Susan Howe

Witness Mark Booth

A prosodic variable is the type of constant

Mark Booth, from T.S.I.R.B.A.I.S. (2)

Susan Howe’s recuperation of Emily Dickinson’s visual prosody marks a pivot point in American poetics, insofar as it calls attention to the long effaced but paradigmatically American enterprise of self-invention that Dickinson’s practice depicts. And in depicting her work, the picture is the work, hence the holograph images that for the most part replace block quotes in texts like Howe’s My Emily Dickinson and the essay from which I’ll cull this epigraph, “These Flames and Generosities of the Heart.”

Eight introductions to Creeley, 1961-1996

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

The 27th podcast in the “PennSound Podcasts” series features an anthology of eight introductions to Robert Creeley, culled from PennSound's many recordings of Creeley’s readings over the years. The introductions are, in order: by Paul Carroll (Chicago, May 15, 1961), at the Berkeley Poetry Conference (Berkeley, July 22, 1965), by Ed Saunders (New York, October 24, 1966), in the Woodberry Poetry Room of Harvard (Cambridge, October 27, 1966), at MoCA Los Angeles in 1983, by Reed Bye at Naropa (Boulder, July 1984), by Diane Wakoski (Washington, DC, 1984), and by Susan Howe (Buffalo, October 11, 1996).

This PennSound podcast is hosted and introduced by Amaris Cuchanski and edited by Nick DeFina. Be sure to listen to other PennSound podcasts. And find us on iTunes by typing “PennSound” in your iTunes music store searchbox.

Howe interviews Bernstein and Andrews in 1979

from left: Susan Howe, Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

On March 14, 1979, Bruce Andrews and Charles Bernstein visited the studios of WBAI in New York and were interviewed by Susan Howe, host then of the Pacifica Radio Poetry Show. This installment in the PennSound podcast series, introduced again by Amaris Cuchanski and based on editing done by Nick DeFina, features an excerpt from that interview focusing on a discussion of opaque as distinct from transparent language and of language’s materiality.

Susan Howe's 'Thiefth'

Susan Howe’s “Thorow” and “Melville's Marginalia” performed by Howe along with music and sounds composed by David Grubb. These recordings are available on PennSound. Click here.

Thiefth was the first collaboration between Howe and musician and composer Grubbs. The two were brought together when the Fondation Cartier proposed a collaborative performance. Grubbs had been an ardent reader of Howe’s for more than a decade, and the opportunity to work with Howe’s poetry and her voice immediately intrigued. In late 2003, the two set about to create performance versions of “Thorow” and “Melville's Marginalia,” two of Howe’s longer poems. Drawing from the journals of Sir William Johnson and Henry David Thoreau, "Thorow" both evokes the winter landscape that surrounds Lake George in upstate New York, and explores collisions and collusions of historical violence and national identity. "Thorow" is an act of second seeing in which Howe and Grubbs engage the lake's glittering, ice surface as well as the insistent voices that haunt an unseen world underneath. “Melville's Marginalia” is an approach to an elusive and allusive mind through Herman Melville’s own reading and the notations he made in some of the books he owned and loved. The collaging and mirror-imaging of words and sounds are concretions of verbal static, visual mediations on what can and cannot be said.

Talkin' Politics of Poetic Form (the recordings)

25th anniversary

New at PennSound (site link for these recordings)

a series of talks I curated in 1988 at The New School (New York) and collected in The Politics of Poetic Form, Roof Books (1990)

Susan Howe

58 printed pages in Jacket 40

Susan Howe; courtesy Electronic Poetry Center, SUNY Buffalo
Susan Howe; courtesy Electronic Poetry Center, SUNY Buffalo

The last of the old Jackets, Jacket 40, had a 58 printed-page feature on poet Susan Howe:

Susan Howe reads from 'My Emily Dickinson' & discusses with poets

New York Talk: 1984 series at Segue Foundation

series curated and moderated by Charles Bernstein

When Charles Reznikoff was a guest on Susan Howe's radio show

Recordings of Susan Howe's WBAI (NY)/Pacifica Radio programs are available at PennSound as the result of a collaboration with the Archive for New Poetry at the University of California, San Diego. Our digital copies were made from recordings housed at the archive.  On May 13, 1975, Howe went on the air with her guest Charles Reznikoff and the outcome of this session was a show titled “Poems for the Jewish Holidays.” As of today, thanks to the work of Anna Zalokostas, PennSound is making this recording available in segments, one segment each for a poem or passage Reznikoff read, following Howe's introduction.

[] introduction by Susan Howe (1:11): MP3
[] Fable ["Inscriptions No. 50"] (0:36): MP3
[] “One of my sentinels, a tree” ["Inscriptions No. 3"] (0:11): MP3
[] “I have not even been in the fields” ["Rhythms II No. 1"] (0:13): MP3
[] “Blurred sight and trembling fingers” ["Inscriptions No. 48"] (0:18): MP3
[] “Heart and Clock” [excerpt, from "Separate Way No. 1"] (1:03): MP3
[] “Our nightingale, the clock” ["Jerusalem the Golden No. 61"] (0:12): MP3
[] “The clock” ["Jerusalem the Golden No. 62"] (0:12): MP3
[] “My hair was caught in the wheels of a clock” ["Jerusalem the Golden No. 63"] (0:08): MP3
[] “Hardly a breath of wind” ["Inscriptions No. 12"] (0:17): MP3
[] “After I had worked all day at what I earn my living” ["A Fifth Group of Verse No. 19"] (0:22): MP3
[] “Te Deum” ["Inscriptions No. 22"] (0:28): MP3

Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein, Susan Howe, 1979

Andrews and Bernstein by David Highsmith

Bruce Andrews and Charles Bernstein’s interview with Susan Howe captures their early poems and thinking about Language writing poetics: L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E was just over a year old with Number 7 to be published that month. I will investigate this formative moment for the ideas that continue to be crucial, that were effaced, and that enter into productive crisis in the present.

Bruce Andrews and Charles Bernstein
Susan Howe’s WBAI-Pacifica radio show, New York City, March 14, 1979

Full Program:
Bruce Andrews, from R + B (R + B, 1981)
Bruce Andrews, How (Wobbling, 1981)
Interview
Charles Bernstein, Matters of Policy (Controlling Interests, 1980)

Edited transcript published in L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, Supplement No. 3, October 1981.

Andrews and Bernstein sketch the by-now-familiar program of Language writing, an invocation of writing’s “modernist project […] an exploration of the intrinsic qualities of the media […] which from our point of view is language […] not some concocted verse tradition […] through academic discourse and […] book reviewers in The New York Times.” The “repression of knowledge” through such academic and publishing institutions contributes to a deficiency in “people’s awareness of what poetry and what other writing forms there are.” In addition, Andrews and Bernstein interrogate the very idea of genre in writing and propose “less intrinsic reasons for [the novel, philosophy, and poetry to be] separate than for music to be thought of as separate from painting or painting from writing.”

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