Al Filreis

Crowdsourcing collaborative close readings of supposedly 'difficult' poems globally

Today I distributed the following announcement widely to 130,000 participants in "ModPo," the free, open-enrollment, noncredit 10-week course in modern and contemporary U.S. poetry:

I am very excited to announce a new aspect of ModPo that I hope will intrigue you and perhaps induce you to participate. We have created a new section of ModPo that parallels the main ModPo syllabus, "chapter" by "chapter" and week by week, and offers links to short video recordings of ModPo people around the world gathered in small groups conducting collaborative close readings of our poems — and related poems — themselves. Yes: we are now calling for crowdsourced collaborative close readings.

Hear 'Cellar Song for Five Voices' (1960)

Emmett Williams's "Sense Sound" (left); poster for 2/6/1990 performance at Paula Cooper Gallery (right).

New at PennSound — Jackson Mac Low, Dick Higgins, Petr Kotik, Joseph Kubera, and Chris Nappi perform Emmett Williams’s Cellar Song for Five Voices. This piece was written in 1960. The recording here was made of a performance in 1990, presented by the S.E.M. Ensemble, recorded by Mikhail Liberman at Paula Cooper Gallery, 2/6/1990. Click on this link to the Jackson Mac Low PennSound page: http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/x/Mac-Low.php#cellar .

Tom Devaney teaches Williams's 'The Last Words of My English Grandmother' to high-school students


I invited Tom Devaney to teach a poem to a group of high-school juniors back in 2010. He brought with him William Carlos Williams's poem “The Last Words of My English Grandmother” because, as he told the students, he likes to hear voices in a poem and also likes to quote his own grandmother in his poems. The first nine minutes of the video are taken up with preliminaries, so if you want to skip to the discussion, move the time dial to 8:50. To watch the video, click here or anywhere on the image above. Click here to visit the PennSound page that includes all twelve of these videos — two sets of six poets each teaching one poem to high school students.

PennSound in 2005 (2)


City Paper
(Philadelphia), January 20, 2005.

PennSound in 2005

Penn Current, January 27, 2005, pp. 1, 5. Another version is here.