Robert Fitterman reading from "Sprawl"

Robert Fitterman reading from Sprawl

Hannah Judd of PennSound’s staff has recently segmented two readings in which Robert Fitterman read sections of his book Sprawl. Here are links to segments of one of those readings — from his November 18, 2007, appearance on Leonard Schwartz’s radio program, “Cross-Cultural Poetics”:

  • J.Crew (p. 30) (0:40): MP3
  • The Body Shop (0:13): MP3
  • Banana Republic (p. 67) (0:40): MP3
  • Arby's (p. 67*) (0:30): MP3
  • H&M (p. 31) (0:34): MP3
  • Sbarro (p. 65*) (0:37): MP3
  • Bath & Body Works (p. 33) (0:44): MP3
  • JC Penny (p. 45*) (0:48): MP3
  • Kate Spade (p. 31*) (1:05): MP3
  • LensCrafters (p. 43*) (0:34): MP3
  • China Buffet (p. 65*) (0:38): MP3
  • Sharper Image (p. 44*) (0:53): MP3
  • Kay Jewelers (p. 40*) (0:35): MP3
  • Panda Express (p. 64*) (0:30): MP3
  • American Eagle (p. 40) (0:39): MP3
  • Taco Bell (p. 67*) (0:52): MP3
  • Cinnabon (p. 60*) (0:24): MP3
  • Eddie Bauer (p. 35*) (0:40): MP3
  • Zen 5 (p. 64*) (0:38): MP3
  • Sears (p. ?) (0:57): MP3

Page citations: Sprawl: Metropolis 30A (Los Angeles, Make Now Press, 2010). Asterisks indicate that the audio recording and text as published in Sprawl mostly or entirely align. 

Fitterman's Sprawl was the subject of an episode of PoemTalk. Listen here. In the episode we hear and discuss five short sections from the 2010 Make Now Press book: “JC Penney” (page 45 in the book), “Kay Jewelers” (40), “China Buffet” (65), “Sbarro” (also 65), and “Lacoste” (35). The recording we’re using — available on Fitterman’s ample PennSound page — was made at a Segue Series reading at the Bowery Poetry Club on October 27, 2007, a few years before the Make Now Press book was published. Fitterman appropriates demotic speech and writing from various sources (overheard conversations, presumably in stores; Internet bulletin board review-ish commentaries and rants, etc.) and creates for each store and mall design element a collage of voices befitting and/or juxtaposing the putatively branded socio-economy of each retail message. But how are we then to discern the many identities of the many voices? Sprawl, as Michelle Taransky notes, gives us what Whitman calls “the day among crowds of people” where the nascent democratic self “receiv’d identity.”