Laynie Browne

Better to lose and win (PoemTalk #170)

Diane di Prima, 'Revolutionary Letters'

From left: Kristen Gallagher, Lee Ann Brown, Laynie Browne

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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 #27 we hear a performance given at Naropa in 1978.

Far in toward the far end (PoemTalk #169)

George Quasha, 'self fast' and 'that music razors through' (preverbs)

George Quasha at the Renee & Chaim Gross Foundation, December 2021 (photo by Al Filreis).

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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.

September 1941 (PoemTalk #141)

Rosmarie Waldrop, 'Memory Tree'

From left: Laynie Browne, Mónica de la Torre, Kate Colby, and Rosmarie Waldrop.

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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.

Will wonders never cease?

Laynie Browne's 'You Envelop Me'

I wanted to share both the narrowing and broadening of perception. I wanted to enter the space where all separations are illusory. — Laynie Browne, interview with Rusty Morrison

Solidarity Texts

Cover of Solidarity Texts, untitled, by M. NourbeSe Philip.

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

Conjure Wives

Conjure Wives, collage on paper, 2017, 8" x 5".

Potential loss

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.[1— Audre Lorde

Necessary companionship

A review of Laynie Browne's 'Scorpyn Odes'

Laynie Browne is one of our finest poets working in the mode I am calling contemplative poetry. By which I mean not necessarily a poetry that is contemplative in the religious sense (though yes, inescapably there is also that in Laynie’s work) but rather in the compositional sense, that is, writing itself, language itself, composition itself.

A sense of community is everywhere apparent in the poetry world — the desire to share and promote what is offered widely, and to make of poetry a means to transform minds, hearts, and social practice. Fortunately or unfortunately, it can be difficult in all this to find a space quiet enough for a contemplative spirit, an exploratory sense, in the poem, of working through what’s real in how to respond to a world in and through language. For me the value of this is much more than personal, more than the pleasure it affords.

I too received identity (PoemTalk #95)

Robert Fitterman, 'Sprawl'

Photo by Tim Davis. Courtesy of and © Greenberg Van Doren Gallery.

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Laynie Browne, Rodrigo Toscano, and Michelle Taransky joined Al Filreis to talk about Robert Fitterman’s Sprawl, where (as K. Silem Mohammad once observed) “the mall hasn’t been this scary since Dawn of the Dead.” It’s Dantesque, notes Rodrigo in this conversation. The arrangement of the parts wants its readers to be lost, says Laynie, exactly as mall developers and architects encourage consumer misdirection and dislocation.

Conceptual writing by women

PennSound podcast #43

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Amaris Cuchanski has edited and now introduces a 20-minute excerpt from a one-hour recording made of an October 17, 2012, event at the Kelly Writers House featuring conceptualist writing by women, celebrating the publication of I'll Drown My Book. This excerpt is episode 43 in the PennSound podcast series. You can hear the entire recording — and indeed watch a video recording — of the event by visiting the Kelly Writers House web calendar entry and by visiting the speak PennSound page created for the audio recordings, which have there been segmented.

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