Al Filreis

MOO for poetry pedagogy, 1994-1998

From 1994 until 1998 or so my poetry class used a text-only virtual university that we built called PennMOO. (It was, obviously, a variation of MOO.) I held open online office hours, we had class there on the day of a snowstorm, we hosted poetry slams, and we even built and used a skating rink. Someone studying MOOs contacted me about this and I found an old web page with links that mostly still work.

Teaching Brathwaite without a text

Jacob Edmond, editor of PennSound’s extensive Kamau Brathwaite author page, has published an essay on teaching Brathwaite without a text — by doing close listening through the audio archive. “This essay demonstrates the utility of this close listening approach by taking advantage of the digital platform of archipelagos journal to interweave its text with Brathwaite’s recorded voice.” Here is a paragraph from the essay, one in which Edmond mentions the poets recording of the poem “Negus,” which was the topic of the episode of PoemTalk in which Edmond and two others discussed in detail the performance of that poem:

Comes by his diasporism honestly

A review of Marmer's 'Cosmic Diaspora'

Norman Finkelstein has published an excellent review of Jake Marmers new book of poems, Cosmic Diaspora. Here’s an excerpt: “Marmer comes by his diasporism honestly, and not only because he is Jewish. ‘Born in the provincial steppes of Ukraine, in a city which was renamed four times in the past hundred years [it was Kirovograd while Marmer was growing up; it is now Kropyvnytskyi]’ (119), Marmer came to the United States at the age of fifteen. ‘Growing up on the outskirts of the universe,’ he tells us, ‘I sought out the language of the cosmos, its imagery and terminology’ (15). A devoted reader of Eastern European science fiction and ‘coveted translations of American sci-fi classics,’ Marmer put this youthful love aside when he became an immigrant — an ‘alien,’ a term to which he became rightfully sensitive.”

 

Norman Finkelstein has published an excellent review of Jake Marmers new book of poems, Cosmic Diaspora. Heres a paragraph:

Marmer comes by his diasporism honestly, and not only because he is Jewish. “Born in the provincial steppes of Ukraine, in a city which was renamed four times in the past hundred years [it was Kirovograd while Marmer was growing up; it is now Kropyvnytskyi]” (119), Marmer came to the United States at the age of fifteen. “Growing up on the outskirts of the universe,” he tells us, “I sought out the language of the cosmos, its imagery and terminology” (15). A devoted reader of Eastern European science fiction and “coveted translations of American sci-fi classics,” Marmer put this youthful love aside when he became an immigrant — an “alien,” a term to which he became rightfully sensitive. His passion was “just too bound up with my old-country self, which I was trying to erase.” His rediscovery of the genre via “Samuel Delaney, Ursula Le Guin, Octavia Butler, and Sun Ra,” led to a renewed vision of “the deep future of the myth, spirit, language, otherness, desire, and the epic.”

Mirror the holler

Jake Marmer's new book, 'Cosmic Diaspora'

Jake Marmer (in his new book, Cosmic Diaspora) tells us a story about his realization that art in performance must permit and include intrusions. This statement is a preface to a section of poems that are verbal score-like “transcriptions” of music hes never heard but imagines, in some cases. In others, the poems are the effects of writings made while the writer listened to live improvised music. But again, also while he was “thinking about musics reverberations.” And what, we might ask, is the distinction between those states? Thats the point. Marmer quotes Baraka in this prefatory statement: Thought has a self. That self is music. One bit of such self-expression is in Transcription #22 (p. 65): not sound but sounds / peel / a vector / trumpets footprint. On the bottom of that printed page in the new book, one finds a QR code. Hold up the phones camera to it and get taken to a YouTube clip recording one of Marmers performances of the poem. Now back to the holler from outside.

Jake Marmer (in his new book, Cosmic Diaspora) tells us a story about his realization that art in performance must permit and include intrusions. This statement is a preface to a section of poems that are verbal score-like transcriptions of music hes never heard but imagines, in some cases. In others, the poems are the effects of writings made while the writer listened to live improvised music. But again, also while he was thinking about music's reverberations. And what, we might ask, is the distinction between those states? Thats the point.

Communist poet at Penn in the 1930s

Poet Eve Merriam did her final two years of undergraduate education at Penn in the mid-1930s. Later, someone writing a Masters thesis wrote about her experience at Penn: here is a page from that. Im grateful to Merriams son, Dee Michel, who shared the document with me.