Monday, January 31, 2011

new PoemTalk out now

Today we are releasing PoemTalk's 40th episode - on Dementia Blog by Susan Schultz. Above: Susan and her mother.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Thom Donovan

Thom Donovan at the Bowery Poetry Club yesterday. Thom and Sarah Wintz curated a Segue Reading Series event there. Photo by Lawrence Schwartzwald (for more on Lawrence, click on the tag below).

when cubism finally hit the books

The word "Cubism" was used in printed books most frequently in the year 1960. More...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

new audio: Shakespeare's sonnets

We at PennSound are pleased to announce the newest addition to the PennSound "Classics" page: John Richetti reads an ample selection of Shakespeare's sonnets.

Friday, January 28, 2011

baseball companion

I have an essay in the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to Baseball. Pre-order your copy here.

on Feb 9 we remember Bob Lucid again

Philip Lopate comes to the Writers House on February 9 - for our annual Bob Lucid Memorial Program. Listen here for more.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Jerome Rothenberg: the holocaust & why he writes poetry

When Jerome Rothenberg visited Auschwitz, he experienced the keenest sense he had felt to that date that he should be writing poetry.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

duet of Cheevers

Here is a link to the March 14, 1977 Newsweek interview of John Cheever conducted by his daughter Susan.

ends from Ez

"Recomposition of Gaudier-Brzeska's Portrait of Pound" (c) 1988, by Anne Tardos, used as the jacket of Jackson Mac Low's book, Words nd Ends from Ez, published by Avenue B in 1989.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

poem in English & Chinese by Yanrong

Install the Flash plugin to watch this video.

The Chinese poet Yanrong performs his poem, "Prophecy and Carnival," in Chinese, while Charles Bernstein reads an English translation. On December 9, 2010, a group of poets from Wuhan, China, visited the Writers House: Liang Biwen, Liu Yishan, Chen Ying-Song, Tian He, Wang Xinmin, Ke Yumin, Li Ming, Hu Xiang, Liu An. Several American poets read their work in English and listened while the visiting poets read their poems in Chinese.

north of north of invention

After two fabulous days in Philly, the North of Invention troupe moved to New York, where they presented at Poets House. Lawrence Schwartzwald was there and took some great photographs, including this one of Christian Bok and M. NourbeSe Philip. (Photo used by permission of Lawrence Schwartzwald; for more, click on the tag below.)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Nardone/Dowling at Lemon Hound on "North of Invention"

Over at Lemon Hound, Michael Nardone has published an interview with Sarah Dowling, creator of the "North of Invention" gathering here in Philadelphia and (starting tomorrow) in New York. Here's how the conversation begins:

Michael Nardone:
Sarah, you've arranged a great group of poets to come down to Philly and New York for North of Invention, a mixture of readings, performances and discussions on poetics. Can you talk about your curation: why these poets? where are there points of correspondence or affinity between them? where are there moments of these poets individually charting out new spaces for practice?

Sarah Dowling:
Our initial idea in planning North of Invention was to feature poets who had not read in the U.S. ever — or at least not ever in the past five years, or at least not on the East Coast in the past five years. As you can imagine, this evolved somewhat as the planning went on. Charles Bernstein, Stephen Motika and I all had particular folks in mind when we set that curatorial constraint, and I'm pleased to say that many from our initial imaginary cohort are indeed featured in the festival. However, we had to balance this ideal with the need to attract an audience, and therefore to have some figures more recognizable to U.S. audiences on our roster. We also wanted to have a good balance of emerging and established writers, writers from across Canada, and writers representing various social and aesthetic contingencies. In the end, some of the poets we had initially wanted to feature also had to withdraw their participation for personal reasons or because conflicts arose in their schedules, so to a large extent the selection of poets depended on chance: who was available in cold, dark January.

art on the Neversink River



In partnership with the Roundout & Neversink Stream Management Program of the Sullivan County Soil & Water Conservation District, the Wildcat Fellowship Program seeks projects of high artistic merit that relate to the Neversink River and its mountainous, forested surroundings.

