Jeff Boruszak

Notes from PennSound

Poetry in Boise, Idaho

The Boise State University MFA Reading Series

Downtown Boise, Idaho
Downtown Boise. Image from http://victoria-weather.com/2012/06/11/boise-idaho-to-appleton-wisconsin/

Rather than highlight a specific poem, poet, reading, or series this week, I want to showcase a city. And  this isn’t just any city. This is Boise, Idaho — my hometown. Mentioning the city elicits many of the same questions and reactions, so let’s get those out of the way right now. Yes, there are potatoes, but no, we don't eat them all of the time. The city is actually in the West, not the Midwest (Boise is further west than Las Vegas, and you probably mixed it up with Iowa). And yes, Boise State University has the blue turf, and we all saw the 2007 Fiesta Bowl game. The one question I never get asked, however, is “How is the poetry in Boise?” It's a shame that I never get to answer this question too, because there is a strong and vibrant poetry community in Boise, with BSU as its center.

I have to begin my profile of Boise with the Boise State University MFA Reading Series,  a series which is crucial to the poetry community in Boise, and is the largest collection related to Boise on PennSound. Recently, Ron Silliman featured a few of these recordings on his blog, almost as a testament to the importance of a series that features prominent writers in a city that is otherwise largely ignored in the literary world. So far, this series has brought a number of poets to Boise, including Susan Schultz, Forrest Gander, Charles Bernstein, Bhanu Kapil, Tom Raworth, and Alice Notley, among others. And it will continue to bring writers in the years to come. Already there are approximately 17 hours worth of readings on PennSound, and even more recordings featuring visiting novelists can be found on the MFA Reading Series iTunes U page

Cloud House Poetry Archives

Larry Eigner: Sacred Materials

"stand on one foot // like a tree" -- Larry Eigner bit.ly/12ZLyNk
Poetry Magazine Tweet, June 21, 2013

A few days ago, the Poetry Magazine Twitter (@poetrymagazine) tweeted a rather simple link to an excerpt from their February 1964 issue, featuring six poems by Larry Eigner. Tweeting links to poems in old issues is fairly standard practice for @poetrymagazine, but the Eigner feature made me think back to some of the truly great video features on PennSound: The Larry Eigner “Sacred Materials” recordings, and The Cloud House Poetry Archives, which was generous enough to make these recordings of Eigner available.

The “Sacred Materials” consist of three videos: the last public reading given by Eigner on November 17, 1995 (he would pass away a little over two months later on February 3, 1996); the Jewish Ground Ceremony for Eigner on February 6, 1996; and a tour later that day of Eigner's Writing Environs, which shows the mountains of manuscripts surrounding Eigner's typewriter where he painstakingly composed his poems.

Nada Gordon

“I Love Men,” The Flarf Poetry Festival at the Kelly Writers House, February 8, 2007

Nada Gordon at the Kelly Writers House, March 2013
Nada Gordon at the Kelly Writers House, March 2013

There are so many fantastic events catalogued on PennSound, but one that I find myself coming back to time and time again is the 2007 Flarf Poetry Festival at The Kelly Writers House. And I’m not the only one — PennSound Podcasts featured the event in an episode, and PoemTalk featured Sharon Mesmer's “I Accidentally Ate Some Chicken and Now I’m in Love with Harry Whittington” back in 2010.

Cynthia Kraman

Chinas Comidas: Live and Studio Recordings 1977-80

Chinas Comidas
Chinas Comidas, copyright 2006 Exquisite Corpse Records

One the real perks of living in Austin is the live music, and in April, I was fortunate enough to see Patti Smith in concert— and even though she is 66 years old now, she was spectacular. After a two hour set (including an encore), I was floored that the original punk-poet-goddess could still embody so much of the artistic anti-establishment energy almost forty years after she first came on the scene. But it also made me reflect on the long relationship between poetry and punk music, and what their intertwined history in the 1970's could mean.

Christian Bök

Launch reading for Umlaut Machine: Selected Visual Works at the Kelly Writers House, November 18, 2009

Two Equal Texts
"Two Equal Textsˮ by Micah Lexier and Christian Bök

My very first assignment when I joined the PennSound team was to segment a recent reading by Christian Bök at the Kelly Writers House. It seems only fitting to start my Notes from PennSound commentary by returning to audio file that I cut my teeth on as I learned the ins and outs of PennSound's infrastructure, and to an author that has been unavoidable in discussions concerning performance, sound, experimentation, technology, word play, computational composition, 'pataphysics, unintentionality, intentionality, and semi-intentionality.