Featured resources

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

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

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

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Leonard Schwartz with Simon Carr at Bowery Gallery, 2024

Posted 6/19/2024

Today we're proud to announce a new reading by Leonard Schwartz at New York City's Bowery Gallery. Recorded on March 16th of this year this event was held in conjunction with the exhibition Simon Carr: Play Ground and celebrated Horse on Paper (Chax, 2024), the third multi-genre collaboration between the two, joining Not a Snake (2023) and Salamander: A Bestiary (2017). Running just over seventy minutes the recording includes a gallery talk by Carr and Schwartz reading his poems from the volume.

You'll find this video on PennSound's Leonard Schwartz author page alongside a number of PoemTalk appearances and more than a dozen recordings of readings and performances going way back to the early 90s. Of course, we'd be remiss if we didn't also mention Schwartz's much-missed radio program Cross Cultural Poetics (2003–2018), which provided listeners with nearly 400 episodes showcasing the best of the worldwide arts scene. PennSound is proud to host the complete archive of the series.

David Shapiro at UMass Amherst, 2004

Posted 6/19/2024

As we continue to mourn David Shapiro, who passed away last month at the age of 77, we're grateful to Peter Gizzi, who reached out with these recordings of a spring 2004 visit to UMass Amherst as part of their Visiting Writer Series.

Shapiro's visit included two events, starting with a talk on painters Fairfield Porter and Jasper Johns. That was followed by a lengthy reading that we've segmented into 55 tracks, including 17 tracks of comments peppered amongst the poems, which include "To The Earth," "Falling Upwards," "Funeral For Jan Palach," "Snow at Night," "Stay Stay Stay Stay," "A Book of Glass," "The Boss Poem," "The Will," "Light Bulb," "Prayer for a House," "A Song For Rudy Burckhardt," "Winter Work," and "Colorful Hands," among many other. 

You'll find these new recordings on Shapiro's PennSound author page, along with a modest collection of more recent recordings, including a pair of Segue Series events and a reading for Dia Art Foundation, and a 1976 ten-year memorial for Frank O'Hara at the Poetry Project, which also featured Joe LeSeuer, Patsy Southgate, Jane Freilicher (reading James Schuyler), Anne Waldman as MC, Kenneth Koch (reading "Awake in Spain"), Carter Ratcliffe, Tony Towle, Patsy Southgate, and Peter Schjedahl. Click here to start exploring.

Daphne Marlatt: 'Like Light off Water: Passages from Steveston' (2008)

Posted 6/15/2024

Today we take a closer look at one of the most iconic works by Canadian poet Daphne Marlatt in a unique setting. Like Light off Water: Passages from Steveston was originally released on CD by Otter Bay Recordings in 2008, and presents passages from Marlatt's beloved 1974 collaboration with photographer Robert Minden with musical embellishments written and performed by Minden and Carla Hallett. As Douglas Barbour observes, Steveston is "a carefully documented and deeply personal overview of the town in history," including its time as an internment camp for Japanese Canadians during the Second World War.

This is not the first time that Marlatt and Minden have revisited the Steveston project. The creators reconfigured the manuscript for a twenty-fifth anniversary edition, which separates the poems and photos into different portfolios, with both adding mew material. Speaking about the project as a whole, Marlatt notes, "There was something in Steveston which drew us, over and over again, and which our work attempted to enunciate — something under the backwater quiet, the river hum of comings and goings, the traffic of work, that was shouting at us to tell it." Writing in The WholeNote Magazine in 2009, Dianne Wells offered high praise for the album: "Marlatt's words bring you to the river's mouth and into a sensuous landscape of lives lived in canneries, fishing camps, on the sea and over time. Listen to the sounds of vintage waterphones, bowed carpenter’s saws, found object percussion and voice – a delicate resonance which surrounds Marlatt's poetic voicing, rhythm and imagery." She continues, hailing the music's ability to conjure up "the rippling and twinkling of water and light, together with haunting depictions of mysterious and erotic undercurrents mixed with the gentle beauty of the night sky.”

You can listen to all eight tracks — including "Imagine: A Town," "Moon," and "Intelligence (As If By Radio?" — by clicking here.

Happy Birthday to William Butler Yeats

Posted 6/13/2024

June 13th is the 159th birthday of William Butler Yeats, a true member of Irish literature's pantheon, which makes it an excellent occasion to revisit the recordings housed on his PennSound author page.

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

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

Michael Ruby Reads from 'Close Your Eyes, Visions,' 2023

Posted 6/12/2024

Today we present a new batch of recordings from Michael Ruby, which come from a 2023 session engineered by Chris Funkhouser. Here, in ninety-three individual tracks, we discover the majority of Ruby's latest collection, Close Your Eyes, Visions, which was published by Station Hill Press earlier this year.

As that comma in the middle of the title suggests, Ruby's latest consists of two discrete sequences, and the recordings are presented as such. Close Your Eyes is represented by fourteen poems in series running between four and ten minutes in length. Visions takes a very different form, with a grand total of seventy-eight poems, dates serving as titles, which span from 2007 to 2013.

On PennSound's Michael Ruby author page you'll find these sequences as well as complete studio recordings of many of the poet's books, including The Star-Spangled BannerThe Mouth of the BayThe Edge of the UnderworldInner Voices Heard Before Sleep, and Compulsive Words, along with readings from 2000 to the present.

Allen Ginsberg on 'Stonewall Nation,' 1978

Posted 6/7/2024

Today we're highlighting a real treasure from the audio archives of Robert CreeleyAllen Ginsberg's appearance on Stonewall Nation — hosted by Alex Van Oss, on Buffalo's WBFO-FM — during a visit to SUNY-Buffalo in the fall of 1978.

Joined by Peter Orlovsky and Al Hershberger, Ginsberg, no stranger to speaking candidly about his queerness (or any other topic), holds forth on a variety of topics, from his closeted youth and coming out to his family, along with the Beat Generation's relationship to nature, and contemporaneous political topics like California's Briggs Amendment — which he initially approaches from a literary perspective, highlighting classic authors (from Whitman to Wilde, Genet to Plato) who California teachers would be banned from assigning — as well as the Rocky Flats Nuclear Plant.

The show begins with a performance of "Gospel Noble Truths" (in a different arrangement than what would become Ginsberg's standard, and with some slight lyrical variations), and also includes excerpts from the recently-written "'Don't Grow Old,'" concerning Ginsberg's coming out to his father, and ends with a performance of "Everybody Sing" (which famously asserts that "everybody's just a little bit homosexual, whether they like it or not"). To listen, click here to visit our Allen Ginsberg author page.

Belladonna* GIST : Two Readings, 2024

Posted 6/7/2024

Today we bring you the first two events in GIST, a new reading series collaboratively produced by the much-beloved Belladonna* Collective and Emily Bark Brown and Ayaz Muratoglu, the organizers of HANK, a reading series held in public spaces.

The series premiered on February 24th of this year at the Brooklyn Central Library and featured poets Peter Myers and Jameson Fitzpatrick. MP3 audio of this complete reading is available. The second GIST event took place on March 23rd at the Center for Brooklyn History with Kaleem Hawa and Rachelle Rahmé as the featured readers. Both audio and video from this event are available. Subsequent readings took place on April 28th , May 18th, and June 1st, and hopefully we'll have these added to the site soon.

Now in its twenty-fourth year, Belladonna* is "a reading series and independent press that promotes the work of women writers who are adventurous, experimental, politically involved, multi-form, multicultural, multi-gendered, impossible to define, delicious to talk about, unpredictable, and dangerous with language." You can watch these latest additions by clicking here, and there are countless amazing recordings spanning the series' complete history waiting for you to discover on PennSound's Belladonna* series page.

