Amplitude and awe (PoemTalk #87)

Emily Dickinson, 'She rose to His Requirement' & 'Wild Nights - Wild Nights!'


For the eighty-seventh episode of PoemTalk, Michelle Taransky, Cecilia Corrigan, and Lily Applebaum joined Al Filreis in the Wexler Studio of the Kelly Writers House to talk about two poems by Emily Dickinson, “She rose to His Requirement” and “Wild Nights — Wild Nights!” Texts of the poems can be read here and below. A recording of Susan Leites performing “She rose ...” is available at PennSound’s Emily Dickinson Birthday Celebration page, as is Jan Heller Levis performance of “Wild Nights!”

The signature public (PoemTalk #86)

Tyrone Williams, 'Written By H'Self' & 'Cant'

Tyrone Williams


Alan Golding, Lily Applebaum, and Herman Beavers joined Al Filreis in the Wexler Studio at the Kelly Writers House — the first time PoemTalk recorded in the new studio — to discuss two short poems by Tyrone Williams that appear in the book published by Omnidawn in 2008 called On Spec. The two poems appear in the book’s first section, called “Eshuneutics.” “Written By H’Self” [text] is the first poem in the section and the very first in the book. “Cant” [text] appears fourth in the book.

A day like any other (PoemTalk #85)

James Schuyler, 'February'

from left: Erica Kaufman, Bernadette Mayer, Al Filreis & Julia Bloch—during a live interactive webcast that preceded this PoemTalk session by a few hours.


Bernadette Mayer, Julia Bloch, and erica kaufman joined Al Filreis to discuss James Schuyler’s poem “February.” Schuyler read the poem at the Dia Art Foundation in New York on November 15, 1988. John Ashbery gave the introduction, emphasizing how reluctant Schuyler was to read in public. He noted: “As far as I know, this is the first public [reading] he has ever given.” One can tell from the tone of Ashbery’s remarks that he felt that he and the audience were in for a rare treat, a savoring for which years of waiting were worthwhile.

The I as hieroglyph (PoemTalk #84)

H.D., 'Helen in Egypt'

Photo credit: H.D. Papers, Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University and New Directions Publishing.


Julia Bloch, Dee Morris, and Annette Debo joined Al Filreis for this extended episode of PoemTalk, and their task — to give a sense of the whole of H.D.’s lyric epic Helen in Egypt through a discussion of five selected small parts — certainly pushed at the limit of PoemTalk’s scope and mode.

There it was (PoemTalk #83)

Wallace Stevens, 'The Poem That Took the Place of a Mountain'

Left to right: Susan Howe, Dee Morris, Nancy Kuhl


Among the last things Wallace Stevens wrote was a metapoem, a poem in which a man — a reader and presumably a poet too — does not write a poem but picks his way among the aspects of an old poem, the poem that had once helped him by standing in for a mountain. He composes (or rather “recompos[s]”) the objects and perspectives of the way or path up the mountain. It had been a “direction.” Was it now again?