Yesterday, during a poetry reading at Tibor de Nagy Gallery for Jane Freilicher, “Painter among Poets,” Lawrence Schwartzwald photographed Freilicher, now 88, gazing at the iconic image taken in 1952 by photographer Walter Silver of her and John Ashbery at Tibor de Nagy. (Photographs should not be reproduced without consent of the photographer.)
Below is a short essay written by Andrew Levy about improvisation, first published published in W Magazine at the Kootenay School of Writing some years ago (which we here gratefully acknowledge: W #12 “ALL MUSIC,” 2007). He revived the old note after having read Jake Marmer’s piece made available recently in Jacket2 in this commentary: “Improvised poetry: palimpsest of drafts.” Levy’s original note had been inspired by something Anthony Braxton had said: the idea that some people believe jazz improvisers are simply making it all up in the moment, that they are somehow tuned in via a form of trance or something, that it’s an expression of their personal genius. He dismissed that notion of spontaneity. For him improv is a form of hearing and thinking. It is making measure in the familiarity of one’s attention. “If I were to revise my essay today,” Andrew wrote me recently, “I might search for a different word than ‘constructivist’ with which to counter the notion of spontaneity. It has an art historical resonance that might be unnecessary.”
I took the pleasure recently of re-reading nearly everything published in the first 17 issues of Jacket magazine. Then I went back through quickly, identifying eight poet/critic-on-poet profiles that I found most impressive and memorable. Many of these I recalled from the first time I’d read them in the magazine. For what it's worth, here are — to me — the eight best essay-profiles published in the first five years of the magazine:
1. Eliot Weinberger on James Laughlin (#2; 1998) 2. Rob Wilson on Jack Spicer (#7; 1999) 3. Lytle Shaw on Frank O’Hara (#10; 1999) 4. Stephen Vincent on Joanne Kyger (#11; 2000) 5. Tom Orange on Clark Coolidge (#13; 2001) 6. Brian Kim Stefans on Ian Hamilton Finlay (#15, 2001) 7. Ann Waldman on Kenneth Koch (#15; 2001) 8. Catherine Daly on Marjorie Allen Seiffert (#17; 2002)
In March 17, 2007, reading in the Segue Series at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York, Will Alexander read four poems: “Exercise is Particle Neutrino,” “Coping Prana,” “Compound Hibernation,” and “Above the Human Nerve Domain.” An audio recording of the complete reading (17:59) is available on Will Alexander’s PennSound author page, as are segmented audio for each poem. Here I’m pleased to feature “Compound Hibernation” [MP3; 2:22]. The text of the poem was published in Zen Monster.
In 1978, Tom Leonard recorded “Three Texts for Tape” at his home in Glasgow using his Teac A-3340S tape recorder. One of these three “texts for tape” was a performance piece, a chanting of another poet’s verses — a multiple reading of a half canto of Percy Shelley’s “The Revolt of Islam” in many voices. Here is that recording (with thanks to the Archive of the Now): MP3 (4:37).