Brian Teare, Jed Rasula, and Kristin Prevallet joined Al Filreis to talk about Robin Blaser’s “A Bird in the House.” The poem dates from the late 1980s or possibly the early 1990s. The text of the poem is now available at the Poetry Foundation. Blaser’s PennSound page includes two performances — one from a reading he gave in Buffalo in September of 1993, the second from a visit to the Writers Institute in Albany on October 26, 1994. The version we hear for our discussion is the one made in Albany; we chose this in part because there Blaser set up the poem with a short introduction. The group marvels at how Blaser manages to take the idea of Other (that which is, like the bird in a house, “otherous”) into an expanded field that is nonetheless domestic.
Ross Gay, Josephine Park, and Herman Beavers joined Al Filreis to talk about Patrick Rosal’s “Instance of an Island.” The poem was collected in Rosal’s book Brooklyn Antediluvian (Persea, 2016). Our recording of Rosal performing the poem comes from a Wexler Studio reading done at the Kelly Writers House in March of 2016, just weeks before the book was published. This episode of PoemTalk, number 112 in our ongoing podcast series, is being made available in two versions — the usual audio, downloadable from this Jacket2 page, through iTunes, and on the Poetry Foundation site; and an uncut video recording (see below).
Ron Silliman, Rachel Zolf, and Charles Bernstein joined Al Filreis to talk about two poems by Naomi Replansky. The poems are “In Syrup, In Syrup” and “Ring Song.” The latter is the title poem of a volume nominated in 1952 for the National Book Award. “In Syrup,” first published under the antiwar title “Dulce Et Decorum” in 1947, its title recalling Wilfred Owen, was revised before Ring Song. “Ring Song” itself was revised for a 1988 chapbook Twenty One Poems Old and New. Replansky’s PennSound page features recent readings of both poems and indicates her final preferences for the revised versions.
PoemTalk’s crew took to the road, wandering pretty much as far west as one can go on this continent, to a place Philip Whalen called, in a poem’s subtitle, “the last of California” — Bolinas, coastal spot famous as A congenial writer’s retreat. Stephen Ratcliffe, Joanne Kyger, and Julia Bloch gathered there with Al Filreis to talk about Whalen. Our poem was indeed written in Bolinas, in 1968, and finished in Kyoto in 1969. It’s called “Life at Bolinas: The Last of California.” Whalen’s PennSound page includes a recording of his performance of this poem.