Al Filreis

Fred Wah and Daphne Marlatt

Video recording of one poem by each

Daphne Marlatt, Fred Wah, and Colin Browne visited Philadelphia on March 15, 2017. They joined me for a recording of an episode of PoemTalk on Larissa Lai’s Nascent Fashion, and then give a triple reading at the Penn Book Center. That reading was recorded on audio and will be available soon at the poets’ PennSound pages. Meantime, I captured performances of two poems as video recordings — Fred Wah reading (his encore poem) from his great book Is a Door, and Daphne Marlatt reading a piece from her Vancouver Poems.

Nathaniel Mackey on Sonny Rollins

[6 minutes; audio]

In his April 24, 1985, presentation of "Sound and Sentiment, Sound and Symbol," Nathaniel Mackey spoke about Sonny Rollins for six minutes or so. Hannah Judd of the PennSound staff has now segmented the entire recording of the talk by topic. Here is the segment on Rollins: LINK.

And here are links to all the segments:

  1. On Sound and Sentiment (6:22): MP3
  2. On Sound and Symbol (4:43): MP3
  3. On phantom limbs (5:15): MP3
  4. On Legba (3:02): MP3
  5. On Jean Toomer (9:13): MP3
  6. On William Carlos Williams (20:11): MP3
  7. On the Caribbean and Legba (14:49): MP3
  8. On Williams and stumbling (4:54): MP3
  9. On Ellison (9:22): MP3
  1. On limping (2:06): MP3
  2. On Sonny Rollins (6:35): MP3
  3. On music and writing (4:38): MP3
  4. On "Cane" (7:45): MP3
  5. On wholeness (9:24): MP3
  6. On partiality (14:47): MP3

'Planning to Stay'

No Press (2010)

A short talk I gave at Banff, Alberta — at the Centre for the Arts there — in February 2010 was later published by No Press in Calgary, edited and typeset by Derek Beaulieu (a poet, teacher, and Poet Laureate of Calgary 2014-16). I’m grateful to Derek for having made this beautiful chapbook available. I was asked to prepare something of a manifesto for the final panel of the several-day conference called “In(ter)ventions: Literary Practice at the Edge.”

Click on the images of the chapbook pages below to see larger scans.

Poetry leader to Joe McCarthy: 'Good job!'

I wrote this commentary post back on September 27, 2007 and I thought I would reprise it now:

There’s a story on the front page of the arts section of today's New York Times that begins by the usual condescending reference to "[t]he cloistered community of American poetry." After that, the lead is: “The board of the 97-year-old Poetry Society of America, whose members have included many of the most august names in verse, has been rocked by a string of resignations and accusations of McCarthyism, conservatism, and simple bad management.” (And there's "august": is that word ever used unironically any more? Made more ironic here by its being rocked by "rocked.")

I wrote this commentary post back on September 27, 2007 and I thought I would reprise it now:

There’s a story on the front page of the arts section of today's New York Times that begins by the usual condescending reference to "[t]he cloistered community of American poetry." After that, the lead is: “The board of the 97-year-old Poetry Society of America, whose members have included many of the most august names in verse, has been rocked by a string of resignations and accusations of McCarthyism, conservatism, and simple bad management.” (And there's "august": is that word ever used unironically any more? Made more ironic here by its being rocked by "rocked.")

The story is: the conservative orientation — conservative in the sense of aesthetically cautious, and conservative (here and there) in the sense of right-of-center political views — of the PSA led to an award given to John Hollander, which led to resignations, which led to interest at the Times. Here's the whole article.

Teaching imagist revision

Resources for Williams Carlos Williams's 'Young Woman at a Window' (two versions)

For three decades I have been presenting my students with two versions of William Carlos Williams’s “Young Woman at a Window.” How was the poem revised? Do the versions disclose the method of revision? Does one version better befit Williams’s apparent aims at condensation, action rather than explication? And what and where is the poem’s subject position? I sometimes have led a discussion by asking others to decide which of the two versions they prefer, assuming they prefer modern poems to do in themselves, as writing, what they say. There is of course no need to prefer one version of this or any poem to another, but the preferential exercise decenters the teacher-presenter in ways I have found very productive. Here are links to the two versions, to a ModPo video prepared to follow and augment the discussion, and a five-minute video clip from a live interactive webcast in which the poems are further discussed: