Al Filreis convened Erica Hunt, Bob Perelman, and Tonya Foster to a virtual version of the Wexler Studio of the Kelly Writers House — for a conversation about a poem by Lorenzo Thomas. The poem, “Souvenir of the Manassah Ball,” was written in 1990 or 1991, and now appears on page 310 of the magnificent Collected Poems of Lorenzo Thomas, edited by Aldon Nielsen and Laura Vrana (Wesleyan, 2019). The performance of the poem we used as our audio recording for this episode was presented at a reading on November 13, 1991, at Buffalo.
For this 154th episode of the PoemTalk series, Al Filreis remotely convened Simone White, Kate Colby, and Angela Carr to talk about a prose poem by Elizabeth Willis, “The Similitude of This Great Flower.” The poem was first published in the Cordite Poetry Review in January of 2008. Our recording of the poem comes from a Close Listening session hosted by Charles Bernstein on March 17, 2008.
In January 2020, Al Filreis and the PoemTalk team traveled to Vancouver, British Columbia, where at the home of friends Richard Cook and Lucy Oh Cook they met up with Meredith Quartermain, Fred Wah, and Daphne Marlatt to talk about Daphne’s poem “Arriving.” The discussion was witnessed by a lively live audience and was filmed. The unabridged video is available here below and also on YouTube.
In Seattle, Washington, Al Filreis convened Kate Colby, Tyrone Wiilliams, Mónica de la Torre, and Aldon Nielsen to talk about a late poem of Wallace Stevens, “The Poem That Took the Place of a Mountain.” The group collaborates on an enumeration of possibilities for understanding the poet’s current ruminative state as a retrospective view of his previous poems and old ideas about poetry. Past perfect and conditional language — had needed, would be right, would discover, could lie — make us doubt that there is or ever was such a thing as a “there” in “There it was.”
Al Filreis convened Stephen Metcalf, June Thomas, and Jess Shollenberger to talk about two poems by Eileen Myles: “Writing” and “Mount St. Helens.” They appeared in Myles’s book of 2001, Skies, and were included by Myles in their volume of selected poems I Must Be Living Twice. Myles’s PennSound page includes several performances of these poems, including a powerful although understated reading of “Writing” here at the Writers House when they were visiting as a Kelly Writers House Fellow in 2016. The recordings we used for the purposes of our PoemTalk conversation were made during an episode of Charles Bernstein’s interview series “Close Listening” in March of 2009.