Monday, September 10, 2012

PennSound, Modern & Contemporary American Poetry @ FIX University Campus


Coursera tech tips from our Chris Martin

Our fabulous Penn IT guru, Chris Martin, who has been a friend of ModPo from the very beginning, has outlined some advice and suggestions for using the forums, watching the videos, troubleshooting problems, etc. 

Coursera Tips and Troubleshooting: Video, Audio, Forums...

Hello all -- in response to tech questions on the forums, we are humbly attempting to post some common tips here to make your experience as smooth as possible. Feel free to let us know what works and what doesn't. Unfortunately, we can't address every tech issue, but feel free to share, and someone might be able to help! This post will certainly be evolving and developing as we go.
Video & Audio
If you're having trouble streaming video or audio, consider the following tips:
  • Coursera recommends using Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari or Google Chrome. If you're already using one of these browsers, try using and/or downloading another browser. Sometimes particular browser configurations / versions can be the culprit in issues.
  • Make sure your browser is up-to-date. Browsehappy, <a href=""></a>, is a great resource for information on the latest browser versions.
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  • Make sure your operating system is up-to-date (ie. Windows Update, Apple Software Update, etc.).
  • Try downloading audio / video files and playing them directly on your computer.
  • Try restarting your computer. (The most famous suggestion of all, saved for last!)
Discussion Forums
Posting Comments
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Christopher J. Martin (ModPo / Penn I.T. Manager)
on Mon 10 Sep 2012 2:23:54 PM PDT
is the link to the new thread Chris has created. Please have a look if you are having any problems with the system.
Mon 10 Sep 2012 2:31:00 PM PDT

TAs are introducing themselves

The ModPo TAs are introducing themselves. Go to the "instructor's and TAs' forum" and have a look: .

the ModPo TAs introduce themselves here...

Here in the instructor/TA-only forum, we'll be posting announcements, suggesting further reading, passing along links to interesting relevant web sites and material.
But first I want to invite the TAs to introduce themselves.
Al Filreis (ModPo instructor)
on Sun 9 Sep 2012 7:43:59 PM PDT
Hi everyone! My name is Anna and I'm one of the TAs and am also part of the video discussions. I'm incredibly excited to be going on this journey with all of you! I'm currently a senior at Penn, English/creative writing major with a minor in art history and comparative literature. I'm also proficient in French and German, so if there is anyone who is more comfortable in either of those languages, let me know!
The TAs are here to answer any questions you all may have about course content, help with essays or quizzes, and any logistical issues you may run into--please let us know if you have any problems or need any help!
Looking forward to "meeting" all of you! And like Al said in the "live" (Penn undergrad) version of this course: "We're all in this together."
Anna Strong (ModPo TA)
on Sun 9 Sep 2012 8:03:05 PM PDT
Hello - I'm Jason Zuzga, one of the TA's for the course. I'm NOT in the videos, but I'll be around for the live sessions. Greetings to all students from all around the hours of the globe. It's 10:58 in Philadelphia, and only moments from launch event... I'm looking forward to getting to know you, help you along as we navigate through the threads and discussions in the forums, working together to orient ourselves in and through the last century into the present of poetry -- I'm a Ph.D. student at the University of Pennsylvania working on a dissertation about media poetics - on collaborative documentaries about place, and I'm interested in the place we are all making here, right here, together. There's a page of my own poetry recently up on PennSound and a bunch of poetry published on the web and here and there. I have an MFA from the University of Arizona and have been lucky enough to receive two residential poetry fellowships. If I had to keep one poem in my pocket it might be "In Memory of My Feelings" by Frank O'Hara. But that's tonight, and that's one pocket. Some of the contemporary poetry we'll be looking at is also here, in other pockets or playing aloud. There's much to learn in the weeks to come, as well as much to discuss, debate, and savor. We're here to help you out!
Jason Zuzga (ModPo TA)
on Sun 9 Sep 2012 8:18:37 PM PDT

