Al Filreis convened J.C. Cloutier, Rita Barnard, and M.C. Kinniburgh to talk about a poem by Gregory Corso, “Vision of Rotterdam.” The poem records or remembers a moment of encounter and geo-historical reflection that took place in September 1957; the reflection casts the poet’s visionary eye upon the German bombings of cities in the Netherlands of 1940. Corso performed and recorded the poem in 1969 — at Fantasy Studios on Natoma Street in San Francisco, 1969. This recording is included among others at PennSound’s Corso page. Thus the PoemTalk group concludes that we are dealing with a convergence of three crucially distinct times: wartime 1940; Cold War-time (and Beat time) 1957; anti-war (post-)Beat 1969.
Al Filreis hosted Rachel Blau DuPlessis, William Fuller, and Bruce Andrews in the Wexler Studio of the Kelly Writers House for a conversation about Ted Pearson's book-length poem Catenary Odes. The book was first published by O Books in 1987. The poem, or perhaps it is a series of couplet-length poems, covers 44 pages in print; the PoemTalk group discussed the first 11 pages, approximately 40 lines. Our section ends with “the body electric in a brownout / the western mind in a jar.” The recording we play in this episode comes from Pearson’s PennSound page, from an audiotaping of a reading given in the Segue Series at the Ear Inn in New York on December 4, 1993.
Al Filreis brought together Hoa Nguyen, Maya Pindyck, and Laynie Browne to talk about two of the poems (#1 and #4) in Mina Loy’s “Love Songs” series, which she published in 1915 in the first issue of Others magazine not long before her arrival onto the New York modernist scene the next year. A bit more than a half century later, Loy would die at the age of 83 in 1966; in 1965 the poet Paul Blackburn, who loved nothing more than to tape recordings of poets reading and conversing — along with Robert Vas Dias — turned the mic on and interviewed Loy at her home in Aspen, Colorado, and asked her to read poems and offer spontaneous commentary. The poems included all thirteen of the “Love Songs.” This remarkable one-hour-and-36-minute reading/conversation is available – both as a single recording and segmented recordings by poem and interview topic – at PennSound’s must-hear Loy page.
Al Filreis convened Joan Retallack, erica kaufman, and Simone White to talk about Tina Darragh’s “Wire Boxes.” Tina performed a version of this piece at a reading hosted by the Line Reading Series in New York in February 2001. Our colleague Kendall Owens transcribed the audio of that performance, and Joan then helped revise and format the transcription in part by consulting the second half of the poem as it has appeared in Tina Darragh’s book My Hands to Mutant Solidarities (published by Dry Imager Press in 2020). Given the dates of the wire service stories Tina cites and the reference to the Seattle WTO protests of 1999, we choose to date the composition of the first part of the poem to that year. The second half of our poem had already appeared in the 1989 book Against the Odds under the title “Letter Boxes,” and we acknowledge erica kaufman’s efforts to locate and share that version.
The PoemTalk team went on the road again — to Los Angeles, California, and convened at the Pacific Palisades home of Marjorie Perloff, who for the third time in PoemTalk history generously agreed to host. Along with audio maestro Chris Martin and videographer-director Zach Carduner — who recording this episode for both audio and video playback — Al Filreis was joined by Robert von Hallberg, Charles Altieri, and by our host Marjorie Perloff.