Commentaries

Jerome Rothenberg: 'Isaac Bashevis Singer, a Reminiscence,' with an addendum 2015

[The following short essay appeared as the terminal piece in the Library of America’s A Singer Album, 2004.]

 

A short interview with Fred Wah

Fred Wah was born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan in 1939, but he grew up in the West Kootenay region of British Columbia. He studied music and English literature at the University of British Columbia in the early 1960s where he was one of the founding editors of the poetry newsletter TISH. After graduate work in literature and linguistics at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and the State University of New York at Buffalo, he returned to the Kootenays in the late 1960s where he taught at Selkirk College and was the founding coordinator of the writing program at David Thompson University Centre. He retired from the University of Calgary in 2003 and now lives in Vancouver.

Dead air

Sinéad Morrissey's 'Through the Square Window'

Fernand Braudel is a historian of globalization who works within and against a tradition of geography as the science of colonial and state power. Volume 1 of Braudel's The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, first published in 1949, begins, in a deliberate gesture of departure, not with the eponymous sea and the plains around it but with the snow on the mountains. "Here we are far from the Mediterranean where orange trees blossom" (27), he writes, conjuring the tropes and conventions of "landscapism" in history as much as in poetry. "To tell the truth," Braudel continues, "the historian is not unlike the traveler. He tends to linger over the plain, which is the setting for the leading actors of the day, and does not seem to approach the high mountains near by" (29).

Distanced sounding: ARLO as a tool for the analysis and visualization of versioning phenomena within poetry audio

Kenneth Sherwood

Banner image for "Distanced Sounding" by Kenneth Sherwood

As readers, writers, students, teachers, or scholars of poetry, many of us have 'first-encounter' stories — hearing Poet X read for the first time; copying neglected Caedmon LPs in the library basement; borrowing a thrice-dubbed cassette of the Black Box Magazine or New Wilderness Audiographics; exploring the personal collection of a generous friend, poet, or teacher. In the days before the web, one might infer the performativity of David Antin, Jerry Rothenberg, Charles Olson, Anne Waldman, or Amiri Baraka through books like Technicians of the Sacred or Open Poetry or envision the scene of a raucous Beat coffeehouse reading, poet jamming with a jazz quintet — but recordings could be scarce.  In place of the pleasurable frustration involved in sounding out a Futurist or Dada poem from its suggestive but underdetermined visual text — the reader seeking to hear a poem in 2015 will search online archives like PennSound or Ubuweb.

Pooja Nansi

On the whalesongs of Bollywood, sentiment, and the lyric familiar

Chhoti Bahen, Hindi Film, 1959

"Listening to Mukesh"

Pooja Nansi

Driving to your block,
I slide in my father's cassette
of old Hindi songs and
I am humming in twilight
to the legendary
playback singer's baritone
releasing those sounds in that
language that makes me feel like I am
home. In the back of my throat,
I can taste my grandmother's
translucent thin chappatis
that as children we would
hold up
to the light,
the dough so evenly rolled out
by her hands that not
one lump would show.