Saturday, February 26, 2011

Susan Howe and Jonathan Edwards

Susan Howe in front of an image of a Jonathan Edwards manuscript. The event took place at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Photograph by Lawrence Schwartzwald. Lawrence puts up many of his photographs of poets now on his Facebook page.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Jacket2, "pretty much the most robust place"

In the new issue of the Pennsylvania Gazette, we find a nice article about Jacket2 by Sam Hughes. Here's an excerpt, quoting me:

“The poetry world is huge, vibrant, full of odd and interesting and brilliant people all over the world—and they follow everything in the field. So while it might seem like the announcement of a change in a magazine is not going to rock anybody’s world, it did. There was a big response to it, and almost all of it positive.”

Jacket2 is going to be “pretty much the most robust place where you can look and find stuff about poetry—modern, contemporary; particularly contemporary,” he adds. Including, of course, poems. He describes it as a “fully integrated site” that will play off the raw material of spoken poetry provided by PennSound. “Between the two, we’ll have a whole lot covered.”

And here is a link to the whole article.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bernadette Mayer

Lawrence Schwartzwald took this photograph of Bernadette Mayer at a reading last night at the Poetry Project at St. Marks Church.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

new review of my book

Adam Piette of the University of Sheffield has published a review of my Counter-Revolution of the Word: The Conservative Attack on Modern Poetry in the recent issue of Modernism/Modernity. Here is a PDF copy of the review.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Kramer reads Whitman's "Song of Myself"

Back in 1974 the poet Aaron Kramer, long a supporter of Walt Whitman's importance, recorded himself performing "Song of Myself." Kramer's daughter found this recording, and many others, in boxes of cassette tapes in her father's house after his death. PennSound's Kramer author page includes many of these recordings, including the Whitman. We've of course thus added Whitman to our growing "PennSound Classics" page, along with newly acquired recordings of Poe, Chaucer, Swift, Wordsworth, Fitzgerald and others. Here is your link to Kramer reading Walt, and here is the link to PennSound Classics.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mark Nowak

Today PennSound launched its newest author page - for recordings of Mark Nowak. Included here is an 18-minute reading from Coal Mountain Elementary - recorded at Mills College in 2009.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Will Alexander on Rothko

Will Alexander reads "Rothko" in 1993: MP3. And then he takes a minute to discuss that poem. (These sound files are part of a reading recorded in 1993, segmented for the first time today. These and more are available on Alexander's PennSound page.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

anti-leftist anti-postmodernism

When Jesse V. Drury tweeted early this morning (before 7 am) and "at"-ed me (hailed me with an "@afilreis," I mean), I followed the link. Jesse wrote: "Poetry needs form to be relevant" and "Anti-leftist anti-postmodernists?" and "Go get 'em @afilreis." I don't know, at the moment at least, about going to get 'em, but I did follow the link and found myself at the Poetry Foundation's Harriet blog (which is now a commentary space) and found this summary of and quotation from a conservative web site. Here is the Harriet comment in full:

Form and Nature

It’s not everyday the website for a right-wing think tank publishes an article on Flarf. Micah Mattix’s article, in The Public Discourse, the blog of Princeton’s Witherspoon Institute, argues for a rejection of the modernist / postmodernist tendency to experiment with form for the sake of new models of reading and readership, and a return to the “natural order” of “formal” poetry. Flarf receives special scorn because it does not reflect such a natural order—is that because of its formal properties, or because of its content, which is gleaned from that most seemingly unnatural of all spaces, the web? Mattix points out (which everyone admits anyway) that all poetry is formal, and there is no such thing as an unformed poem. But which forms, precisely, are “natural?” Which are not? And where (geographically, historically) do these “natural” forms come from? Well, there’s no history in the article, so who knows. But Mattix, who seemingly hasn’t read anything ever written about poetry or aesthetics, does have some major advice for poets:

What is needed now is not more ideological poetry but a new discovery of the “fundamental and perennial rules” of poetry. Without rules, there is no order and, therefore, no recognition. In the end, it is this recognition that makes experiencing art worthwhile. Via complex forms, we recognize the paradoxes of our present existence, or our fractured, conflicting selves, our yearning for coherence, transcendence, and closure, and the infinite beauty of the Creator.

If poetry is ever to regain an audience, it must stop resisting—because of dubious egalitarian, ideological reasons—the hierarchies of complex form. Only then can it again become relevant.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

praise for PoemTalk

Today we're enjoying a positive review of PoemTalk published at Geekadelphia. Here's more.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E '79

Steve McCaffrey, 1979: "The fight for language is a political fight." [Source: PDF and eclipse.]

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Saturday, February 05, 2011

cartoon from George Lichty's "Is Party Line, Comrade!" series

The "Is Party Line, Comrade!" series was selected for republication in the Conservative Book Club's Omnibus, volume 6 which included Elizabeth Bentley's Out of Bondage, Richard Weaver's Visions of Order, and Ludwig von Mises's The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality.

The signs in the cartoon read as follows: "Commisar of Music Culture (Peoples Div.)" [on the door]; "Musicians of the World arise! -- Make Sour Notes" [on the wall, middle]; "Capita[list] Be-bo[p] Must Go" [behind the middle poster]; "world No. 1 'Boogie' Man" [on wall, right, under sketch of portrait].

The caption: "Is symphony I am composing from glorious sounds of Soviet industry, comrade commisar... the din of hammers, the clash of machinery, the roar of furnaces, the groans of the populace..."

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Kelly Writers House on TV (WHYY's "Creative Campus" show)

Install the Flash plugin to watch this video.

John Ashbery performs Wallace Stevens

In October of 1989, John Ashbery went to St. John's the Divine Cathedral in New York to be part of the induction of Wallace Stevens at the Poets' Corner. There was a vespers service and Ashbery read six sections of Stevens's "An Ordinary Evening in New Haven." Imagine that--that poem read at a vespers service! Anyway, I certainly don't know of another recording of Ashbery performing Stevens. Stevens was a fairly bad reader of his own poems. Ashbery is deemed by many to be an indifferent reader of his poems. (I don't agree, but understand the point.) But here, reading Stevens, Ashbery is marvelous. Here is a 7-minute recording of sections 3, 5, 12, 17, 18 and 30 of the Stevens poem that comes closest to real serial writing (seriality at the level of the section, anyway).

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

PennSound podcast on letterpress publishing

At left you see Charles Alexander and colleagues working on a publication of Chax Press, which Charles has been directing for the past 27 years. Charles was at the Writers House today, to give a reading and be part of a recording of an episode of PoemTalk. We took a few minutes to talk about letterpresses and other alternative presses--and some important twentieth-century figures in letterpress publishing. This discussion is episode #20 in the PennSound Podcast series.