Al Filreis

Philadelphia's 'youth poet laureate'

June 2015 - May 2016

Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy (OACCE) is now accepting nominations for Philadelphia’s next Youth Poet Laureate, a position complementing the city’s Poet Laureate. The Youth Poet Laureate position is open to high school students residing within the City of Philadelphia. The selected Youth Poet Laureate will serve a term from June 2015 through May 2016.

An assemblage of paradoxes in one body

Baroness Elsa von Freytag Loringhoven

Listen to a brief audio biography of the Baroness Elsa von Freytag Loringhoven. And here is a blurb I wrote for Irene Gammel’s biography:

‘The Baroness cut the most compelling modernist figure. She literally wore New York dada, thus inventing it as a pattern of aesthetic costume to be worn so tight that it was her skin, her self. She was, as Irene Gammel puts it in this remarkable biographical study, an “assemblage of paradoxes embodied in one body.” That the Baroness knew and inspired or inspiringly repelled nearly everyone associated with the rise of modernist practice in New York has been already part of the story, but it has never been so richly detailed. In Gammel's presentation the Baroness emerges as far more than an ingenue. She became a mature, self-conscious dynamic artistic force — and remarkably productive in her own right, not despite but because she exhausted herself up from the inside out.’

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.