Happy Birthday, Allen Ginsberg

Posted 6/3/2024

June 3rd is the birthday of Beat Generation legend Allen Ginsberg, who would have turned 98 today. For many generations, Ginsberg has served as an important gateway to poetry — I've written and spoken about my own teenage experience discovering his work and its life-changing effects — and in these turbulent times it's well worth remembering that for Allen poetry and politics were inextricably linked, from his earliest scribbles through to his deathbed writings. 

From the civil rights movement to queer liberation, nuclear disarmament to environmentalism, censorship to anti-imperialism, Ginsberg (who originally aspired to being a labor lawyer) tirelessly fought the good fight on behalf of the oppressed and challenged those in power to do better. We see it in his dream cabinet in "Death to Van Gogh's Ear," his demands for the Clinton presidency in "New Democracy Wish List," and hundreds more poems  written over his fifty-year career. Moreover, a spirit of radical empathy guided both his work and his worldview: "I'm with you in Rockland," he pledges to Carl Solomon in the footnote to "Howl," his most iconic poem, and undoubtedly he would be with us in Minneapolis, in Ferguson, in Baltimore, in Cleveland, in Sanford, and every other battleground in our long and ongoing struggle for justice.

We are honored to be able to share a startling array of recordings — readings, songs, interviews, talks, and more —  on PennSound's Allen Ginsberg author page, which spans more or less the entirety of his writing career, from a few 1956 sessions all the way up to his legendary residency at the Knitting Factory in 1995, during which he gave authoritative readings of his three finest long-form pieces: "Howl," "Kaddish," and "Wichita Vortex Sutra." You'll find the majority of Ginsberg's most iconic poems — aside from the aforementioned titles, "A Supermarket in California," "America," "Sunflower Sutra," "The Lion for Real," "Don't Grow Old," "Plutonian Ode," "Gospel Noble Truths," "Do the Meditation Rock," "Hum Bom," and "After Lalon" are all there — but the real treat for diehard fans are the more obscure titles, the telling asides between poems, and the pieces shared with audiences in their earliest drafts. To hear Ginsberg read "Autumn Leaves" or "Manhattan Mayday Midnight" or "Tears" or "To Aunt Rose" or "Transcription of Organ Music" or "After the Big Parade" is as much a delight as encountering them for the very first time. You can start exploring by clicking here.

Happy Birthday, Walt Whitman

Posted 5/31/2024

Today would have been the 205th birthday of poetic pioneer Walt Whitman, who resides permanently just across the river from us in Camden, NJ.

While Whitman left behind no recordings of his poetry — you might be familiar with a wax cylinder recording of excerpts from the late poem "America" that's been deemed unlikely to be the poet himself — but that doesn't mean that we don't have recordings of Whitman's work for your enjoyment. Today we'll highlight performances and interpretations by three poets.

We start with UPenn professor emeritus John Richetti, who has recorded a wide variety of Whitman's work over the years, including "O Captain! My Captain!," "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd," "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," "The Sleepers," "Goodbye My Fancy," "I Sing the Body Electric," and "I Hear America Singing," and sections 1 and 2 of "Calumus." You'll find these tracks on a special page containing all of Richetti's renditions of Whitman's work, which also includes "Song of Myself" in its entirety,  among other titles. Sticking with "Song of Myself," we're also lucky to have a 1974 recording of Aaron Kramer reading sections I-XXXII of that poem, and Basil Bunting winds things up with a 1977 reading at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where he read "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking" as part of a performance that also included work by Louis Zukofsky, Ezra Pound, Thomas Wyatt, and Edmund Spenser. You can click on any of the poets' names above to be taken right to the mentioned recordings.

George Quasha Reads 'strange beauty by stranger attraction,' 2024

Posted 5/30/2024

Today we are proud to present the latest recording session from Chris Funkhouser and George Quasha, their first of the new year. Consummate PennSound Daily readers will recall that Funkhouser has been periodically recording the complete poetic works of his friend and neighbor Quasha since at least 2017 to the benefit of listeners worldwide. 

