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Subterranean Poetry Festival

Image credit: Chris Funkhouser

28th Annual Subterranean Poetry Festival, September 8, 2018, Rosendale, NY

Again asked to “curate” this unique annual event held in Rosendale, NY, I unintentionally brought together writers whose places of residence are equally balanced between nearby regions known as “upstate” and “city”. A moist year for the annual Festival at Widow Jane Mine! Not only did the poets dowse the space with language and song, water steadily dripped from the ceiling all afternoon as accompaniment for everyone, and one poet, Douglas Rothschild, arrived for his boombox-infused performance wearing a wetsuit after paddling an inflatable raft across the underground lake adjacent to the stage (& no one remembered to bring a lamp for the stage so it was darker than usual down there, a sign of the times perhaps). Such dramatic presentations began early on: Tony Torn opened the show by enlisting several of the other performers—Katy Bohinc, Lee Ann Brown, Bob Holman and Rothschild—“a preview of the day to come”—to help him stage a Google translation of cave scene of Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi. As always, beautiful to hear a range of voices in the acoustically marvelous setting. Other highlights included hearing Nancy Dunlop’s setting of Blake’s songs, as well as her a lovely duet with Brown, who also sang some of her work—as did Holman while rendering a new work titled The Cut Outs (accompanied by soundtrack; it was a much longer performance, edited for this collection at his request). Philip Good, Michael Joyce, Bohinc, Joan Retallack, Erica Kaufman all prepared stellar sets work and read with gusto reverberating throughout the Mine, as heard in these recordings. —Chris Funkhouser September 2018

Recorded by Chris Funkhouser

  1. Tony Torn (07:49): MP3
  2. Philip Good (03:40): MP3
  3. Nancy Dunlop (20:35): MP3
  4. Michael Joyce (15:33): MP3
  5. Lee Ann Brown (19:05): MP3

  6. Katy Bohinc (08:13): MP3
  7. Joan Retallack (10:37): MP3
  8. erica kaufman (09:04): MP3
  9. Douglas Rothschild (17:30): MP3
  10. Bob Holman (06:02): MP3

27th Annual Subterranean Poetry Festival, September 10, 2017, Rosendale, NY

The 27th Annual Subterranean Poetry Festival, an event always held in Widow Jane Mine on the grounds of Century House Historical Society in Rosendale NY, took place on September 10, 2017. I was asked by poet Anne Gorrick, who works closely with Century House, to “curate” this year’s rendition (past curators include Gorrick, Edwin Torres, Bethany Ides, Steve Hirsch, Mike Jurkovic, and others). Having now lived in the area for three years and twice before attending the Festival, I felt ready and gladly took on the task. A single, self-imposed constraint was to feature writers who had not read there before. I contacted a variety of friends, poets known over the past three decades whose work I admired for its dynamism, and whose voices I wanted to hear at this time and in this spectacular and unique cavernous space. The Festival brought forth a wide range of poetic stylings, and ended up having somewhat of an international flavor. Though nearly all of the participants live in New York State (one came from Providence), half of them were born and raised in other countries. Prodigious documentarian Kush, who made contact two days prior to the gathering saying he and his video camera planned to be there, offered up a Lew Welch poem as our invocation. Essentially operating without a budget, the main reason the occasion was successful is due to the generous spirit of the poets—John Cayley, Andy Clausen, Dorota Czerner, Pierre Joris, Adeena Karasick, Nicole Peyrafitte, David Rothenberg, Michael Ruby, Pamela Twining, and Rebecca Wolff—each of whom took time to prepare potent work and spend three hours underground bringing their best to the hearty audience assembled.
—Chris Funkhouser

Recorded by Chris Funkhouser

  1. Kush (1:54): MP3
  2. Rebecca Wolff (9:55): MP3
  3. Pierre Joris (13:59): MP3
  4. Pamela Twining (12:40): MP3
  5. Nicole Peyrafitte (15:33): MP3
  6. Michael Ruby (11:53): MP3

  7. John Cayley (19:14): MP3
  8. David Rothenberg (10:33): MP3
  9. Dorota Czerner (16:13): MP3
  10. Andy Clausen (13:04): MP3
  11. Adeena Karasick (12:34): MP3

These sound recordings are being made available for noncommercial and educational use only. All rights to this recorded material belong to the author. © 2017 Subterranean Poetry Festival. Distributed by PennSound.