The successful project will raise awareness of one or more of the following:

--Changing weather patterns that increase flows (winter and fall floods)
--Invasive plants that threaten forest health, water quality and fish habitat
--The value of the wilderness aesthetic (compared to the "tame" landscape)
--The beauty of log jams and gravel bars that move with high water
--Local history as it relates to the Neversink River

We offer a residency of two weeks with accommodation in a guest house, use of a small studio barn and a bicycle. We will provide appropriate publicity and a stipend of $1,000 to cover art supplies and living expenses such as for food suited to the artist's own preparation in the guest-house kitchen. For projects involving any of the construction trades, such as carpentry, a technical consultant is available.

Two-page proposals will be accepted and reviewed between now and February 15th, 2011. The selected fellowship recipient will be notified in early April, 2011.

*Project Parameters*

We particularly seek mixed-media works that are site-specific to the Neversink River, which runs from the Catskill Mountains to the Delaware River and is captured in a reservoir to become drinking water for New York City. The site will be selected in consultation with local landowners and/or municipalities.

The proposal will be for a work that:

--uses natural materials, though perhaps not exclusively
--raises consciousness of the significance and beauty of the environment and the importance of water quality and purity
--may be interactive
--does not harm the environment and is biodegradable yet leaves a presence at the site and in the community
--produces documentation that is suitable for exhibition off-site
--contains a community-building component that invites local participation

The artist is expected to be in residence the full two weeks, is responsible for transportation to and from Claryville, and must be available for a public presentation of the work at the installation site which will include a brief artist's talk with Q-and-A. The artist must also be available for the opening and closing of an exhibit of the documentation.

The artist is responsible for installation and take-down of this exhibit as well as for the creation of necessary signage and wall texts.

TO SUBMIT: Email the following by February 15, 2011 to Curator Patricia Eakins at (1) link to your website with images of your work, (2) two-page proposal, (3) project abstract of 100 words, (4) artist statement, (5) curriculum vitae. All documents must be MS Word documents or PDFs. No phone calls please.

Karen Rauter, Stream Program Coordinator
Rondout & Neversink Basins
Tel. 845-985-2581

the last ancient Greek poet

In 2009, at the University of Michigan, George Economou delivered a performance under the appropriate title, "The Least Ancient Greek Poet." He reads from Ananios of Kleitor and then talks about the process of writing it. We at PennSound are making this recording available today for the first time. George was born in 1934 in Great Falls, Montana, the son of two Greek immigrants. He is know for his early affiliations with Deep Image poets, and, to be sure, for his 41 years of teaching at the Brooklyn center for Long Island University. He was a founding editor of The Chelsea Review (1957–60) and co-founding editor of Trobar and Trobar Books (1960–64) with Robert Kelly. It was through Kelly, I'm guessing, that he met Jerome Rothenberg. We at the Writers House glad that George and Rochelle Owens moved to Philly some few years ago and that we see them often. George called this session "the least" but I like pondering the idea of George himself as the last of the ancient Greeks. Long live George!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

north of invention

At the end of his reading tonight at the Kelly Writers House, Fred Wah was joined by Nicole Brossard. They read a poem of hers, together, she reading, of course, the original French, while he read an English translation. A wonderful way to end a long and continuously interesting day of talks and readings, day one of the "North of Invention" program. Be sure tomorrow--Friday, January 21--to watch the live video stream, starting at 10:30 AM eastern time.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Albee's plays on YouTube

Video clips from performances of Edward Albee's plays have surfaced here and there on YouTube, unsurprisingly. Despite YouTube's search mechanism, it's not so easy, actually, to find all these. That's why I'm grateful to Julia Nelson, who went through as many as she could find and organized them, adding some notes. I put her findings into a crude web page, with live links. Here is your link to that document.