This latest session — recorded in Barrytown, NY on March 18th of this year — consists of strange beauty by stranger attraction, a "preverbs" project that's part of the larger hearing other text and runs just over one hour and forty minutes. You can read selections from strange beauty by stranger attraction in both Marsh Hawk Review and SPACECRAFTPROJECT.

You'll find these and many more recordings on PennSound's George Quasha author page, along with lengthy selections from many of his books including waking from myself, gnostalgia for the present, not even rabbits go down this hole, dowsing axis, hearing other, the ghost in between, verbal paradise, glossodelia attract: preverbs, the daimon of moment: preverbs, scorned beauty comes up behind: preverbs, things done for themselves: preverbs, and polypoikilos: matrix in variance: preverbs, among others. Click here to start listening.

Spend Memorial Day with Anne Waldman and Ted Berrigan

Posted 5/27/2024

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.

PoemTalk #196: on Hart Crane's "The Harbor Dawn"

Posted 5/22/2024

Today we release the latest episode in the PoemTalk Podcast series, which focuses on "The Harbor Dawn," the third section of Hart Crane's The Bridge, which was begun in 1923 and published in 1930. For this 196th program, host Al Filreis was joined by just two interlocutors: Gabriel Ojeda-Sagué and Jonathan Dick.

Filreis starts his write-up of the new episode by explaining the source of the recording under discussion: "We don't alas have a recording of Crane reading this poem; nor do any recordings of Crane survive. But PennSound's Hart Crane author page includes two of Crane's poems as performed by Tennessee Williams! So before our discussion began, we listened to Williams's transatlantic/southern American inflection." He continues, "Crane the Ohioan who spent a good deal of time around working-class New Yorkers, would not have sounded this way. Yet listen and get a sense of how our talk was perhaps affected by Williams's performance. Nonetheless we heard in Crane's poem major traces of Whitman, Eliot, O'Hara, Schuyler, the Romantics (that window casement...), Samuel R. Delany, even Jack Kerouac."

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

Boise State University: Spring 2024 Readings

Posted 5/20/2024

As we ease into summer break let's check in with the Boise State University MFA Reading Series and their spectacular spring roster of readings. This past fall's lineup of Peter Gizzi, Dan Beachy-Quick, Srikanth Reddy, and Alice Notley was quite formidable and this semester kept up the pace with five events held between February and April.

First up on February 16th was Christina Piña, who was introduced by Martin Corless-SmithCAConrad followed on March 8th, with an introduction by Trey Hayden — one of two March readings, along with Jennifer Moxley (who was introduced by Savy Butler) on March 29th. Finally, the program hosted two events during National Poetry Month: Endi Bogue Hardigan and Rob Schlegel (introduced by Caleb Merritt and Christofer Arbudzinsky, respectively) on April 5th, and Ian Dreiblatt on April 12th (with introduction by Adam Ray Wagner).

Click here to visit PennSound's Boise State University MFA Reading Series homepage, where you can listen to all of the aforementioned readings. While you're there, check out our repository of recordings made between 2010–2013 under the curation of Corless-Smith, including sets from Alan Halsey, Susan M. Schultz, Ben and Sandra Doller, Forrest Gander, Charles Bernstein, Michael Palmer, Jennifer Moxley, Bhanu Kapil, Myung Mi Kim, Renée Gladman, Tom Raworth, Lisa Robertson, Alice Notley, and Maggie Nelson. We thank current coordinator Sara Nicholson and grad student Adam Ray Wagner for their help in reviving the series page.

David Antin Discusses Kathy Acker, 2002

Posted 5/18/2024

Here's a hidden gem from our archives that deserves your attention: a half-hour video of David Antin discussing Kathy Acker — who he calls "a dazzlingly charming and funny and brilliantly powerful writer, whose work I've always felt very close to" — as part of a symposium on her work held at New York University on November 8, 2002.

