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.
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.
Robert Creeley recorded Ted Berrigan’s May 6, 1968 reading given in Buffalo. And Creeley gave the introduction (although, unfortunately, whoever was monitoring the tape recorder while Creeley got up to speak, only caught 27 seconds of the statement). This is the earliest recording of Berrigan currently in the PennSound archive. After his death, Creeley’s many, many recordings have been made available through PennSound. This 1968 Berrigan reading, now newly available on PennSound’s Ted Berrigan page, is one of the most remarkable poetry events Creeley documented.
Thanks to the scholarly sleuthing, the archival negotiating, the digitizing, the uploading and filenaming, and the context-setting of Chris Mustazza, PennSound is now adding eight audio recordings of Harriet Monroe — the founding editor of Poetry and one of the crucial figures in the editorial acceptance and promotion of modernism in the U.S. — made in 1932.
PennSound is now making available a new page of Vachel Lindsay recordings — many dozens of them. They are some of the oldeset materials in this archive. The editor of the Lindsay page is Chris Mustazza. He has described the project under whose auspices these recordings were first made onto aluminum disks. They were subsequently dubbed to reel-to-reel tapes by the Library of Congress in the 1970s. These digitizations are made from the reels, which are stored at Columbia University. We at PennSound are grateful to our colleagues at Columbia for making these unique recordings available. This is far and away the largest collection of Lindsay recordings.
In 2009 and again in 2010, I invited six poets — each year, so twelve total — to teach one poem each to high-school juniors and seniors. Each session lasted twenty minutes. And we preserved all twelve sessions as video and audio recordings. Go here to watch or listen to them. The poems were:
1. John Ashbery, "This Room" 2. Erin Moure, "The Frame of the Book" 3. Harryette Mullen, "Trimmings" 4. John Keats, "[This living hand]" 5. Yvor Winters, "At the San Francisco Airport" 6. William Carlos Williams, "The Last Words of My English Grandmother" 7. Lorine Niedecker, "[I married...]" 8. Robert Creeley, "The Sentence" 9. Helen Chasin, "The Word Plum" 10. Frank Sherlock, "Wounds in an Imaginary Nature Show" 11. Harryette Mullen, "Zombie Hat" 12. Basho, selected haiku; John Ashbery, "37 Haiku"
My wife and I first met Amiri Baraka in November 1997, standing in line to get our tickets to a Betty Carter, Joshua Redman, and Maria João/Mario Laginha concert at New Jersey Performing Art Center in Newark. Baraka was directly in front of us! Both Amy and I had been readers of his work since college, were aware of his intensity, and struck up conversation with him. I explained I had been a student and friend of Ginsberg’s, and that I was living and working in Newark. He told us about monthly salons he and his wife Amina hosted at their home, Kimako’s Blues People, gave us his card, and invited us to come over — which we did many times during the next few years.
Recently we found a recording of Ted Berrigan’s reading at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, December 15, 1982: it had not been segmented yet, and naturally we were curious to know which poems he performed on that occasion. Thanks to Anna Zalokostas, Berrigan's PennSound page now includes links to the individual poems, as well as, of course, the whole recording. Here are the segments: