"Is Robin here?" On this episode, we ask what we can "know" about the dynamics of a space through listening. We listen to the "Charles Olson Memorial" recording and talk about mourning, spontaneity, relationships, authority, and poetry recitation.
"Is Robin here?" On this episode, we ask what we can "know" about the dynamics of a space through listening. We listen to the "Charles Olson Memorial" recording and talk about mourning, spontaneity, relationships, authority, and poetry recitation.
Host Karis Shearer is joined by curator Amy Thiessen and special guests Hannah McGregor and Emily Murphy. Together they discuss Warren Tallman's introduction to the "Charles Olson Memorial Reading" recorded at St. Anselm's Church (Vancouver) March 14, 1970 on the occasion of a memorial reading for American poet Charles Olson. Their conversation touches on mourning, levity, spontaneity, religiosity, relationality, poetry, and pedagogy. Listen to find out if "Robin" is here. Episode 4 was co-produced by Karis Shearer and Nour Sallam.
Karis Shearer is Associate Professor of English & Cultural Studies and the Director of the AMP Lab. With Deanna Fong, she recently co-edited Wanting Everything: The Collected Works of Gladys Hindmarch (Talonbooks 2020).
Amy Thiessen is an Honours English student at UBCO where she is working on a digital edition of Sharon Thesen's poem "The Fire." She is a writer, an RA and project manager for the UBCO SpokenWeb project and an aspiring teacher.
Emily Murphy is Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities at UBCO's Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies. She is also Assistant Director of UBCO's AMP Lab. She researches technology and cultural memory.
Hannah McGregor is an Assistant Professor in Publishing at SFU where her research focuses on podcasting as scholarly communication, systemic barriers to access in the Canadian publishing industry, and the history of middlebrow periodicals. She also hosts a number of podcasts including Secret Feminist Agenda and the SpokenWeb Podcast.
The SoundBox Collection: https://soundbox.ok.ubc.ca/
Amy Thiessen's Honours Project / Digitial Exhibition on Sharon Thesen's "The Fire": sharonthesenthefire.omeka.net
The Real Vancouver Writers' Series: https://realvancouver.org/
Episode 7 of the SpokenWeb Podcast featuring Hannah McGregor: https://spokenweb.ca/podcast/episodes/the-voice-is-intact-finding-gwendolyn-macewen-in-the-archive/
Secret Feminist Agenda podcast: https://secretfeministagenda.com/category/podcast/
Christine Mitchell's "Can You Hear Me?": https://amodern.net/article/can-you-hear-me/
Due to COVID-19, both the Tech Talk Series and the Inaugural Sharon Thesen Lecture by John Lent mentioned at the end of this episode were unfortunately cancelled or postponed.
[00:00:00] [Theme music begins].
[00:00:28] Karis Shearer: This is SoundBox Signals, a podcast that brings archival recordings to life through a combination of curated close listening and conversation. Together we'll consider how these literary recordings signify in the contemporary moment and ask what listening allows us to know about cultural history. Full-length versions of these recordings are available online in our SpokenWeb archive at soundbox.ok.ubc.ca.
[00:00:57] [tape click, theme music fades].
[00:00:59] KS: I'm Karis Shearer and I'm joined today in the studio at UBC Okanagan by a guest curator Amy Theissen, who is the SpokenWeb RA and our very own Project Manager and she's also completing a honours thesis on the work of Sharon Thesen. I'm also joined by Emily Murphy who is a professor of Digital Humanities and Assistant Director of the AMP Lab. And today we have from Vancouver Hannah McGregor who is assistant professor in Publishing at Simon Fraser University and host of The Secret Feminist Agenda. Welcome everybody! Thanks for joining us.
[00:01:36] Hannah McGregor: Thank you. I'm delighted to be here.
[00:01:38] Emily Murphy: Oh! I too am delighted.
[00:01:40] KS: Amy. Are you also delighted?
[00:01:42] Amy Theissen: Super.
[00:01:43] [McGregor and Shearer laugh].
[00:01:45] KS: Fantastic. We're here to talk about a really special recording, a weird recording. So we're going to rewind to March 14th, 1970 and have a listen to Warren Tallman introducing an event that is called “The Charles Olson Memorial.” So here we go.
[00:02:04] [tape click]
[00:02:06] [Charles Olson Memorial recording plays] Warren Tallman: ...some people who were planning this, that we would have all the poets lined up in front on a sheet of paper so that it could be read off. One, two, three, four, five. It didn't work out. So, all you poets are in the audience. And so it's going to have to be -- when it gets around to that point at which you would like to read for this reading -- it's going to have to be kind of Quaker, you know. Or what I assume is Quaker: that you stand up on your feet and walk forward, in some calm or pose that is taking place. Yes.
