David Wilk Interviews Charles Bernstein of L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Magazine

April 12, 2014 by  
Filed under Publishing History, PublishingTalks

charles-bernsteinPublishing Talks began as a series of conversations with book industry professionals and others involved in media and technology about the future of publishing, books, and culture.  As we continue to experience disruption and change in all media businesses, I’ve been talking with some of the people involved in our industry about how they believe publishing might evolve as our culture is affected by technology and the ebb and flow of civilization and  economics.

Recently, the series has expanded to include conversations that go beyond the future of publishing.  I’ve talked with editors and publishers who have been innovators and leaders in independent publishing in the past and into the present, and will continue to explore the past, present and future of writing, books, and publishing in all sorts of forms and formats, as change continues to be the one constant we can count on.

It’s my hope that these conversations can help us understand the outlines of what is happening in publishing and writing, and how we might ourselves interact with and influence the future of publishing as it unfolds.  Some of my latest interviews reflect my interest in the history of independent literary publishing, an area I have been involved in for a very long time.

Charles Bernstein has been a poet, editor, theorist and teacher of poetry and poetics, and is best known as a leader of what has become known as the LANGUAGE school of poetry. Between 1978 and 1981, Charles and poet Bruce Andrews edited the truly extraordinary journal they called L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, that has become one of the most influential literary magazines of the last half century.  That magazine, which circulated a relatively small number of copies during a relatively short period of time (13 issues), helped to establish and define what was then mostly an outsider and alternative challenge to contemporary poetry and thinking about reading poetry and which has now become a fixture in modern poetry and poetics. All the issues of the magazine are available online here.

Since that time, Charles has taught and continued to help establish influential organizations. He was the David Gray Professor of Poetry and Letters at the SUNY Buffalo and Director of the Poetics Program, which he co-founded with poet Robert Creeley. At SUNY, he co-founded the Electronic Poetry Center and is currently the Donald T. Regan Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University Pennsylvania. He also is a co-founder of the outstanding and wonderful poetry audio archive at UPenn called PennSound (there’s a Writerscast interview with Charles, Al Filreis and Michael Hennessey here).

Our conversation about L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E continues my effort to document at least a small portion of the creative work of independent literary publishing of the late 20th century, that has been so important to the development of contemporary literary culture.220px-Cover_of_L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E_magazine_(February_1978)

The anthology mentioned in the talk, The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Book (Poetics of the New), was published by Southern Illinois University Press, and is in print and available.9780809311064Note to listeners: as with all these historically based conversations about literary publishing, this is a relatively long listen, at about 48 minutes.

Publishing Talks: David Wilk interviews Charles Bernstein and Al Filreis of PennSound

December 4, 2013 by  
Filed under Publishing History, PublishingTalks, Technology

Bernstein-Filreis_Mark-StehleIn this series of interviews, called Publishing Talks, I have been talking to book industry professionals and other smart people about the future of publishing, books, and culture.  This is a period of disruption and change for all media businesses.  We must wonder now, how will publishing evolve as our culture is affected by technology, climate change, population density, and the ebb and flow of civilization and  economics?

It’s my hope that these conversations can help us understand the outlines of what is happening in publishing and writing, and how we might ourselves interact with and influence the future of publishing as it unfolds.

PennSound is a very special online resource that was instigated by founders Al Filreis and Charles Bernstein with the incredible support of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. There is really nothing like it in the world, and for anyone interested in poetry, poetics, or the literary world of the past 100 years, it is an incredibly important resource.  The energy and dedication that has gone into this unmatched collection of recordings of poets reading, lecturing and talking about poetry is a gift whose impact will be felt for many years to come.

Filreis wears many hats – he is Kelly Professor at UPenn, Director, Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing, Co-Director, PennSound, Publisher of the literary magazine Jacket2 as well as Faculty Director, Kelly Writers House. In addition, he is the author of a number of books of criticism.  Charles Bernstein, an old friend of mine, is one of the most important poets and critical thinkers of his generation of writers.  He was the David Gray Professor of Poetry and Letters at the SUNY Buffalo and Director of the Poetics Program, which he co-founded with poet Robert Creeley. At SUNY, he co-founded the Electronic Poetry Center with Loss Glazier. Charles is currently the Donald T. Regan Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University Pennsylvania.  He was a co-founder also of the important literary magazine L-A-N-G-U-A-G-E and is the author of many books of poetry and theoretical writings about poetry, language and thinking.  Also in this discussion is Michael Hennessey, the editor of PennSound, and author of the “PennSound Daily” column. Michael holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College and has published critical work in magazines and anthologies.

I wanted to talk to Filreis, Bernstein and Hennessey about how PennSound came into being, to learn more about its scope and breadth, and to hear first hand their plans for the future. My hope is that our discussion will draw as much attention and support to PennSound as possible.  And I can’t help enjoying the appropriateness of presenting an audio experience of this essential audio resource.  There is something new and compelling posted at PennSound almost every day.  Please visit, spend some time, and enjoy the rich trove of poetry as spoken and discussed by the poets themselves.portrait-for-home-page  Even those who don’t read or even like poetry have their minds changed by the experience of hearing the words out loud.

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David Wilk talks with James Sherry of Segue Foundation

February 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Publishing History, PublishingTalks

Sherry-James_Ch-Bernstein_NY_2006Publishing Talks began as a series of conversations with book industry professionals and others involved in media and technology about the future of publishing, books, and culture. As we continue to experience disruption and change in all media businesses, I’ve been talking with some of the people involved in our industry about how publishing might evolve as our culture is affected by technology and the larger context of civilization and economics.

