PoemTalk

To rearrange the world (PoemTalk #110)

Philip Whalen, 'Life at Bolinas. The last of California'

Stephen Ratcliffe, Joanne Kyger, Julia Bloch

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PoemTalk’s crew took to the road, wandering pretty much as far west as one can go on this continent, to a place Philip Whalen called, in a poem’s subtitle, “the last of California” — Bolinas, coastal spot famous as A congenial writer’s retreat. Stephen Ratcliffe, Joanne Kyger, and Julia Bloch gathered there with Al Filreis to talk about Whalen. Our poem was indeed written in Bolinas, in 1968, and finished in Kyoto in 1969. It’s called “Life at Bolinas: The Last of California.” Whalen’s PennSound page includes a recording of his performance of this poem.

I mean only means (PoemTalk #109)

Kate Colby, 'I Mean'

Kate Colby (at right)

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Siobhan Phillips, Emily Harnett, and Joseph Massey joined Al Filreis to discuss a long poem by Kate Colby — the title poem in her book I Mean, published by Ugly Duckling Presse in 2015. The poem “I Mean” runs for seventy-two pages and nearly every one of its lines begins with the phrase “I mean.” In this episode of PoemTalk we discuss the opening twelve pages of the poem. Colby’s PennSound page includes a complete recording of I Mean, recorded in forty-three minutes by Mary-Kim Arnold in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, on July 27, 2016.

But too beautiful (PoemTalk #108)

Tracie Morris, 'Slave Sho to Video aka Black but Beautiful'

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Camara Brown, Edwin Torres, and Brooke O’Harra joined PoemTalk producer-host Al Filreis for a discussion of Tracie Morris’s “Slave Sho to Video aka Black but Beautiful.” The recording used as the basis of this conversation was made at the 2002 Whitney Museum Biennial Exhibit and is available on Morris’s PennSound page. The performance piece/musical poem was first performed at NYU in the 1990s, in a graduate performance theory course, a last-minute improvisation after Morris discovered she misplaced or lost her planned text, accompanied by — and intuitively responsive to — two colleagues whose dance movements, in part, reproduced the sweeping up-down motions of rice harvesting.

It is time (PoemTalk #107)

Paul Celan, 'Corona'

Paul Celan (photo credit: Romanian Cultural Institute, London)

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Pierre Joris, Anna Strong, and Ariel Resnikoff joined Al Filreis to talk about Paul Celan’s poem “Corona.” Celan had chosen to continue writing in German after the elimination of Jews from his town and the murder of his parents by the Nazis and their fascist allies — and maintained, to the say the very least, a complex relationship to the mother tongue he kept using with increasingly inventive disfiguration. There was knowledge of the original difficult German in our Wexler Studio, although as PoemTalk is an English-language podcast series we focused on the challenges of the English translation. Our translation was Jerome Rothenberg’s, from his groundbreaking anthology New Young German Poets (1959, City Lights).

Dear conflicted reader (PoemTalk #106)

C. D. Wright, 'One Big Self'

PoemTalk producer-host Al Filreis traveled to the Library of Congress in Washington, DC and was joined there by Mark McMorrisMel Nichols, and Rob Casper to discuss C. D. Wright’s book-length poem One Big Self. We focused on the opening five pages of verse in the book, which include poem-sections entitled “Count Your Fingers,” “Count Heads,” “In the Mansion of Happiness,” and “I Want to Go Home.” And we added, from a few pages later, the poem “My Dear Conflicted Reader,” something of a belated proem. These sections can be found in the Copper Canyon Press edition of One Big Self on pages 3–8 and 14.