Yes, and I'm pleased to have had a hand in making PennSound's newest author page - that of Jason Zuzga. Here is the link:
Hi all, Julia Bloch here from Los Angeles. I'm also not in the videos, but I'll be in the forums and happy to be part of our class. I have a PhD in English from Penn, I teach poetry and 20th-century American literature, and I also have an MFA in poetry. One of my favorite poems is "The Way to Keep Going in Antarctica" by Bernadette Mayer. I write about teaching William Carlos Williams ( for Jacket2 (where I'm also a coeditor). Looking forward to working with all of you!
Julia Bloch (Staff)
on Sun 9 Sep 2012 9:59:25 PM PDT
Hey everyone. I’m Dave, and I’m also one of the TAs who is part of the video discussions. I’m really psyched to be involved with this course and everyone in it.
My path to poetry has been slightly different from many of my fellow TAs. As a youth, I always appreciated the power and the impact of the written word. In fact, my first arrest was for spray painting them. In juvenile detention, I developed a thirst for language nearly as strong as the one I had for liquor, and I taught myself Greek from an old textbook that cost me two cartons of cigarettes. Unfortunately, I discovered later that it was a very, very old book – pre-Byzantine – which meant it was all ancient Greek, and thus obsolete by about 600 years. So I quickly forgot it and learned to play poker.
After becoming an adult, and being released from custody in an ironic case of mistaken identity, I decided to try my hand at consumer fraud. The problem was that I could never get any of my Ponzi schemes off the ground. I wrote elaborate stories – dozens of them – but because of my compulsive editing and revising, none of them ever made it out of draft form. Then my parole officer confiscated them upon a routine shakedown for drugs. But as luck would have it, one of the people to whom he resold the drugs had previously worked as an adjunct professor of poetry at a local college, before being demoted to college president. He actually read my stories, which were used to package my old (his new) stash, and liked them enough to offer me a full scholarship. I eagerly accepted and worked at an accelerated pace, obtaining my undergraduate degree in just nine years. I read some poetry at some point in there, and found it really spoke to me, especially when it was in audiobook format. I soon discovered the Kelly Writers House, and a few years ago, I assumed the identity of a college freshman at Penn named Brianna so I could take Al’s class. And the rest is history.
I also write fiction.
Like the other TAs, I’m really looking forward to this course and welcome any and all questions. I consider this a group learning experience for all of us.
David Poplar (ModPo TA)
on Sun 9 Sep 2012 10:49:00 PM PDT
Good morning from Philadelphia! My name is Max McKenna, and like Anna and Dave (and a few others), I am a TA who you will be seeing a lot of in our video discussions. I received my BA in English from the University of Pennsylvania in 2010, and have been working as an administrator at the Kelly Writers House since, where I have had the pleasure to work on a number of projects, none quite as incredible as this! I'm looking forward to seeing how a conversation between 30,000 people takes shape, and can't wait to read your comments on all the poems and poets--though I am particularly interested to see where things go with Corman, Creeley, Cage, and Bok... Really excited to be diving back into this material!
Max McKenna (ModPo TA)
on Mon 10 Sep 2012 5:03:00 AM PDT
Good morning, ModPo! I'm Kristen Martin, and I'm another one of the TAs, like Max, Anna, and Dave, who you'll get to see in (some) videos--I'm not in them all because I was assisting with their production, watching from behind the camera. I received my BA in English and Creative Writing from Penn in 2011 and have been working in some capacity at the Kelly Writers House since 2007. For the past year, I've been doing research for Al Filreis's next book, which is on the year 1960. I never studied modern and contemporary American poetry at Penn--as a student, I was more interested in modernist prose and nonfiction writing--but I loved studying Dickinson, Williams, Creeley, Hejinian, Howe, Perelman, and Bok in this course and can't wait to learn more from all of you! I will be living and studying in Italy on a Fulbright grant when this course ends.
Kristen (ModPo TA)
on Mon 10 Sep 2012 5:46:56 AM PDT
ModPo <3 Kristen Martin!
Al Filreis (ModPo instructor)
on Mon 10 Sep 2012 5:49:30 AM PDT
Hey gang, Steve McLaughlin here. I finished my B.A. at Penn four years ago, and since then I've remained heavily involved in poetry culture. I host the podcast Into the Field for, and I direct PennSound Radio, a 24-hour stream of poetry performances and discussion. My monthly reading series here in Philly is called Principal Hand Presents.
This is timeless advice, but don't fret if you can't make sense of every word and phrase in the poems we cover. These things are meant to be read for enjoyment, and sometimes the pleasure of "getting" a line occurs years after one's first reading. That's just the way this sort of writing operates.
Stephen McLaughlin (ModPo TA)
on Mon 10 Sep 2012 7:12:01 AM PDT
Hello everyone!
I'm Amaris. I recently graduated from Penn with a double major in French and English lit. I was a work-study student at the Kelly Writers House through all 4 years of undergrad, and I currently work as Al's research assistant (among other things). I'm primarily interested in feminism, gender/sexuality studies, translation, art criticism, and psychology. I'm looking forward to lively intercultural (perhaps multilingual!) discussions. It is a great pleasure to take part in this course; I second Steve's comments. None of the poems are meant to be understood completely, and I feel like each time I read them, I'm encountering them for the first time all over again, making new associations, and taking enjoyment in them in new ways. Let your mind go free with possibilities and never hold back from sharing your thoughts and interpretations (particularly as regards to form, which will often be our focus!) Here's to an exciting launch and what promises to be an enriching semester!
Amaris Cuchanski (ModPo TA)
on Mon 10 Sep 2012 7:50:23 AM PDT
Hello ModPo! My name is Lily, and I will be a TA for the course. I received my B.A. from Penn in 2012 with a double major in English and Environmental Studies, and was very involved at the Writers House as a student and currently work there as Al's assistant. I took the classroom version of this course in 2008 as a freshman and the emotional connection I made to many of the poems and poets here really stayed with me. This class taught me to look at writing and representation, even to read, in a completely new way and I am so excited to discuss these wonderful and wild ideas about language with you all in the coming weeks. I hope you will love this stuff as much as I do!
Lily Applebaum (Staff)
on Mon 10 Sep 2012 8:49:13 AM PDT
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Mon 10 Sep 2012 7:29:00 AM PDT

about our four essay assignments

Look at the left-hand navigation bar and click on "fall '12 weekly calendar." This calendar includes the schedule for our four essay assignments. The first essay assignment will "open" at the start of week 2, and you'll have a week to write and submit it. -- Al
Mon 10 Sep 2012 5:31:00 AM PDT

audio introduction to week 1

As you see on our 

main syllabus

MODERN & CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN POETRY - syllabus/reading schedule


chapter 1 (week 1): two proto-modernists

Monday, September 10 through Sunday, September 16. In the first week of our course, we'll encounter two 19th-century American poets whose very different approaches to verse similarly challenged the official verse culture of the time. As a matter of form (but also of content!) Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson were radicals. What sort of radicalism is this? In a way, this course is all about exploring expressions of that radicalism from Whitman and Dickinson to the present day. Such challenges to official verse culture (and, often, American culture at large) present us with a lineage of ideas about art and expression, a tradition that can be outlined, mostly followed, somewhat traced. In this course we follow, to the best of our ability--and given the limits of time--that tradition, and try to make overall sense of it. You will find that we do this one poem at a time. Here in week 1 we will explore Dickinson first, Whitman second, and then begin to sketch out the major differences between them, which, some say, amount to two opposite ends of the spectrum of poetic experimentalism and dissent in the nineteenth century. Which is to say: on the spectrum of traditional-to-experimental poetry, they are on the same end (experimental); on the spectrum of experimentalism, their approaches can put them on opposite ends. In short, they offer us alternative poetic radicalisms, and their influences down the line (which we will explore in week 2) are both powerful but largely distinct. One question you'll be prepared to ask by the end of the course: is the Dickinsonian tradition more ascendant and apt in today's experimental poetry, or the Whitmanian?
1.  listen to audio introduction to chapter 1, week 1: link to audio (12 mins)

