Brian Ang

PennSound & Politics

Henry Hills, 1985

David Moss and Yoshiko Chuma

Henry Hills’ Money (1985) is a fourteen minute collage film of split second shots of performances by and conversations with experimental musicians, poets, and dancers in public and intimate spaces of Manhattan.

The indiscriminate and energetic mix of music performances, poets reading from books, and dancing combined with performers’ conversations and the bustle of the streets enacts the mutual conditioning of cultural production with the structures of lived experience. The confluences of lived experience, peculiarly intense in urban areas, form the consciousness for producing music, poetry, and dance which in turn materially constitute culture’s institutions in the superstructure and the subjects produced out of them.

The split second shot technique lifts the performances and conversations from their source coherences into atomized gestures. The atomization emphasizes intrinsic qualities of shots, near stills analyzable by photography aesthetics while simultaneously gesturing toward their implied temporal sequences.

Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein, Ray DiPalma, Ron Silliman, 1981

Photo by Betsi Brandfass

Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein, and Ron Silliman’s tape for an unrealized transcript captures a wealth of improvisatory high-level thinking about particulars of contemporary American class structure and poetry. The result manifests a sustained thread about social formations in contemporary American poetry with strong relevance for the present. Near the end, a phone call is received from Ray DiPalma clarifying details about the group reading of their collectively authored LEGEND four days later.

Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein, and Ron Silliman
Bernstein’s apartment, New York City, March 6, 1981
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein, Susan Howe, 1979

Andrews and Bernstein by David Highsmith

Bruce Andrews and Charles Bernstein’s interview with Susan Howe captures their early poems and thinking about Language writing poetics: L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E was just over a year old with Number 7 to be published that month. I will investigate this formative moment for the ideas that continue to be crucial, that were effaced, and that enter into productive crisis in the present.

Bruce Andrews and Charles Bernstein
Susan Howe’s WBAI-Pacifica radio show, New York City, March 14, 1979

Full Program:
Bruce Andrews, from R + B (R + B, 1981)
Bruce Andrews, How (Wobbling, 1981)
Charles Bernstein, Matters of Policy (Controlling Interests, 1980)

Edited transcript published in L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, Supplement No. 3, October 1981.

Andrews and Bernstein sketch the by-now-familiar program of Language writing, an invocation of writing’s “modernist project […] an exploration of the intrinsic qualities of the media […] which from our point of view is language […] not some concocted verse tradition […] through academic discourse and […] book reviewers in The New York Times.” The “repression of knowledge” through such academic and publishing institutions contributes to a deficiency in “people’s awareness of what poetry and what other writing forms there are.” In addition, Andrews and Bernstein interrogate the very idea of genre in writing and propose “less intrinsic reasons for [the novel, philosophy, and poetry to be] separate than for music to be thought of as separate from painting or painting from writing.”

LeRoi Jones, Jack Spicer, Robert Duncan, 1965

The Berkeley Poetry Conference occurred from July 12 to July 25, 1965, organized by Donald Allen, Richard Baker, Robert Duncan, and Thomas Parkinson. LeRoi Jones was scheduled on the highest tier of participation, to deliver a lecture, a seminar, and a reading, but declined to participate and was replaced by Ed Dorn. I will investigate the divergence of thought of Jones and the Conference behind the refusal, and what might be achieved in thinking them in conjunction, by examining a contemporaneous recording of Jones, introducing his piece as “ideas I have about theatre circa January 1965,” with recordings from the Conference. I have focused on the recordings of Jack Spicer and Robert Duncan for having the strongest social and political implications for this conjunction. The other available recordings are John Wieners, Reading, July 14; Charles Olson, Lecture, “Causal Mythology,” July 20; Robert Creeley, Reading, July 22; Creeley, Lecture, “Sense of Measure,” July 23; and Joanne Kyger, Reading, July 24. Wieners and Kyger are primarily concerned with imaginative musings of the self, Olson with socially disconnected myths, and Creeley with Williams’ aesthetics of measure and the interpersonal.

William Carlos Williams, 1952

William Carlos Williams
Indiana College English Association Conference, Hanover College, Indiana, May 16, 1952

Morning Program:
“Smell!” (Al Que Quiere!, 1917)
from “Paterson Book II, iii” (‘Look to the nul’ to ‘endless and indestructible,’ 1948)

Evening Program:
“Portent” (The Tempers, 1913)
“The Botticellian Trees” (1930)
“Flowers by the Sea” (An Early Martyr and Other Poems, 1935)
“To a Mexican Pig Bank” (An Early Martyr and Other Poems, 1935)
“To a Poor Old Woman” (An Early Martyr and Other Poems, 1935)
“Pastoral” (Al Que Quiere!, 1917)
“To Elsie” (Spring and All, 1923)
“On Gay Wallpaper” (1928)

All poems except Paterson are included in The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, Volume I, 1909-1939. All poems are segmented on Williams' PennSound page.