Al Filreis

Graham Nash at the Kelly Writers House

Graham Nash visited the Kelly Writers House on Friday, September 20, 2013, for an interview/conversation moderated by Anthony DeCurtis as part of KWH’s annual Blutt Singer-Songwriter Symposium. At the end of the conversation, as we'd hoped, Nash played two songs: “Back Home,” an elegy for Levon Helm, and “Teach Your Children.” Below are video recordings of the two songs. Here are other recordings:

1. video recording of the whole event: VIDEO
2. audio recording of the whole event: AUDIO
3. audio recording of “Back Home”: AUDIO
4. audio recording of “Teach Your Children”: AUDIO

Jake Marmer's improvised poetry

hand-drawn improvised shape poem by Jake Marmer

Back in April 2013, I featured in this commentary an instance of Jake Marmer’s improvisational work, under the title “Improvised poetry: palimpsest of drafts.” Recently, Marmer recorded an another poetic improvisation.  The improvisation is based on one of his poems — and is a departure from it, “a new radical spontaneous draft.” It was remixed by Israeli bassist Jean-Claude Jones, who also recorded an improvised a bass track for it. Above is the  handwritten “shape poem” version (to borrow Hank Lazer’s phrasing) which Marmer says he found specifically helpful in the improvisatory process.

Here is the recording, as composed and performed by Jake Marmer and then remixed by Jean-Claude Jones (with added bass): MP3.

2009 MLA off-site poetry reading (audio)

During the 2009 conference of the Modern Language Association in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Julia Bloch and Michelle Taransky organized the annual off-site poetry reading. The reading took two hours and 36 minutes and an audio recording was made; for the past several years, this long recording has been available on PennSound’s “MLA Offsite Readings” page. Now PennSound staff editor Anna Zalokostas has segmented the entire recording and we are now able to present the recording of each reader, as follows:

  1. introduction (1:34): MP3
  2. Matthew Landis (2:56): MP3
  3. Rodrigo Toscano (4:14): MP3
  4. Carlos Soto Roman (2:32): MP3
  5. Kim Gek Lin Short (4:51): MP3
  6. Jacob Russell (2:10): MP3
  7. Angel Hogan (2:37): MP3
  8. Ish Klein (3:45): MP3
  9. Gregory Laynor (3:01): MP3
  10. Nava EtShalom (3:50): MP3
  11. Ryan Eckes (1:16): MP3
  12. Sueyeun Juliette Lee (1:52): MP3

Laughing at Ara Shirinyan's "Your Country Is Great"

by Eric Rettberg

Ara Shirinyan. Photo by Harold Abramowitz.
Ara Shirinyan. Photo by Harold Abramowitz.

Eric Rettberg told me a few months ago about his interest in Ara Shirinyan, and I asked him if he would write briefly about it for this commentary. He agreed, and here is what he has to say. Eric is currently Edgar F. Shannon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of English at the University of Virginia.

The procedure Ara Shirinyan used to write Your Country is Great (2008), in which he went through an alphabetical list of countries, Googled “[country] is great,” and wrote poems from the results, ensures that the book repeats relentlessly. Seemingly empty declarations of greatness abound, from “aaww lol belgium is great =)” (29) to “Finland is great because / Finland is great” (103), and so too do reports of the great recreational activities available in the countries of the world. “The beaches are the bomb” in Costa Rica (70), just as Bulgaria is great “if you want young drunk fun in the sun” and “Cyprus is great for sun and beaches” (49, 78).