Suddenly everyone began reading aloud

Last night's Cobbingfest — an event on visual and sound poetries — at the Kelly Writers House featured readings by Maggie O'Sullivan and cris cheek and a panel discussion led by Charles Bernstein that included O'Sullivan and cheek as well as Matthew Abess and Marvin Sackner. Once the recordings of the readings and talks are available (soon, I should think) I will surely link them here. Come back.

At left: the late Bob Cobbing (d. 2000).

Matt Abess is a senior undergraduate who was drawn into this poetics through courses and other doings and connections at the Writers House and Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing (CPCW). During 2005–06 he took Kenny Goldsmith's year-long course we do in collaboration with the ICA, a variant on Kenny's "Uncreative Writing" seminar; then in the spring of '06 was Kenny's apprentice through our relatively new program of writing-arts apprenticeships. And in summer '06 we sponsored his research at Marvin and Ruth Sackner's remarkable concrete poetry archive in Miami. All the players in supporting Matt already knew and liked each other and his wonderful work served to bring us all together. Add O'Sullivan and Cheek to the mix — Matt, working with Charles and KWH Director Jessica Lowenthal — invited them, and you have a memorable few days.

After the reading last night I chatted with Bob Perelman and Ron Silliman about the event, about Cobbing, and about the extent to which there was a parallel development of sound poetry on the U.S. side. Here's a link to that 5-minute conversation.

[] The Daily Pennsylvanian covered this story in its October 12, 2007 issue.

[] PennSound has put up quite a good collection of Cobbing pieces, with lots of help from Matt Abess and PennSound's Managing Editor Mike Hennessey.

[] Our "Suddenly Everyone Began Reading Aloud" page is already up — and soon will have added to it links to the recordings of the October 10 and 11 events.

[] Matt received the annual Kerry Sherin Wright Prize given to a Writers House community member who proposes a program or project that befits the capacious and communitarian spirit of our former director, Kerry Sherin Wright. The funds that come with the prize literally paid for the program last night.

[] The Writing Arts Apprenticeships program has been made possible by a generous gift from Emilio and Reina Bassini, members of the Writers House Advisory Board and good friends.

[] Kenny Goldsmith's UbuWeb has a few Cobbing video materials as well as a link to Matt Abess' paper, and of course also has some fabulous Cobbing sound pieces.

[] Matt worked with our friends in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library — in particular, Dan Traister — on an exhibition of Cobbing's work (visual and also sound). The show is called "Make Perhaps This Out Sense Of Can You" and is up until December 16, 2007. Rosenwald Gallery, 6th floor, Van-Pelt Dietrich Library Center University of Pennsylvania, 3420 Walnut Street. Gallery hours: Monday–Friday, 9am–5pm, Saturday, by prior arrangement, noon–4pm. 1-800-390-1829.