Al Filreis convened Larissa Lai, Maxe Crandall, and Julia Bloch to discuss Sarah Dowling’s book Entering Sappho (Coach House, 2020), in which an abandoned town named for the classical lesbian leads to vexing questions of history, settlement, translation, violence, “impossible geographies,”* the idea of the “unwitting monument,” and the abusive economics of the s0-called company town. The group focuses on two passages from the book. First there’s “Clip,” the opening poem, a kind of verse preface or prelude to the recurring themes. Then there are the first three paragraphs of a prose statement (or prose poem?) at the end of the book, “White Columns.” The texts of these passages can be found HERE and HERE.
Sarah Rose Etter joined Jacket2 editor Julia Bloch in the Wexler Studio last September for a short reading from and discussion of her debut poetic novel, The Book of X, which appeared in 2019 from Two Dollar Radio. Etter and Bloch talked about the impact of open poetics and visual art upon Etter’s prose style, the feminist politics of speculative narrative, the process of fact-checking menstrual blood output, and the etymology of the book’s governing image — among other things.
Al Filreis gathered with Adrienne Raphel, Jennifer Firestone, and Julia Bloch to talk about Maggie Nelson’s Bluets. This book of 240 numbered prose-poem propositions was published by Wave Books in 2009. The group focuses on eleven sections, those numbered 222–232; these appear on pages 89–93 in the Wave edition. Maggie Nelson’s PennSound page includes several recordings of readings in which she performs this work. The recording we play at the start of this episode is from a reading she gave at Boise State University in Idaho on April 26, 2013.
Allison Cobb and Brian Teare joined Julia Bloch, Knar Gavin, and Aylin Malcolm in the Wexler Studio on April 2, 2019, following their lunchtime discussion with scholars and poets from Penn’s Poetry and Poetics and Anthropocene and Animal Studies reading groups. Our discussion ranged from human embeddedness in the nonhuman world to the role of affect in poetry that seeks to reckon with ever intensifying ecodisasters.
On October 25, 2016, Edwin Torres and Will Alexander gave a double reading at the Kelly Writers House in Philadelphia, and then joined together in conversation. The program, organized by Edwin Torres in collaboration with the Creative Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania, was titled “Paradigm Shifting.” The event was recorded and is available in both audio and video. Details of the event are archived at the Kelly Writers House web calendar here. Now, thanks to the efforts of PennSound staff editor Luisa Healey, the recordings have been completely segmented; one can listen to individual poems read by each poet, and the conversation has also been segmented by topic. This new addition can be found on both Alexander’s and Torres’s PennSound author pages.
J2 editor Julia Bloch reviews three poetry titles on earthly and bodily reorganization: Orogeny by Iréne Mathieu, The Performance of Becoming Human by Daniel Borzutzky, and Community Garden for Lonely Girls by Christine Shan Shan Hou.
J2 editor Julia Bloch reviews three poetry titles on earthly and bodily reorganization.
PoemTalk’s crew took to the road, wandering pretty much as far west as one can go on this continent, to a place Philip Whalen called, in a poem’s subtitle, “the last of California” — Bolinas, coastal spot famous as A congenial writer’s retreat. Stephen Ratcliffe, Joanne Kyger, and Julia Bloch gathered there with Al Filreis to talk about Whalen. Our poem was indeed written in Bolinas, in 1968, and finished in Kyoto in 1969. It’s called “Life at Bolinas: The Last of California.” Whalen’s PennSound page includes a recording of his performance of this poem.
LISTEN TO THE SHOW. Julia Bloch, Joseph Massey, and Michelle Gil-Montero joined Al Filreis to discuss four four-line poems by William Bronk. The four were selected from Bronk’s book Finding Losses, which was published by Elizabeth Press in 1976. The group seeks to describe Bronk’s strong rejection of the pathetic fallacy in a world unabettably bleak. That desolation will not be lessened by the writerly act of “compar[ing] trees to what it means to be human,” and these poems identify “an honest acknowledgement of how deep and challenging intimacy can be.” That challenge not only extends to poetry but is at the heart of it.