"Let me point out I knew Kathy before she was the Kathy Acker you all know," Antin begins, discussing his first meeting her at UC San Diego in 1968, when she was working as a teaching assistant and associating with other "refugees from Brandeis," along with her husband Robert (nominally a student of Marcuse). He goes on to discuss "the climate in which Kathy came to be a poet" — specifically "the proclaimed sexual revolution" and "the year of the assassinations" (Antin's arrival in the city coincided with Robert Kennedy's murder and Valerie Solanas' shooting of Andy Warhol) — then recalls the guidance that he provided to young and aspiring writers like Acker, Mel Freilicher, and others from their social circle, the conceptual art projects he worked closely with (including a Fluxus retrospective), and associations with figures like his wife, Eleanor, Jerry and Diane Rothenberg, Lenny Neufeld, George Quasha, et al., all of which proved to be very influential. "She was exposed to all of these people in various ways that were useful to her," he observes. 

He goes on to talk about her compositional use of constraint ("Her engagement was with so many things but she had to restrain herself to not be all over the place all at once."), her means of getting her work out to wider audiences, and the qualities that made her a singular talent: "Kathy had both intelligence and energy, and she had desire [...] It was the intensity of her desire for life." It's a gossipy, raucous recollection that also reveals deeper truths about how Acker came into her own. You can watch it here.

Trish Salah on PennSound

Posted 5/8/2024

Today we're highlighting our author page for Canadian poet and critic Trish Salah.

Our holdings begin with the poet's appearance at the 2009 ADFEMPO (Advancing Feminist Poetics and Activism) conference, organized by Belladonna*, which took place on September 24th and 25th of that year. Salah appeared as part of a panel on "Body as Discourse" chaired by Kate Eichhorn that included Joan Retallack, Laura Smith, Nathalie Stephens (Nathanaël), and Ronaldo V. Wilson in addition to Salah, which explored "questions of the body, referentiality, remapping bodies and borders, intertextuality, narrativity, aesthetics, and the challenges of de-essentialization as we scrutinize 'female,' 'queer,' 'raced' and 'othered' bodies."

Beyond that panel, we had a brief set as part of a Belladonna* Reading Series event on Transfeminism and Literature from 2012, and Salah's Segue Series reading at the Zinc Bar in March 2013. Since then, we've added several more recordings, including "Nevada: A Reading and Panel" that also included Imogen Binnie, from the Young Centre for Performing Arts in 2013; 2014's Wanting in Arabic: A Conversation with Poet Trish Salah," recorded as part of the Asia Pacific Forum for NYC's WBAI-FM; and a 2014 reading at the East Bay Poetry Summit, hosted by the Manifest Reading and Workshop Series. There's also a very exciting PennSound Podcast episode (#57) in which Christy Davids interviews Salah and Salah reads her poetry, including "Two Self Portraits," "Interlude for the Voice," "Future Foundered," and "Gossels in Fugue."

You can listen to any and all of the recordings mentioned above by clicking here.

In Memoriam: David Shapiro (1947–2024)

Posted 5/7/2024

Last week, while the world was focused on pro-Palestine campus occupations at Columbia University and elsewhere one photo that frequently made the rounds was this one of students occupying the office of Columbia's president in 1968. Those in the know will recognize the central figure as poet David Shapiro, who died yesterday at the age of 77.

A precocious and prolific polymath, Shapiro first hit the cultural scene as a teenager, working as a professional violinist with several orchestras and publishing his first work in Poetry at the age of sixteen. That infamous photo was taken during the end of the first of three tenures at Columbia: he earned his BA in 1968, returned for a Ph.D. in 1973, and eventually joined the faculty. Beyond his own poetry, Shapiro published both art and literary criticism, along with work as a translator and editor (perhaps most notably, An Anthology of New York Poets with Ron Padgett). His influence was felt widely and he will be missed by many.

