Adjacent to the house where I once lived, with its four residents and one other volunteer, sat a private cottage where Joelived in a world of his own making. The idiosyncrasies of this world formed around the ceaseless churning of Joe’s brain as it reframed his memories through the lens of his particular paranoias and neuroses. Like a tangent, Joe always ran adjacent to what was around him.
Kate Colby, Davy Knittle, and Charles Bernstein convened with Al Filreis, PoemTalk’s producer and host, to talk about Hannah Weiner’s Clairvoyant Journal and to focus in particular on two pages (or prose poems, or journal entries). The two entries are those composed on April 1 and April 4. The version of the two poems available online at Eclipse (based on the 1978 Angel Hair edition) has also been reproduced here for the convenience of Jacket2 readers. A new edition of Clairvoyant Journal published in 2014, discussed toward the end of the podcast, is described here by Patrick Durgin.
Tracie Morris, Danny Snelson, and Marjorie Perloff joined Al Filreis to talk about one of Charles Bernstein’s early poems, “As If the Trees by Their Very Roots Had Hold of Us.” It originally appeared in Senses of Responsibility (1979) and in 2010 was chosen by Bernstein to be included in All the Whiskey in Heaven: Selected Poems. We know the writing of the poem dates at least to 1977, which is when he performed it at a reading at the Place Center in New York (on December 18); he read that day with Kathy Acker.
For eight years now I have been translating the poetry of Grzegorz Wróblewski, a Polish writer and visual artist based in Copenhagen. So far we have published two volumes: Kopenhaga (Zephyr Press, 2013) and Zero Visibility (Phoneme Media, 2017). We are now working on our third project, Dear Beloved Humans: New and Selected Poems. The title poem offers a good example of transposition.
Editorial note: The following conversation has been adapted from an episode of PoemTalk recorded in 2016 at the Wexler Studio in the Kelly Writers House in Philadelphia. The episode features Al Filreis, Yolanda Wisher, Charles Bernstein, and Patricia Spears Jones discussing Akilah Oliver’s poem “is you is or is you ain’t” from Oliver’s collection the she said dialogues: flesh memory (Smoke Proof/Erudite Fangs, 1999).
This essay originally appeared in Foreign Language Studies (Wuhan, China, April 2017, 39:2) and is forthcoming in a Chinese translation in Poetry Exploration (诗探索, Beijing). It is reprinted here with the permission of the author.
Abstract: This essay explicates three principles of Charles Bernstein’s avant-garde poetics while reflecting on his new book Pitch of Poetry, highlighting the contribution of Bernstein, as a leading figure of language poetry, to avant-garde poetics in the West. The first of the three principles is nonstop exploration. Bernstein is now a well-established figure. However, he insists, “Our journeys don’t end, our business is unfinished,” and has been consistently carrying out exploration in the field of avant-garde poetics. The second is poetics of organization.
Ron Silliman, Rachel Zolf, and Charles Bernstein joined Al Filreis to talk about two poems by Naomi Replansky. The poems are “In Syrup, In Syrup” and “Ring Song.” The latter is the title poem of a volume nominated in 1952 for the National Book Award. “In Syrup,” first published under the antiwar title “Dulce Et Decorum” in 1947, its title recalling Wilfred Owen, was revised before Ring Song. “Ring Song” itself was revised for a 1988 chapbook Twenty One Poems Old and New. Replansky’s PennSound page features recent readings of both poems and indicates her final preferences for the revised versions.
On April 12, 2016, Charles Bernstein gave a reading from his new-new book Pitch of Poetry at the Kelly Writers House. I gave the introduction. Earlier I published a version of that introduction here in my Jacket2 commentary series, titling it “Clumsy, erroneous, freakish, foreign.” Now, thanks to the video editing of Dylan Leahy of the PennSound staff, I am able to make available at video recording, below. And below that is a second video clip from the Pitch event — Bernstein's finale: a selection from the aphorisms that appear toward the end of the book.
Below is a video clip from Li Zhimin’s recent reading at the Kelly Writers House, introduced by Charles Bernstein. It was edited by PennSound’s Dylan Leahy from the full video recording of the event. There is also, of course, an audio recording. For more information about the reading, click here.
Li Zhimin is a poet writing in both the English and Chinese languages. He has published numerous chapbooks of poem since 2001. His most recent collection is Zhongalish: Think and Feel Globally (August 2016). Currently, Li serves as Chief Professor of Western Literature Studies at the School of Foreign Studies, Guangzhou University, and is Director of both its Modern Poetry Studies Centre and Foreign Languages Training Centre.