[00:02:49] WT: Yeah. You can't hear?
[00:02:55] WT: Oh. Yeah. I'm supposed to make an announcement about how long to read. [laughter and murmurs overlap]. It's always impressed me as rather ridiculous to tell a poet how long to read, but I will tell all of you poets this: that if there's a rhythm that's going which makes for three or four or five minutes, if you break it by reading for 40 minutes, everybody in the audience will hate you.
[00:03:23] [Audience laughs].
[00:03:27] WT: Yeah. So I would say, three or four or five minutes, although you understand that's not an instruction to impede on the freedom of any poet to read.
[00:03:38] [noise of laughter and murmurs overlap].
[00:03:39] WT: Whatever, yeah. I am being deliberately rather facetious and frivolous so that we can have that to work on to move into an actually more serious occasion. And since we do not have any listing of the poets, you must choose your own occasion as it occurs to you. But first, I would like to have, Robin? Is Robin here? Okay. Well, Robin Blaser is going to start this with a reading. It is going to be interrupted with a tape. And there will be an interruption after the tape of about three or two minutes or so, and then the poets will read whatever has occurred to them to read on the occasion of this memorial for Charles Olson.
[00:04:57] [tape click] [Recording ends]
[00:04:58] KS: Amy, you chose this recording. Can you tell us a little bit about what we know about it?
[00:05:02] AT: Yeah, so, this recording as Karis said earlier was recorded on March 14th, 1970. We know that they are gathered at St. Anselm's Church on the UBC Vancouver campus and that it was recorded on reel-to-reel.
[00:05:18] KS: Yeah, and it's an excerpt. It's the very beginning of a whole recording. It's about an hour long. It also features a number of different poets: Robin Blaser, obviously, is mentioned. Judith Copithorne; Peter Quartermain; Lionel Kearns; Richard Sommer, from Montreal; Maxine Gadd; and quite a few other poets. It's a weird introduction to a poetry reading. Hannah, I'm going to turn that over to you. You've been to a lot of poetry readings. What's weird about this?
[00:05:52] HM: I mean, so one of the major jobs when I think about what hosts at poetry readings are trying to do, one of the major things that they are doing is sort of set tone and norms for what's about to proceed, and a lot of that, a lot of the work of literary readings, has to do with establishing how long people are allowed to read for, because in my experience, without that people will read for a wild amount of time. And even with the norms people read for a wild amount of time. And so what really, the first listen through to this, what really struck me was that invitation to a Quaker-like, sort of self-electing process in which poets will get up, "you poets," will just get up and read when they feel moved to do so and are sort of given this like, you know, "read for four to five minutes, or whatever feels right. Probably not forty." Which is a lot of lateral movement in that four to forty minutes.
[00:06:52] KS: [Shearer laughs] Yeah you bet. I mean, there's a sort of sense of spontaneity, but Emily, it's kind of, it is controlled, right? I mean, he is setting up some boundaries. What are the boundaries that you're hearing in this?
[00:07:02] EM: Yeah, super controlled. I mean, I think that one of the major boundaries is this idea that social pressure will help keep boundaries around the poets, [McGregor laughs], which I think many of us know probably wouldn't work. But one of the things that I did find really interesting about this is that buried in this desire for spontaneity is kind of a series of conventions about what's going to count as it, like, even down to instructions for movement, right? Like, some kind of Quaker-ceremony where you stand up in a moment of silence and walk towards the front of the room. There's already a really embodied physical dimension being made explicit in his instructions, which indicates to me, then, that there are actually, like, quite clear boundaries for what counts as spontaneity and probably what counts as improvisation, of a sort, in this room. I mean, we often think of improvisation as a thing that just kind of springs from you internally, but there's plenty of research that is calling for a kind of richer understanding of what the conventions of improvisation are or, kind of, conventions that signal this sort of authentic spontaneous contribution.
[00:08:13] HM: I was just thinking even in that "be totally spontaneous, but four to five minutes" suggests that this really interesting tension between the desire to establish an environment of spontaneity and sort of free responsiveness to what's happening alongside the need to state and establish norms. And that tension is really interesting. And also leads me to wonder, you know, historically, at what point do we start establishing norms of five-minute readings of ten-minute readings like, you know, when you hear about readings that last 45 minutes, you know, how and when and why are we starting to arrive at a sense of what is supposed to be apparently kind of innate, or kind of intuitive or kind of felt, the sense of how long is an appropriate length to read?
[00:09:07] EM: I mean, my hunch is that that history is probably a religious one, right? That we probably start seeing shorter readings when more people are literate, essentially. I mean, any of my knowledge, which is limited [Murphy and McGregor laugh], about how people would read in public is about kind of belletristic traditions, right? Where you would read letters because you weren't reading to a literate population and you would read verses and sermons that were timed to, like, the bells that would go off in a public square. And so that's a really religious background to public readings. And here we have an ostensibly secular event that's held in a church and that-- can I give a spoiler about the first reading?
[00:09:56] KS: Yeah, you sure can.
[00:09:56] EM: The first reading is from Revelations. So it's, like, shot through with these religious contexts.
[00:10:04] KS: In addition to the invocation of the Quakerness, right? There's actually quite a lot of religiosity invoked in this. One of the questions we asked on the podcast is like, what does listening allow us to know about cultural history? And I'm going to turn this over to Amy to ask you, what kind of information do we hear in this podcast, do we gather through listening? In terms of space, or numbers of people? I mean, we have a list of poets, but what kind of sense do we get of the setting here?
[00:10:35] AT: Yeah, quite a few times in even just the short bit of the recording, we can hear the audience laughing or talking, or there's that point at the beginning when Warren's not sure what the, I think, woman at the back is saying. And there's a moment that doesn't turn out to be the technical difficulty, that "oh you can't hear," but that's something that you can tell the technology is present in that room and we can hear it through the tape and we can tell that Warren is miked and that he's in front of people and there's a crowd there, and yeah.
[00:11:11] KS: Yeah, there's also, I mean, there's also one more point, at least one more point in the tape, too, where we get a sense of how many people, or, like, Warren's perception of how many people are in the audience. What is this? It's actually one of your favourite parts, if I remember. What is that moment?
[00:11:28] AT: Yeah, we get the moment when Warren isn't sure if Robin is there. You can sort of sense that he's looking around and maybe doesn't see him right away. Yeah, he’s unsure. It's not like he's there's a crowd of fifteen people and you can see him right away.
[00:11:43] KS: Yeah. Yeah. "Is Robin here?" You know, and he's looking in the crowd. Somebody also suggested in this recording that it's possible that the lights are turned down and he's not able to actually see into the audience. And I'm not sure, you know, obviously there's limits to what we can know through listening.
[00:12:02] HM: There is that feeling though, right? Like, that including the way that he addresses the audience as "you poets" and sort of doesn't like, "oh, sorry you can't," like, he's, you know, he doesn't call people by name and if you're sort of thinking like, you're familiar with the people who are here, then you would say somebody's name when they are talking to you. So, there's certainly the sense that he can't necessarily see them, and that question of, "Is it because there's a huge crowd" or, "Is it because it's dark?" or, "Is it because I've never been in this space?" Like, "What is this venue like? Is it full of weird pillars that hide people?" I don't know.
[00:12:35] KS: Yeah, and I guess, I mean, certainly one of the research questions are the things that we will do and we are pursuing research on this type is actually go to St. Anselm's Church and have a look at its architecture. I want to pick up on something that you've kind of moved us toward which is that relationship between Warren Tallman and the audience. He's an English professor. He's not himself a poet, but he certainly had a good relationship with, you know, with poets and was through the facilitation of events like this, through his teaching of poetry. What do we hear in terms of his relationship with the audience? And I'm going to go to you Hannah first and then I'm going to go over to Emily.
[00:13:14] HM: Well, like, I keep mentioning it to Karis, because you pointed out to me, [Shearer laughs], and now I really hear it whenever I listen, is his addressing the audience as "you poets."
[00:13:22] KS: [overlaps] Yeah, I can remember that.
[00:13:23] HM: [overlaps] which is very funny. It has this kind of familiarity and also this sort of joking disdain, like, you know what you poets are like, you know, it just gives just gives a vibe of this sort of, when you are familiar enough with a group to make fun of them, which suggests a sort of an intimacy of environment, right? That you don't make fun of an audience unless they are your friends. Which sets up, you know, this sort of warmth, like, you don't get the feeling that this is a random public reading. The audience are the speakers. It's a community gathering. And you can feel that in the way that he is addressing an audience that is at once the sort of participants and the listeners for the event.
