PoemTalk

Fracas in the hinterlands (PoemTalk #191)

Kenward Elmslie, "Core Bonus" & "One Night Stand"

From left: Henry Steinberg, Simone White & Wayne Koestenbaum

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.”

Watches don't shoot (PoemTalk #190)

Aldon Nielsen, 'Tray'

Al Filreis, Tyrone Williams, William J. Harris, and Aldon Nielsen
Al Filreis, Tyrone Williams, William J. Harris, and Aldon Nielsen

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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.

Humming in the vacancy (PoemTalk #189)

Gregory Corso, "Vision of Rotterdam"

from left: Rita Barnard, J.C. Cloutier, M.C. Kinniburgh

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.

To the goon ictus (PoemTalk #188)

Ted Pearson, "Catenary Odes"

from left: Rachel Blau DuPlessis, William Fuller, Bruce Andrews

Al Filreis hosted Rachel Blau DuPlessis, William Fuller, and Bruce Andrews in the Wexler Studio of the Kelly Writers House for a conversation about Ted Pearson's book-length poem Catenary Odes. The book was first published by O Books in 1987. The poem, or perhaps it is a series of couplet-length poems, covers 44 pages in print; the PoemTalk group discussed the first 11 pages, approximately 40 lines. Our section ends with “the body electric in a brownout / the western mind in a jar.” The recording we play in this episode comes from Pearson’s PennSound page, from an audiotaping of a reading given in the Segue Series at the Ear Inn in New York on December 4, 1993.

Bray brassily (PoemTalk #187)

Mina Loy, "Love Songs"

from left: Maya Pindyck, Hoa Nguyen, Laynie Browne

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Al Filreis brought together Hoa Nguyen, Maya Pindyck, and Laynie Browne to talk about two of the poems (#1 and #4) in Mina Loy’s “Love Songs” series, which she published in 1915 in the first issue of Others magazine not long before her arrival onto the New York modernist scene the next year. A bit more than a half century later, Loy would die at the age of 83 in 1966; in 1965 the poet Paul Blackburn, who loved nothing more than to tape recordings of poets reading and conversing — along with Robert Vas Dias — turned the mic on and interviewed Loy at her home in Aspen, Colorado, and asked her to read poems and offer spontaneous commentary. The poems included all thirteen of the “Love Songs.” This remarkable one-hour-and-36-minute reading/conversation is available – both as a single recording and segmented recordings by poem and interview topic – at PennSound’s must-hear Loy page.