Last night's Cobbingfest - an event on visual and sound poetries - at the Kelly Writers House featured readings by Maggie O'Sullivan and cris cheek and a panel discussion led by Charles Bernstein that included O'Sullivan and cheek as well as Matthew Abess and Marvin Sackner. Once the recordings of the readings and talks are available (soon, I should think) I will surely link them here. Come back.
Matt Abess is a senior undergraduate who was drawn into this poetics through courses and other doings and connections at the Writers House and Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing (CPCW). During 2005-06 he took Kenny Goldsmith's year-long course we do in collaboration with the ICA, a variant on Kenny's "Uncreative Writing" seminar; then in the spring of '06 was Kenny's apprentice through our relatively new program of writing-arts apprenticeships. And in summer '06 we sponsored his research at Marvin and Ruth Sackner's remarkable concrete poetry archive in Miami. All the players in supporting Matt already knew and liked each other and his wonderful work served to bring us all together. Add O'Sullivan and Cheek to the mix - Matt, working with Charles and KWH Director Jessica Lowenthal - invited them, and you have a memorable few days.
After the reading last night I chatted with Bob Perelman and Ron Silliman about the event, about Cobbing, and about the extent to which there was a parallel development of sound poetry on the U.S. side. Here's a link to that 5-minute conversation.
 The Daily Pennsylvanian covered this story in its October 12, 2007 issue.
 PennSound has put up quite a good collection of Cobbing pieces, with lots of help from Matt Abess and PennSound's Managing Editor Mike Hennessey.
 Our "Suddenly Everyone Began Reading Aloud" page is already up - and soon will have added to it links to the recordings of the October 10 and 11 events.
 Matt received the annual Kerry Sherin Wright Prize given to a Writers House community member who proposes a program or project that befits the capacious and communitarian spirit of our former director, Kerry Sherin Wright. The funds that come with the prize literally paid for the program last night.
 The Writing Arts Apprenticeships program has been made possible by a generous gift from Emilio and Reina Bassini, members of the Writers House Advisory Board and good friends.
 Matt worked with our friends in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library - in particular, Dan Traister - on an exhibition of Cobbing's work (visual and also sound). The show is called "Make Perhaps This Out Sense Of Can You" and is up until December 16, 2007. Rosenwald Gallery, 6th floor, Van-Pelt Dietrich Library Center University of Pennsylvania, 3420 Walnut Street. Gallery hours: Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm, Saturday, by prior arrangement, noon-4pm. 1-800-390-1829.
If you have never read even just a few paragraphs of the "Wansee Protocol," you are missing a chance to read Nazi writing at its most routine and most bizarre (both at once, of course). At Wansee, a Berlin suburb, in January 1942, senior officials of the German state met in order, essentially, to figure out a way to communicate clearly to everyone above a certain level of seniority within the Nazi government about the plan to exterminate the Jews of Europe.
A gorgeously bland 1984 film about the not-quite-daylong "discussion"--boring talk around a big conference table; just another meeting--about this horrendous, insane topic. Boring talk about insane stuff. Talk about your form/content split.
The "protocol" was prepared afterward. During the Nuremberg trials after the war it was translated into English. On my Holocaust site I've made the full protocol available. Here are some typical sentences:
"Persons of mixed blood of the first degree who are exempted from evacuation will be sterilized in order to prevent any offspring and to eliminate the problem of persons of mixed blood once and for all. Such sterilization will be voluntary. But it is required to remain in the Reich. The sterilized "person of mixed blood" is thereafter free of all restrictions to which he was previously subjected.... In conclusion the different types of possible solutions were discussed, during which discussion both Gauleiter Dr. Meyer and State Secretary Dr. Buehler took the position that certain preparatory activities for the final solution should be carried out immediately in the territories in question, in which process alarming the populace must be avoided."
Herbert Gold reviewed On the Road in the November 16, 1957 issue of the Nation, under the title: "Hip Cool, Beat - and Frantic." Here's a passage of the review that'll give you a good sense of the whole:
The hipster-writer is a perennial perverse bar mitzvah boy, proudly announcing: “Today I am a madman. Now give me the fountain pen.” The frozen thugs gathered west of Sheridan Square or in the hopped-up cars do not bother with talk. That’s why they say “man” to everybody—they can’t remember anybody’s name. But Ginsberg and Kerouac are frantic. They care too much, and they care aloud. “I’m hungry, I’m starving, let’s eat right now!” That they care mostly for themselves is a sign of adolescence, but at least they care for something, and it’s a beginning. The hipster is past caring. He is the criminal with no motivation in hunger, the delinquent with no zest, the gang follower with no love of the gang; i.e., the worker without ambition or pleasure in work, the youngster with undescended passions, the organization man with sloanwilsonian gregorypeckerism in his cold, cold heart.
This is George Herlick's b&w; photo called "Bread in Window," taken on April 21, 1937, part of a series called "City Scenes" that Herlick shot as part of the Photographic Division of the New York City Fine Arts Project, a New Deal enterprise. The remarkable online New Deal Network has organized this and hundreds of other Depression-era photographs in its Photo Library. Herlick is also known for his photographs of rural scenes in the city, such as "Haycart".