Featured resources

From "Down To Write You This Poem Sat" at the Oakville Gallery

  1. Charles Bernstein, "Phone Poem" (2011) (1:30): MP3
  2. Caroline Bergvall, "Love song: 'The Not Tale (funeral)' from Shorter Caucer Tales (2006): MP3
  3. Christian Bôk, excerpt from Eunoia, from Chapter "I" for Dick Higgins (2009) (1:38):  MP3
  4. Tonya Foster, Nocturne II (0:40) (2010) MP3
  5. Ted Greenwald, "The Pears are the Pears" (2005) (0:29): MP3
  6. Susan Howe, Thorow, III (3:13) (1998):  MP3
  7. Tan Lin, "¼ : 1 foot" (2005) (1:16): MP3
  8. Steve McCaffery, "Cappuccino" (1995) (2:35): MP3
  9. Tracie Morris, From "Slave Sho to Video aka Black but Beautiful" (2002) (3:40): MP3
  10. Julie Patton, "Scribbling thru the Times" (2016) (5:12): MP3
  11. Tom Raworth, "Errory" (c. 1975) (2:08): MP3
  12. Jerome Rothenberg, from "The First Horse Song of Frank Mitchell: 4-Voice Version" (c. 1975) (3:30): MP3
  13. Cecilia Vicuna, "When This Language Disappeared" (2009) (1:30): MP3
  1. Guillaume Apollinaire, "Le Pont Mirabeau" (1913) (1:14): MP3
  2. Amiri Baraka, "Black Dada Nihilismus" (1964) (4:02):  MP3
  3. Louise Bennett, "Colonization in Reverse" (1983) (1:09): MP3
  4. Sterling Brown, "Old Lem " (c. 1950s) (2:06):  MP3
  5. John Clare, "Vowelless Letter" (1849) performed by Charles Bernstein (2:54): MP3
  6. Velimir Khlebnikov, "Incantation by Laughter" (1910), tr. and performed by Bernstein (:28)  MP3
  7. Harry Partch, from Barstow (part 1), performed by Bernstein (1968) (1:11): MP3
  8. Leslie Scalapino, "Can’t’ is ‘Night’" (2007) (3:19): MP3
  9. Kurt Schwitters, "Ur Sonata: Largo" performed by Ernst Scwhitter (1922-1932) ( (3:12): MP3
  10. Gertrude Stein, If I Told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso (1934-35) (3:42): MP3
  11. William Carlos Willliams, "The Defective Record" (1942) (0:28): MP3
  12. Hannah Weiner, from Clairvoyant Journal, performed by Weiner, Sharon Mattlin & Rochelle Kraut (2001) (6:12): MP3

Selected by Charles Bernstein (read more about his choices here)

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Jackson Mac Low and Tom Leonard, Sound and Syntax Festival, 1978

Posted 11/11/2019

Here's a fascinating recent addition to our archives: a 1978 video of Jackson Mac Low and Tom Leonard reading at the Sound and Syntax International Festival of Sound Poetry. Bob Cobbing provides introductions to both poets.

The first performer is Jackson Mac Low. His set begins with the "First Milarepa Gatha," the syntax of which, he explains, is taken from the mantra of Milarepa, "the bodhisattva who looks as if he's listening to a transistor radio." He follows that performance with a brief explanation of the techniques involved in the piece's composition. Next is a series of eleven poems, "Phone," which starts with an improvised piece that is then processed into various variations that complete the set. His next piece, "1st Sharon Belle Mattlin Vocabulary Crossword Gatha" returns to the techniques of his first text, but adds an added delight for listeners: live accompaniment on piano, as dictated by the very complex set of performance instructions Mac Low typically provides with his gatha pieces. Then we have a "Simultaneity" taken from his recently-published book, 21 Matched Asymmetries, which is nothing short of stunning, with Mac Low joined on stage by a quartet of friends and collaborators — bpNichol, Steve McCaffery, Jerome Rothenberg, and David Toop — for a five-voice performance. Mac Low concludes with "Let It Go," starting with William Empson's poem of the same name, which inspired his own "Words nd Ends" revision of that piece, which follows. 

