September 27, 2003

Charles Bernstein and PENNsound

by Nick Montfort · , 3:02 pm

On Thursday I went to a great poetry reading at the Kelly Writers House, an event that also served as a welcome. Charles Bernstein was reading; he has recently joined the faculty here at Penn. He is undertaking a project, PENNsound, to create a large, free archive of digital recordings of poets reading poetry. He’s working with Al Filreis and others here at Penn on this venture. Bernstein has written a very nice manifesto for the project, which requires that the per-poem recordings be available in a format that is as useful and non-proprietary as possible, that they be of high enough quality, and that they be indexed and carry bibliographic information with them. The manifesto auspiciously begins “It must be free.”

But, back to the reading: It was great, featuring many amusing phrases and language in many artful shapes. Bernstein read from his recent chapbook Let’s Just Say and from World on Fire. He read one work that was written on index cards, which he shuffled before the reading. These held aphorisms, perverbs, and one long, repudiating list which was written on a card that folded out to greater length. I wish some of you in the Grand Text Auto gang and some of my remote poetry friends could have been there; fortunately, MP3s of his reading are already online.


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