PoemTalk

Cole Swensen responds

What follows is a response to PoemTalk #52 written by Cole Swensen, whose poem “If a Garden of Numbers” is discussed by Al Filreis, Ann Seaton, Gregory Djanikian and Michelle Taransky in that show.

I wanted to respond to the reading given to one of my poems in a recent number of PoemTalk. I was thrilled to hear that it was on the program because it’s such a wonderful series, but then I was disappointed to hear the actual discussion. It seemed dominated by Ann Seaton’s very particular agenda, which is an extremely important one, but not the only lens through which to look at 17th-century French gardens.

As Seaton herself stated, she was interested in “everything that wasn’t in the poem,” but because of that, what is in the poem never got addressed. Even its basic subject — the construction of the concept of nature by the sciences, which characterizes the modern world — wasn't discussed, nor was the dominant image in the poem, the golden section. And by extension, geometry as a whole, and with it, perspective, subject positioning, and the constitution of collective subjectivity were all left out. Discussing these, which are the agenda of the poem, might have opened the talk up to the critique attempted by many parts of the book.

PoemTalk commended in the "New York Times"

Jacket2 and “PoemTalk” are recommended in a recent “What We're Reading” section of The New York Times.

Why apples can cause riots (PoemTalk #51)

Linh Dinh, "Eating Fried Chicken"

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Linh Dinh playfully and bitterly engages food, war, and race in a poem called “Eating Fried Chicken.” The poem appeared in his book American Tatts, published by Chax in 2005. For PoemTalk’s 51st episode, Thomas Devaney, Susan Schultz (visiting from Hawai'i), and Leonard Schwartz (visiting from Olympia, Washington) joined Al Filreis to talk about this work of apparently straightforward address yet tonal complexity. 

Why apples can cause riots (PoemTalk #51)

Linh Dinh, 'Eating Fried Chicken'

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Linh Dinh playfully and bitterly engages food, war, and race in a poem called “Eating Fried Chicken.” The poem appeared in his book American Tatts, published by Chax in 2005. For PoemTalk’s 51st episode, Thomas Devaney, Susan Schultz (visiting from Hawai'i), and Leonard Schwartz (visiting from Olympia, Washington) joined Al Filreis to talk about this work of apparently straightforward address yet tonal complexity. 

PoemTalk's first 46 episodes

PT#1: William Carlos Williams between walls
PT#2
: Adrienne Rich won't wait
PT#3
: George Oppen's ballad
PT#4
: Allen Ginsberg sings Blake
PT#5
: Ted Berrigan's "3 Pages"
PT#6
: Jaap Blonk sound poem
PT#7
: Jerome Rothenberg's paradise
PT#8
: Rae Armantrout's "The Way"
PT#9
: John Ashbery at a crossroads
PT#10
: one of Gertrude Stein's portraits
PT#11
: Erica Hunt's "voice of no"
PT#12
: Ezra Pound's America
PT#13
: Kathleen Fraser's dangerous highway
PT#14
: Wallace Stevens at the end
PT#15
: Lyn Hejinian's change
PT#16
: Creeley driving the car
PT#17
: Rodrigo Toscano's political poetics
PT#18
: Lydia Davis has a position
PT#19
: Bob Perelman's inner unruly child
PT#20
: Amiri Baraka's Kenyatta
PT#21
: Charles Bernstein's restlessness
PT#22
: Louis Zukofsky begins anew
PT#23
: Cid Corman really knew terror
PT#24
: Barbara Guest, a poem about painting
PT#25
: Alice Notley on the Lower East Side
PT#26
: wild Vachel Lindsay
PT#27
: Robert Duncan opens the field
PT#28
: Jack Spicer to shrink: drop dead
PT#29
: Kit Robinson ponders mad men
PT#30
: the W. C. Williams we remember
PT#31
: Robert Grenier's box of poem-cards
PT#32
: Susan Howe's Emily Dickinson
PT#33
: flarfist Sharon Mesmer
PT#34
: Charles Olson's Maximus
PT#35: Bruce Andrews at the center
PT#36
: J. Scappettone writes through H.D.
PT#37
: Jena Osman drops leaflets
PT#38
: Norman Fischer would like to see it
PT#39: Etheridge Knight & Gwendolyn Brooks
PT#40: Susan Schultz blogs dementia
PT#41: Ezra Pound in Venice
PT#42: Nathaniel Tarn's eco-poetics
PT#43: John Weiners by night
PT#44: Fred Wah's race to go
PT#45: Eileen Myles does what she teaches
PT#46: Jackson Mac Low writes through Ezra

Digitizing Creeley's reel-to-reel tapes

Robert Creeley and son Will (photo by Bruce Jackson)

Will Creeley sent us at PennSound this great note after hearing a PoemTalk episode about one of his father's poems:

I saw word of this latest episode via PennSound's excellent & useful Twitter feed, and figured it was a good opportunity to say thank you again to Al, Charles and everyone at PennSound & Kelly Writers House for taking in our big cardboard boxes and digitizing the reel-to-reel recordings inside with such care and precision.