Tom Leonard's set is next, starting with "A Short History of Marianism" — a recorded piece during which Leonard presents an altar of sorts with a box of Flash detergent set between two candles, dances for the audience, and holds up signs (which unfortunately are not completely legible in the video). That's followed by "The Rainbow Of," a piece built upon repetitions of short phonemes and words. He next reads a few pieces from his 1975 book Bunnit Husslin that are "not sound poems but reflect Glasgow patois," including the prefatory poem, "Poetry." The recording concludes with a then-recent tape composition, "Either/Or," based on Kierkegaard's work of the same name, during which Leonard sits on stage, smoking thoughtfully.

As would befit both of these artists and their interest in chance operations, the video is handheld and grainy, producing lovely visual distortions throughout (as is visible in the photo above). You can start watching by clicking here.

Mei-mei Berssenbrugge: 2019 KWH Fellows Program

Posted 11/8/2019

We recently announced the exciting roster of Kelly Writers House Fellows that will be joining us in 2020 — including Canadian poet and translator Erín Moure — which gives us something to look forward to in the cold winter months to come. Today we're looking backwards to our visit from one of this year's fellows, poet Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, who joined us this past March 25–26.

Berssenbrugge's visit began with a reading on the evening of the 25th that included a number of longer readings, including "Irises," "Concordance," "Hello, the Roses," "Star Beings," "Lux," and "Chaco and Olivia." She returned on the 26th for a brunch conversation with Al Filreis, which has been segmented thematically. Some of those sections include their discussion of aphorisms, syntax and line structure, Berssenbrugge's poetic influences, classical literature, photography, and the definition of time.

Audio and video versions of both of these programs are available for your listening and viewing pleasure here. Our PennSound author page for Berssenbrugge houses more than two dozen individual recordings going back as far as 1986, including interviews, radio programs, and many, many readings. Click here to start browsing.

Congratulations to 2019 Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize Winner Stephen Collis

Posted 11/6/2019

Today brought the exciting news that poet Stephen Collis had been awarded the 2019 Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize, which is "given to a mid-career poet in recognition of a remarkable body of work, and in anticipation of future contributions to Canadian poetry." The jurors' citation, signed by Hoa Nguyen and Margo Wheaton, states:
Through six collections of poems, Stephen Collis has achieved something remarkable: an invigorating body of work that convincingly addresses both the urgency of the present moment and the long echoes of our historical and lyrical past. 
In disrupted language simultaneously unsettled and musical, Collis passionately investigates subjects as diverse as the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, John Clare and the English countryside, the increasing disappearance of public space, and, in a hauntingly beautiful sequence, the death of his sister from cancer. The depth and scope of Collis' vision is startling and impressive; so are the courage, precision, and care he brings to the poems he creates. 
In Collis, we find a poet ferociously hitting his stride. We're looking forward with eagerness to what comes next.
We congratulate Collis for this astounding honor and happily direct our listeners to his PennSound author page where they can sample his award-winning work. There you'll find a modest yet broad array of recordings made between 2005 and 2014, including readings, panel discussions, and an interview on Leonard Schwartz's radio program Cross-Cultural Poetics. Among many great resources, I'd especially like to highlight Collis' contributions to North of Invention, the two-day festival we hosted at the Kelly Writers House in January 2011, along with Short Range Poetic Device, a four-part radio show organized and hosted by Collis and Roger Farr during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. As the program notes explain, "Each show hosted a number of Vancouver poets, nearly all of whom were involved in anti-Olympic activities of one sort or another. The poets read from their work and discussed the role of poetry in contemporary struggles, the politics of poetic form, protest genres and both political and literary 'tactics.'" Click here to start listening.

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