Al Filreis

Three meta-poems: Emily Dickinson, Wallace Stevens, Harryette Mullen

from left: Lily Applebaum, Dave Poplar, Al Filreis, Camara Brown

We’ve created a three-part mini-course/sampler of metapoems — one proto-modern, one modern, one postmodern. Listen to a brief audio introduction and then watch three video recordings of several of us working through close readings. The readings are meant to be suggestive rather than complete or definitive. Our concern was to teach ourselves something about the metapoem. The metapoem of course is a poem about poetry, a poem that is somehow aware of itself as a thing made of letters and words.   We wanted to choose three poems — otherwise different in so many ways — that are each about reading and/or writing.  Poems about the reading of poems. Poems about poets reading. Poems about their own inscribing. Poems that use reading as an allegory for loving, and loving as an allegory of understanding. Poems that cannot be understood topically (thematically) unless first one understands the ways in which they are about themselves — about the words they deploy, about the love or loving of words felt as they are being written.

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.

'Kora in Hell: Improvisations,' the audio

Douglas Storm has made a recording of himself performing William Carlos Williams’s Kora in Hell: Improvisations. The recording is 1:46:13 in length: MP3. Because Williams republished the book in 1957 without the original preface, Storm begins his reading after the preface. Thus the opening is this: “Fools have big wombs. For the rest? here is pennyroyal if one knows to use it. But time is only another liar, so go along the wall a little further: if blackberries prove bitter there ll be mushrooms, fairy- ring mushrooms, in the grass, sweetest of all fungi.” The full text of Kora is available here (among other places) at the Internet Archive.

Some takes on Whitman's importance to contemporary poets

In this 5-minute video excerpt from the recording of a 90-minute live “ModPo” webcast on aleatory poetry, Amaris Cuchanski, Emily Harnett, Max McKenna, Erica Kaufman and Lily Applebaum each take a turn discussing the Whitmanian mode as it can be discerned in contemporary poetry. To view the entire video, click here.

Further explorations of found poems in card catalogues

Or: fighting against fear

photograph by Meredith Bergmann

Ever since I saw the photographs associated with Erica Baum's book of photographed juxtapositional found poems, Card Catalogue (1997), I've been rather obsessed with the project. I've taught it to my students many times. I can't think of a better way of extending forward the lessons they and I learn when encountering imagism and other radically condensed juxtapositional language at the beginning of poetic modernism. Baum of course has often photographed the language she finds out there and is especially attracted to categorizing systems, such as the codex (Dog Ear) or the catalogue. This conceptualist consciousness — and devotion to words in the ambience (as in: who needs to create them? they're there) — I find extraordinarily teachable and infectious. One of my students is a young autistic man, Dan Bergmann. Readers of this ongoing commentary will surely have heard of Dan’s feats of talking (writing, really — or, still better: spelling). What is even more remarkable is the way in which Dan becomes aware of categories and meaning-systems.