PennSound

PennSound is an online archive of recordings of modern and contemporary poets housed at the University of Pennsylvania.

Mustazza named PennSound associate director

PennSound is pleased to welcome Chris Mustazza as our new Associate Director. Chris has served as our technical director since the founding of the PennSound project in 2005. He brings to our work extraordinary technical expertise in digital sound analysis and audio preservation. His appointment marks the inauguration of PennSound 2.0. Over the past decade PennSound has worked to digitize and make accessible many thousands of sound files by hundreds of poets. With PennSound 2.0, we are enabling computational analysis of our vast sound archive, allowing for both “distant listening” — the analysis of our aggregated files — as well as “close listening” to individual files, including specific features of the initial recordings conditions. Chris will also ensure that the PennSound keeps up with best archival practices, including upgrades and interfaces.

Mustazza joins co-founders and co-directors Charles Bernstein and Al Filreis, Editor Michael Hennessey, and Technical Director Chris Martin.

Michael Magee, 'Morning Constitutional'

In the Kensington section of Philadelphia, 2004.

Thanks to PennSound staffer Hannah Judd, a November 2001 reading of Morning Constitutional Michael Magee gave at the Kelly Writers House — with Louis Cabri — has been segmented. Magee's book Morning Constitutional was published in 2001. Publisher's Weekly observed: “A breadcrumb trail of juiced urban monologues, phrasal runs somewhere between Dolphy and Sun Ra, rope-a-dope reports from a guarded ordering bordering on an underdog corner restoration and definitional clarity (a slush fund is dirty money) mark these ante-meridian outings, exercising our rights and outlining the space between our laws.” Magee walked Philadelphia in the mornings and these poems densely record his observations, debris-like.

Michael Magee's book Morning Constitutional was published in 2001. Publisher's Weekly observed: “A breadcrumb trail of juiced urban monologues, phrasal runs somewhere between Dolphy and Sun Ra, rope-a-dope reports from a guarded ordering bordering on an underdog corner restoration and definitional clarity (a slush fund is dirty money) mark these ante-meridian outings, exercising our rights and outlining the space between our laws.” Magee walked Philadelphia in the mornings and these poems densely record his observations, debris-like. The book is still available for purchase. Philip Metres wrote about it for Jacket in May 2003.

Now, thanks to PennSound staffer Hannah Judd, a November 2001 reading Magee gave at the Kelly Writers House — with Louis Cabri — has been segmented.

New at PennSound: Eileen Myles's Segue Series reading, April 2010

Eileen Myles (courtesy: Book Forum)

Newly segmented at PennSound: Eileen Myles’s Segue Series Reading at the Bowery Poetry Club, April 10, 2010:

  1. Introduction (4:28): MP3
  2. Your Name (2:00): MP3
  3. Mitten (1:04): MP3
  4. The Weather (1:18): MP3
  5. November 11th (0:24): MP3
  6. 2008, For Emma (0:12): MP3
  7. The Nervous Entertainment, For Cathy (1:39): MP3
  8. Driving At Night (0:20): MP3
  9. My Box (1:11): MP3
  10. "A Poet" from Inferno (a Poet's Novel) (3:07): MP3
  11. "Marge Piercy" from Inferno (a Poet's Novel) (12:48): MP3
  12. "Hart Crane" from Inferno (a Poet's Novel) (8:31): MP3

Poetic protocols

An interview with Craig Dworkin

Craig Dworkin (left) and James LaMarre (right).

Note: Craig Dworkin, author of Parse (Atelos, 2008), No Medium (MIT Press, 2013), and founding senior editor of Eclipse sat down with me on July 21, 2015 for a conversation in Salt Lake City as part of the one on one podcast series.

Peter Lamborn Wilson: A PennSound archive

P. L. Wilson, “Pang Yang & the Publick Universal Friend” (2010).

I met Peter Lamborn Wilson in the late ’80s at Naropa Institute, and after acquiring his pamphlet Chaos, written under the takhallus Hakim Bey, became a devotee to his work. His support of DIY efforts was encouraging and validating, and We Press took up the invitation to “pirate” Chaos by way of corporate resources we had at our disposal at the time.

                               Who knows

 what future poets suffered here, precocious

 existential crises moved

 by an apprehension of mourning

 sorrows precious & redeemable.

                         — P. L. Wilson, “Wallkill” (358)[1]

I met Peter Lamborn Wilson in the late ’80s at Naropa Institute, and after acquiring his pamphlet Chaos, written under the takhallus Hakim Bey, became a devotee to his work. His support of DIY efforts was encouraging and validating, and We Press took up the invitation to “pirate” Chaos by way of corporate resources we had at our disposal at the time.

Introducing PennSound Italiana

Curated by Jennifer Scappettone

The twenty-one poets represented on PennSound Italiana.

After many months of planning and labor, we are delighted to launch a new sector of PennSound: PennSound Italiana, devoted to contemporary Italian poetry. We seek over the course of this ongoing project to offer a broad sense of the field, filling in the substantive gaps in global access to Italian poetry (as both written and sonic text — even within Italian borders), and expanding awareness of its range of practitioners, with an emphasis on marginalized and experimental voices of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

C. S. Giscombe in the Line Reading Series, 2002

New at PennSound

Thanks to PennSound staffer Hannah Judd, we are now making available the poem-by-poem segmentation of C. S. Giscombe's September 24, 2002, reading for the Line Reading Series. To hear many more readings by Giscombe, consult his PennSound author page.

  1. Introduction (1:29): MP3
  2. Favorite Haunt (1:57): MP3
  3. Fever (2:14): MP3
  4. A Train at Night (2:00): MP3
  5. Prairie Style (1:47): MP3
  6. Nature Boy (1:43): MP3
  7. Ballad Values (0:34): MP3
  8. Indianapolis, Indiana (8:38): MP3
  9. The Negro in Indiana (0:52): MP3
  10. Wild Cards (0:49): MP3
  11. The Traveling Public (5:17): MP3

William Meredith on poetry recordings in 1961

William Meredith’s 1961 essay about then-new recordings of poetry, published in the Hudson Review, starts out with a point I deem apt and true, and then goes on, in my view, to misunderstand pretty much every aspect of such recordings. Naturally, though, it is an important document in the not-very-long bibliography of such writings before, let us say, 1970 or so. I am thus pleased to be making it available here: PDF. His opening point: “A poet's reading of his poems is probably as near to an ingenuous commentary as he can give us about his intentions, certainly about his designs on our ears” (470). Meredith knew very well that such use of poetic intention in 1961 was fraught — in the New Critical heyday — and I'm glad he used it knowingly, because it gives the idea a slight feel of critical difference and resistance: the oral reading of a poem written for the page does "give...intentions" especially — but not only, of course — about oral (and really: aural) design. The citation: William Meredith, “New Poetry Recordings,” Hudson Review 14, 3 (Autumn 1961), pp. 470-73.

New Gertrude Stein recordings at PennSound

Edited by Chris Mustazza

We urge readers of Jacket2 to look at — and listen to — Gertrude Stein’s PennSound author page, where new recordings have now been linked.  Most who have encountered Stein’s mellifluous voice have heard it from Caedmon record TC 1050 (1956), either directly or via its digitization in PennSound.

PennSound in 2005 (2)


City Paper
(Philadelphia), January 20, 2005.

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