audio introduction to week 1 - text summary

Note: This summary was prepared voluntarily by Barbara McKenzie, a ModPo student.
ModPo: Chapter I, Week 1: material covered: a few selected poems by Emily Dickinson & Whitman’s “Song of Myself” (many sections)
Chapter 1, Week 2: contemporary Dickinsonians (people writing in the Dickinson tradition) & several key people in the Whitmanian line, mainly William Carlos Williams and Allen Ginsberg.
At the end of each week for the first two weeks there will be a video recording of a discussion about preferences for either Whitman or Dickinson. This is just a chance to air out distinctions and differences between these two poets. It’s a silly binarism, there is no need to choose one over the other but it’s useful when looking at proto-modernism and these two remarkable (and in their own way radical) poets to think of them as distinct enough to state a preferences for one or the other: Whitman, an extensive poet, Dickinson an intensive poet, Whitman a poet of long lines, Dickinson a poet of succinct, short, pithy, torqued aphorisms as lines; Dickinson mostly using the ballad form, Whitman using free verse, etc.
After the first week you’ll see us talk about differences between these two poets -- the point to invite you to participate in a discussion of these two proto-modernists using the discussion forum to continue that debate.
Discussion forums: this is where most of the action will take place in ModPo and I hope you will go to it now while you are reading this , click to the discussion forums and you’ll see that currently there are a series of sub-forums. These are the major places or sites where we will talk:
  1. There will always be a forum for the current week discussions
  2. There will be a spot for general discussions where we can talk about poetry generally – or about anything else you want to talk about
  3. The instructor/TA’s forum -- we may or may not stick with this but the idea is to create a space where it is easy for you (in a class of 30,000 people) to find what your instructor and the TAs are saying (these can get lost in the larger forums) so you can see the specific comments of your instructors. Students can’t post here so you will be able to easily find what the instructors and TAs are saying by way of guidance or in answering questions.
  4. Study groups: your chance to plan to meet up, to find linguistic / geographical affinities, get to know each other, and I hope there will be many study groups formed .
  5. Subforums for discussions of previous chapters: if you click there after the first week you will see that the week-to-week forums will be made into sub-forums so you will be able to continue discussing (we didn’t want the old weeks to clutter up the current forum).
If you click on Week 1/Discussion 1 discussing Dickinson/Whitman you’ll notice that we have set up sub-forums for each of the poems we will discuss and a general forum for discussing Whitman & Dickinson in general. We hope that you will help us by semi-organizing your responses to the material and the video presentations by posting in the appropriate place.
Week 2 you will be able to see the main syllabus schedule for the entire course but we won’t be linking the videos until the week arrives. So next week you will see the videos in addition to the links to the sound files of the poems (these will be our first sound files because of course Dickinson and Whitman were not recorded) so in week 2 you will hear sound recorded in the Penn Sound Archive. In addition to that, there will be the text of the poems and the video on each poem.
Next week also will be the first of our four short essay assignments, where you will be asked to write a close reading of a Dickinson poem that we have not discussed. You will have all week to write that short close-reading essay & to submit it .
Week 3: you will be invited to spend much of that week writing comments on each other’s essays and I and the ModPo TAs will participate in this by creating guides & templates and models for to help in your evaluation. There will be much more about the ModPo essays later this week in a separate announcement.
Also in Week 1 there will be two short quiz questions – we don’t take these as seriously as a science or technology or medicine course because in an open ended course on literature it is not easy to formulate definitive answers to questions. These quizzes are intended to be very straight forward, intended to help you get the concepts raised in the video discussions & to help you check your own understanding of concepts described in the videos
If you want to “complete” the course you will have to 1) complete the four essays, 2) participate in the commenting on others' essays, 3) take and “pass” the quizzes, and of course, 4) to participate in the discussion forums.

 [summary text]
2. read Emily Dickinson's "I dwell in Possibility": link to text
3.  watch video on Dickinson's "I dwell in Possibility": link to video
4. read Dickinson, "Tell all the Truth but tell it slant": link to text
5.  watch video on Dickinson's "Tell all the Truth": link to video
6. read Dickinson's "The Brain within its Groove": link to text
7.  watch video on Dickinson's "The Brain within its Groove": links to video part 1 & part 2
8. read sections 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 14, 47 & 52 of Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself": link to text
9.  watch video on Whitman's "Song of Myself": links to video part 1 & part 2
10.  watch video discussion of the Whitmanian and Dickinsonian modes: link to video

chapter 1 (week 2): some Dickinsonians, some Whitmanians

Monday, September 17 through Sunday, September 23. During this week, the second half of chapter 1, we will read the work of two poets writing in the Whitmanian mode and three poets writing in the Dickinsonian mode. We will encounter our Whitmanians, William Carlos Williams and Allen Ginsberg, again later in the course - Williams as a modernist and Ginsberg as a "beat" poet. The Whitman/Williams/Ginsberg connection is a strong one; Ginsberg wrote directly in response to both Whitman and Williams and saw the lineage as crucial to the development of his approach. Our Dickinsonians are more disparate in their response to Dickinson's writing. Of the three - Lorine Niedecker, Cid Corman, and Rae Armantrout - only the last could be said really to be a direct poetic descendent of Emily Dickinson's aesthetic. Image: Rae Armantrout (left), Lorine Niedecker (right).
1.  listen to audio introduction to chapter 1, week 2 (not yet available)
2. read William Carlos Williams's "Smell!": link to text
3.  listen to Williams perform "Smell!": link to PennSound
4.  watch video on Williams's "Smell!" (available soon)
5. read Williams's "Danse Russe": link to text
6.  listen to Williams perform "Danse Russe": link to PennSound
7.  watch video on Williams's "Danse Russe" (available soon)
8. read Allen Ginsberg's "A Supermarket in California": link to text [alt. link]
9.  listen to Ginsberg perform "A Supermarket in California": link to PennSound
10.  watch video on Ginsberg's "A Supermarket in California" (available soon)
11. read Lorine Niedecker's "Grandfather advised me": link to text
12.  watch video on Niedecker's "Grandfather advised me" (available soon)
13. read Lorine Niedecker's "You are my friend": link to text
14.  watch video on Niedecker's "You are my friend" (available soon)
15. read Cid Corman's "It isnt for want": link to text
16.  listen to Cid Corman perform "It isnt for want": link to PennSound
17.  watch video on Corman's "It isnt for want" (available soon)
18. read Rae Armantrout's "The Way": link to text
19.  listen to Rae Armantrout perform "The Way": link to PennSound
20.  listen to Rae Armantrout talk briefly about "The Way": link to PennSound
21.  listen to PoemTalk discussion of "The Way": link to noteslink to audio
22.  watch video on Rae Armantrout's "The Way" (available soon)
23.  watch video discussion on distinctions between "Dickinsonian" and "Whitmanian" proto-modernism (available soon)


chapter 2.1 (week 3): imagism

Monday, September 24 through Sunday, September 30. Modernism in poetry had many beginnings; imagism marks just one. But in a fast introduction, this brief but influential movement gives us a good place to start. Imagists had no use for late Victorian wordiness, flowery figuration and "beautiful" abstraction. They rejected such qualities through staunch assertions demanding concision, concentration, precise visuality and a sort of super-focused emotive objectivity. In this first of four sections of chapter 2, we will ask ourselves whether each poem meets the impossible or nearly impossible standards set out by imagist manifestos. If any given poem "fails" to meet such standards, it is by no means a sign of "bad poetry." But one way to learn about the rise of poetic modernism is to make discernments based on the poets' own (momentary) programmatic demands. Image: H.D. and Ezra Pound.
1.  listen to audio introduction to chapter 2.1 & 2.2 (week 3) (not yet available)
2. read "imagism briefly defined": link
3. read H.D.'s "Sea Rose": link to text
4.  watch video on H.D.'s "Sea Rose" (available soon)
5. read H.D.'s "Sea Poppies": link to text
6.  watch video on H.D.'s "Sea Poppies" (available soon)
7. read Ezra Pound's "In a Station of the Metro": link to text
8. read Pound's "In a Station of the Metro" as it appeared in Poetry magazine: link to archive
9. read a selection of critical commentary on "In a Station of the Metro": link to text
10.  watch video on Pound's "In a Station of the Metro" (available soon)
11. read Ezra Pound's "The Encounter": link to text
12.  watch video on Pound's "The Encounter" (available soon)

chapter 2.2 (week 3 continued): Williams

Monday, September 24 through Sunday, September 30, continued. Now in the second of four parts of our chapter on the rise of modernism, we take a closer look at William Carlos Williams (1883-1963). We met Williams as a "Whitmanian" in chapter 1, the middle figure in a poetic line running from Whitman to Ginsberg. But that focus on him was a little misleading. The Williams of the late 1910s and 1920s was a poet fascinated by currents of formal experimentation - imagism, yes, but also dadaism, cubism (especially drawing on innovations and painting) and, a little later, objectivism. It's not the purpose of this course that we learn what all these -isms mean. Rather, let's start with a few poems by Williams that befit the imagist moment, and go from there. Quickly we'll find that Williams (always aesthetically restless) was interested in a writing that might capture the dynamism of its modern subject matter and was (mostly) willing to face problems created by traditional approaches to description and portraiture. When these conventions seemed to him to fail, he was prepared to include such failure in the poem itself - disclosing the troubled process of representation.

1. read William Carlos Williams's "Lines": link to text
2.  watch video on Williams's "Lines" (available soon)
3. read William Carlos Williams's "Between Walls": link to text
4.  listen to Williams reading "Between Walls": link to PennSound
5.  listen to PoemTalk discussion of "Between Walls": link to noteslink to audio
6.  watch video on "Between Walls" (available soon)
7. read William Carlos Williams's "This Is Just to Say": link to text
8. read Flossie Williams's reply to "This Is Just to Say": link to text
9.  listen to William Carlos Williams's explanation of "This Is Just to Say": link to audio
10.  listen to five recordings of Williams reading the "This Is Just to Say": link to recordings
11.  watch video on Williams's "This Is Just to Say" (available soon)
12. read William Carlos Williams's "The Red Wheelbarrow": link to text
13.  listen to four recordings of Williams reading the "The Red Wheelbarrow": link to recordings
14.  watch video on Williams's "The Red Wheelbarrow" (available soon)
15.  watch a museum-goer's video of Marcel Duchamp's "Fountain" on display at SFMOMA: link to video
16.  watch video discussion on Duchamp's "Fountain" (available soon)
17. read William Carlos Wililams, "The rose is obsolete": link to text
18.  listen to a 6-minute audio mini-lecture on "The rose is obsolete": link to audio
19. read William Carlos Williams, "Portrait of a Lady": link to text
20.  listen to three recordings of Williams reading "Portrait of a Lady": 123
21.  watch video on Williams's "Portrait of a Lady" (available soon)
22. look at Marcel Duchamp's "Nude Descending a Staircase": link to image
23.  watch video on "Nude Descending a Staircase" (available soon)

chapter 2.3 (week 4): Stein

Monday, October 1 through Sunday, October 7. Gertrude Stein's contribution to modernist poetry and poetics cannot be overstated, so now, in the third section of chapter 2 we turn to her, spending the better part of week 4 in our course on a selection of her supposedly "difficult" writings. The difficulty of deriving any sort of conventional semantic meaning from the short prose-poems that comprise Tender Buttons turns out to be, for many readers, a helpful inducement to read for other kinds of signifying. As we hope you'll see from the video discussions in this section, such difficulty need not excuse us from close reading. Stein's poems really can be interpreted. They might eschew representation, but by no means do they turn away from reference. The hard work you do in this part of chapter 2 will be amply rewarded when we get to chapter 9. Stein is a particular influence on John Ashbery in chapter 8, but she is an important influence on nearly every poet we'll read in chapter 9. As a matter of fact, here in chapter 2 we have a chance to listen to Jackson Mac Low (a chapter 9 poet) talk about why he finds Stein's opaque and difficultTender Buttons so nonetheless meaningful. And we hear Joan Retallack (another chapter 9 poet) paying homage to Stein's "Composition as Explanation."

1.  listen to audio introduction to chapters 2.3 & 2.4 (week 4) (not yet available)
2. read Stein's "The Long Dress" from Tender Buttons: link to text [scroll down or control-F to search]
3.  watch video on Stein's "The Long Dress" (available soon)
4. read Marjorie Perloff's comment on Stein and in particular on "A Carafe, That Is a Blind Glass": link to text
5. read Gertrude Stein, "A Carafe, That Is a Blind Glass," from the "Objects" section of Tender Buttons: link to the text
5A.  listen to Jackson Mac Low's 1978 reading of Stein's "A Carafe, That Is a Blind Glass": link to PennSound
5B.  listen to Jackson Mac Low's commentary on Tender Buttons: link to PennSound
6.  watch video on Stein's "A Carafe, That Is a Blind Glass" (available soon)
7. read Stein's "Water Raining" and "Malachite" from Tender Buttons: link to text [scroll down or search]
8.  watch video on Stein's "Water Raining" and "Malachite" (available soon)
9. read Stein on narrative: link
10. read Stein on the noun: link
11. read Stein on loving repeating: link
12. read Stein on composition: link
13.  listen to Joan Retallack reading some "propositions" from Stein's "Composition as Explanation": link to audio
14.  watch video on Stein's ideas about narrative, composition, repeating & nouns (available soon)
15. read Gertrude Stein's "Let Us Describe": link to text [note: scroll to bottom of that page], image of text
16.  watch video on Gertrude Stein's "Let Us Describe" (available soon)
17. read Stein's "If I Told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso" and Ulla Dydo's comment: link to text
18.  listen to Stein perform "If I Told Him": link to PennSound
19.  watch video of dance choreographed to Stein's "If I Told Him": link to video
20.  listen to Marjorie Perloff speaking about Stein's portraits: link to audio
21.  watch video on Stein's "If I Told Him" (available soon)

chapter 2.4 (week 4 continued): pushing at the edges of modernist poetics

Monday, October 1 through Sunday, October 7, continued. "The Baroness" (Elsa von Freytag Loringhoven) was way out there. But because she so intensely embodied modernist experimentalism, learning something about her life and writing is an apt way, in part, to end our brief introduction to poetic modernism roughly from 1912 to 1929. The three instances of modernist extremity we encounter in chapter 2.4 are very different expressions of "High Modernism." Well, the Baroness was certainly high on highballs when she wrote the poem of hers we'll read - or, rather, her language remarkably simulates a reeling discombulation, such that its critique of 1920s-style commercialism (not in itself unusual at the time) has a very sharp edge. She was "New York Dada" epitomized; Tristan Tzara's ideas about cutting up newspapers to form "personal" poems were, among his many other radical notions, crucial to the dadaist import. And John Peale Bishop? Well, as you'll see, he's another story altogether; his sonnet sets us up well for our approach to antimodernist doubts expressed by the poets of chapters 3, 4 and 5. At right: Elsa von Freytag Loringhoven.