We direct listeners to Shapiro's PennSound author page, where you can browse a small collection of more recent recordings, including a pair of Segue Series events and a reading for Dia Art Foundation, and a 1976 ten-year memorial for Frank O'Hara at the Poetry Project, which also featured Joe LeSeuer, Patsy Southgate, Jane Freilicher (reading James Schuyler), Anne Waldman as MC, Kenneth Koch (reading "Awake in Spain"), Carter Ratcliffe, Tony Towle, Patsy Southgate, and Peter Schjedahl. Click here to start exploring.

In Memoriam: Paul Auster (1947–2024)

Posted 5/3/2024

Unfortunately we close this week out with word of yet another major literary figure's passing: Paul Auster, best known as a novelist, but also a poet, translator, essayist, and screenwriter, died on April 30th at the age of 77. 

Our cofounders both shared remembrances of the author this week. Al Filreis recalled that "Paul Auster's two visits to the Kelly Writers House were fabulously memorable — one in 2001, the second 17 years later during his time as a Writers House Fellow in 2018. I had the honor of hosting him, and hanging out with him, for the 3 days of that second stay. What a literary mind! What a voice (in all senses)." Concluding by noting that "his passing is a major loss," he encouraged folks to "look at his PennSound page and have a listen."

Charles Bernstein shared this photo of him flanked by three authors who've passed away recently, with the caption, "Ave atque vale: Paul Auster, Jerome Rothenberg, Marjorie Perloff, 20 years ago at a panel I organized on Radical Jewish Poetry / Secular Jewish Practice at the Center for Jewish History in NY. Our talks and much more were later collected in a book in the Alabama series: Radical Poetics and Secular Jewish Culture."

The recordings highlighted in their notes are just some of the treasures waiting for you on PennSound's Paul Auster author page, along with a 1995 LINEbreak interview with Bernstein and a contemporaneous reading from The Red Notebook at SUNY-Buffalo as part of the Wednesdays @ 4Plus series, along with a 1989 reading at the St. Mark's Poetry Project with Paul Violi. The 2004 Secular Jewish Culture / Radical Poetic Practice event at Manhattan's Center for Jewish History/American Jewish Historical Society — which also included Kathryn Hellerstein and Stephen Paul Miller — can be found here along with more information on the event.

We send our condolences to Auster's family, friends, and fans worldwide.

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

Posted 5/1/2024

There's probably no more fitting recording for May Day in the PennSound archives than Steve McCaffery's "Wot We Wokkers Want" b/w "One Step to the Next," This album 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.

In Memoriam: Andy Clausen (1941–2024)

Posted 4/30/2024

We are sorry to report the death of latter-day Beat poet Andy Clausen, who passed away at the age of 83 on April 11th. Clausen came a long way from bomb-scarred Belgium to Woodstock, NY, where he was a mainstay of the poetry scene for the last quarter century. 

A tribute by Eliot Katz on the website of the National Beat Poetry Foundation provides a rollicking biography as well as a bibliography, listing his publications including "The Iron Curtain of Love, 40th Century Man, Songs of Bo Baba, Without Doubt, and Home of the Blues [and] an extraordinary memoir, Beat, about his adventures with well-known and lesser-known Beat Generation writers." Katz also frame Clausen's poetry as "extend[ing] the democratic-left and imagination-filled traditions of poets like Walt Whitman, William Blake, Muriel Rukeyser, Langston Hughes, Allen Ginsberg, the French surrealists, and the Russian Futurists, especially Vladimir Mayakovsky, who was always one of Andy’s favorites." He also provides this fascinating description of Clausen's Pauline transformation from a Marine into a poet:
Andy was physically stronger than most poets. After graduating from high school, he became a talented Golden Gloves boxer and, for a brief time, joined the Marines, which he left in 1966 after watching Allen Ginsberg on TV read his anti-Vietnam War poem "Wichita Vortex Sutra."  The line from Allen's poem that caught Andy's attention and changed the direction of his life was the simple but poignant, humanizing question: "Has anyone looked in the eyes of the dead?"

