Ray DiPalma

Perhaps a new optimism (PoemTalk #68)

Ray DiPalma, 'It makes / of nonsense'

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Aaron Shurin (then just in from the Bay Area), John Tranter (visiting from Australia), and Charles Bernstein (coming in from New York) joined Al Filreis for this episode of PoemTalk to discuss a poem by Ray DiPalma, “It makes of nonsense.” The poem was written in 1976, and first performed, we think, in 1977. Our text of the poem comes from the poet, and is reproduced below. Our PennSound recording of the poem was segmented from a longer tape of a reading DiPalma gave, along with Michael Lally and Bruce Andrews (quite a threesome in those years), at the Ear Inn in New York City on November 10, 1977; the tape-recording itself was made by the aforementioned Charles Bernstein, one of this episode’s interlocutors.

DiPalma reads from "Further Apocrypha"

This is a four-minute excerpt from a reading given by Ray DiPalma at the Kelly Writers House on April 2, 2012. The full recording is available here: [VIDEO].  An audio recording of the reading (segmented by poem) is also available at PennSound.  In this excerpt he reads several sections from a book called Further Apocrypha, which was published in a strictly limited edition by Pie in the Sky Press. It is one of the most beautiful books I have seen (I saw it only briefly when DiPalma visited KWH last year). To see photographs of the book, go here. The YouTube excerpt was edited for PennSound by Allison Harris.

Ray DiPalma, 1974

Ray DiPalma in the Peacock Room of the Freer Gallery, Washington DC, in 1974. Photograph by Elizabeth DiPalma.

Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein, Ray DiPalma, Ron Silliman, 1981

Photo by Betsi Brandfass

Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein, and Ron Silliman’s tape for an unrealized transcript captures a wealth of improvisatory high-level thinking about particulars of contemporary American class structure and poetry. The result manifests a sustained thread about social formations in contemporary American poetry with strong relevance for the present. Near the end, a phone call is received from Ray DiPalma clarifying details about the group reading of their collectively authored LEGEND four days later.

Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein, and Ron Silliman
Bernstein’s apartment, New York City, March 6, 1981
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Bruce Andrews, Michael Lally, Ray DiPalma

from left: Bruce Andrews, Michael Lally, Ray DiPalma

This photograph of Bruce Andrews, Michael Lally, and Ray DiPalma was taken by Elizabeth DiPalma in early September 1975, in Michael Lally's then Sullivan Street apartment. The print of the original photo, now among Ray DiPalma's papers at Yale, is 8"x10".  We at J2 are grateful to Ray DiPalma for making this reproduction available to us and our readers.

I just now listened (for what must be the third time overall) to a triple reading given by Andrews, Lally, and DiPalma together at the Ear Inn in New York on November 10, 1977. DiPalma read “Exile,” “It makes of nonsense,” and “I am in the mountains,’ and also a 4-minute section from The Birthday Notations. Andrews read mostly from Moebius (published as a chapbook much later, in 1993); one of these Moebius poems became the focus of an episode of PoemTalk ("Center").  As for what Lally read that night, I'm sorry to say that PennSound's Lally page needs work; it's not clear which recording is the November '77 reading (we'll work on fixing it).

Legend: Group shot

Silliman, DiPalma, McCaffery, Bernstein, & Andrews, circa 1980

Legend 1

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