Al Filreis

Ginsberg: Don't smoke!

After a while, Allen Ginsberg enjoyed doing just about everything else but cigarette smoking. And he had the politics to support this one eventual self-prohibition, best expressed in his song called "Don't Smoke (Put Down Your Cigarette Rag)." Here is a RealAudio version of the recording, and here is an MP3 version. It's a 9 billion dollar capitalist joke.

Rakosi at 99 (it's a long way looking back)

Many poets who lived to old age have registered in verse what it must be like to see or sense an "I" so old, so long ago, so outmoded, that such a version of the self is unrecognizable, other. Stevens' "Long and Sluggish Lines" is just one of several poems he wrote in his seventies in this vein. But Stevens died at a merely 76. Carl Rakosi died at 100. To celebrate his 99th birthday, we at the Writers House invited him to read.

I, the people

In her 1986 book Parts of a Wedding, Alice Notley published a poem I especially admire, called "I the People." (It was republished in Grave of Light: New & Selected Poems, 1970-2005.) The text of the poem is here.

PoemTalk starts talkin'

I am the host of a new podcast series called "PoemTalk." At least we think it'll be a new series. On August 2, we recorded a pilot show and now friends and colleagues are having a listen. Once we've heard their responses, we'll decide whether we will go ahead. The plan is to produce a new show every two weeks, beginning in September. In each show I introduce and play a PENNsound recording of one poem, and then I, with three guest poet-critics, discuss it, its influences and manifestations, for about 30 minutes.

you bet your garden

The great garden guy, Mike McGrath, the Philadelphia-based host of NPR's You Bet Your Garden, was a guest reader-performed on Live at the Writers House, our monthly radio program aired on XPN 88.5 FM.