Today the University of Pennsylvania's main news page features a program in the Kelly Writers House Podcast series. This is a conversation I hosted with Jessica Lowenthal and Jamie-Lee Josselyn about the book Jamie-Lee has been writing about her mother's death. The direct link to the podcast is here.
Nate Chinen, now a music critic for the New York Times, was a Writers House regular as a student and for the year or two afterward. Nate visited us again this past spring and here's a video of Anthony DeCurtis introducing him.
In May we hosted a visit by a class of high school students from Friends' Central School, a second annual gathering co-organized by me and Liza Ewen of the FCS English department. (Liza teaches an elective quarter-long course each spring on poetry.) I invited six poets each to teach a single poem in just 20 minutes. Rivka Fogel taught "This Room" by John Ashbery, a beautiful indirect memorial to Pierre Martory and non-narrative meditation on absence as presence. Sarah Dowling then came in and taught a section of "A Frame of the Book" by Erin Moure. Jessica Lowenthal then taught Harryette Mullen's "Trimmings." Randall Couch taught a very early poem by John Keats before revealing that it was Keats. John Timpane taught an Yvor Winters poem about the emotional complication of saying farewell to an adult child at an airport; Wintersean restraint and emotional distance abound here and strike one (strike me, at least) as a refreshing sort of illiberalism in an age of gobs of conventionally sentimental parent-child verse. Tom Devaney may have taken the pedagogical prize on this day, presenting William Carlos Williams' "The Last Words of My English Grandmother"--a seemingly easy poem for h.s. students to grasp. Yet it also does everything a modern poem does, and makes a remarkably good scene of instruction.
Each of the six 20-minute presentation is now being made available in PennSound as downloadable audio, streaming QuickTime video, and the texts of the poems are available as PDF's (digital copies of photocopies handed out to the students).
It's our hope that by presenting such materials, grouped together and well organized, PennSound will be useful to teachers and others looking for an introduction to poetry and poetics - and also to the phenomenon of the poet teaching poetry.
Here is your link to the PennSound page. It includes the six presentations from 2009 as well.
Subscribe to the Kelly Writers House YouTube channel. It's been there for a while, but this summer we're adding a slew of video clips from a selection of our programs. Click here and click "subscribe."
The Pennsylvania Current is now running a story about the legacy of poetry at Penn: "Penn’s rich poetry legacy," by Tanya Barrientos. It features a nice mention of the Kelly Writers House and of PennSound.
From left to right: Anthony DeCurtis, Nate Chinen, and Greg Djanikian. Nate, my (and Greg's) former student and later a Kelly Writers House staffer, is now a regular music critic for the New York Times. See his NYT pieces.
Just a few hours ago today at the Writers House, with me from left to right: Alice Eliot Dark, Moira Moody, Beth Kephart. Alice and Beth read beautifully from their work. I was ready to explain the interlocking connections of these four, and planned to link from here to Beth's blog, which I read regularly.