Conceptual writing by women

PennSound podcast #43


Amaris Cuchanski has edited and now introduces a 20-minute excerpt from a one-hour recording made of an October 17, 2012, event at the Kelly Writers House featuring conceptualist writing by women, celebrating the publication of I'll Drown My Book. This excerpt is episode 43 in the PennSound podcast series. You can hear the entire recording — and indeed watch a video recording — of the event by visiting the Kelly Writers House web calendar entry and by visiting the speak PennSound page created for the audio recordings, which have there been segmented.

Nicki Resnikoff attended the event and was asked by the staff of the Writers House to describe what she witnessed. This is what Nicki wrote:

On Wednesday October 17th, the Arts Cafe was filled with members of the KWH community for what turned out to be a night of poetry — and laughter — as Laynie Browne hosted a reading from the recently released anthology of women’s conceptual writing, I’ll Drown My Book. Editor Browne took the podium to give a brief introduction to the anthology. She explained that the editors put this collection together with the intent of “opening, not binding, the term conceptual writing.” Browne then gave a brief introduction to each of the five readers for the night, mentioning some of their accomplishments and credentials. Each of the featured poets read from their own contribution to I’ll Drown My Book, as well as a selection from the anthology by another poet. Lee Ann Brown read three poems from her project “Philtre,” which she wrote while experiencing artwork created by others. She then read a piece in the anthology from Redell Olsen’s Punk Faun. Brown chose this selection as a companion to hers as it “takes poetry into the realm of art and performance in a very real way.” Rachel Blau DuPlessis read her piece “Draft 98: Canzone,” which she said came from a “realm of cultural pillaging.” Her other selected reading from the anthology was from Norma Cole’s “Collective Memory.” Jena Osman read from “Financial District,” which was first in her book Deborah Richards. Kristen Prevallet opted not to read from her piece in the anthology, given its essayistic form. In order to “convey the heart of it,” she called up a volunteer to whom she explained the essay. The volunteer then summarized this for the audience, calling the work “a take on space.” Prevallet also read from “Public Sphere and Private Space” by Rachel Levitsky. Cecilia Vicuna closed out the program. She gave no introduction to her energetic reading other than silently smoothing her clothes and hair while the room waited for her bilingual presentation. After performing two pieces, Vicuna took the time to note that all of the pieces of the night were connected by the idea of time travel, and to address her colleagues saying, “It was so incredibly beautiful to hear you all.” Vicuna then opened the anthology to show her contribution: abstract drawings, which she proceeded to “read” to the audience.