Voices of my desert

An introduction to the Vox Audio collection at PennSound

Acequia Booksellers in New Mexico
Acequia Booksellers in New Mexico

Vox Audio was initiated in 2001 to promote several poets to a possible community interested in such work. The CDs were distributed largely by mail, free of charge. As the name implies, Vox also reflects a regard for voice in poetry – that is, for the kinds of involvement not available from the page, like intonation or subtleties of sound and rhythm that require voicing. This interest grew from the work of Pound, H.D., and Williams, especially from Williams’ concern with a speech-based poetic and emphasis on contact and locale, what might now be termed context, the dialogic. (I was writing a book on Williams at the time.) That said, the collection is only loosely driven by a particular approach to poetry, other than — by default — the wake left by Don Allen’s The New American Poetry in the 1960s, an anthology likewise evolving from the work of Pound, H.D., and Williams.

The Vox collection is a bit haphazard, grouped by three regions, Maine, Buffalo, and New Mexico, and makes no claim to be thorough. I met Jim Bishop and Burt Hatlen (editor of Sagetrieb) early on when they taught at the University of Maine in the 1960s. Coincidently, one text they used was Allen’s New American Poetry. I met Timothy Wright, David Empfield, Dana Wilde, and Lee Sharkey when editing a small poetry magazine in Portland, Maine, in the 1970s, and we’ve stayed in touch. I knew Jack Clarke, Bill Sylvester, Mike Boughn and Jonathan Skinner from SUNY at Buffalo in the 1980s. (Jack and Charlie’s CD was edited from prior recordings.) A point of reference in Buffalo, then, was the Red Flannel Reading Series at Central Park Grill, managed by Mark Hammer, some of which was taped. I moved to New Mexico in 1996. The bulk of the collection was recorded there.

The Vox recordings are of two kinds, those made at poetry readings in New Mexico and those recorded one-on-one with poets at various locations. The poetry readings occurred largely at Acequia Books in Albuquerque, run by Gary Wilkie and Marilyn Stablein, and at the Anasazi Fields Winery in Placitas, organized by Jim Fish, Larry Goodell, and Gary Brower. I was fortunate in meeting Gene Frumkin, Mary Rising Higgins, and John Tritica on first moving to Albuquerque, and through Gene became aware of many of the other poets in the region. Gene, Mary, and John were among the first recorded, and from Gene and Larry Goodell I learned something of an earlier poetry community in New Mexico in the 1960s. I deliberately sought to record some of those poets: Margaret Randall, Joe Somoza, Joan Logghe, Alvaro Cardona-Hine, Anne Valley-Fox, Bobby Bird, David Benedetti, Nathaniel Tarn, Janet Rodney, Howard McCord, Stan Noyes. (We produced CDs of Keith Wilson’s readings from a prior compilation.) That history seemed quite rich, active. Not everyone I approached wanted to be recorded, and that was fine. My thought was simply to complement their work.


Thanks to Bruce Holsapple, a vast collection of Vox Audio recordings, including scans of CD covers, is now available on PennSound, here.