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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PoemTalk #160: Two by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Posted 5/14/2021

We've just released the 160th episode in the PoemTalk Podcast series, which is focused on a pair of sonnets by Edna St. Vincent Millay: "I Shall Forget You Presently" and "Love Is Not All." Joining host Al Filreis for this show is a panel that includes Lisa New, Jane Malcolm, and Sophia DuRose.

Filreis starts off his PoemTalk blog post announcing the new episode by establishing the publishing provenance for each poem: "'I Shall Forget You Presently' became widely available as one of the four sonnets presented at the end of the book A Few Figs from Thistles (first published in 1920). 'Love Is Not All' of 1931 was in Millay's collection of fifty-two sonnets, Fatal Interview." That timing is important as he notes, "When Fatal Interview was published in 1931, at the beginning of the worst phase of global economic depression, some reviewers noted that at a time of deep, massive deprivation there was no place for love sonnets." Filreis continues, "At the end of our discussion, the PoemTalk group considers whether indeed, on the contrary, there is a viable political reading of 'Love Is Not All.' It perhaps does convey a desperate general appetitiousness, and it ponders, more seriously than one might first notice, a willingness to sell private love for overall peace — to trade 'the memory of this night for food.'"

You can learn more about this latest program, read both poems, and listen to the podcast here. PoemTalk is a joint production of PennSound and the Poetry Foundation, aided by the generous support of Nathan and Elizabeth Leight. You can browse the full PoemTalk archives, spanning more than a decade, by clicking here.

Melvin B. Tolson on PennSound

Posted 5/12/2021

Today we're taking a look at the recordings you can find on PennSound's Melvin B. Tolson author page.

The heart of this collection is a two-part career-spanning reading at Washington, D.C.'s Coolidge Auditorium, on October 18, 1965 — an event held in coordination with the Library of Congress — which serves as a fitting tribute to the influential poet, politician, and pedagogue, who'd pass away less than one year later. After a lavish introduction, Tolson starts with his debut collection, Rendezvous with America and hits many of the high points of his prestigious career, including his magnum opusDark Symphony, and Libretto for the Republic of Liberia, written during his time as that nation's poet laureate. Running just short of eighty minutes, Tolson's reading includes the poems "Sometimes," "The Gallows," "If You Should Lie to Me," "The Primer for Today," "The Dictionary of the Wolf," "Harlem Gallery," "The Birth of John Henry," "Ballad on Old Satchmo," and "The Sea Turtle and the Shark," among others, with commentary provided along the way.

This retrospective performance is nicely complemented by a second recording of excerpts from Dark Symphony, for which, unfortunately, we have no information regarding its recording date and location. Nevertheless we're grateful to be Tolson's estate and the Library of Congress for the opportunity to present these materials to our listeners. Click here to visit PennSound's Melvin B. Tolson author page.

Soleida Ríos Reads "Pies de Palma," 2021

Posted 5/10/2021

Here's a new recording from Cuban poet Soleida Ríos reading her well-known poem "Pies de Palma" to start the new week off in fine fashion. Recorded in Havana this past February, the track comes to us courtesy of Kristin Dykstra, who also sent along this recent photo of the poet (taken by Omar Sanz). A tribute to Cuba's national tree, the Silken Palm (roystonea lenis), "Pies de Palma" makes music of its myriad uses and unique features:

Boards ceilings canes baskets wrappings
for tobacco plants
bundled fan palm: nourishing sprout and heart
oleaginous fruit. I am:
a Cuban Royal Palm, tall, coronated, barefoot, unarmed
sessile flowers, pinnatisect leaves
This recording of "Pies de Palma" joins a modest set of recordings on PennSound's Soleida Ríos author page — a very old page, created in 2004 before our official launch — including a 15 minute interview with Rosa Alcalá from 2001 and a half-dozen poems. Click here to start listening.

Want to read more? Visit the PennSound Daily archive.