Featured resources

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

Contemporary
  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
Historical
  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 #166: on Cecilia Vicuña's "Colliding and not colliding at the same time"

Posted 11/26/2021

Earlier this week we released episode #166 in the PoemTalk Podcast series, which addresses Cecilia Vicuña's performance of "Colliding and not colliding at the same time," taken from "a ninety-minute presentation titled 'An Illustrated Conversation' that took place ... at the Writers House in February of 2017." Joining host Al Filreis for this program are panelists (from left to right) Huda Fakhreddine, Edwin Torres, and Jena Osman.

Filreis' Jacket2 blog post announcing the new episode offers up some useful contextual information on the performance under consideration: "The segment begins as the audience, having been encouraged to ask questions about an art video that had just been screened, went momentarily silent. No questions were being asked, so Vicuña began improvisationally to fill the room with words and sounds, exploring a convergence or collision of topics: the then-recent election of Donald Trump, 'the millionaires' coup;' in Brazil, the 'mystery of what is happening at this moment in the earth,' the collective thought of the people in the room, and the room itself." He continues, "Vicuña has an unusual talent for reading you in the room. 'I feel read' and 'She is accurately reading me' are typical responses of members of her audiences," before asking, "From what does she derive the various seemingly incidental topics of her improvisation?"

You can listen to this latest program and read more about the show 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.


PennSound Presents Poems of Thanks and Thanksgiving

Posted 11/24/2021

With the US celebrating Thanksgiving this week, it's time to revisit a perennial PennSound Daily tradition that started way back in 2010: a mini-mix of poems of thanks and thanksgiving — some old, some new — taken from the PennSound archives.

In a classic recording of "Thanksgiving" [MP3] from the St. Mark's Poetry Project, Joe Brainard wonders "what, if anything Thanksgiving Day really means to me." Emptying his mind of thoughts, he comes up with these free associations: "first is turkey, second is cranberry sauce and third is pilgrims."

"I want to give my thanks to everyone for everything," the late John Giorno tells us in "Thanx 4 Nothing" [MP3], "and as a token of my appreciation, / I want to offer back to you all my good and bad habits / as magnificent priceless jewels, / wish-fulfilling gems satisfying everything you need and want, / thank you, thank you, thank you, / thanks." The rolicking poem that ensues offers both genuine sensory delights ("may all the chocolate I've ever eaten / come back rushing through your bloodstream / and make you feel happy.") and sarcastic praise ("America, thanks for the neglect, / I did it without you, / let us celebrate poetic justice, / you and I never were, / never tried to do anything, / and never succeeded").

"Can beauty save us?" wonders Maggie Nelson in "Thanksgiving" [MP3], a standout poem from her marvelous collection, Something Bright, Then Holes, which revels in the holiday's darker edges and simplest truths: "After dinner / I sit the cutest little boy on my knee / and read him a book about the history of cod // absentmindedly explaining overfishing, / the slave trade. People for rum? he asks, / incredulously. Yes, I nod. People for rum."

Yusef Komunyakaa gratefully recounts a number of near-misses in Vietnam — "the tree / between me & a sniper's bullet [...] the dud / hand grenade tossed at my feet / outside Chu Lai" — in "Thanks" [MP3], from a 1998 reading at the Kelly Writers House.

Finally, we turn our attention to the suite of poems that concludes Mark Van Doren's Folkways album, Collected and New Poems — "When The World Ends" / "Epitaph" / "Farewell and Thanksgiving" [MP3] — the last of which offers gratitude to the muse for her constant indulgence.

To keep you in the Thanksgiving spirit, don't forget this 2009 PennSound Podcast (assembled by Al Filreis and Jenny Lesser) which offers "marvelous expressions of gratitude, due honor, personal appreciation [and] friendship" from the likes of Amiri BarakaTed BerriganRobert CreeleyJerome RothenbergLouis Zukofsky and William Carlos Williams.


Régis Bonvicino: In His Own Words

Posted 11/22/2021

Charles Bernstein's latest Jacket2 commentary post showcases a recent interview with Brazilian poet Régis Bonvicino, conducted by Indian poet Runa Bandyopadhyay with Aurora Fornoni Bernardini, which was organized by Ekhon Bangla Kobitar Kagaj. Both the script of the exchange and a video are available, along with a recent review in Rialta by Ricardo Alberto Pérez of Bonvicino's latest, Deus devolve o revólver.

Here's an excerpt from a brief biographical statement by Bonvicino that starts off the conversation:

I started very young to write what I called poetry. My first book is composed of fifteen poems (Bicho Papel, 1975), the second Régis Hotel (20 poems, 1978). I didn't see myself as a poet then. In 1983 I published Sósia da Cópia and then I started to see myself more as an author. When I was 14 years old Frei Tito (tortured by the dictatorship, he killed himself in France in 1974) was my teacher. If I said that Bicho Papel was related to him, I exaggerated. I am agnostic. But the military dictatorship here was from 1964 to 1985 and marked us all. I believe that art without a critical spirit is a decorative art. Poetry now that is not questioning itself is not exactly poetry, as I see it.  Life is becoming more vulnerable: this is very much present in my poems. 

You can read or watch the full interview by clicking here. Check out the recordings housed on PennSound's Régis Bonvicino author page by clicking here.


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