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

Shelley, Keats, Wordsworth, Blake et alia now at PennSound

John Richetti's newest contribution to 'PennSound classics'

John Richetti recently returned to PennSound’s studios and recorded a selection of poems by Keats, Shelley, Blake, Wordsworth, Byron, and Coleridge. Here is a link to the new page in the “PennSound classics” section of the archive.

Michael Palmer's 'Recursus to Porta' (performed 1990)

We at PennSound are beginning to analyze quantities and types of downloads from our archive. From time to time we will have something to say about what we discern in such analysis. For now, this fascinating and not-quite-explainable factoid: since January 1, 2014, one of the five most-oft downloaded MP3 recording from PennSound has been a poem by Michael Palmer, performed at Buffalo in 1990: “Recursus to Porta” (3:34): MP3. And the poet whose PennSound recordings were most frequently downloaded during this time has been Norman Fischer.

Poetry and architecture


In a Segue Series event at the Bowery Poetry Club hosted and curated by Tim Trace Peterson, Robert Kocik, Benjamin Aranda, and Vito Acconci each speak for about 26 minutes about relations between poetry and architecture. The event took place on April 25, 2009. Both audio and video recordings of each talk are available on PennSound.

PennSound 10 years after

Featuring Michael Hennessey's recollections of his own work with the archive


Ten newly found recordings of poems performed by Ashbery

Thanks to Anna Zalokostas, we at PennSound have just now located recordings of ten of John Ashbery’s poems. They had been preserved in a Segue Series audio tape, dating from a 1978 reading Ashbery did with Michael Lally at the Ear Inn. We had left the Ashbery portion of this reading not quite identified, and have now corrected that oversight. On Ashbery’s PennSound page now, and on the Segue series page, you will now see — and can hear — these segments:

  1. A Box and its Contents (1:42): MP3
  2. The Heralding Shadows of a New Adventure (2:01): MP3
  3. Haunted Landscape (3:28): MP3
  4. Five Pedantic Pieces (1:02): MP3
  5. The Cathedral Is (0:17): MP3
  6. Silhouette (2:36): MP3
  7. A Tone Poem (0:59): MP3
  8. Metamorphosis (2:26): MP3
  9. Sleeping in the Corners of Our Lives (1:21): MP3
  10. from Litany (19:59): MP3

2009 MLA off-site poetry reading (audio)

During the 2009 conference of the Modern Language Association in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Julia Bloch and Michelle Taransky organized the annual off-site poetry reading. The reading took two hours and 36 minutes and an audio recording was made; for the past several years, this long recording has been available on PennSound’s “MLA Offsite Readings” page. Now PennSound staff editor Anna Zalokostas has segmented the entire recording and we are now able to present the recording of each reader, as follows:

  1. introduction (1:34): MP3
  2. Matthew Landis (2:56): MP3
  3. Rodrigo Toscano (4:14): MP3
  4. Carlos Soto Roman (2:32): MP3
  5. Kim Gek Lin Short (4:51): MP3
  6. Jacob Russell (2:10): MP3
  7. Angel Hogan (2:37): MP3
  8. Ish Klein (3:45): MP3
  9. Gregory Laynor (3:01): MP3
  10. Nava EtShalom (3:50): MP3
  11. Ryan Eckes (1:16): MP3
  12. Sueyeun Juliette Lee (1:52): MP3

An Alcheringa sound anthology


For this 32nd podcast in the PennSound Podcast series, Nick DeFina and Amaris Cuchanski collaborated to present an anthology of seven recordings from among those produced in association with Alcheringa magazine by Dennis Tedlock and Jerome Rothenberg. For Jacket2’s “Reissues” department, Danny Snelson has prepared a digital edition of the EP audio inserts that appeared with the magazine in each issue.

Perelman's 'Chronic Meanings': Text-audio alignment

Thanks to the work of the PennSound staff, we now add to our collection of text-audio alignments an oft-read and oft-taught poem by Bob Perelman, “Chronic Meanings.” This is a poem he chose for his selected poems, and one he is likely to read at a performance of his work across the decades. It is a pre-elegy for Leland Hickman. Perelman’s PennSound page includes several readings of the poem and also a fairly detailed introduction offered by the poet. Here is a link to the new text-audio alignment page.

Kerouac riff in text-audio alignment

Thanks to the efforts of PennSound’s Rebekah Caton, principally among others, we are now able to present the text-audio alignment of the opening two paragraphs of Jack Kerouac’s ”October in the Railroad Earth.”

Ashbery's silences sampled

'It reads a kind of ecopoetics back into the poet’s auditory performance.'

In the spring of 2012, Christian Hawkey was invited to participate in a festival celebrating John Ashbery at the New School (called How to Continue: Ashbery Across the Arts). Each participant — poets, dancers, filmmakers — was invited to engage his or her work using a variety of media and disciplines, and Hawkey chose to explore his audio archives, or rather, the various recordings of John Ashbery that Pennsound has compiled over the years, beginning with his 1961 reading for the Living Theater

He became especially interested in listening to the room tone and background noise in all the recordings: the recorded texture of the room, the sound made by the recording device itself, and the non-vocal presence of Ashbery himself (a page turning, lighting a cigarette, sipping from glass of water and swallowing). Working with a friend, the artist Simone Kearney, Hawkey scanned the roughly 45 extant recordings on Pennsound to find, in each one, a clip of “silence” — a brief 3-to-7-second non-vocal moment (longer proved impossible to find) between poems, or between commentary and poems, or between title and poem. They then assembled the clips into one audio file.

It was surprisingly difficult to do this, they found, since most sound engineers remove as much dead sound and background sound as possible, or they snip off the silence at the beginning or end of a reading.

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