Publishing Talks: David Wilk interviews Charles Bernstein and Al Filreis of PennSound
In 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. Even those who don’t read or even like poetry have their minds changed by the experience of hearing the words out loud.