Al Filreis

Steve Benson improvises poems consisting entirely of questions

Photo credit: screenshot taken from video made by Konrad Steiner

On February 8, 2003, performing at the Bowery Poetry Club without prepared text or notes, Steve Benson improvised a long poem composed entirely of questions. His transcript of this performance later appeared in his book Open Clothes (Atelos, 2005) as "Did the lights just go out" [text].  Later, Steve McLaughlin created two excerpts from the full audio recording:

Excerpt 1 (2:55): MP3
Excerpt 2 (2:37): MP3

Three nights later, then at the Kelly Writers House, Benson again improvised a long poem composed entirely of questions, and then he responded to questions from the audience. His transcript of this performance also appears in Open Clothes as "If you stop to listen to yourself think" and "Is your thinking about the words." A full audio recording of the event can be heard here. Again, Steve McLaughlin created excerpts:

Excerpt 1 (2:25): MP3
Excerpt 2 (1:42): MP3
Excerpt 3 (2:27): MP3

Silliman on the long poems of Zukofsky and DuPlessis

Ron Silliman talks for six minutes about Louis Zukofsky's “A“ as a useful counterpoint to Rachel Blau DuPlessis's Drafts and the crisis of the long poem that is at the heart of its composition: MP3 audio.  Here is a link to the complete talk by Silliman. It was presented as part of a celebration of the poetry and criticism of DuPlessis held at Temple University in 2011.

Kinsella & Milne collaborate on 'Reactor Red Shoes'

Not the building of a megaphone for bardic harmonics, nor the people’s microphone, but a dance of many feet...

John Kinsella (left) and Drew Milne

I'm pleased to present here a statement by John Kinsella and Drew Milne on their forthcoming book-length poem-project, Reactor Red Shoes. The work is being published September, 2013 by Veer: bbk.ac.uk/cprc/publications/veer-books . Below the statement is an excerpt from the poem, reproduced from the typescript.

John Kinsella & Drew Milne, Reactor Red Shoes: A Statement

Here, where two writers sidle up into becoming a third party — a third-party poetics in play and with shared accountability — there is not so much a duet of voices, as a textile of give and take, warp and weft.

Jane Freilicher, back at Tibor de Nagy Gallery

Yesterday, during a poetry reading at Tibor de Nagy Gallery for Jane Freilicher, “Painter among Poets,” Lawrence Schwartzwald photographed Freilicher, now 88, gazing at the iconic image taken in 1952 by photographer Walter Silver of her and John Ashbery at Tibor de Nagy. (Photographs should not be reproduced without consent of the photographer.)

Notes on improvisation in poetry

By Andrew Levy

Andrew Levy, courtesy EOAGH Reading Series

Below is a short essay written by Andrew Levy about improvisation, first published published in W Magazine at the Kootenay School of Writing some years ago (which we here gratefully acknowledge: W #12 “ALL MUSIC,” 2007). He revived the old note after having read Jake Marmer’s piece made available recently in Jacket2 in this commentary: “Improvised poetry: palimpsest of drafts.”  Levy’s original note had been inspired by something Anthony Braxton had said: the idea that some people believe jazz improvisers are simply making it all up in the moment, that they are somehow tuned in via a form of trance or something, that it’s an expression of their personal genius. He dismissed that notion of spontaneity. For him improv is a form of hearing and thinking. It is  making measure in the familiarity of one’s attention. “If I were to revise my essay today,” Andrew wrote me recently, “I might search for a different word than ‘constructivist’ with which to counter the notion of spontaneity. It has an art historical resonance that might be unnecessary.”