I’ve now expanded the series to include conversations that go beyond the future of publishing. I’ve talked with editors and publishers who have been innovators and leaders in independent publishing in the past and into the present, and will continue to explore the ebb and flow of writing, books, and publishing in all sorts of forms and formats, as change continues to be the one constant we can count on.

It’s my hope that these conversations can help us understand the outlines of what is happening in publishing and writing, and how we might ourselves interact with and influence the future of publishing as it unfolds.

The latest in this series of interviews with important independent publishers and editors is my talk with yet another old friend, James Sherry, founder of both Roof Books and the Segue Foundation, in New York City. I have followed and admired his writing and publishing for more than three decades now.

Sherry is the author of 14 books of poetry and prose, most recently Oops! Environmental Poetics (2014). He is the publisher of Roof Books, a press he founded in 1979, and the Segue Foundation, a nonprofit chartered in 1977. He lives in New York City.

With Roof Books and Segue, James has been a significant force in the promotion of experimental and innovative writing, both as a publisher, with more than 150 titles now in print, and as a venue for live events and poetry readings. At one point, Segue was the distributor for some of the most significant literary journals and small presses, including, notably, L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, edited by Charles Bernstein and Bruce Andrews.

For this interview, I had the opportunity to speak with James Sherry in New York City, where he and Segue are going strong – the Segue calendar of events demonstrates some of the best of contemporary innovative writing, and Roof Books also continues to produce significant publications that anyone interested in modern poetry should be following.

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David Wilk talks with Doug Messerli of Green Integer

Messerli-Douglas_Ch-Bernstein_12-10-06_NYC_72dpi Publishing Talks began as a series of conversations with book industry professionals and others involved in media and technology about the future of publishing, books, and culture. As we continue to experience disruption and change in all media businesses, I’ve been talking with some of the people involved in our industry about how publishing might evolve as our culture is affected by technology and the larger context of civilization and economics.

I’ve now expanded the series to include conversations that go beyond the future of publishing. I’ve talked with editors and publishers who have been innovators and leaders in independent publishing in the past and into the present, and will continue to explore the ebb and flow of writing, books, and publishing in all sorts of forms and formats, as change continues to be the one constant we can count on.

It’s my hope that these Publishing Talks can help us understand the outlines of what is happening in publishing and writing, and how we might ourselves interact with and influence the future of publishing as it unfolds.

Douglas Messerli is an old friend in poetry and publishing – I’ve known him since sometime in the late 1970’s. He’s one of the most prolific writers and publishers I know of, with an encyclopedic mind and a scope of interests that is virtually unmatched (and how much he writes and how well…it is hard for me to fathom how he does so much and is so consistently intelligent and perceptive on so many subjects!)

Although his writing is inevitably interwoven with his publishing work, this conversation is mainly focused on Doug’s efforts over the years as an editor and publisher. So we talked about his first publishing projects, Sun & Moon (magazine and books), La-Bas (magazine) and then his more recent work with the highly prolific Green Integer. It’s a wide ranging conversation reflecting Doug’s broad interests in writing, art, and publishing, and his always deeply engaged intellect.

Doug, his partner Howard Fox, and Green Integer are strongly identified with Los Angeles and the literary and art scene there. But the influence of his work extends worldwide. The level and intensity of engagement with readers, writers and artists reflects an intentional process on Messerli’s part – he invites the reader to participate in every aspect of his creative process, both in writing and in presenting the work of innovative writers and artists across a wide range of aesthetics and backgrounds, generations and geography. That’s why, for a long period of time, Messerli ran a public gallery and salon in Los Angeles to reach beyond publishing, and why Green Integer is so thoroughly digital in its publishing model.

His is a decidedly modern, globally engaged effort that is unmatched in contemporary publishing.

Length alert: this interview is almost exactly an hour long. It went by really fast for me, and I hope you find listening to Doug Messerli as interesting as I did.

The Green Integer website is exceptional. Go there now for an incredible array of interesting, complicated and challenging writing with a deeply international and avant garde focus.

A nice bit of Sun & Moon history here at SUNY Buffalo’s archive.

And a wonderful collection of free PDFs of La-Bas here at the incredibly rich Jacket2 website.

I love Doug’s essay on Bob Brown (a poet I first heard of through Jerry Rothenberg) on a website I recommend visiting right away –Hyperallergenic.

And to extend the conversation further, here is an exceptionally interesting interview published on Harriet, the blog of the Poetry Foundation (which recursively enough is entitled: Republished Douglas Messerli Interview on Green Integer Blog).gi_86

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Sites We Like: PennSound

August 19, 2013 by  
Filed under Pipeline

PennSound is an incredible project established by Al Filreis and Charles Bernstein with tremendous support from the University of Pennsylvania, collecting poetry in audio form from an incredible array of sources.  There really isn’t anything like it anywhere.  There are historical recordings, so many of which are fantastic and powerful, that it is almost impossible to know where to start.  All the poets whose work matters to me are here.  And there are many voices from the recent past and the present as well.  You can spend hours on this site and of course you will never be able to experience the full range of what they have, there is just too much.  And there is new work added or highlighted every day!  Amazing.  For anyone interested in the sound of writing, this is a site you must visit.

Al Filreis and Charles Bernstein at PennSound (photo by Mark Stehle)Bernstein-Filreis_Mark-Stehle

PennSound Daily is written by Michael S. Hennessey.

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