Al Filreis and three interlocutors — Kristen Gallagher, Lee Ann Brown, and Laynie Browne — met up at the Kelly Writers House in Philadelphia to talk about Diane di Prima’s collection (and ongoing project) of quasi-epistolary poems, Revolutionary Letters. The group discussed three poems: #16 (“We are eating up the planet”), #19 (“If what you want is jobs”), and #27 (“How much can we afford to lose before we win”). Di Prima began writing the letters in 1968, and they were first gathered and published by City Lights in 1971. A red-covered fiftieth anniversary edition was issued by City Lights in 2021. Our recordings of di Prima performing these three poems come from various sources and are available at the di Prima PennSound page: for #16 we hear a a recording made in 1969, while for #19 we have undated tape (possibly 1982), and for #27we hear a performance given at Naropa in 1978.
Al Filreis convened Charles Bernstein, Anthony Elms, and Laynie Browne to talk about two poems by George Quasha. These were selected from Quasha’s most recent collection of his “preverbs.” The book, published by Spuyten Duyvil in 2020, titled Not Even Rabbits Go Down This Hole, consists of eight gatherings of preverbs; our two poems, coming from the final section — which bears the name of the book — are “self fast” (numbered 12; TEXT) and “that music razors through” (numbered 13; TEXT). The recordings we use in this episode can be found on PennSound’s extensive Quasha author page.
Amber Rose Johnson, Daniel Bergmann, and Yolanda Wisher joined Al Filreis to discuss a poem/performance piece by Jayne Cortez, “She Got He Got.” This poem was apparently the final number — or possibly the encore — concluding a set presented under the title “A Dialogue Between Voice and Drums,” before a live audience at The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy, New York, on October 23, 2010. Fortunately a recording was made; the audio can be heard at the start of our podcast, as usual, and the video is also made available here below. Jayne Cortez is of course the voice, while Denardo Coleman (her and Ornette Coleman’s son, and a member of the Ornette Coleman Quartet) is on drums.
Jack Giesking, Jonathan Dick, and erica kaufman joined Al Filreis in the Arts Café of the Kelly Writers House for a discussion of the first poem — doubtless it is intended as a proem — in Myung Mi Kim’s Under Flag (published by Kelsey Street Press in 1991). The poem is “And Sing We,” and the audio recording we use was made by Ross Craig in Berkeley in 2007 and is available, of course, at the poet’s PennSound page.
Edwin Torres, Huda Fakhreddine, and Jena Osman joined Al Filreis in the Arts Café at the Kelly Writers House to talk about a performance piece by Cecilia Vicuña. The piece was a segment in a ninety-minute presentation titled “An Illustrated Conversation” that took place in the same room at the Writers House in February of 2017. One of the parts of the performance goes under the title “Colliding and not colliding at the same time.” The segment begins as the audience, having been encouraged to ask questions about an art video that had just been screened, went momentarily silent. No questions were being asked, so Vicuña began improvisationally to fill the room with words and sounds, exploring a convergence or collision of topics: the then-recent election of Donald Trump, the “millionaires’ coup” in Brazil, the “mystery of what is happening at this moment in the earth,” the collective thought of the people in the room, and the room itself.