[00:14:07] KS: Yeah, Emily. What about you? What do you hear in terms of that relationship between Tallman and the audience and maybe that kind of question of authority?
[00:14:16] EM: Oh, question of authority. I mean, like, I don't want to be the person who keeps bringing it back to religion [McGregor laughs], but I guess that's my role. I just always hear this tape in terms of the situation of mourning and it always sounds to me like a wake. And it's a bit of background to that. I'm born in Ireland and my entire family is Irish. We are not the kind of Irish people who have wakes, that's actually, like, quite specific. But it's still this sort of community gathering among friends where you'll tell jokes and sing songs and maybe read from Revelations, but there is a sort of, like a bondedness and a kind of joy in the mourning. And so I think, like, I mean, what's what's an authority figure in Irish culture, if not a priest, right? And he is sort of, like, in a way like literally speaking to a flock, right? And that's also interesting in terms of the relationship of the professor to students, professor to poets who he is actively engaged in making the, like, the canonical poetic community of his age. Yeah.
[00:15:37] HM: Yeah. We were talking a little bit about that. That professorial feel, right? Like, it does not surprise me to hear that this person is a professor because I hear in the way that he is addressing the audience, the gathering, something that sounds a lot to me like how I talk to my students. That sort of facetious and sort of like self undermining, like, making fun of yourself a little bit, which sets a very particular tone of like, "Okay. I'm in charge here, but, like, not that in charge so, you know, here's some structure but also I really want you to feel free to take over and for this to be your space to do with as you want," but you also, like Emily was saying, you know, total freedom, total improvisation, is sort of impossible without structure. So, you need somebody taking that role and saying, like, "I'm going to be the guiding hand here, but how do I guide people into a feeling of openness and spontaneity and participation and sort of some level of safety?" Because what you're asking people to do, step forward and just begin to read, does require some level of comfort. So, you know, how you establish that tone, I hear in that humour some of that work happening.
[00:16:49] KS: Yeah. Definitely. Amy, what do you hear in terms of, like, picking up on what Hannah was saying about shared authority and a sort of self-deprecating humour. He's getting prompts from the audience. And I guess maybe that's what I'm what I'm asking about, like those moments where the audience is prompting him around certain things that he's meant to say up at the front.
[00:17:10] AT: Yeah. There's the moment in the tape when you can't hear the person speaking but he's like, "Oh, I'm supposed to tell you that you can only read for this amount of time." And there's other points of interaction, I guess, and one thing that I sort of notice is that it seems to me that he's not necessarily taking cues from the audience as to, like, his tone or like his approach to what he's saying. He's being sort of like goofy and funny and the first bit. But in a way that I would imagine someone else they say something funny, the audience laughs, "Oh, I'm going to I'm going to say something else funny now," but I think he's just genuinely being, it sounds like he's just genuinely being himself and speaking sort of without that intent to get a laugh.
[00:17:59] KS: Yeah, I mean, and you've listened to a lot of recordings with Warren, you know, where Warren Tallam is giving a lecture to a class, or-- I think you've got a really good feel for him as a person, and this is very much-- very Warren Tallman-esque, if you will. I'm thinking a little bit more about mourning, right? He changes register partway through this tape from being what he calls deliberately facetious and he's being a little self-reflective about that, and the register changes from being funny to serious. Emily, I want to come over to you and ask you a little bit more about mourning. What kind of space is being created for mourning here? And what is the role of humor, seriousness? That kind of gravity?
[00:18:47] EM: Yeah. I think it's a great question, because one of the things that I love about this tape is I feel like there's this kind of sub-vocal, like, landscape of the emotion in the room in a way. Probably the most explicit way that you can hear it is something that Hannah has pointed out to me, which is the sort of the murmur that goes through the crowd when Warren Tallman says, "We're not going to have five people" [McGregor and Murphy laugh]. Instead, you'll just do whatever.
[00:19:17] HM: Or he counts them. Like I'm going to have you numbered up at the front like "One, two, three, four five." It's like, “thanks Warren, I forgot how numbers work.” [Laughter].
[00:19:29] EM: Well, and then, as you pointed out, like, everyone starts going like, "Excuse me, what?"
[00:19:33] HM: Yeah! Yeah, you hear it? Like it kind of sounds like this is the first they're hearing of it, right? That they also were led to believe that they would have an order and that they are now finding out that no, in fact, Quaker style, you will be self electing [laughter].
