Bob Holman, about as passionate about poetic orality as anyone, is visiting Senegal, Gambia, and Mali for the next seven weeks filming endangered languages and presumably, too, doing a series of wildly entertaining performances. He's set up a blog for the trip, the Griot Trail.
For some good recordings of Holman doing his thing, check out his PennSound author page.
In the summer of '99 a group of us gathered to talk at great length about a single poem by William Carlos Williams - "To Elsie" ("The pure products of America / go crazy"). At one point Bob Perelman, one of the participants, said something about the way the poem leaves elements open and contradictory, and then implied (and then at one moment said outright) that this became and still is a key idea operating in contemporary avant-garde poetics. I think Bob frames the point very nicely here, so have a listen to this very brief excerpt from the longer discussion of the poem.
Hanan al-Shaykh was born in Lebanon and grew up in Beirut. Her most recent novel, Only in London, was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. She was educated in Cairo and wrote her first novel there when she was nineteen before returning to Beirut to work as a journalist for Al-Nahar newspaper Al Hasna magazine. In 1975 she left Beirut because of the civil war and moved to the Arabian Gulf, dividing her time between London and the Gulf States for the next nine years. Since 1984 she has lived in London with her family.
A few of us created the project (one of the first of its kind in the U.S.) through which undergraduates received "front-line" computing support in their residences. House calls, as it were. It was, at the time, a revolutionary approach: after all, think, circa 1994-96, of how "computing support" was conceived. You have a problem with your computer, you pick up and carry it to a centrally located "Help Desk." But by '95 and '96 the first issues were those of connectivity - not something well done away from the connection! And then of course, after a while, students need less strictly technical help - and more in the way of guidance about using software, connecting with academic materials on this newish thing called the web, and playing, sandbox-like, with the new tools. We needed people who wouldn't mind getting sand on their hands and knees. Thus: the ITA, Information Technology Advisor. At some point KYW Radio (all news all the time) got wind of this and did a super-quickie little radio story about it. Very slight and barely broke the surface. I recently found the cassette they sent me after airing the story and now have converted it digitally, so here it is.
Poets & Writers, quite pre-professional, nonetheless fairly often admits or implies that young writers who get MFAs might want or need to do things other than join the academy, where "Creative Writing" programs as such are often if not mostly deemed fringe zones of mere practice. Anyway, I was pleased to see that the magazine's latest stab at alternative options includes advice for young writers to "Help out a literary organization," and mentions the Kelly Writers House as one such site. Below is the relevant passage (click on the image for a larger view). And click here for the whole article.