Al Filreis brought together Michelle Taransky, Pattie McCarthy, and Robert Eric Shoemaker, who had traveled from Chicago to join us — to talk about a poem by Ariana Reines, “To the Reader.” The poem was included in Reines’s A Sand Book (Tin House, 2019). Eric and Al co-curated the selection, in part because of Eric's work with magical poetics. Our recording of Reines performing this poem dates from 2020 and was hosted by the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. The audio we hear toward the beginning of the episode is extracted from a video that is available on YouTube and Vimeo, produced by Christian Lund, with sound editing by Tomás Guiñazú. Click HERE to read a text of the poem (scanned from A Sand Book).
Al Filreis convened Herman Beavers, Tracie Morris, and Amber Rose Johnson to talk about two poems by Owen Dodson: “Sorrow Is the Only Faithful One” and an elegaic sonnet “For Billie Holiday—Finally, Lady, You are Gone From Us.” Our recordings of these poems come from the Library of Congress, where on December 13, 1960, Dodson entered the Recording Laboratory there to perform a selection of his verse. Our poems are the fifth and thirteenth Dodson read, respectively, during that recording session.
Wayne Koestenbaum, Simone White, and Henry Steinberg joined Al Filreis to talk about a poem and a song lyric by Kenward Elmslie. The poem is “Core Bonus” and the song is “One Night Stand.” As of the recording we had not located published/in-print version of “Core Bonus” but Elsmlie's PennSound page includes a record of it. “One Night Stand” was included in Routine Disruptions: Selected Poems and Lyrics (Coffee House Press, 1998). “Core Bonus” was performed during a Segue eries reading at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York on April 7, 2007. “One Night Stand” was sung by Elmslie at the Kelly Writers House on November 12, 2003, for an event titled “Snippets: A Gathering of Songs, Visual Collaborations, and Poems.”
Aldon Nielsen, William J. Harris, Tyrone Williams, hosted by Al Filreis, convened in the Arts Café of the Kelly Writers House, before a live audience, to discuss Aldon’s poem “Tray.” There are 29 sections in the poem; the group discussed the first 6. In the book titled Tray, published by Make Now Press in 2017, the title poem takes up the first 37 pages; the sections we discussed run to page 14. Usually, of course, we play an audio recording of the poem from we’re about to discuss as archived in PennSound, but on this day, because we had the honor of Aldon’s presence we asked him to perform those sections.
Al Filreis convened J.C. Cloutier, Rita Barnard, and M.C. Kinniburgh to talk about a poem by Gregory Corso, “Vision of Rotterdam.” The poem records or remembers a moment of encounter and geo-historical reflection that took place in September 1957; the reflection casts the poet’s visionary eye upon the German bombings of cities in the Netherlands of 1940. Corso performed and recorded the poem in 1969 — at Fantasy Studios on Natoma Street in San Francisco, 1969. This recording is included among others at PennSound’s Corso page. Thus the PoemTalk group concludes that we are dealing with a convergence of three crucially distinct times: wartime 1940; Cold War-time (and Beat time) 1957; anti-war (post-)Beat 1969.