Praise for PoemTalk

A Review

podcast logo

Today we're enjoying a positive review of PoemTalk published at Geekadelphia. Here's more.

Praise for PoemTalk

Geekadelphia

Over at Geekadelphia, Lillian Dunn has written appreciatively about PoemTalk. Here is the link to the whole article, and here is the relevant text:

Poets, with all their feathery pens and solitude, might not strike you as a particularly tech-savvy group. But Al Filreis, poet-in-chief at UPenn’s Kelly Writers House, just laughed out loud at me when I suggested as such. What about Flarf – a whole new genre Google search poems? Or “spoetry” – sonnets crafted from spam e-mails’ fabulous nonsequiturs?

podcast logoFilreis himself homebrews the successful “PoemTalk” podcast in the garret of the Writers House on UPenn’s Campus, convening 3 local and visiting poets to talk about a poem by a 4th. In PoemTalk, along with some local poetry Facebook groups and CA Conrad’s loopy, beautiful Jupiter 88, a “video-journal of contemporary poetry,” Philly poets are using tech to pop the lid off an often-hermetic art form.

Filreis says he chose the podcast format because it lets poetry do some new tricks. First, he digs “the radical equivalency of iTunes;” poetry’s right up there with Lady Gaga and the NBC Nightly News. And listening on an iPod “is more intimate than listening to the radio;” you choose it, you download it, and then you get to sit down with your new friends, just you and the poets alone, in your own world of sound, the words rattling in your chest and clutched in your coat pocket.

Despite its slick editing and newfangled delivery, the PoemTalk podcast itself lets you get closer to poems by very old-school means. Every month, Filreis gets together 3 poets – living in Philly or just passing through – to talk about a 4th poet’s work, selected from Penn’s archives. (The show is also a peek into the vast audio archives of PennSound, UPenn’s collection of poets reading their own pieces, basically spanning the history of sound recording.)

Trained listener (PoemTalk #35)

Bruce Andrews, "Center"

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The range of Bruce Andrews’s work is fairly well represented by the recordings available on his PennSound page. The earliest recorded reading we have dates from late 1977, the most recent (as of this writing) is from 2008. Generally it is true that PoemTalk’s format – the choice of a single short poem for which a recording exists – will tend to misrepresent the whole of the poet’s work. Fortunately it’s not the aim of PoemTalk to represent the whole, but to have a good and earnest listen and look at the single instance along the way, Having done this 35 times in this series, we find, mostly to our surprise, that tenable general statements of a poet’s mode and aesthetic disposition do come through the back door of low conceptual expectations. Surely that’s what happened here, when Tan Lin, Chris Funkhouser, Sarah Dowling and Al Filreis took on a single poem from Andrews’ sequence called Moebius. Moebius was written in the late 1970s but not published until 1993, when a chapbook appeared from the Generator Press in Ohio. On November 10, 1977 Andrews came to the Ear Inn in New York, performed at a reading alongside Ray DiPalma and Michael Lally, and gave us fine readings of many of the Moebius poems, including “Center,” which is the piece we discuss in PT35.

First we found something we took to be unusual in Andrews: the emphasis on distancing goes along with a tone of softness and wistfulness (as Sarah suggests), perhaps even vulnerability notwithstanding the aggressive idiom (“I make the rules here”). But soon we sensed we were seeing the Bruce Andrews we would know from later works. Naturally one asks if the speaker of these masculine phrases--all this deliberate 70s guy talk--is an individual, a single subject. No, Tan Lin suggests, the poem’s phrases comprise not those of an individual speaker but identify the language production we associate with a particular kind of speaker. So the poem is a meta-statement on how language is generated and that, in turn, constructs a kind of identity, although that identity is never really offered. As Chris points out, the poem feels like an aggressive encroachment on the white space of the page. The poem, spiraling down the page, forces one to think of a moebius shape which claims centrality (has a center but yet doesn’t quite). Such a claim, because of the moebius, will seem repeatedly arbitrary, and so does the normative standard for the discernment, by socio-linguistic cues, of a fixable speaking identity, and so that (the emptiness of that effort) is your center. (Which is to say: what center? why are you looking here for one?)

Charles Olson and the westwardness of everything

A new PoemTalk

Today we are releasing episode 34 of PoemTalk. In this one I and three PoemTalkers talk about one of Charles Olson's Maximus poems, "Maximus to Gloucester, letter 27 (withheld)." Go here for much more about the episode and link to the show itself. Below is a YouTube clip of Olson reading (over-reading?) the poem.

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