I’m always interested in the physical, digital, and in-between spaces audio recordings document and inhabit. This playlist samples some combinations of various recording environments, paying a bit of attention to often overlooked aspects such as tape hiss and telephone distortion, as well as considering sonic contexts like the classroom and direct-to-digital readings.
beneath the Highway 24 overpass, on MacArthur Blvd. between Telegraph and MLK
I’ve been thinking about the recent and hopefully temporary closure of 21 Grand, an interdisciplinary arts spaced forced to vacate its most current location at 416 25th St. after a battle with the city of Oakland over a cabaret permit, a permit it operated without for 10 years. (Here is a decent re-cap of the whole nightmare.)
It’s still feels weird that 21 Grand is gone for-the-time-being-fingers-crossed, given how important a space it’s been for so many Bay Area arts communities. And I’m thinking of the hundreds? could it be hundreds? of poetry readings I've attended there, how poetry was part of its interdisciplinary focus from the beginning, in 2000, with David Horton’s first series at the original location on 21 Grand Ave., followed by New Brutalism at the 449B 23rd St. spot, and finally New Yipes and the New Reading Series at the last address on 25th St.
Readers here will know by now that one of my obsessions is the representation of the 1930s in the 1950s. I suppose you could say I collect these bits of (usually politicized) retrospectives. At right is an oil-and-charcoal painting by Robert Motherwell about the Spanish Civil War - done in 1958-60. Look over at my 1960 blog for more.
Christa Malone, Marvin Malone's daughter, has taken up the cause of the Wormwood Review. She's created a new web site which features, among many other things, tributes to Marvin's editorship. My 1960 blog, a while back, took a look at Wormwood's founding in 1960.
The very fact that audio recordings of poetry are now readily available to the classroom can be turned to a great advantage and can at least temporarily change the relationship between teacher and student. It is surely the case that when my students and I in class together listen to sound files instead of reading poem-texts, our vocabularies tend to be on the same plane. I might have a subtler response to what we’re hearing, and certainly I know far more than they about the sound in literary-historical context, but they are never struck dumb by the terminology I bring to bear on the point I seek to make about the specific sound of the words, the poetics of it. The students notice this difference – between their talk about the poem on the page and their talk about the sounded or recorded poems – and their discussion of poetics generally becomes charged with it. If it is true of those who perform spoken poetry that (as David Antin has put it) ‘it was my habit to record my talks / to find out what i[’]d said’ then similarly, the disorienting and terminologically disruptive mode I am describing is the means by which we might find out what we are teaching.