Commentaries

The Canadian prose poem

Notes toward an essay I haven’t quite written

a fragment of our poetry shelf
a fragment of our poetry shelf

A few years ago, reading through issues of the now-defunct sentence: the journal of the prose poem started me thinking about the prose poem in terms of difference between Canada and the United States. As much overlap as our two countries have, the evolution of the nebulously-termed “prose poetry” has been different, and yet, at least on this side of the border, the form hasn’t been (for what I’ve been able to find) much explored in terms of possibility, genealogy and influence.

M.C. Richards celebrates John Cage's 75th

Mary Caroline Richards spent time at Black Mountain College, formed and lived on a Long Island commume from 1954-1964, wrote poems about pottery and published a book about centering in the 1960s that received a lot of attention, was a long-time friend of John Cage. When Cage did an academic year at Wesleyan University in 1960-61, he used his leverage there to arrange a poetry reading for Richards. PennSound has only one recording of M.C. Richards — made at Indre Studios in Philadelphia on May 5, 1997.

One of the poems she performed on that occasion was "For John Cage on His 75th Birthday": MP3.

Annharte's 'AKA Inendagosekwe'

Aka Inendagosekew, published by CUE, 2014
Aka Inendagosekew, published by CUE, 2014

In her recent collection of essays, edited by Vancouver poet and critic Reg Johanson and collected together as AKA Inendagosekwe (CUE, 2013), Winnipeg poet Annharte’s “Advice to Young Writers” reads:

Robert Creeley interviews Kathy Acker

On December 12 and 13, 1979, Robert Creeley hosted Kathy Acker at SUNY-Buffalo. He introduced her and in two sessions she read from her work and engaged with Creeley on conversation. PennSound now offers, in addition to the whole recording, segments by topic and work:

  1. introduction by Creeley (4:25): MP3
  2. on Erica Jong material (1:15): MP3
  3. on forthcoming work and French novelists (3:02): MP3
  4. introduction to translations (8:41): MP3
  5. Acker reads from Eden, Eden, Eden (5:23): MP3
  6. Acker reads from Laure (10:48): MP3
  7. Acker lectures on Guyotat and Laure (31:15): MP3
  8. on self-expression (16:37): MP3
  9. on self-reflection (4:18): MP3
  10. on subjectivity and perception (12:37): MP3
  11. on the writer's perspective (5:04): MP3
  12. on the divided self (8:14): MP3

Many thanks for Hannah Judd, who did the editorial and segmenting work.

First reading of Sophia Le Fraga's 'W8ING 4' (4)

Kimberly Lamm

Kimberly Lamm (left) & Sophia Fraga

Until I looked at Sophia Le Fraga’s “W8ING 4 ,” I never really thought of seeing the lines of a “text” on a phone as lines of a poem. Since I love the look of poetry, the visual arrangement of words on a page, it seems silly that I didn’t see those parallels until now.

There is a lot to look at in “W8ING 4 .” The rows of emoji leap out at me with sentimental feeling. They make me think of sticker collections, tiny patterns on cotton dresses, little parts of Joe Brainard paintings. They are buttons, digital and tender.  

The human figure Le Fraga’s texters are waiting for is abstract, grey, and genderless, which means it could represent a man. But the poem the texters create together is animated by a girly liveliness: notes in bubbles, all the “likes,” the instant transmission of intimacy, the slangy surface of their writing, the big-hearted depths. “I was starting to think you/ were gone forever.”  “W8ING 4 ” is the girlification of Godot.

“W8ING 4 ” goes fast. As the poem unfolded and the letters of the alphabet flashed up before my eyes my attention was sucked into the condensed world of the screen.