Video Introduction to PennSound

Cole Swenson on Gardens

New at PennSound

Cole Swenson was a guest on Leonard Schwartz's radio program, "Cross-Cultural Poetics," back in January. Thanks to Henry Steinberg, now PennSound offers a segmented recording of the reading and discussion. Swensen offers a reading of "A Garden Is a Start" and then takes a few minutes to talk about the style of that poem. She reads "If a Garden of Numbers" but we are also treated to her discussion of the geometry of Le Notre gardens, of gardens taking dominion over nature, of fountains as a public commodity. (The readings were from her recent book, Ours.) It's all here--available as of just yesterday. By the way, I'm happy to say that Leonard Schwartz was here at the Writers House this fall (9/23/10) - and was also a guest on PoemTalk.

Anne Waldman Is in a Rogue State of Mind

A 2002 Reading in PennSound

from the Anne Waldman page at PennSound

Anne Waldman gave a reading at Belladonna on April 26, 2002. She read five poems. Thanks for our friends at Belladonna, we at PennSound have the recording. Yesterday we segmented the recording into singles, which include the powerful anti-George Bush chant, "Rogue State" (PennSound now has several recordings of this), and Waldman's singing of William Blake's "The Garden of Love." The latter is an arrangement that Allen Ginsberg composed for his album of Blake songs. One of PennSound's most popular pages, in fact, is the Ginsberg/Blake page. Here is Ginsberg singing "The Garden of Love," and here is an episode of PoemTalk featuring a 25-minute discussion of it.

Speaking of Political Poetry

Carl Rakosi

Carl Rakosi, younger and older

Speaking of the 1930s: Carl Rakosi was a member of the communist party and, when he was merely 99 years old, several of us at the Writers House asked him to talk about the problems and possibilities of writing a politically radical poetry. He gave a halting but very thoughtful response. Keep in mind that he was speaking in 2002 about the period 1938-41. It's hard to see clearly through the fog of warring politico-poesis. Many thanks to Henry Steinberg for editing this segment. The questioner is Thomas Devaney. The whole interview with the 99-year-old Rakosi can be found here.

Emergence Implied in the Unsaid

Myung Mi Kim

Myung Mi Kim at the Kelly Writers House

On March 15, 2007, Penn students and Charles Bernstein interviewed Myung Mi Kim as part of Bernstein's "Close Listening" series. Michael Nardone has now transcribed the entire discussion, for publication, later, in Jacket2. Meantime, here is an excerpt:

You mentioned yesterday how each reading is different and how you would have other people come up and read your work. If you could just elaborate on that and how would someone who doesn’t speak another language experience repercussions while reading?

Let me start with the second part of your question first, because I think it dovetails nicely with what I’ve just been saying about what are the demands on sense and sense-making that are politically and socially and culturally driven. So, when you ask that question about, well, what about a person who doesn’t speak, you know, another language, and what kind of condition would be produced for that reader, my question always, whether out loud or implicitly, is can you produce an approximation of the condition of language again unhooked from the demands of communication and communicability and transparency, and can you somehow suggest/evoke/amplify/proliferate different ways of being inside and listening to and activating the space that we call language, which doesn’t belong to any one language group, doesn’t belong to any one particular idea of how basic things that benchmarks of language like rhythm, syntax, intonation, inflection, taking all those things as resources for meaning, as resources for experience. So, in other words, even if there were no identifiable thing called the second language, there’s something produced about an experience of language, and I think everyone has access to that.

Scholarly uses of recordings of poets performing their poetry

A PennSound bibliography

Below is a partial list of articles that make explicit use of PennSound material (prepared by Charles Bernstein):

Christine Hume, Improvisational Insurrection: The Sound Poetry of Tracie Morris, Contemporary Literature, Volume 47, Number 3, Fall 2006, pp. 415-439 (Article)

Hank Lazer, “Is There a Distinctive Jewish Poetics? Several? Many?: Is There Any Question?” Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, Volume 27, Number 3, Spring 2009, pp. 72-90 (Article) [At left: Photo of Hank Lazer reading at California State University at San Marcos, October 2008.]

Andy Weaver, Promoting “a community of thoughtful men and women”: Anarchism in Robert Duncan’s Ground Work Volumes
ESC: English Studies in Canada, Volume 34, Issue 4, December 2008, pp. 71-95 (Article)

Charles Bernstein, Objectivist Blues: Scoring Speech in Second-Wave Modernist Poetry and Lyrics: American Literary History, Volume 20, Number 1-2, Spring/Summer 2008, pp. 346-368 (Article)

He Caused a Poetry War in Poland

Piotr Sommer Is Added to PennSound

Piotr Sommer

Thanks to Phillip Barron, we now make available recordings of Piotr Sommer who read from Continued at the National Humanities Center in 2005--poems in Polish and his own translations in English. Sommer has been responsible for giving Polish readers access to Allen Ginsberg and Frank O'Hara.

Will Alexander on Rothko

Reads and Discusses a Poem

Will Alexander
Will Alexander

Will Alexander reads "Rothko" in 1993[ MP3]. And then he takes a minute to discuss that poem. (These sound files are part of a reading recorded in 1993, segmented for the first time today. These and more are available on Alexander's PennSound page.)

Mark Nowak

New PennSound Author Page

Mark Nowak
Mark Nowak

Today PennSound launched its newest author page - for recordings of Mark Nowak. Included here is an 18-minute reading from Coal Mountain Elementary - recorded at Mills College in 2009.

Gary Barwin

Comes to PennSound

Gary Barwin
Gary Barwin

Gary Barwin traveled from Hamilton, Ontario, to spend the day at the Writers House the other day. Gary is a poet, fiction writer, composer, and performer, whose many books of poetry include The Porcupinity of the Stars (newly published), Outside the Hat and Raising Eyebrows (all from Coach House), and whose music has been performed by, among other groups, The Vancouver Chamber Choir, The Bach-Elgar Choir, and by the Windtunnel Saxaphone Quartet. Along with Danny Snelson and Ammiel Alcalay, we recorded a session of PoemTalk on a poem by John Wieners. Then I induced Gary into an hour-long recording session for PennSound. And now, already, lo and behold, we have a new Gary Barwin author page at PennSound: here. I had first met Gary at Banff a year ago and enjoyed his company a great deal.

Gary is also the Serif of Nottingblog - which is to say, runs a blog going under that title. He blogs on average once every other day. I recommend it as a digital destination.

Gary is Jewish, and the family's path runs like this: Lithuania, South Africa, Ottawa. His Lithuanian family fled the holocaust. His great-uncle Isaak Grazutis is a holocaust survivor, and also, now, a painter. "In 1941, at the age of eleven, Isaak was forced to flee his native village in advance of Nazi occupation. After his parents were taken away by the invading forces, he was brought to live in an orphanage in Ural, and later, Moscow where he spent his formative years." Here is much more from Gary's blog. At right you see one of Isaak's oil paintings.

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