Wrote Dada poet Hugo Ball at the moment of discovery (1916): “I have invented a new genre of poems, Verse ohne Worte, (poems without words) or Lautgedichte (sound poems), in which the balance of the vowels is weighed and distributed solely according to the values of the beginning sequence. I gave a reading of the first one of these poems this evening. I had made myself a special costume for it. My legs were in a cylinder of shiny blue cardboard, which came up to my hips so that I looked like an obelisk ...
Last May we published “Trouble Songs: A Musicological Poetics,” Jeff T. Johnson’s sprawling “investigation of the appearance of the word trouble in twentieth- and twenty-first-century music.” Announcing the piece on PennSound Daily, our own Michael Hennessey hailed the article as “a remarkably ambitious and capacious project that brings together the all-too-often disparate worlds of contemporary poetry and music.” “Within,” he continued, “we find Johnson deftly discussing John Ashbery, Amiri Baraka, Caroline Bergvall, and William Carlos Williams (among many others) with the same skill he dedicates to St. Vincent, Dock Boggs, Amy Winehouse, and Johnny Cash.”
Iceland’s national identity is rooted in its literary history. Stretching from early international saga infamy to a flood of contemporary literature, the nation’s love of books is eagerly supported by a small island population with a near-100% Icelandic-language literacy rate. For Ragnhildur Jóhannsdóttir, hands-on engagement with literature forms the corpus of her work—troubling the division between author and artist.
Gertrude Stein wrote at night; Alice Toklas transcribed during the day. In The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Stein has Toklas observe: “As a matter of fact her handwriting has always been illegible and I am very often able to read it when she is not.”
Some Stein scholars might tell you that several of her manuscripts appear to be written in both Stein’s and Toklas’ handwriting, which has led to even greater contention and consternation about authorship. But I think I might tell you that just writing something down doesn’t make you the text’s author. I also might tell you that I’ve never understood the bother around whether or not Alice meddled with Gertrude’s work. Stein’s is a writing that delights in its reading, and Toklas was her most engaged, and most welcomed, reader.