Monday, January 17, 2011

digital humanites

I'm pleased that on, a digital humanities blog, I'm described today as a "tireless purveyor of recorded, digitized, and archived poetry readings."

Friday, January 14, 2011

introduction to 1960

My introduction to the recent symposium on poetry in 1960. It begins with a look at a late late 1959 essay by Stanley Kunitz predicting that the 1960s will in poetry be a time of consolidation and not of experiment--that experiment was all exhausted, played out.

Semina Circle and Meltzer

At left is an album cover: David Meltzer's jazz poems, 1958.

Meltzer published The Clown in 1960. It was issued by the Semina press. Jed Birmingham on has written about the Semina Circle and Meltzer, thus:

This mini-archive sat in my bookshelf for a couple of years untouched until January of this year when I purchased Wallace Berman and the Semina Circle. This book accompanied an exhibit relating to the literature and art surrounding Berman until his untimely death in 1976. This exhibit is currently touring the West Coast and will make its way to New York City (New York University to be exact) in January 2007. A complete run of Semina Magazine represents the Holy Grail for me as a collector. An early fragment of Naked Lunch (Pantapon Rose) appeared in Semina 4. As I have mentioned before, Semina is the epitome of the little magazine as art object. David Meltzer appeared in Semina as well. In fact, the entire issue of Semina 6 features Meltzer’s The Clown.

Unlike Burroughs, Meltzer was an intimate member of the Berman Circle. He published a few books including Luna with Black Sparrow. In the late 1960s, he wrote a series of avant garde pornographic novels for Essex House. At the same time, he fronted the psychedelic band Serpent Power. In 2004, Meltzer published Beat Thing. He also edited two collections of valuable interviews entitled San Francisco Poets and San Francisco Beat. A collection of Meltzer’s papers are at Washington University.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

newly segmented reading by Olson from Maximus poems

Click on the image above for a larger view. We at PennSound are pleased to say that Charles Olson's reading from the Maximus poems at Beloit College has now been segmented. He read for 50 minutes total from many sections of the long work. Here is your link.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

generation refusing the label of "lost"

New York Times Magazine
November 16, 1952

"This Is the Beat Generation"
A 26-year-old defines his times.

The wild boys of today are not lost. Their flushed, often scoffing, always intent faces elude the word, and it would sound phony to them. For this generation conspicuously lacks that eloquent air of bereavement which made so many of the exploits of the Lost Generation symbolic actions. Furthermore, the repeated inventory of shattered ideals, and the laments about the mud in moral currents, which so obsessed the Lost Generation does not concern young people today. They take it frighteningly for granted. They were brought up in these ruins and no longer notice them. They drink to "come down" or "get high," not to illustrate anything. Their excursions into drugs or promiscuity come out of curiosity, not disillusionment.

Only the most bitter among them would call their reality a nightmare and protest that they have indeed lost something, the future. But ever since they were old enough to imagine one, that has been in jeopardy anyway. The absence of personal and social values is to them, not a revelation shaking the ground beneath them, but a problem demanding a day-to-day solution. How to live seems to them much more crucial than why. And it is precisely at this point that the copywriter and the hot-rod driver meet, and their identical beatness becomes significant, for, unlike the Lost Generation, which was occupied with the loss of faith, the Beat Generation is becoming more and more occupied with the need for it. As such, it is a disturbing illustration of Voltaire's reliable old joke: "If there were no God, it would be necessary to invent Him." Not content to bemoan His absence, they are busily and haphazardly inventing totems for Him on all sides...

In the wildest hipster, making a mystique of bop, drugs and the night life, there is no desire t shatter the drugs and the night life, there is no desire to shatter the "square" society in which he lives, only to elude it. To get on a soapbox or write a manifesto would seem to him absurd.... Equally, the young Republican, though often seeming to hold up Babbitt as his culture hero, is neither vulgar nor materialistic, as Babbitt was. He conforms because he believes it Is socially practical, not necessarily virtuous. Both positions, however, are the result of more or less the same conviction -- namely that the valueless abyss of modern life is unbearable.

