Obsidian Blues, to quote Herman Beavers quoting Ralph Angel, is itself “a still life and a way to get home again.” The poems in this powerful collection often present still lives of stilled lives. The speaker can see “Apples. / The way the light / betrays them” in a poem,“Obsidian Blues 43,” about a guitarist whose stringy wail (“strings judding like a systolic ghost swaggering”) sings a song of variation that reqpeatedly requires renaming. One such tentative title is “Still Life with Guitar and Heartstrike”; another is “Landscape with Skull and Banjo.”
On September 9, 2017, at the Kelly Writers House, Herman Beavers read poems from his new book, Obsidian Blues. HERE is a link to the video recording of the event, and HERE is a link to the audio-only recording.
Thanks to PennSound staffer Hannah Judd, a November 2001 reading of Morning Constitutional Michael Magee gave at the Kelly Writers House — with Louis Cabri — has been segmented. Magee's book Morning Constitutional was published in 2001. Publisher's Weekly observed: “A breadcrumb trail of juiced urban monologues, phrasal runs somewhere between Dolphy and Sun Ra, rope-a-dope reports from a guarded ordering bordering on an underdog corner restoration and definitional clarity (a slush fund is dirty money) mark these ante-meridian outings, exercising our rights and outlining the space between our laws.” Magee walked Philadelphia in the mornings and these poems densely record his observations, debris-like.
Michael Magee's book Morning Constitutional was published in 2001. Publisher's Weekly observed: “A breadcrumb trail of juiced urban monologues, phrasal runs somewhere between Dolphy and Sun Ra, rope-a-dope reports from a guarded ordering bordering on an underdog corner restoration and definitional clarity (a slush fund is dirty money) mark these ante-meridian outings, exercising our rights and outlining the space between our laws.” Magee walked Philadelphia in the mornings and these poems densely record his observations, debris-like. The book is still available for purchase. Philip Metres wrote about it for Jacket in May 2003.
Now, thanks to PennSound staffer Hannah Judd, a November 2001 reading Magee gave at the Kelly Writers House — with Louis Cabri — has been segmented.
The poet and translator Yosuke Tanaka visited Philadelphia and the Kelly Writers House in late 2014. The purpose of his visit was threefold: to join a scientific conference on cell biology; to see the Writers House in person after spending much time there virtually as a participant in the open online course called “ModPo”; and to sit down in the Wexler Studio with Ariel Resnikoff to talk about contemporary Japanese poetry.
“Years ago," writes Alyssa Morhardt-Goldstein at LunaLuna on March 3, 2014, "when I would get overwhelmed, I used to call the Kelly Writers House and listen to a poem wherever I happened to be. They feature poets who have read for them, as well as their own faculty and students (the latter at a different extension)." The number is 215-746-POEM (215-746-7636). She also provides information for two other dial-a-poem services.
A new Kelly Writers House podcast is now out (#36 in our ongoing series). In this podcast, we hear an excerpt from an artist's talk by Francie Shaw, whose show was exhibited in our Brodsky Gallery in the late autumn of 2013. For more about the event, click here. To listen to the podcast, introduced by Allison Harris, click here. For a video recording of the full event, click here.
Steve McLaughlin represented the Kelly Writers House on a committee steering the University of Pennsylvania through its “year of sound” (2013-14). Needless to say, sound is right down our audiophilic alley. Steve organized an event as part of the theme year at the Writers House — held on February 4, 2014 — and it featured experimental radio host and producer Benjamen Walker. Audio and video recordings of the full program are available, but today we are releasing a Kelly Writers House podcast, number 35 in the series, that offers a 15-minute excerpt of the hour-plus-long program. The excerpt was edited by Matt Bernstein.
On February 12, 2013, I interviewed John Ashbery in his Chelsea apartment, and moderated a discussion with people gathered at the Kelly Writers House in Philadelphia while hundreds watched via live webcast. The live webcast, of course, was recorded and here is a link to the YouTube recording of the GoogleHangout video. Ashbery was the first of three 2013 Kelly Writers House Fellows, and this was his second time as a Fellow; he is the only writer, in 14 years of the series, to be asked to serve as a Fellow twice. The previous visit was in 2002. On Monday, February 11, the poet met for three hours with students in the KWH Fellows Seminar and then gave a public reading (also available as a recorded webcast). During the reading he performed several poems from his new book, Quick Question, and read two unpublished poems — one of them having been written just a few days earlier.
The artist Zoe Straussspoke for sixteen minutes recently about Bruce Springsteen’s song “Youngstown.” The program notes for the event, and links to video recordings of the individual presentations are available on the Kelly Writers House web calendar. There you have links to 10-minute presentations as follows: Greg Djanikian on “Born in the USA,” Grace Ambrose on “Spirit in the Night,” Dan Sheehan performing “Matamoras Banks,” Max McKenna on “Candy’s Room.” Anthony DeCurtis on “Tunnel of Love,” Matt Chylak performing “Backstreets,” Nate Chinen on “The Promise,” and myself speaking about “Land of Hope and Dreams.” Here again is the link to the Zoe Strauss video: video.
Lyn Hejinian (b. 1941) is a poet, editor, and professor in the English department at UC Berkeley. In 2005, Lyn Hejinian was a Writers House fellow. An audio recording of Hejinian’s reading and discussion while in residence can be found at PennSound. What follows is a transcription of a discussion held at the Kelly Writers House on February 22, 2005.
Editorial note: Lyn Hejinian (b. 1941) is a poet, editor, and professor in the English department at UC Berkeley. She is the author of Writing Is an Aid to Memory (1978), My Life (1980, 1987, 2002), Happily (2000), and The Fatalist (2003). Her most recent book, The Book of a Thousand Eyes, is forthcoming in April 2012. She is also the author of a book of essays, The Language of Inquiry (2000).
We recently uploaded a recording of Wyatt Mason talking about Rimbaud. The event took place in November 2005, and the audio is here.
Wyatt is a contributing editor of Harper's where his essays regularly appear. He also writes for the New Yorker, the New Republic, and the London Review of Books. Modern Library has published, in three volumes, his translations of the complete works of Arthur Rimbaud. Translations of Dante’s Vita Nuova and Montaigne’s essays were in progress last I checked, as was his book of essays about American fiction.
Oh, yes, and I'm proud to say that Wyatt was once my student here at Penn.
(Please note: the beginning of the recording is over-run by the intro music we used to use at the Writers House before programs began. Sorry about that. Be patient.)