[00:19:48] KS: And it's kind of, like, this weird, this rejection of like the pedagogical or I like that "one, two, three, four, five," right? Like, he's physically counting them, but that's that's not what's going to happen. Right? So he deforms the thing that's not going to happen, in this really kind of, you know, it becomes almost, it is almost humorous, right? There's a kind of physicality to it, of establishing of space on the stage, and it is like making the, you know, creating for us the thing that will not happen, which is like overly pedagogical, overly constructed and it is the thing to be rejected in favour of this more spontaneous form that is more appropriate for mourning. Do you want to make a connection, Emily, between...?
[00:20:34] EM: Yeah. I mean he makes this rhetorical move right where he says like, "I'm being deliberately facetious and and frivolous" on what is actually like quite a, did he say a "solemn occasion," maybe? And so there's sort of like, there's more than one switch, right? Like there's, or maybe there's more than one switch, but this switch has two roles, right? that we have the humour as the lead in as a setup for a solemn occasion that will entail reading verses from the Bible, but humour as also a kind of marking of occasion, right? And a kind of framing of the mourning and of the solemness. And I still feel like so much of the evidence that I gather from this tape is a feeling in the room. Like a kind of warmth. That's it is difficult to point to, like, any one thing that you might be able to hear from the audience, but it feels like maybe the echoes in the room are, like, letting you know that people might be like kind of chatting to their neighbour while he's making jokes at the front of the room or that they're like like laughing and chuckling to themselves, right? So there is a kind of, like, it's not quite joy, but it is sort of a fellow-feeling and warmth, which indicates to me that like there is a really nice acknowledgement of the social role of mourning, right? And the social embeddedness of that kind of loss.
[00:22:12] KS: Yeah, because I mean they've gathered on the occasion of the death of a major American poet and the way that they're going to celebrate that or mark that occasion is through the act of reading. And I think you know, making space for different types. Like, that mourning is individual and therefore the space needed to read or mark that occasion is also individual whether it's short three to four minutes or well, not 40 minutes.
[00:22:44] EM: Well, like it's so individual but it's so communal as well. Right because, I mean, if mourning is so individual, stay in your own house and read for 40 minutes to yourself, right? But instead there's this nice tension between not infringing on the freedom of any poet to read, and "don't read for 40 minutes, everyone will think you're a jerk."
[00:23:05] HM: And the expectation, right? So feeling the pause in which you stand up and read means attentive listening, right? That you're not just sitting there, like, checked out waiting for your turn. You have to be listening and engaging so it is the sort of interesting tension between the individual and the communal, which we can think of as being a characteristic of religious experience and a characteristic of collective mourning.
[00:23:32] KS: Yeah. Yeah. I mean the guiding principle of this whole event seems to be attentiveness to the audience, right? An attentiveness to each other. You know when it's your turn to read, when there's a kind of a space and you arise. And he describes it in a very physical way, right? You arise, and [overlaps] "you get up on your own feet."
[00:23:49] EM: "On your feet."
[00:23:51] KS: "On your feet," right? Because though there would be any other, I mean I suppose there would be other ways of getting up. But in this case, it is you get up on your feet and you walk toward. There's a real physicality of the description.
I'm going to bring it over to Amy again. And I want to ask you about technology and how technology features in this tape. What moments do you hear technology making itself present? Yeah.
[00:24:20] AT: Yeah, so there's this moment when Warren is saying that there's going to be there's going to be a tape and then there's going to be a reading then there's going to be another interruption and it's very, like, sort of vague with what it is going to be. And by saying that it's going to be an interruption, it's not really interrupting. And what we know also is that from our perspective, the tape doesn't actually surface at all on our version on the reel, which is interesting.
[00:24:54] KS: Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, this is, in some ways, very characteristic of Tallman in general, you know, we have the tape, the event that's being recorded, but then there's also the indication that there's going to be a recording within the recording, or the playback of a recording, within the recording, and then we also hear the mic, right? Where someone isn't able to hear from the audience. Technology makes itself present, yeah, I think throughout the tape.
[00:25:25] EM: Well, I wonder, so, you're right the we can, like, we sort of get an indication of the presence of the mic, but I feel like that is Tallman interpreting the reaction of the audience that way, not necessarily the audience actually experiencing those at those aspects of the technology. But, like, you hear, instead of, "I've just thrown you a curveball," [McGregor laughs], it's, "Oh, you must not be able to hear what I'm saying."
