Al Filreis

Questlove on Baraka

Further notes on PoemTalk episode 128

In 2018, PoemTalk's 128th episode was made — a conversation in which  Tyrone Williams, Aldon Nielsen, and William J. Harris joined me in the Arts Cafe of the Kelly Writers House to talk before a live audience about Amiri Baraka’s poem “Something in the Way of Things (In Town).” Go HERE for a program note and links to the edited audio recording of the episode and also an unedited video recording. Recently we found a relevant piece published in the New York Times four years earlier. It was written by Questlove, and it refers to the studio session in which The Roots collaborated with Baraka to record "Something in the Way of Things."

Chat GPT cannot say why Stein is apt to teach online

After a few unremarkable responses from ChatGPT about Gertrude Stein in ModPo, there was this bland answer. Perhaps this AI program isn't yet picking up content from YouTube videos. The third paragraph here is just guessing, based on what it finds about Stein on the web generally, that ModPo focuses on literary history in the survey-course sort of way. Most interesting to me: the program did not analyze any sort of relationship between Stein and the open online course form—many people, many interpretations, open verse, etc. The AI here is "thinking" in an authoritarian (this is the answer) sort of way even about Stein when asked the "why" about online teaching. What it's missing is not a super-subtle point, I think, and such an idea is amply available across web content. In short: somewhat surprisingly, not meta- at all.

John Kinsella's 'Star Shavings'

Photo by John Kinsella from the 'Star Shavings' series.

I’m pleased here to present a brief excerpt from John Kinsella’s series titled “Star Shavings,” a cycle of photo-poems. Jacket2 and PennSound are making the cycle available HERE. Here is a link to Kinsellas PennSound page, and here are some links to several of his previous appearances in Jacket: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

You can be a cruel word: On Fred Wah’s 'All Americans'

The frontispiece of the housepress edition (2002; 125 copies) of Fred Wah’s poem-series All Americans is a reproduction of a commemorative plate produced by the Standard Brewing Company. The illustrated souvenir dish, of the sort common in its time, has been photographed upright on a wooden stand. In consultation with housepress founder, editor, and publisher Derek Beaulieu, Wah chose to open his book by featuring the lithograph reprinted and colorized on this plate. The drawing itself was apparently made in 1863 — presumably the artist had been a witness not long after the execution by hanging of 38 eastern Dakota people at Mankato, Minnesota, on December 26, 1862. These death sentences, rendered hastily and prejudicially by a military court in reaction to the uprising of the eastern Dakota that had commenced in August — sentences then affirmed by Abraham Lincoln in the White House — were carried out in the largest single-day mass execution in U.S. history.

The essay was commissioned by Derek Beaulieu as he prepared to celebrate 25 years of No Press and housepress. I have now received a copy of a book, entitled Paper and Thread, edited by Derek, which includes my essay about Fred Wah along with contributions by Kyle Schlesinger, Charles Bernstein, Sacha Archer, Nasser Hussain, Richard Harrison, Kit Dobson, Gregory Betts, Gary Barwin, George Bowering, Johanna Drucker, Nick Montfort, bill bissett and a number of others. The book can be purchased here. I have made a PDF version of the published essay, and a copy of the essay follows as well: 

The frontispiece of the housepress edition (2002; 125 copies) of Fred Wah’s poem-series All Americans is a reproduction of a commemorative plate produced by the Standard Brewing Company. The illustrated souvenir dish, of the sort common in its time, has been photographed upright on a wooden stand. In consultation with housepress founder, editor, and publisher Derek Beaulieu, Wah chose to open his book by featuring the lithograph reprinted and colorized on this plate. The drawing itself was apparently made in 1863 — presumably the artist had been a witness not long after the execution by hanging of 38 eastern Dakota people at Mankato, Minnesota, on December 26, 1862. These death sentences, rendered hastily and prejudicially by a military court in reaction to the uprising of the eastern Dakota that had commenced in August — sentences then affirmed by Abraham Lincoln in the White House — were carried out in the largest single-day mass execution in U.S. history.

Jerome Rothenberg reads from 'Mad King' at Kelly Writers House (photos and links)

Jerome Rothenberg gave a reading on Thursday, September 29, 2022, at the Kelly Writers House. The full video recording is available below, along with seven photos taken during and after the event. He read, in part, his short new book, In the Shadow of the Mad King (available from Granary Books).