In the photo above, Clellon Holmes is standing at far left.

Saturday, January 08, 2011


definitively speaking

We shouldn't forget that definitive speaking is itself a chosen style, a tone, a tried-on mode. I think the aphorism is at base anti-political.

A little later in the conversation, Steve Benson wrote: "I like the range offered here for definitive speaking -- a range including improvised assertion and aphorism and likely much else. In my own practice, I suppose I have been very often working out whatever I can to balance prematurity and m...aturity in the preparation for and readiness to effect utterance. One might also say 'Whoever speaks definitively speaks quixotically.'"

To which I replied: "Sometimes, Steve, you pose (posit) an ideational prematurity. And at such moments I always think: he's so amazingly definitive about that." Then:

For larger views, click on the images.

Friday, January 07, 2011

social media puts college teachers in the hotseat

The site called Mashable / Social Media ran a story a while back with the news of "hotseat," which is being adopted at universities such as Purdue.

Students at Purdue University are experimenting with a new application developed at the school called Hotseat that integrates Facebook, Twitter, and text messaging to help students “backchannel” during class.

People who have attended technology conferences in the past several years are already familiar with this phenomenon, where social media is leveraged to allow the participants in a session or panel to comment and exchange questions and ideas in real-time. At Purdue, Hotseat is used to allow students to comment on the class as it proceeds, with everyone in the class including the professor able to see the messaging as it happens.

The Hotseat software allows students to use either Facebook, Twitter, Myspace (MySpace), or SMS to post messages during classes, or they can simply log in to the web site to post to and view the ongoing backchannel. Right now it’s only being pilot tested in two courses, but has already become a fast favorite for both teachers and students. Professor Sugato Chakravarty, whose personal finance course is one of the pilot tests, said, “I’m seeing students interact more with the course and ask relevant questions.”

And although it’s been optional for students to participate, so far 73% of the 600 or so in the pilot classes have used the software. We’ve seen Twitter become mandatory for journalism students at Australia (Australia)’s Griffith University to some negative reaction, but this is a less structured implementation which may perhaps account for its more favorable reception.

As Chakravarty goes on to note, though, the application is called “Hotseat” for a reason — and professors will have to be resilient enough to take any potential criticism or even corrections from students in real-time. Nevertheless, he cites it as a “valuable tool for enhancing learning. The students are engaged in the discussions and, for the most part, they are asking relevant questions.”

My first response was extremely negative: just another use of so-called social media to enable universities to continue rostering huge courses (which is obviously a money-saver). I certainly won't celebrate yet another reason why class size will continue to grow and the distance between faculty and student will increase.

But then I realize that the distance I'm thinking of is physical. Programs like Hotseat will tend to make the lecture impossible to maintain, if (for instance) students are not understanding the material, if they have questions they feel the need to pose but can't otherwise break into the competent super-confident flow of a lecture. So this might shake up some lecturers a bit, might cause them to revise their yellowed lecture notes, and to look up at the tweetflow on the monitor behind them.

Well, then, back to skepticism. Do we really need students' tweets projected in the front of the classroom? Can't we all learn, even in large classes, to ask questions, encourage students to speak, lead a real discussion? If a Hotseat-enabled tweet from the otherwise reticent student in row 26 then makes possible an interaction "outside" the social media--if this system becomes a prompt--then I'm fine with it. If it's just another excuse for pedagogical impersonality (not to mention I know/you don't antagonism between teacher and learners), then I'll sit this one out.

I'll just repeat what I've written in this blog any number of times. My pedagogy is saturated with uses of digital media and IT (I'm downright gaga about it all), but my classroom itself--the space for our meetings--is for the most part pre-tech: the students and I in the space. Not always, but often, my classroom is the only tech-free experience my students and I will have all day.

