Brian Teare, Jed Rasula, and Kristin Prevallet joined Al Filreis to talk about Robin Blaser’s “A Bird in the House.” The poem dates from the late 1980s or possibly the early 1990s. The text of the poem is now available at the Poetry Foundation. Blaser’s PennSound page includes two performances — one from a reading he gave in Buffalo in September of 1993, the second from a visit to the Writers Institute in Albany on October 26, 1994. The version we hear for our discussion is the one made in Albany; we chose this in part because there Blaser set up the poem with a short introduction. The group marvels at how Blaser manages to take the idea of Other (that which is, like the bird in a house, “otherous”) into an expanded field that is nonetheless domestic.
[The recording of the deformance described in this commentary is here.] When Jed Rasula and Steve McCaffery assembled an anthology of historical avant-gardism called Imagining Language (1998), their goal was to find, “along the canonical spectrum, within the regulated normality of literature,” the various “occasional protuberances of another submerged order.” Wallace Stevens is nowhere to be found here, perhaps not surprisingly, among selections from the writings of Stein, Joyce, Whitman, Madeline Gins, Hugo Ball, Max Ernst, Lupino Lane, Armand Schwerner, Zora Neale Hurston, Marcel Duchamp, Jackson Mac Low, bp Nichol, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and others.
In 2006, Kenneth Goldsmith posted a 30 second clip of Maria Osmond reciting Hugo Balls' 1918 sound poem "Karawane" on the TV show Ripley's Believe It or Not; it was taken from a CD supplement to Greil Marcus's Lipstick Traces. Now a video clip of the full 2 1/2 minute segment has surfaced, which includes Osmond's introduction to Dada and sound poetry. (Thanks to Jay Sanders for alerting me to the clip.)
Taken from a Ripley's Believe It Or Not segment on sound poetry from the mid-80s. According to producer Jed Rasula, "Marie Osmond became co-host with Jack Palance. In the format of the show, little topic clusters (like "weird language") were introduced by one of the hosts. In this case, the frame was Cabaret Voltaire. Marie was required to read Hugo Ball's sound poem "Karawane" and a few script lines. Much to everybody's astonishment, when they started filming she abruptly looked away from the cue cards directly into the camera and recited, by memory, "Karawane." It blew everybody away, and I think they only needed that one take. A year or so after it was broadcast, Greil Marcus approached me, wanting to use Marie Osmond's rendition of Hugo Ball for a cd produced in England as sonic companion to his book Lipstick Traces; so I was delighted to be able to arrange that."