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.
PoemTalk went on the road again, this time to Chicago, where Al Filreis convened Lisa Fishman, Gabriel Ojeda-Sagué, and Laynie Browne at the Poetry Foundation. Before a lively live audience, the four discussed seven short poems selected from Lisa Fishman’s recent book Mad World, Mad Kings, Mad Composition (Wave Books, 2020). They are: “Many People have heard” (51); “Others could tell the difference” (65); “Have sent a point” and “Who will confess that …” (73); “Taking a sick day to remember Mr. Fishman” (149); “A line through a forest” (150); and “Steering-wheel-in-the-field” (163).
PoemTalk went on the road, along with PoemTalk’s editor Zach Carduner, our tech guru pal Chris Martin (Zach on video, Chris on audio), and our colleague Laynie Browne. We wandered up some PA/NJ/NY highways into the mid-Hudson Valley, landing at Annandale-on-Hudson, the home of Bard College, where we decamped with all our gear and were joined by Joan Retallack, erica kaufman, and Laynie.
Al Filreis and three interlocutors — Kristen Gallagher, Lee Ann Brown, and Laynie Browne — met up at the Kelly Writers House in Philadelphia to talk about Diane di Prima’s collection (and ongoing project) of quasi-epistolary poems, Revolutionary Letters. The group discussed three poems: #16 (“We are eating up the planet”), #19 (“If what you want is jobs”), and #27 (“How much can we afford to lose before we win”). Di Prima began writing the letters in 1968, and they were first gathered and published by City Lights in 1971. A red-covered fiftieth anniversary edition was issued by City Lights in 2021. Our recordings of di Prima performing these three poems come from various sources and are available at the di Prima PennSound page: for #16 we hear a a recording made in 1969, while for #19 we have undated tape (possibly 1982), and for #27we hear a performance given at Naropa in 1978.
Al Filreis convened Charles Bernstein, Anthony Elms, and Laynie Browne to talk about two poems by George Quasha. These were selected from Quasha’s most recent collection of his “preverbs.” The book, published by Spuyten Duyvil in 2020, titled Not Even Rabbits Go Down This Hole, consists of eight gatherings of preverbs; our two poems, coming from the final section — which bears the name of the book — are “self fast” (numbered 12; TEXT) and “that music razors through” (numbered 13; TEXT). The recordings we use in this episode can be found on PennSound’s extensive Quasha author page.
The ModPo team went on the road to Providence, Rhode Island — joined by Laynie Browne — to film some new collaborative readings of poems to add to the ModPoPLUS syllabus. Of course while there they just had to stop at the remarkable home of Rosmarie and Keith Waldrop, where Laynie, Kate Colby, and Mónica de la Torre (and, in a cameo appearance here, Lee Ann Brown), recorded a special episode of PoemTalk. This episode is presented here as an audio podcast, and as a video too. The poem discussed, “Memory Tree,” is from Rosmarie Waldrop’s book Split Infinites (published by Gil Ott’s Singing Horse Press in 1998). Here is a link to the text of the prose poem.
Begin again: that was the advice of the Benedictine monk John Main, founder of the Christian silent meditation movement in the West, to those who found themselves floundering in their commitment to the daily task of meditating. It is an idea that is strangely comforting — to begin again — in all the contradictory impulses of that phrase, for a beginning is new in its never-been-here-before quality and resists the idea of repetition nestled at the heart of again. But that is what we must do in the face of the tsunami of the attacks bearing down on all those committed to a fair and equitable society — begin again and again and again
What is the relationship between serial and elegy? What poetic form might accommodate the dailiness of grief without erasing or domesticating what has been lost? How might a poem lament the dead and honor the differences made by loss without foreclosing the possibilities that loss has made available? What potential does loss hold? Might poetry hold space for such potential?
Possibility is neither forever nor instant. It is not easy to sustain belief in its efficacy. — Audre Lorde