- - -

Click here for more on the end of the lecture.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Wallace Stevens: "empty of all possibilities of adventure"

Here's part of a letter Jose Rodriguez-Feo wrote to Wallace Stevens. The two had not met yet at this point. Their relationship, entirely epistolary except for two brief meetings some years after this, was both extraordinarily intimate and formal--both at once. Stevens loved letters from his young exotic friend "Pepe." Rodriguez-Feo was thrilled to be able to get to know this forbidding-seeming poet, the famously icy Stevens. The talk of Hemingway in this letter might have been a signal that the Cuban was interested in Stevens's views of male sexuality, wondering if indeed that was part of Stevens' attraction to corresponding with "a real blood and bone Latino." But Stevens would never, ever nibble on this bait. Now a self-promotion alert: my book, edited by Beverly Coyle, tells this whole story and presents all the letters between the two. Get a copy here. Or ask me for one. I have a few extras at home.

communism is the word

Over at my 1960 blog I'm pondering the use of the word "communism" in books.

the killing of the Filreis family

From the Yad Vashem archives in Israel, here are names of some of the Filreis family who were killed by the Germans during World War II. Most of them were exterminated at Treblinka:

Filreiss, Benek
Koldra, Lea, born 1881
Szejnfuks, Manja, born 1907
Akerman, Haya**
Filreis, Genia, born 1915
Filries, Szimon, born 1915
Filries, Max, born 1900
Filries Tauba, born 1895
Filries, Khaia

All were from Warsaw, Poland. I'm guessing that "Filreiss" is a real alternative spelling and that "Filries" is a mistake in transcription at some point (these are just guesses).

The names were submitted by Mrs. Idia Kcefner (I don't know who she is) in 1957, by Mr. Moshe' Koldra (ditto) in 1956, and by Zalman Akerman** in 1999.

For more about Zalman Akerman's story of survival, go here.

** Haya Filreis, married into the Akerman family, was Zalman's mother. Zalman and his mother lived for a time in the Warsaw Ghetto after the mass deportations from the ghetto had begun. Zalman is alive and well and living in Israel, and is the provider of this information, by way of Steve Filreis (my father's cousin Mel's son) and Ayelet Regev (one of Zalman's grandchildren). Ayelet (currently studying law in the U.S.) is my father's father's cousin's son's granddaugther, a closer relation that that phrasing makes it seem.

right blames left (in sum) for the failure of holocaust education

Dated January 3, 2011 - a conservative's view of holocaust education - not very positive. "Genocide Studies has become an academic specialty and a fundraising bonanza, with professional organizations and prizes. Great books have been written and beautiful museums have been built​—​all in the conviction that they will prevent the production of future mass murderers and their willing executioners." But the conviction is hollow. We give students (starting quite young) ideas about preventing genocide but no sense of what to do. Further on you realize that the failure is largely owing to the left, because, in part, they are too much on guard against scholarly and other presentations of the equivalence of Stalin's regime and Hitlers, of communism and fascism. The issue becomes a matter of "minimizers" of communist mass murder. By this point we've come a long way from the quite reasonable concern that educators are teaching their students about the holocaust in the wrong place, the wrong site - the classroom. That's, for me at least, the value of these doubts. I don't know how to get past this very real irony.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

modernism & domestic help

Bob Perelman and Kristen Gallagher on domestic help and modernism (audio): mp3 (3:34).

Lorenzo Thomas, "Otis"

New at PennSound - Lorenzo Thomas reads "Otis" (3:06). Listen and be amazed.

