Nathaniel Mackey

Cry criers

Jordan Scott's 'Night & Ox' and Andrew Joron's 'The Absolute Letter'

In his previous book, Blert, Jordan Scott gave us his autobiographical stutterer’s poetics. Casting the stutterer as “a threat to coherence,” as a rebel against standardized, disciplined, regulatory language, Blert challenges linguistic (and by easy extension, political) hegemony. For Scott, this stuttering poetry is “an inchoate moan edging toward song,” the beginning of a redemptive lament.

Scott’s latest, Night & Ox, takes the stutter further into the cry. The book-length poem opens at the “sunny edge / of outcry’s / tastic harpsichord,” and from these opening lines the cry never quite drifts out of earshot, even as the poem’s interests range across state surveillance, climate change, the liberal subject, and images of a comet hurtling through space.

In his previous book, Blert, Jordan Scott gave us his autobiographical stutterer’s poetics. Casting the stutterer as “a threat to coherence,” as a rebel against standardized, disciplined, regulatory language, Blert challenges linguistic (and by easy extension, political) hegemony.[1] For Scott, this stuttering poetry is “an inchoate moan edging toward song,” the beginning of a redemptive lament.[2]

Words that bleed music

Postbop jazz in the poetry of Amiri Baraka and Nathaniel Mackey

Left: Nathaniel Mackey at Vision Festival, New York, 2015, courtesy of Nathaniel Mackey. Right: Amiri Baraka at the Malcom X Festival, San Antonio Park, Oakland, California, May 2007. Photo by David Sasaki via Wikimedia Commons.

In his preface to Blue Fasa (2015), Nathaniel Mackey reflects on what is arguably the key preoccupation in his oeuvre: the relationship between music and language. Mackey’s comments emerge out of a sense of disquiet with the way the two modes of communication are often presumed remote from the other by today’s artists and scholars.

Nathaniel Mackey on Sonny Rollins

[6 minutes; audio]

In his April 24, 1985, presentation of "Sound and Sentiment, Sound and Symbol," Nathaniel Mackey spoke about Sonny Rollins for six minutes or so. Hannah Judd of the PennSound staff has now segmented the entire recording of the talk by topic. Here is the segment on Rollins: LINK.

And here are links to all the segments:

  1. On Sound and Sentiment (6:22): MP3
  2. On Sound and Symbol (4:43): MP3
  3. On phantom limbs (5:15): MP3
  4. On Legba (3:02): MP3
  5. On Jean Toomer (9:13): MP3
  6. On William Carlos Williams (20:11): MP3
  7. On the Caribbean and Legba (14:49): MP3
  8. On Williams and stumbling (4:54): MP3
  9. On Ellison (9:22): MP3
  1. On limping (2:06): MP3
  2. On Sonny Rollins (6:35): MP3
  3. On music and writing (4:38): MP3
  4. On "Cane" (7:45): MP3
  5. On wholeness (9:24): MP3
  6. On partiality (14:47): MP3

Nathaniel Mackey on 'Splay Anthem'

Nathaniel Mackey joined host Leonard Schwartz in October of 2006 for a conversation about — and selected reading from — Mackey’s Splay Anthem. Thanks now to PennSound’s Hannah Judd, we are able to present the segments of this audio, as follows:

  1. On Splay Anthem structure (2:38): MP3
  2. On “Mu” (6:38): MP3
  3. Mu sixteenth part (2:51): MP3
  4. On movement (4:54): MP3
  5. On ska (2:45): MP3
  6. On Andoumboulou (9:04): MP3
  7. “Song of the Andoumboulou 50: Ring of the Well” (8:29): MP3
  8. On pronouns (6:22): MP3
  9. On “Nub” (2:21): MP3
  10. From “Song of the Andoumboulou 60” (1:09): MP3
  11. On new work (7:27): MP3

Requiem so sweet we forgot what it lamented (PoemTalk #89)

Nathaniel Mackey, 'Day after Day of the Dead'

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Tsitsi Jaji, Herman Beavers, and William J. Harris joined Al Filreis in the new Wexler Studio at the Kelly Writers House to discuss a poem by Nathaniel Mackey, “Day after Day of the Dead” (text).  The poem appears about a third of the way through Mackey’s book Nod House (New Directions, 2011). As is typical of Mackey’s work, especially in recent years, the book includes poems that are individually new installments in one of two ongoing long poems, one called “Mu” and another called Song of the Andoumboulou.”

An interview with William J. Harris

PennSound podcast #49, with an introduction by Harris

William J. Harris with Susan Harris, 1969.

This interview tracks my genesis and early development as a poet and intellectual. My artistic and cultural education occurs during the late ’50s, the ’60s and the early ’70s and takes place primarily in and around academic institutions: the liberal college, Antioch, which is in my hometown of Yellow Springs, Ohio, and the nearby black state university, Central State, in Wilberforce, and the story, if not exactly concluding, comes to “a momentary stay against confusion” at Stanford University in Northern California where I did my MA in creative writing and a PhD in English.

Notes toward understanding Nathaniel Mackey's 'Outer Pradesh'

“Mu,” one of Mackey’s ongoing poems, is based on the idea of giving voice to the elders of the Dogon people of central Mali. In some “Mu” sections the elders channel the souls of disgruntled dead; they bespeak the improperly buried.

From 'From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate'

Joseph Donahue, 2014 (photo by Star Black).

[From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate is an ongoing series of letters written by composer/multi-instrumentalist N., founding member of a band known as the Molimo m’Atet based in Los Angeles.]

12.XI.85

Dear Angel of Dust,

St Mark's Talks (1985)

Erica Hunt, Bruce Boone, Peter Inman, Jackson Mac Low, David Antin, Barbara Guest, Lorenzo Thomas, Steve McCaffery, Kathleen Fraser, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Nathaniel Mackey, Ron Silliman, Bob Perelman, Anne Waldman, Nick Piombino

In 1985, Eileen Myles was the new director of the St. Mark's Poetry Project in New York. She asked me to curate a lecture series, the first such program at the church. I modelled the series at the Poetry Project on my earlier series New York Talk, giving it the amusing title, given the sometimes seeming resistance to poetics at the St. Marks at the time, St. Marks Talks. And talk it did.

Nathaniel Mackey reads from Nod House

From Nod House (new from New Directions)
reading on Close Lisening:

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