1. read Baroness Elsa von Freytag Loringhoven, "A Dozen Cocktails--Please": link to text
2. look at scholarly digital edition of "A Dozen Cocktails--Please" as edited by Tanya Clement: link to edition
3. read William Carlos Williams on the Baroness: link to text
4.  listen to a brief profile of the Baroness: link to audio
5.  listen to a passage from Kenneth Rexroth's account of the Baroness: link to audio
6.  watch video on Baroness Elsa von Freytag Loringhoven (available soon)
7. read Tristan Tzara's "To Make a Dadaist Poem": link to text
8. read Tzara's "To Make a Dadaist Poem" in an introduction to "chance operations": link
9.  watch Yeju Choi's film-illustration of "To Make a Dadaist Poem": link to video
10.  watch video on Tzara's "To Make a Dadaist Poem" (available soon)
11. read about the sonnet as a form: link to text
12. read William Carlos Williams on the sonnet: link to text
13. read John Peale Bishop, "A Recollection": link to text
14.  watch video on Bishop's "A Recollection" and the sonnet in modernism (available soon)


Monday, October 8 through Sunday, October 14. The 1930s were of course years of economic crisis - the Depression. Like most other people, poets felt the urgency induced by privation, lack of opportunity, and desperation. But poets had all along been inclined toward social as well as aesthetic experimentalism; and they could write effectively, and so many felt they could be useful in the larger effort to find solutions - some modestly reformist, some extremer - to the nation's and the world's huge problems. When the Depression set in, many poets embraced radical critiques of the economic status quo and some joined revolutionary groups such as the Communist Party of the United States. Such ideological journeys were often quite brief, and most once-Communist poets regretted it later, and said so. One of the myths created later is that all modernist poets repudiated modernism's embrace of opaqueness, indirection, and self-referentiality and began to write clearly and "transparently" so that masses of people could understand their language. This is not true; many pre-1930s modernists continued to write in experimental modes and remained committed to cubism, surrealism, dadaism, etc., and joined radical causes. But for our purposes here in this very brief chapter 3, we look at two poets whose poems, it might be said, bear radical content but deliver that content in traditional - one might say, conservative - forms. What can we make of this apparent contradiction or irony? What can we learn here about modernism's relation to political life? Above at left: Genevieve Taggard at left; street protest outside a failing bank, early 1930s.

1.  listen to audio introduction to chapter 3 (not yet available)
2. read Ruth Lechlitner's "Lines for an Abortionist's Office": link to text
3.  watch video on Lechlitner's "Lines for an Abortionist's Office" (available soon)
4. read Genevieve Taggard's "Interior": link to text
5.  watch video on Taggard's "Interior" (available soon)


Monday, October 8 through Sunday, October 14, continued. Our course is a limited survey and its selections are drastic - never more so than here in chapter 4. Although Harlem Renaissance writers such as Jean Toomer (in works like Cane) engaged a modernist sense of genre, we look at two poets whose concept of the relation between traditional stanza form and the content of racist hatred helps us understand the limits of formal experiment. Claude McKay's strategic use of the Shakespearean sonnet is as powerful a refusal of free verse as can be found anywhere. His sense of the complicated inheritance of English prosody will come back to us at the very end of the course. At right: Claude McKay (left), Countee Cullen (right).

1.  listen to audio introduction to chapter 4 (not yet available)
2. read Countee Cullen's "Incident": link to text
3.  watch video on Cullen's "Incident" (available soon)
4. read Claude McKay's "If We Must Die": link to text
5.  listen to McKay performing "If We Must Die": link to audio
6.  watch video on McKay's "If We Must Die" (available soon)


Monday, October 8 through Sunday, October 14, continued. Robert Frost is widely considered a major modern American poet but his relationship to modernism is mostly antagonistic. In our series of short chapters featuring poets' doubts about aspects of the modernist revolution, we consider just one poem by Frost for its frank but also witty way of raising the issue of subject-object relations. The speaker and another figure find themselves on either side of a wall. Should that wall come down? Does Frost's answer to that question have anything to do with his famous antimodernist complaint - that free verse is "like playing tennis without a net"?

1.  listen to audio introduction to chapter 5 (not yet available)
2. read Robert Frost, "Mending Wall": link to text
3.  listen to Frost performing "Mending Wall": link to audio
4.  watch video on Frost's "Mending Wall" (available soon)

CHAPTER 6 (week 5, cont.): FORMALISM OF THE 1950s

Monday, October 8 through Sunday, October 14, continued. There are several ways of looking generally at U.S. poetry in the first postwar (post-World War II) period, 1945-60. No single generalization will do, but our course implies two main trends. First, there was a retrenchment, a "coming home," a consolidation - a mainstreaming of modernism and, for some, a new formalist (or neo-formalist) reaction against what was deemed modernist experimental excess. This consolidation coincided with a renewed cultural conservatism or quietism, generally understood as caused by or aided by fears of communism; concerns about women who had entered the wartime workplace and were now expected to resume domestic life; the ease of life during a time of economic prosperity; the massification of university education; the flight from the cities; and a suburbanization of values and lifestyle. For some this meant assuming modernist gains - free verse, wide choice of subject matter, everyday diction - while suppressing radical experiment. For others this meant an outright antimodernism, although it was now more conservative than the antimodernism of poets in chapters 3 and 5. The latter impulse expressed itself in a neo-classicist use of satire and irony - a kind of new Augustan poetics. Chapter 6 gives us a brief look at this postwar neo-formalism. A second trend, very different, was the explosion of a new poetic radicalism - fueled by a sometimes ecstatic and often antic negative response to the above-mentioned quietism and poetic conservatism. Drawing on the experimental spirit of modernism - and sometimes celebrating the influence of individual modernist poets - this trend very roughly becomes known as the "New American" poetry. The beats of chapter 7 and the New York School poets of chapter 8 are instances of this. There are other New American approaches and groupings, to be sure, but we will not have time to consider them except in passing references. But first let us quickly end week 5 - our rapid tour through the doubters and troublers of chapters 3, 4, 5 & 6 - with a glance at the neo-formalists. Above at right: Richard Wilbur.

1.  listen to audio introduction to chapter 6 (not yet available)
2. read Richard Wilbur, "The Death of a Toad": link to text
3.  watch video on Wilbur's "Death of a Toad" (available soon)
4. read Richard Wilbur, "Cottage Street, 1953": link to text
5.  watch video on Wilbur's "Cottage Street, 1953" (available soon)
6. read X. J. Kennedy's "Nude Descending a Staircase": link to text
7.  watch video on Kennedy's "Nude Descending a Staircase" (available soon)


Monday, October 15 through Sunday October 21. The so-called "New American Poetry," emerging in the late 1940s and 1950s, went in many directions; some trends, styles and approaches overlapped and some were or seemed more distinct and separable than others. The "Beat" poets were a fairly distinct community of poets, making it easier than it would be otherwise to study their ecstatic, antic, apparently anti-poetic break with official verse culture as a coherent movement. Our approach, in just one week, looks at two "classic" Beats (Ginsberg and Kerouac) and then quickly moves off to adjacent figures. Creeley was not a Beat poet but his most famous poem engages poetic, psychological and social matters with which Ginsberg and Kerouac and the others were obsessed. Anne Waldman is an "outrider" poet and more closely associated with the second generation of "New York School" poets, but was a dear friend of Ginsberg and learned a great deal from his political pedagogy. Amiri Baraka, as Leroi Jones, was a Beat poet for a few years and then broke away. The poem by Baraka we study here gives us a chance to look back on Countee Cullen's traditionally formal poetic response to racist hatred. Our focus on Kerouac is a little unusual; he of course is known more as a novelist than a poet. But his "babble flow" has been a significant influence on contemporary poets - more than his narrative fictional stance as psychosocial itinerant. We will have occasion, then, to examine and question Kerouac's - and implicitly Ginsberg's - claim to be writing naturally spontaneous language. Our chapter 9 poets for the most part doubt such claims. Above at left: Anne Waldman and Jack Kerouac.

1.  listen to audio introduction to chapter 7 (not yet available)
2. read Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" (part 1): link to text
3.  listen to Ginsberg perform "Howl" in 1956: link to PennSound
4.  listen to excerpt from Ginsberg's performance of "Howl": link to audio
5.  watch video on part 1 of Ginsberg's "Howl" (available soon)
6. read Jack Kerouac's "Essentials of Spontaneous Prose": link to text
7. read Jack Kerouac's "Belief & Technique for Modern Prose": link to text
8.  watch video on Kerouac's ideas about prose (available soon)
9. read three passages of Kerouac's "spontaneous prose": link to texts
11. read the opening paragraphs of Jack Kerouac's "October in the Railroad Earth": link to text
12.  listen to Kerouac performing the opening paragraphs of "October in the Railroad Earth": link to audio
13. read Kerouac's comment to Ted Berrigan about "October in the Railroad Earth": link to text
14. read a sample of Kerouac's "babble flow": link to text
15.  watch video on these instances of Kerouac's "spontaneous prose" (available soon)
16. read Robert Creeley's "I Know a Man": link to text
17.  listen to five recordings of Creeley performing "I Know a Man": link to recordings
18.  listen to PoemTalk on Creeley's "I Know a Man": link to noteslink to audio 
19.  watch video on Creeley's "I Know a Man" (available soon)
20.  listen to Anne Waldman perform "Rogue State": link to PennSound
21.  watch video of Waldman's performance of "Rogue State": link to video
22.  watch video on Waldman's "Rogue State" (available soon)
23. read Amiri Baraka's "Incident": link to text
23.  watch video on Baraka's "Incident" (available soon)


Monday, October 22 through Sunday, October 28. Frank O'Hara, John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch and Barbara Guest represent the New York School of poetry in this week of our course. We met Anne Waldman briefly in chapter 7 - from the "second generation" New York School. Here now we add two others of the second generation: Ted Berrigan and Bernadette Mayer. Our super-close readings of Guest's "20" and Ashbery's "Some Trees" are intended, in part, to show that the non-narrative or anti-narrative styles of this group - and their propensity for sudden shifts in pronoun and non-sequitur imagery, and for inside-the-community name dropping - nonetheless produce writing that can be interpreted line by line. During this week (a bare-minimum introduction to this playful postmodernity), we will get a bit of pastiche from Koch, several instances of O'Hara's I-do-this-I-do-that explorations of lunchtime, and examples of Ashbery's opaque lyricism, Guest's memory-as-word associationalism, Berrigan's anti-narrative as daily social resistance, and Mayer's application of O'Hara's exuberant attention to daily details to a woman's life and language. Image: various New York School poets gather at a party, including Bill Berkson, John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, and Frank O'Hara.

1.  listen to audio introduction to chapter 8 (not yet available)
2. read Frank O'Hara's "The Day Lady Died": link to text
3.  watch video on O'Hara's "The Day Lady Died" (available soon)
4. read Kenneth Koch's "Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams": link to text
5.  watch video on Koch's "Variations on a Theme by Williams Carlos Williams" (available soon)
6. read John Ashbery's "The Instruction Manual": link to text
7.  listen to Ashbery performing "The Instruction Manual": link to PennSound
8.  watch video on Ashbery's "The Instruction Manual" (available soon)
9. read O'Hara's "A Step away from Them": link to text
10.  watch video on O'Hara's "A Step away from Them" (available soon)
11. read Barbara Guest's "20": link to text & audio
12.  watch video on Guest's "20" (available soon)
13. read John Ashbery's "Some Trees": link to text
14.  listen to Ashbery perform "Some Trees": link to PennSound
15.  watch video on Ashbery's "Some Trees" (in 2 parts) (available soon)
16. read John Ashbery's "Hard Times": link to text
17.  watch video on Ashbery's "Hard Times" (available soon)
18. read Ted Berrigan's "3 Pages": link to text
19.  listen to Berrigan perform "3 Pages": link to PennSound
20.  listen to PoemTalk on Berrigan's "3 Pages": link to noteslink to audio
21.  watch video on Berrigan's "3 Pages" (available soon)
22. read Bernadette Mayer's "Invasion of the Body Snatchers": link to text
23.  listen to Mayer perform "Invasion of the Body Snatchers": link to PennSound
24.  watch video on Mayer's "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (available soon)


Now we spend our final three weeks surveying three related movements or groupings of experimental poetry, covering recent decades to the present. In week 8 (chapter 9.1) we look at the so-called "Language Poetry" movement as it emerged in the San Francisco Bay area and New York in particular in the 1970s and early 1980s. In week 9 (9.2), we turn to chance-generated and aleatory and quasi-nonintentional writing. In week 10 (9.3), we look at the recent emergence (or resurgence) of conceptual poetry. Several of the 9.2 poets follow directly from the innovations of the 9.1 Language poets. A few of the 9.3 conceptualists see themselves as breaking away from Language poetry and embrace a "post-avant" status, while others see a continuity from modernism through Language writing and aleatory writing to conceptualism. The extent to which all these poets - but especially the 9.1 and 9.2 poets - show their indebtedness to modernists such as Duchamp, Stein, and Williams and proto-modernist Dickinson does suggest that our course is the study of a line or lineage of experimental American poetry continuing out of modernism.

chapter 9.1 (week 8): an introduction to Language poetry

Monday, October 29 through Sunday, November 4. By starting with Silliman's "Albany" and Hejinian's My Life, we focus on ways in which - and reasons why - Language poets refused conventional sequential, cause-and-effect presentations of the writing self. The self is languaged - is formed by and in language - and is multiple across time (moments and eras) and thus from paratactic sentence to paratactic sentence. While this radical revision of the concept of the lyric self (and of the genre of memoir) emphasizes one aspect of the Language Poetry movement at the expense of several other important ideas and practices, it is, we feel, an excellent way to introduce the group. Bob Perelman's "Chronic Meanings," aside from its contribution to this introduction, also picks up a theme of our course: the experimental writer attempts to encounter death (loss, grief, absence) by somehow making the form of the writing befit that discontinuity and disruption. We began this theme with Stein's "Let Us Decide" and continued it with O'Hara's "The Day Lady Died," and will proceed with Jackson Mac Low's "A Vocabulary for Peter Innisfree Moore" in chapter 9.2. Above, left to right: Susan Howe, Ron Silliman, Lyn Hejinian.

1.  listen to audio introduction to chapter 9.1 (not yet available)
2. read Ron Silliman's "Albany": link to text
3.  listen to Silliman read "Albany": link to PennSound
4.  watch video on Silliman's "Albany" (available soon)
5. read 4 sections of Lyn Hejinian's My Life: link to text
6.  listen to Lyn Hejinian read these sections of My Life: link to audio
7.  watch video on Hejinian's My Life (available soon)
8. read Bob Perelman's "Chronic Meanings": link to text
9. read Perelman's note on "Chronic Meanings": link to text
10.  listen to Perelman talk briefly about "Chronic Meanings": link to PennSound
11.  listen to Perelman read "Chronic Meanings": link to PennSound
12.  watch video on Perelman's "Chronic Meanings" (available soon)
13. read Charles Bernstein's "In a Restless World Like This Is": link to text
14.  listen to Bernstein read "In a Restless World Like This Is": link to audio
15.  listen to PoemTalk about Bernstein's "In a Restless World Like This Is": link to noteslink to audio
16.  watch video on Bernstein's "In a Restless World Like This Is" (available soon)
17. read Emily Dickinson's "My Life had stood - a Loaded Gun": link to text
18. read passages from Susan Howe's My Emily Dickinson: link to text
19.  listen to an excerpt of Charles Bernstein's conversation with Susan Howe about Emily Dickinson: link to audio
20.  listen to Rae Armantrout read and comment on "My Life had stood - a Loaded Gun": link to audio
21.  listen to PoemTalk on Susan Howe's Dickinson: link to noteslink to audio
22.  watch video on Howe's My Emily Dickinson (available soon)
23. read Ron Silliman's BART: link to text
24.  watch video on Silliman's BART (available soon)

chapter 9.2 (week 9): chance

Monday, November 5 through Sunday, November 11. When Jackson Mac Low put a body of language (for instance a poem by Gertrude Stein) through a rigorous procedure, he would say that he created (or "wrote" - in the sense of computer programming) the procedure and that the procedure created the poem. One of his goals was to experiment with the elimination or evacuation or at least the suppression of poetic ego. In this sense his work stands alongside that of Silliman and Hejinian who (by other means) sought to question the stable lyric subject that had been for so long been associated with the writing of poetry, and with imagination generally. On this point the chapter 9 poets are unified in breaking from modernism's implicit and often explicit claim of creative, a-world-in-a-poem-making genius. But otherwise the aesthetic connection between, for instance, Mac Low and Stein is strongly positive. (Please note: during our filmed discussion on Mac Low's "A Vocabulary for Peter Innisfrree Moore," Al Filreis gets a little carried away when reading a list of words made from Moore's name; neither the word "spicier" nor the phrase "this weekend" can be derived from those letters!) Above, left to right: Jena Osman, John Cage, Joan Retallack, Jackson Mac Low.

1.  listen to audio introduction to chapter 9.2 (not yet available)
2. read Matthew McCabe's introduction to John Cage and mesostics: link to text
3. read a brief excerpt from John Cage's "Writing through Howl": link to text
4. read three pages about "Writing through Howl" from Marjorie Perloff's essay on Ginsberg: link to text
5. read a selection of John Cage's adagia: link to text
6.  listen to Cage speak about why he seeks to "mak[e] English less understandable": link to audio
7. use Matthew McCabe's "Mesostomatic" to make a mesostic poem from any poem in our course: link
8.  watch video on Cage's "Writing through Howl" (available soon)
9.  watch video on Cage's adagia (available soon)
10.  listen to an excerpt from Jackson Mac Low's "Vocabulary for Peter Innisfree Moore": link to preface & audio
11. read a paragraph on Mac Low, with reference to Peter Innisfree Moore: link to text
12. read an article about Peter Innisfree Moore: link to text
13. read Mac Low's elaborate performance instructions for "Vocabulary for Peter Innisfree Moore" (unpublished - provided by the author): link to text
14.  watch video on Mac Low's "A Vocabulary for Peter Innisfree Moore" (available soon)
15.  listen to Mac Low's 1978 reading of Stein's "A Carafe, That Is a Blind Glass": link to PennSound
16.  listen to Mac Low's commentary on Tender Buttons: link to PennSound
17. read and listen to Mac Low perform poem #100 in his Stein series, "A Feather Likeness of the Justice Chair": link to text & audio [be sure to read his procedural note]
18.  watch video on Mac Low's approach to Stein (available soon)
19. read Jena Osman's "Dropping Leaflets": link to text
20.  listen to Osman perform "Dropping Leaflets": link to audio
21.  listen to PoemTalk on Osman's "Dropping Leaflets": link to noteslink to audio
22.  watch video on Osman's "Dropping Leaflets" (available soon)
23. read a selction of Bernadette Mayer's writing experiments: link to text
24.  watch video on Mayer's writing experiments (available soon)
25. read Joan Retallack's "Not a Cage": link to text
26.  listen to Retallack read "Not a Cage": link to PennSound
27.  listen to PoemTalk on Retallack's "Not a Cage": link to noteslink to audio
28.  watch video on Retallack's "Not a Cage" (available soon)