Folks wanting a taste of Clausen's poetry should head over to our archive page for the recordings of Chris Funkhouser, where you'll find several recordings: two tracks from issue #14 of We Magazine (one a collaboration with thelemonade), a December 1991 We Press/Gargoyle Mechanique Laboratory Benefit from New York City, and Clausen's set from the 27th Annual Subterranean Poetry Festival, held in Rosendale, NY in 2017. We send our condolences to Clausen's friends and family.

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

Posted 4/27/2024

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.

Amish Trivedi on Jerry Rothenberg at Jacket2

Posted 4/26/2024

As I noted in
this week's tribute to the late Jerry Rothenberg, we were honored to publish his "Poems and Poetics" commentary series at Jacket2 since our launch in 2011. Jerry's partner and technical liaison in that endeavor since 2008 was Amish Trivedi, who has penned a moving and illuminating memorial detailing their long collaboration. While I made mention of this in Monday's note, I wanted to highlight the piece on its own because our listeners will definitely appreciate spending a little time with it.

I'll admit I chuckled a little when I read about the decision to join us in our new publishing endeavor:
I told him at the time that I thought the whole blog thing was dying, that we had all slowed down on Blogger, and that with the Buffalo List seemingly on fumes at that point, Ron Silliman having slowed as well, and social media booming, the age of the poetry blog was winding down. Did we want to move to Jacket2's new thing just to watch it all end? "Of course!" Jerry shouted into the phone. There was a crackling sound as the receiver hit its max volume and the audio broke slightly. I didn't argue — just agreed. Whatever Jerry was up to, I wanted in.
And needless to say, we are grateful for Jerry's enthusiasm and everything that's followed! Later, after lamenting their distant friendship, Trivedi shares a luminous memory of seeing Rothenberg read in person:
We had been lucky to run into each other a few times in person over the years, despite entire books of the Americas of our own in the middle. I was doing an MFA and a PhD and adjuncting and broke but there was always an invite on every call to visit Encinitas. Thankfully, the last year I was in person doing my PhD, we managed to get Jerry out for a couple of nights to do a reading and interview to Normal, Illinois. Watching him read to a packed room after a few glasses of wine, all of us sweaty and tired on an April night, is going to be a happy memory a lot of us get to carry forward.
As I say, anyone mourning the loss of Jerry Rothenberg will take solace from Trivedi's remembrance. Click here to read it in its entirety.

In Memoriam: Jerry Rothenberg (1931–2024)

Posted 4/23/2024

How do you begin to describe the many lives of Jerry Rothenberg, who passed away on Sunday at the age of ninety-two? His output as poet alone, or translator, or editor, or anthologist would be enough to secure his reputation for the ages, and yet he excelled in all those areas and more with equal brilliance, fervor, and prescience. 

The poetry world we inhabit has been shaped over and over again by Rothenberg's vision, which comprehensively traces an evolution in Western poetics from Romanticism through Modernism to the present, while also inviting a diverse array of marginalized voices to take an equal place at the table. Who else could find profound commonalities that transcended time and space, or trace mercurial ideas into the most obscure corners of expression? Who else could subvert the anthology's colonial trappings, creating cherished collections — Technicians of the Sacred: A Range of Poetries from Africa, America, Asia, [Europe], & OceaniaShaking the Pumpkin: Traditional Poetry of the Indian North Americas; and A Big Jewish Book: Poems & Other Visions of the Jews from Tribal Times to the Present; among others — that envision a pluralistic and egalitarian, almost utopian, worldview entire generations before the literary mainstream caught up with him?

