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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Charles Reznikoff Reads from "Holocaust" for International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Posted 1/27/2023

January 27th is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the day Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz seventy-eight years ago. In acknowledgment of the day and the six million European Jews who perished senselessly, we revisit one of the more remarkable and harrowing recordings in our archives:

In late 2009, we were fortunate enough to be contacted by filmmaker Abraham Ravett, who offered us a treasure trove of rare recordings he'd made of poet Charles Reznikoff reading from his final collection, Holocaust, along with a number of photographs. Recorded December 21, 1975, these eighteen tracks — which include a number of retakes and an audio check — were originally recorded for inclusion in the soundtrack to the recently-graduated director's debut film, Thirty Years Later, which he describes as an autobiographical document of "the emotional and psychological impact of the Holocaust on two survivors and the influence this experience has had on their relationship with the filmmaker — their only surviving child."

In addition to the recordings themselves, Ravett graciously shared his recollections of that day — noting, "Mr. Reznikoff's West End apartment was located within a high-rise apartment complex reminiscent of where I grew up during my teens in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, N.Y. He was very kind and gracious to a rather nervous young filmmaker fumbling with his Nagra tape recorder and Sennheiser microphone who hoped that everything would work as planned" — along with a series of eight photographs of the poet, including the stunning image at right.

While Holocaust, as a text alone, serves as a viscerally pointed indictment of Nazi atrocities during the Second World War, not to mention a marvelous example of documentary poetics, in these selections, the auratic resonance of these appropriated testimonies are amplified dramatically, particularly when framed by the frail yet determined voice of the seventy-nine year old poet — who would pass away a month and a day from the date of this recording session — lending the work a gravid anger, a grand sense of monumental enormity.

You can listen to these tracks by clicking here, where you'll also find a link to a separate page housing Ravett's photographs, and don't forget to visit Reznikoff's main PennSound author page, where you can listen to the poet's 1974 reading at the Poetry Center at San Francisco State University (where he was famously introduced by his Objectivist compatriot, George Oppen) and his 1975 appearance on Susan Howe's Pacifica Radio program, "Poetry Today," among other recordings.


In Memoriam: Russell Banks (1940–2023)

Posted 1/25/2023

There was one name that we missed in the midst of memorializing so many writers that died at the start of this month, and so we're amending the error today with a new author page for poet and novelist Russell Banks, who succumbed to cancer at the age of 82 on January 8th. 

Remembering the author in The New York Times, Rebecca Chace observes, "In much of Mr. Banks's writing, his concerns about race, class and power repeatedly surfaced, with particular attention given to the powerless and the overlooked, especially his outwardly unremarkable blue-collar characters." "There's an important tradition in American writing, going back to Mark Twain and forward to Raymond Carver and Grace Paley, whose work is generated by love of people who are scorned and derided,” Banks observed, speaking with The Guardian in 2000. "I have an almost simple-minded affection for them. My readers are not the same as my characters, as I’m very aware. So I'm glad when they feel that affection too."

Banks was a guest of Leonard Schwartz on his KAOS-FM radio program Cross Cultural Poetics a total of five times during the show's run, and these appearances constitute his new PennSound author page. First up, on Episode #33, "Addressing These Wars," Banks read his essay "Letter to My Granddaughter On The Eve Of Another War" and discussed the embedded writers of Operation Homecoming. Banks returned later that year for Episode #58, "History/Language/Silence," where he read from his Liberia-based novel The Darling and talked about Liberia's history as, effectively, an American colony. Jumping forward seven years, in Episode #231, "Abolitionist," Banks read from and discussed his critically-acclaimed novel Cloudsplitter, based on the life of John Brown. Three years later, in 2014, he'd make his final two appearances in two subsequent programs — Episode #291, "A Permanent Member of the Family," and Episode #292, "Lost Memory of Skin." In the former, Banks read from and chatted with Schwartz about his short story collection of the same name, while the latter focused on his latest novel, also of the same name.

We're grateful to Schwartz as always for his excellent and much-missed program, especially when it allows us to honor the memory of a novelist beloved by many poets, myself included. You can listen to the programs listed above by clicking here.


George Quasha: Two Home Recording Sessions, 2022

Posted 1/23/2023

Today we're proud to announce the latest batch of recordings from PennSound Contributing Editor Chris Funkhouser's long-running project to document the poetry of friend and neighbor George Quasha. Our last salvo — Quasha's September 2022 set from Rhinebeck, New York's 'T' Space, where he was receiving the tenth annual 'T' Space Poetry Award — was a break from the norm of home recording sessions, but we're back to the usual mode with two new sets of material.

The first of these was recorded at the poet's home in Barrytown, NY on November 20, 2022 and features the shadowing ideas in the rearview mirror section of Not Even Rabbits Go Down This Hole, which brings that book to a close. Funkhouser and Quasha next reconvened on December 29 for one last session before the year drew to a close. This time around, they recorded the tuning by fire section of Waking from Myself. Each of these sessions runs just shy of 90 minutes.

You'll find these recordings on PennSound's George Quasha author page, along with lengthy selections from many of his books including Not Even Rabbits Go Down This Hole, Dowsing Axis, Hearing Other, The Ghost In Between, Verbal Paradise, Glossodelia Attract: Preverbs, The Daimon of Moment: Preverbs, Scorned Beauty Comes Up Behind: Preverbs, Things Done for Themselves: Preverbs, and Polypoikilos: Matrix in Variance: Preverbs, among others. Click here to start listening.

Want to read more? Visit the PennSound Daily archive.