Monday, January 03, 2011

lament for my late page

I loved my old home page and I was sorry to have to give it up a few years ago for something spare and linky/listy. I concede that the sparer style works better but I miss the narrative clutter, a non-design enthralled by hyperlinking right there in the flow of words. That little "latest news" link in the top left blinked for about a year when that was the newest thing. Fortunately I knew that blinking links were bad news pretty quickly and reverted to plain old plain old as soon as the excitement faded. The old page dates back to 1994 and it looked more or less as you see above from 1994 until 2007 or '08! I maintain a link to it and I imagine that most of the links still work. Prior to the site on top of which this old page sat I had a wonderful gopher. This was of course before the graphical browser (Mosaic was the first, I think--before Netscape) and it was stiff and hierarchical but effective in conveying information and giving users a tour, in effect, of the material you wanted to present. I loved the chaos of hyperlinking once it was possible through this thing called "the world wide web" and, let me repeat, I felt that the hyperlinky text was the way to go. Eventually another kind of design became the standard. Now--what with drupal and blogs and blog-style user-enabled sites--we're back to a more cluttered surface, but still nothing like this single-look languagy flat surface.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

thanks to everyone who supported this project

And it's not too late to help send a child suffering from renal failure to summer camp next summer. Every $25 donation makes a difference, truly: here for easy site for donating by credit card.

handbook of modern & contemporary American poetry

I have an essay in this forthcoming book, and am excited to keep such good company. I expect the book won't be out for another year. And I'm probably jumping the gun in posting the contents but I'll wait 'til someone tells me to take it down. You'll get the gist of what's in it, anyway. (Below at right: Cary Nelson.)

- - -

The Oxford Handbook of Modern and Contemporary American Poetry
Edited by Cary Nelson

1. A Century of Innovation: American Poetry from 1900 to the Present
Cary Nelson

2. Social Texts and Poetic Texts: Poetry and Cultural Studies
Rachel Blau DuPlessis

3. American Indian Poetry at the Dawn of Modernism
Robert Dale Parker

4. “Jeweled Bindings”: Modernist Women’s Poetry and the Limits of Sentimentality
Melissa Girard

5. Hired Men and Hired Women: Modern American Poetry and the Labor Problem
John Marsh

6. Economics and Gender in Mina Loy, Lola Ridge, and Marianne Moore
Linda A. Kinnahan

7. Poetry and Rhetoric: Modernism and Beyond
Peter Nicholls

8. C├ęzanne’s Ideal of “Realization”: A Useful Analogy for the Spirit of Modernity in American Poetry
Charles Altieri

9. Stepping Out, Sitting In: Modern Poetry’s Counterpoint with Jazz and the Blues
Edward Brunner

10. Out With the Crowd: Modern American Poets Speaking to Mass Culture
Tim Newcomb

11. Exquisite Corpse: Surrealist Influence on the American Poetry
Scene, 1920-1960
Susan Rosenbaum

12. Material Concerns: Incidental Poetry, Popular Culture, and Ordinary Readers in Modern America
Mike Chasar

13. “With Ambush and Stratagem”: American Poetry in the Age of Pure War
Philip Metres

14. The Fight and the Fiddle in Twentieth-Century African American Poetry
Karen Jackson Ford

15. Asian American Poetry
Josephine Park

16. “The Pardon of Speech”: The Psychoanalysis of Modern American Poetry
Walter Kalaidjian

17. American Poetry, Prayer, and the News
Jahan Ramazani

18. The Tranquilized Fifties: Forms of Dissent in Postwar American Poetry
Michael Thurston

19. The End of the End of Poetic Ideology, 1960
Al Filreis

20. Fieldwork in New American Poetry: From Cosmology to Discourse
Lytle Shaw

21. “Do our chains offend you?”: The Poetry of American Political Prisoners
Mark W. Van Wienen

22. Disability Poetics
Michael Davidson

23. Green Reading: Modern and Contemporary American Poetry and Environmental Criticism
Lynn Keller

24. Transnationalism and Diaspora in American Poetry
Timothy Yu

25. “Internationally Known”: The Black Arts Movement and U.S. Poetry in the Age of Hip Hop
James Smethurst

26. Minding Machines / Machining Minds: Writing (at) the Human-Machine Interface
Adalaide Morris