the group would sit, often in a circle, on the tatami mats.
Poets discussed in these sessions include Emily Dickinson, William Carlos Williams, Louis Zukofsky, Wallace Stevens, and Marianne Moore. Others have colorful names like "In Good Time & Words for Each Other," "0:1 & Little Books," or "Plight | & [infinity]." Again we are grateful to both Steel Wagstaff and John Levy, along with Bob Arnold (Corman's literary executor) for the opportunity to make these unique documents with our listeners.


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