The Rothenberg family broke the news on Sunday night with the following note:

After a lifetime spent passionately discovering new poetic possibilities, Jerry passed away on April 21, 2024, at the home he shared with Diane Rothenberg, his wife and collaborator of 71 years. 

Until the end of his life, he remained actively engaged as a poet, anthologist and performer — and as a devoted friend to his global community. 

His final projects will come out in 2024, including a massive "omnipoetics" anthology of the Americas co-authored with Javier Taboada; a new studio project with bassist Mark Dresser; and the first performance of "Abraham Abulafia visits the Pope: A fragment of a Steinian opera," conceived and planned with composer Charlie Morrow. 

Our own Al Filreis offered this remembrance on behalf of the UPenn community: "Here at the Writers House our hearts go out to Diane and Matthew and all of Jerry's many, many friends. Jerry and Diane visited KWH a number of times over the years. We were blessed by his poetry and his overall poeticness." He concluded, "[Rothenberg] always felt — and said — the poetry should be learned 'where poetry actually happens.' And he of course made it happen in whatever space he joined." Charles Bernstein offered a more succinct tribute: "Infinite sadness to get this news, infinite happiness for Jerry’s life, work, lifelong friendship."

I was lucky to meet Jerry during his time as a KWH Fellow in 2008 and to see him again here in Cincinnati in 2011 and Ann Arbor in 2013, and I would be hard pressed to think of a poet with a more magnetic presence in a live setting. He'd have you doubled over with laughter one minute, wiping tears from your eyes the next, and enraptured throughout — indeed, I never saw him read without entering into an almost transcendent state, suffused with a sense of peace and wellbeing. I had always hoped to see him read again, to get back to that place of preternatural poetic calm, but sadly it appears that I'll no longer have the chance.

As always, in times of profound loss, it's natural to turn back to the work itself, where a beloved author lives eternally. PennSound's Jerry Rothenberg author page is an excellent place to do exactly that, with well over 350 individual tracks taken from dozens of events spanning more than half a century. These include readings, interviews, panel discussions and talks, albums, performances, podcasts, films, and more. We also direct our listeners to Jacket2, where we were honored to host Jerry's commentary series, "Poems and Poetics," since our launch, and don't forget about our Reissues section, where you browse the complete runs of the groundbreaking journals Alcheringa (1970–1980, co-edited with Dennis Tedlock) and New Wilderness Letter (1977–1984).

In a year full of unfathomable losses, Jerry Rothenberg's departure overshadows all others. It truly feels like the end of an era. We join with his family, friends, and fans worldwide in celebrating the life and work of this singular talent.

Happy Birthday Bob Kaufman

Posted 4/18/2024

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 98 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.

PoemTalk #195: Two by Ron Padgett

Posted 4/18/2024

Today we released the latest episode in the PoemTalk Podcast series (that's #195 for those counting) which addresses a pair of poems by legendary poet, translator, editor, and pedagogue Ron Padgett: "The Austrian Maiden" and "Joe Brainard’s Painting Bingo." For this program, host Al Filreis convened a panel that included Yale colleagues James Berger and Richard Deming, along with Sophia DuRose.

Filreis offers some provenance for the two recordings under discussion in his write-up of this new episode on Jacket2. " Published a year earlier in You Never Know, "The Austrian Maiden"  is taken from a February 26, 2003 reading Padgett gave at our own Kelly Writers House, and "had just recently been published in Padgett's book You Never Know (2002)." He continues: "The recording of 'Joe Brainard's Painting Bingo' — a poem published in Great Balls of Fire (1969) — was performed at a November 20, 1979, reading given at a location that is now (sadly) unknown," and notes that "the recording comes to us courtesy of the Maureen Owen Collection of Greenwich Village Poetry, now housed at the Yale Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library."

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

Adonis on PennSound

Posted 4/15/2024

We start this week off by highlighting 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. 

Want to read more? Visit the PennSound Daily archive.