Commentaries - February 2009

Her Emily Dickinson

Charles Bernstein hosted the “Linebreak” radio series, which, in digital form, was originally presented in RealAudio format and then converted to mp3. (MP3 of course is PennSound’s and many others’ preferred format — downloadable, nonproprietary, free.)

In the spring of 1995, in New York, Charles conducted an interview with Susan Howe that has all along been my favorite of the Linebreak shows. We’ve now segmented it — by topic — and created what amounts to a table of contents. Above is a snapshot from the freshly revised Susan Howe PennSound page.

Ron Silliman reading at KWH earlier tonight

Ron read a sampling from the 1000-page The Alphabet, taking sections in (why not?) alphabetical order. He ended with a beautiful piece from VOG about Larry Eigner. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him read so well. He was on.

Here’s the video recording of the event.

When words peel away

Screen is a short video that shows the 3D-text-based, virtual reality experience of hypertext in a “CAVE” at the University of Iowa. Click here to watch the video.

Visiting the kiss on V-Day

On Valentine’s Day, Jane and I paid a visit to the great Arensberg rooms at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and stood for a long while in front of Brancusi’s “The Kiss” (1908). If you glance at it, it seems (by this point) a cliche. But that tiredness is of our own making. Stay with it long enough and its revolutionary qualities come back at you. They did for us indeed. I took this photo with my iPhone (the lowest-quality aspect of that otherwise beautiful device), so forgive me.

KWH-TV 2/24 10:30 am (eastern): Robert Coover

I invite you to join experimental novelist Robert Coover and me in a conversation on Tuesday morning, February 24, starting at exactly 10:30 AM (eastern time). We will be at the Kelly Writers House in Philadelphia, but the session will be available as a live video. Our internet audience will be able to pose questions to Mr. Coover by email or by telephone.

If you would like to watch — and/or participate — please RSVP to this address:

Once we’ve registered you for the event, we’ll send you detailed instructions, including the web address for linking to the live video stream.

If you would like to test KWH-TV’s streaming video, please click here.

- - -


Robert Coover is an avant-garde novelist, critic, and playwright lauded for experimental forms and techniques that mix reality and illusion, frequently creating otherworldly or surreal situations and effects. A leading proponent of hypertext fiction and metafiction, Mr. Coover is known as a true revolutionary in contemporary American literature and language.

Mr. Coover’s first novel, The Origin of the Brunists, won the William Faulkner Award in 1966. He is also the recipient of the Brandeis University, American Academy of Arts and Letters, National Endowment of the Arts, Rhode Island Governor’s Arts, Pell, and Clifton Fadiman Awards, as well as Rockefeller, Guggenheim, Lannan Foundation, and DAAD fellowships. His latest honor is the Dugannon Foundation’s REA award for his lifetime contribution to the short story.

His most recent books are The Adventures of Lucky Pierre: Directors’ Cut, Stepmother, and A Child Again. Other works include the collection of short fiction, Pricksongs and Descants, a collection of plays, A Theological Position, such novels as The Public Burning, Spanking the Maid, Gerald’s Party, Pinocchio in Venice, John’s Wife, Ghost Town, and Briar Rose.