chapter 9.3 (week 10): conceptualism & unoriginality

Monday, November 12 through Sunday, November 18. Not every artist we meet here claims to be part of a trend or movement now widely known as conceptualist poetics. Some embrace or have embraced the term: Kenneth Goldsmith, Christian Bok, Caroline Bergvall. Others, such as Rosmarie Waldrop, have been involved in appropriative and unoriginal practices for decades. Erica Baum is a photographer of found language who seems to thrive in the atmosphere created by the explicit conceptualists. Michael Magee is an original Flarfist, which some see as divergent from conceptualism but here at least seems certainly a cousin. Others we encounter in our final week (Jennifer Scappettone and Tracie Morris) are using unoriginality and linguistic borrowing and "writing through" for their own reasons and are creating distinct effects. But every artist in chapter 9.3 displays an intense virtuosity that defies what most folks at first expect from writings made from such an adamant rejection of creativity. We hope that despite the strangeness of it all you will find a great deal of pleasure in watching them undertake their hyper-concentrated, seemingly impossible projects. What can look easy in such experimentalism is often demanding in the extreme. Is there a better example of this than Eunoia? Left to right: Christian Bok, Tracie Morris, Erica Baum's "Card Catalogues," Kenneth Goldsmith.

1.  listen to audio introduction to chapter 9.3 (not yet available)
2. read "Act 1" of Kenneth Goldsmith's Soliloquy: link to PDF
3.  watch video on Goldsmith's Soliloquy (available soon)
4. read Christian Bok, chapter E of Eunoia: link to text
5.  listen to Christian Bok perform chapter E of Eunoia: link to PennSound
6.  watch video on Bok's Eunoia (available soon)
7. read and look at Erica Baum's Card Catalogues: link to PDF
8. read and look at Erica Baum's Dog Ear: link to PDF
9.  watch video on Erica Baum (available soon)
10.  listen to Caroline Bergvall's "VIA": link to PennSound
11. read Bergvall's "VIA": link to text
12. read Brian Reed's essay on Bergvall's "VIA": link to text
13. read notes on translating the first page of Dante: link
14.  watch video on Bergvall's "VIA" (available soon)
15. read an except from Michael Magee's "Pledge" from his book Morning Constitutional: link to text
16. read Ron Silliman on Michael Magee's My Angie Dickinson: link to text
17. read a selection of poems from Magee's My Angie Dickinson: link to text
18. read Michael Magee describes the methodology of My Angie Dickinson: link to text
19. read Michael Magee's definition of "flarf" poetry for Charles Bernstein: link to text
20.  watch video on Magee's "Pledge" & My Angie Dickinson (available soon)
21. read Rosmarie Waldrop's "Shorter American Memory of the Declaration of Independence": link to text
22.  listen to Waldrop perform "Shorter American Memory of the Declaration of Independence": link to PennSound
23.  listen to PoemTalk about Waldrop's "Shorter American Memory of the Declaration of Independence": link to noteslink to audio
24.  watch video on Waldrop's "Shorter American Memory of the Declaration of Independence" (available soon)
25. read Jennifer Scappettone's "Vase Poppies": link to text
26.  listen to Scappettone reading "Vase Poppies": link to audio
27.  listen to PoemTalk on Scappettone's "Vase Poppies" and H.D."s "Sea Poppies": link to noteslink to audio
28.  watch video on Scappettone's "Vase Poppies" (available soon)
29.  listen to Tracie Morris introduce and perform "Afrika": link to audio
30.  watch a video of Tracie Morris performing "Afrika": link to video
31.  listen to musical arrangement of "Afrika" with Val Jeanty: link to PennSound
32.  watch video on Tracie Morris's "Afrika" (available soon)

 , each "chapter" of our course will be introduced by a short audio introduction. We have just made the introduction to week 1 available. You can find it linked to the syllabus, but since this is the very first one, I thought I would also feature it here on our home page. Here (MP3; 12 mins.) is your link to the audio. You can stream it, or you can right-click and download. Please note that each of these audio introductions will be archived under "archive of audio updates" linked to the left-hand navigation bar of every ModPo page. At the end of this week's audio intro, I recite and briefly discuss a poem by Emily Dickinson, the text of which you can see here.--Al Filreis

Fri 7 Sep 2012 8:33:00 AM PDT

welcome to ModPo! please watch this introductory video

Welcome to ModPo! Click on "video discussions" at left and then click on the link to this introductory video to watch a much larger version. Or watch the medium-sized screen here. In either case, we hope you enjoy our 20-minute overview of the course. I describe the course chapter by chapter, and then I introduce several denizens of the Kelly Writers House on Penn's campus. These are the people you'll be seeing in the videos, collaborating with me on close readings of our poems. Here are some of the links to sites mentioned in the introduction: PennSound, the world's largest archive of recordings of poets reading their own poems, a site we'll use a lot in our course; the Kelly Writers House, our home base and the old house from which our live webcast sessions will emanate (check out the calendar of events and visit for any program if you or in or near the area); Jacket2 magazine, of which I am the proud publisher (while Julia Bloch, ModPo's lead TA, is editor); and my own homepage, where obviously you can learn more about me and my doings. -- Al Filreis
Thu 6 Sep 2012 6:41:00 AM PDT

introducing PennSound

We invite all ModPo people to explore the worlds largest archive of audio recordings of poets reading their own poetry. It's called "PennSound" and we're very proud to have created the archive here at Penn - in affiliation with the Kelly Writers House along with Jacket2 magazine, the "PoemTalk" series, and ModPo itself. PennSound is thus a sister project to ModPo. Many of the poems we'll discuss are available as recordings in PennSound. But there are some 40,000 recordings beyond those! Pleasehave a look and get lost in all that poetic sound! Here is a recent article about PennSound. And below please read a poet's appreciation. Enjoy PennSound! -- the ModPo staff

"I LOVE, I mean LOVE that Pennsound has put up all the Pound material. I have it all in bootlegs and tapes of course but it is wonderful to have it there, finally, I mean it is THE MOST OUT there of anything on that site or ubu web! EP is the best. I used to listen to those tapes over and over in my car in the late 70s when I was a teenager. To me it was Punk. And hearing it now it brings back summer and my youth! Listening to the Spoleto recording, maybe my fav for its restrained intensity, I am taken aback just how his late syntax has totally effected me. Liz and I were listening and we could hear my poem Homer?s Anger loud and clear for instance. Amazing. And Richard?s head note makes me want to listen further." -- Peter Gizzi, poet
Wed 5 Sep 2012 4:15:00 PM PDT

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