Featured resources

  1. Charles Bernstein -
    St. McC. MP3
  2. Amiri Baraka -
    Against Bourgeois Art MP3
  3. Michael Palmer -
    Lies of the Poem MP3
  4. Henry Hills -
    Money MOV
  5. Barrett Watten -
    "I dreamed of a group of sociable foxes in the basement" MP3
  6. Steve McCaffery -
    The Baker Transformation MP3
  7. Bruce Andrews -
    Feature MP3
  8. Jackson Mac Low -
    Feeling Down Clementi Felt Imposed Upon From Every Direction (HSCH 10) MP3
  9. Ron Silliman -
    Quindecagon MP3
  10. Rod Smith -
    This is Such Total Bullshit MP3
  11. Rachel Blau Duplessis -
    Draft 72: Nanifesto MP3
  12. K. Silem Mohammad -
    Sonnet 154: The little love god lying once asleep MP3

Selected by Brian Ang (read more about his choices here)

PennSound Daily

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A PennSound Playlist for Helicotrema

Posted 10/2/2015

PennSound was recently invited by Blauer Hase to contribute a playlist to this year's version of Helicotrema, an annual festival celebrating recorded audio, that "aims to investigate different forms of collective listening, inspired by the early decades of radio broadcasts" Now in its fourth year, Helicotrema 2015 will take place over the course of the fall in three Italian cities: September 25–27 at Forte Marghera in Venice, October 9–10 in Florence (as part of Sonic Somatic), and returning to Venice on November 4 at Punta della Dogana.

Because it would be impossible to try to convey the breadth of our archive in a playlist of ten tracks, I opted instead for a a very personal set of selections. In the brief essay that accompanies the playlist, "Recording Performance / Recording as Performance," I break down these choices down into a few categories. Alongside poets whose work I've been grateful to experience vicariously (Claudia Rankine) and those who've blown me away with memorable performances (Jerome Rothenberg, Cecilia Vicuña), there are writers who "produc[e] aural works that achieve unique effects not possible on the printed page" (Caroline Bergvall, Hannah Weiner), and those who produce stunning work reliant on technological interventions, from multi-track recording and Moog synthesizers to laptop manipulations (John Ashbery, Jackson Mac Low, John Giorno, and the duo of Susan Howe and David Grubbs).

Finally, I conclude with Paul Blackburn, who I consider "a patron saint to audio archivists like myself," noting that "long before we brought our sleek digital recorders to readings he was lugging a heavy reel-to-reel deck around New York's Lower East Side documenting its thriving poetry scene." This particular lo-fi recording of "Brooklyn Narcissus" is not just a rare delight and a manifestation of PennSound's all-encompassing curatorial ethos (in that a less-than-pristine recording can still have value), but even more importantly "serves as a reminder of the presence of the recording medium, something easy to overlook as we near a totalizing and sterile digital silence" — that is, "the product not just of a human being, but also a specific room, microphone, cable, recorder, tape stock, power supply, etc." "At first," I conclude, "I strove to appreciate the poem in spite of the many distractions; in time, I grew to love the noise as much as the poem itself."

You can read more and listen to the complete playlist here. In time, we'll add it to our featured resources archive.

Congratulations to Prize-Winners Lerner and Rankine

Posted 9/30/2015

The last few days have brought some exciting news in the world of poetry as two PennSound poets have won major awards for their work.

First came news that Ben Lerner had been awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. In his introductory video on the foundation's site, Lerner, more recently thought of as a novelist, notes that "I was kind of a poet first, and poetry remains the core for me: that's kinda where my education was, and my community is, and who my heroes are." You can listen to two recordings from our own Kelly Writers House (from 2008 and 2014) along with a 2010 Segue Series reading at the Bowery Poetry Club, a 2010 reading and interview for BOMB, and the award ceremony for the 2011 Preis für International Poesie der Stadt Münster on PennSound's Ben Lerner author page.

Next we heard that Claudia Rankine's astounding Citizen: An American Lyric had been awarded the Forward Prize for Best Collection, by the Forward Arts Foundation, a British "charity committed to widening poetry's audience, honouring achievement and supporting talent." As The Guardian reported, prize jury chair A.L. Kennedy observed "This is writing we can recommend with real urgency and joy. It's a stylistically daring poetic project about the dehumanisation of those deemed outsiders — we found it exhilarating and genuinely transformative." On PennSound's Claudia Rankine author page you can listen to a wide array of recordings from 2002 to the present, including several readings from both Citizen and its spiritual forebear, Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric, along with Q&A discussions and interviews.

We heartily congratulate both of these poets on their well-deserved achievements and are grateful to be able to share their inspiring work with our listeners.

Reina Maria Rodriguez: New Close Listening Program and KWH Reading

Posted 9/28/2015

We have a pair of new recordings from Cuban poet Reina María Rodríguez and her long-term translator, Kristin Dykstra, made during their recent visit to the Kelly Writers House as part of the Writers Without Borders series.

The first of these is a new Close Listening program hosted by Charles Bernstein, which he recently announced with a recent Jacket2 commentary post. Here's his description of the hour-long show:

"The Cuban poet talks to Charles Bernstein about the situation of poetry in Cuba over the past forty years and her work establishing alternative space for poetry in Havana. Rodríguez describes her focus on personal/subjective aesthetics as a contrast to an often imposed, bureaucratic public voice of the state. She also speaks about bending genres in her work. The blingual conversation, in which Reina also speaks of her connections to American poetry, is translated by Kris Dykstra, who also addresses about her relation to Rodríguez."

Bernstein also offered a lengthy introduction to Rodríguez's September 8th reading at the Kelly Writers House, professing his long-time admiration for her writing. Both video and audio of this nearly-eighty-minute program — which also features translations by Dykstra, along with a lavish introduction offering biographical information on Rodríguez and a slideshow of intimate photos — is available on her PennSound author page, alongside several other recordings and films made over the past fifteen years.

PennSound Daily is written by Michael S. Hennessey.

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