Insurrection is value (PoemTalk #122)

Sean Bonney, 'Happiness'

From left to right: Stephen Willey, Anna Strong Safford, Luke Roberts [photo credit: Al Filreis]


Al Filreis, Anna Strong Safford, Zach Carduner, and Chris Martin took PoemTalk on the road where they met up with Stephen Willey and Luke Roberts at Birkbeck University of London for a discussion of Sean Bonney's Happiness. Twenty pages of Happiness were included in Letters Against the Firmament. The group focused on the first four pages or poems or sections of Happiness (pp. 120—23). Sean Bonney’s PennSound author page hosts three different recordings (two audio and one video) of his readings from this long poem (1, 2, 3). The version used here was the one recorded in London in 2011.

This corner of the Diaspora (PoemTalk #121)

Jerome Rothenberg, 'Galician Nights' from 'Poland/1931'

From left to right: Al Filreis, Jake Marmer, Maria Damon, Frank London.


One Sunday afternoon at Kelly Writers House, Jake Marmer, Frank London, Al Filreis, and Maria Damon ducked into the Wexler Studio to talk about Jerome Rothenberg's Poland/1931. The group chose to focus on the section of that book entitled “Galician Nights, or a Novel in Progress” — on, in particular, a 2002 performance in which Rothenberg chanted the text while backed by the Klezmatics (the band including one of our interlocutors, the Hasidic New Wave eminence Frank London, on trumpet). The recording — which lasts six minutes and twenty-six seconds — can be found at Rothenberg’s extensive PennSound page

World without sequence (PoemTalk #120)

Ann Lauterbach, 'Under the Sign'

From left: Matvei Yankelevich, Kate Colby, Christina Davis


Al Filreis was joined by Kate Colby, Matvei Yankelevich, and Christina Davis at the Woodberry Poetry Room in Cambridge, Massachsetts, to discuss the title poem of Ann Lauterbach’s book Under the Sign (Penguin, 2013). Our recording of “Under the Sign” comes from a July 4, 2017, studio session at Bard College.

Nothing to say (PoemTalk #119)

Fatemah Shams, 'When They Broke Down the Door'

Fatemah Shams


Al Filreis was joined by Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet, Leonard Schwartz, and Mahyar Entezari for a discussion of three poems by Fatemeh Shams about the extremities of war, surveillance, and love in a time of authoritarianism. The poems appear in When They Broke Down the Door, published in 2016 by Mage Publishers with English translations by Dick Davis. We invited Shams and Davis to our Wexler Studio, where they recorded a number of poems (including our three poems) for her PennSound author page

Question therefore the age (PoemTalk #118)

M. NourbeSe Philip, 'Zong!'

From left: Amber Rose Johnson, Alexandria Johnson, Tracie Morris

Joined by Alexandria Johnson, Tracie Morris, and Amber Rose Johnson, Al Filreis hosts this discussion of six short poems or sections from the long poem Zong! by M. NourbeSe Philip. The sections discussed are numbered 2, 3, 6, 11, 21, and 26. They can be found, respectively, on pages 5, 6, 14, 20, 37, and 45 of the Wesleyan edition of the book, published in 2008. NourbeSe Philip’s PennSound author page includes several compelling performances of Zong! given over the years. For this PoemTalk episode we listened to a Segue Series reading at the Bowery Poetry Club, given on February 17, 2007.