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. For PoemTalk listeners following along with the text: 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. That day Pearson read the entire poem and we highly recommend it the eperience of hearing the entire work. The section we discuss takes us 3 minutes and 56 seconds into the recording. Note that the tape as it came to us needed volume-boosting and was marred (or enhanced, depending on your point of view), by the ambient sounds of the Ear Inn — so for our podcasting purposes we have cleaned up the audio somewhat but have not altered the original digital dubbing available at PennSound.

The text of our selected section from Pearson's book can be found HERE. The recording of the whole work can be heard HERE.

We wish to thank Bill Fuller for co-curating this episode, and Sally Silvers for joining us in the studio during the recording.

PoemTalk can be heard at Spotfiy and Apple Podcasts. Please subscribe and, if you are inclined, leave a review. Zach Carduner was our lone director and engineer for this episode, and also, as always, PoemTalk’s proficient and savvy editor.

From left: Fuller, Andrews, Filreis, Silvers, Blau DuPlessis celebrate the episode.