Al Filreis

Kimberly Lyons looks for Mina Loy

Photo of Lyons by Tim Trace Peterson.

In May of 1992, Kimberly Lyons gave a Segue Series reading at the Ear Inn in New York. As of today (thanks to PennSound’s Anna Zalakostas) this reading by Lyons, and several others, have been segmented. Among the poems Lyons read at the Ear Inn in ’92: “Looking for Mina Loy” [MP3].

Robert Browning as performed by Aaron Kramer

To help celebrate the 150th birthday of Robert Browning, poet Aaron Kramer went into the studios of WNYC in New York on May 3, 1962, and performed three of Browning’s poems — and offered commentary on each.

  1. introduction (1:16): MP3
  2. comment on “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came” (1:32): MP3 [text]
  3. “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came” (16:24): MP3
  4. comment on “Andrea del Sarto” (1:52): MP3 [text]
  5. “Andrea del Sarto” (18:25): MP3
  6. comment on “Abt Vogler” (1:30): MP3 [text]
  7. “Abt Vogler” (10:50): MP3
  8. closing remarks (1:15): MP3

Kramer got a copy of the program from WNYC and kept it; after his death, Laura Kramer, the poet’s daughter, found the tape and generously permitted PennSound to make it available, along with a great many other readings now featured on PennSound’s Kramer page.

DiPalma reads from "Further Apocrypha"

This is a four-minute excerpt from a reading given by Ray DiPalma at the Kelly Writers House on April 2, 2012. The full recording is available here: [VIDEO].  An audio recording of the reading (segmented by poem) is also available at PennSound.  In this excerpt he reads several sections from a book called Further Apocrypha, which was published in a strictly limited edition by Pie in the Sky Press. It is one of the most beautiful books I have seen (I saw it only briefly when DiPalma visited KWH last year). To see photographs of the book, go here. The YouTube excerpt was edited for PennSound by Allison Harris.

Close reading of two late poems by Stevens via webcast


The ModPo TAs and I led a 90-minute close reading of two late poems by Wallace Stevens, “The Poem That Took the Place of a Mountain” and “The Plain Sense of Things.” Several participants (who drove up from Washington DC) joined us in the Arts Cafe of the Kelly Writers House, while hundreds joined by webcast. Several people phoned in their comments and questions, while a number tweeted and still others emailed us. We were also thrilled to welcome into the Writers House — by chance — Professor Elisa New of Harvard, a brilliant reader of Stevens and creator of a MOOC on early American poetry (up to Whitman and Dickinson). Lisa’s MOOC, sponsored by EdX, is not available yet, but, we expect, will nicely complement ModPo. The video recording of the session is available above (just click on the image atop) and is also viewable here at YouTube.  Please note: the program begins at around 2 minutes into the video file here.

An introduction to Charles Bernstein's reading from "Recalculating"

"Strike because you are abandoned."

[The following is the text of an introduction I gave before a reading by Charles Bernstein from his book Recalculating on April 16, 2013, at the Kelly Writers House in Philadelphia.]

In Recalculating (Chicago, 2013), Charles Bernstein follows every imperative invoked from the late Emma Bee Bernstein in its epigraph, among them “Pump up the radio,” “Retrace your route in reflection,” and — profoundly — “Race your future to the finish line.”   For Bernstein, via Fernando Pessoa, poets are fakers whose faking is so real they even fake the pain they truly feel.   Reversing effectiveness with an eye on redemption, he seeks to kill two stones with one bird.   Recalculating Wallace Stevens’s “Loneliness in Jersey City,” he offers us “Loneliness in Linden,” where — as is not the case in Stevens — “Jews do Jewish things” with failed language: cobbling together the six million tunes of the never-heard-of-in-modernism dead. 

In “Fold,” the poet makes a prose-poem list of sentences in which transitive verbs are identical to direct objects, facing faces, voiding voids, gulping gulps, fearing fear and hating hate. Re-addressing friends and poetic colleagues, he offers a poem in honor of Bob Perelman in which Bob is presented only by way of possessives: what he has, what he writes, not what he is. His numinous nominalism. His casual attire surrealism. His direct address to entropic homeopathic Jewishness.   In “I Will Not Write Imitative Poetry,” Bernstein — teacherly — sends himself scolded to the blackboard, forcing himself to write sixteen times that he will not write imitative poetry, he really won’t, he won’t, he won’t, he promises he won’t. It’s a wash-your-mouth-out-with-soapistry, an ars poetica as bold as the poetic-pedagogical absolutism it opposes, a few don’ts for the post-imagist.  Thus he recalculates – re-understands – innovative writing in the progressive socio-literary lineage, the “pen [being] tinier than the sword,” free verse being “not a type of poetry but an imperative to liberate verse from constraints no longer applicable for a new time and new circumstance.”  He recalculates a pragmatic progressive politics of language, thinking aloud through Lakoffian reformist optimism: “All the signs say no passage; still, there must be a way.”