You conceived this forum in the midst of attacks on Conceptualism for being a pain machine wielded by and for white people. I wondered whether your goal was salvific: could Conceptualism’s reputation and potential be rescued, could its soil be aerated and fertilized, could histories, lineages, practices, and ideas not normally associated with the current branding of Conceptualism become part of our sense of it.
PoemTalk took its show on the road this time. Al Filreis convened with Maria Damon, Catherine Wagner, and Kaplan Harris in Greenwich Village, New York City, before a wonderfully responsive live audience, to talk about two poems Kathy Acker inserted into the middle of her novel Blood and Guts in High School.
[»»]Kathleen Fraser in conversation with Sarah Rosenthal, 2007 “SR: Silence has been a central trope in your writing since early on. It carries a range of meanings, from erasure to grief and loss to the spaciousness of an open field. Perhaps we could trace some of the ways in which silence has come up in your work over time.” [»»]Alison Knowles in conversation with Elizabeth-Jane Burnett, September 2006. Alison Knowles is a visual artist known for her soundworks, installations, performances, publications and association with Fluxus, the experimental avant-garde group formally founded in 1962. [»»]Eleni Sikelianos, author of The California Poem, in conversation with Jesse Morse [»»]Catherine Wagner in conversation with Nathan Smith, 13 April 2007
This post’s playlist presents recordings from the PennSound archive that explore the continuum between language, music, and other types of sound.
I want to begin with a few related recordings of Nathaniel Mackey and his ongoing serial poem Song of the Andoumboulou. In Mackey’s introduction to a 1997 KWH reading he discusses the poem’s relationship to the Dogon funeral song of the same name, recorded by Francois Di Dio in 1974. Listen to Mackey’s poem Song of the Andoumboulou: 18. I am always struck by this moment when, near the end of the Dogon recording, as the pitch from the horn wavers up and down, I hear an ambiguity between what could be perceived as a human shout and the sound of a musical instrument. It’s this type of threshold point that has been in the back of my mind when I listen to poetry recordings lately.