[00:25:50] KS: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
[00:25:52] EM: But I think, I mean, this is something that happens with newer technologies all the time, is that once the newer technology is present it gets to have the role of being technological. And then all the other technologies that people are engaging with all the time are perceived as naturalized and non-technological. So even though he's, like, they're reading from books in a room that has probably quite specific acoustics in a language that is already an extension of human capacity, but it's the tape that dominates the sort of technological landscape, whether or not it is in fact present. It's the idea of tapey-ness, you know.
[00:26:31] KS: Yeah, [Shearer laughs], “tapeyness.”
[00:26:34] EM: [Murphy laughs] Tapeyness, TM.
[00:26:35] [Shearer and McGregor laugh].
[00:26:36] HM: Good thing you TM-ed that, [overlaps] because that was going to be the title of my new book.
[00:26:37] KS: [overlaps] I'm writing that down.
[00:26:40] HM: Tapeyness.
[00:26:41] EM: I mean, I'll take royalties. [Laughter].
[00:26:44] KS: And in fact that distrust of the microphone, that distrust of technology is actually something so common across recordings that Christine Mitchell, I think when she was a postdoc at Concordia, created a whole compilation. I think it's about two minutes long and it's all the excerpts of that exact moment of distrust of the microphone. And it's called, "Can You Hear Me?" And it's a compilation of all readers, you know, readers across the Sir George Williams Reading Series saying things like "Is this thing on?," "Can you hear me at the back?" "Can you hear me?" And so Warren, again, that particular distrust of the technology in the room, it's both, you know, the microphone is about facilitating his connection with the audience, but it's also the thing to be distrusted.
[00:27:32] EM: Hey, you're so right about that distrust, but I wonder then if we can put that in conversation with how we've been talking about authority. Because at the same time that it is expected to fail, right? Expected to be the reason that people can't hear him, it's also like, it's a recording for posterity. And I think you and I have talked in other ways about how Tallman is doing all of his recording at the same time as law enforcement is using tapes as like the new technology of catching criminals, right? They're becoming this sort of incontrovertible version of evidence quite quickly.
[00:28:10] KS: [overlaps] surveillance.
[00:28:11] EM: Yeah. And so yeah, I don't think that I have a, "So what," about that relationship then between mistrust and authority and I don't think it's as radical as I'm making it sound, like it's, [laughter].
[00:28:23] HM: Well, I mean, I think that there is something there about the way that technology has become or turned into, via social processes, or turned into forms of witness, forms of evidence, forms of authority, that you get a really clear sense of the work that is being done around generating understandings of new technologies when you get these archival moments in which people, events, for example distrust. So, it is helpful in terms of thinking about the very deliberate work that's being done around transforming audio recording into evidence when you hear the contexts in which it is not.
[00:29:07] KS: Yeah, that's nice. I'm going to go around with the group and just ask you, finally, what is your favourite part of this recording and maybe it's something we've already talked about, but favourite moment, or favourite aspect of this? Emily, I'm going to start with you.
[00:29:24] EM: Yeah. It's the murmurs in the room that you can kind of, like, you can hear the walls almost like the echoes off the walls. I love that.
[00:29:32] KS: Hannah?
[00:29:32] HM: It's gotta be, like, it's probably a tie for me between when he counts out loud and when he tells people to get up on their feet. Like, it is these moments in which there is, I like the way you refer to it as being overtly, almost over the top pedagogical, like get up. On your feet. And step for it. Like, yeah, okay, Warren, [laughter overlaps], again, we know how to get up.
[00:29:56] KS: Amy, what about you?
[00:29:57] AT: Yeah, and I have said this already but my favourite part is when Warren says, "Is Robin here?" and is just unsure.
[00:30:06] KS: Yeah, and I mean it's also, you know kind of quite a moment of anxiety. You know, you're counting on Robin to open the, you know, the more serious part of the occasion like, "it would be really great if you were there." And you can hear this, you know, you can almost hear him scanning, right? Like, where he's looking around.
[00:30:24] AT: Yeah.
[00:30:24] EM: At least if Robin didn't show up, you'd still have the text of his reading [McGregor laughs].
[00:30:31] KS: But that is true. That is. He reads from Revelations. John, I forget which it is.
[00:30:37] AT: And I also wonder if Robin knows he's about to be called on first and like, importantly, out by name first, and then nobody else is called by their name to come up and read.
[00:30:49] KS:That's right.
[00:30:49] AT: Yeah.
[00:30:49] KS: [overlaps] Yeah.
[00:30:50] HM: Karis, what's your favourite part? [Laughter].
[00:30:53] KS: I love it when they turn it back on me. It's the "you poets." It's just, like, I realized at that moment, I could imagine doing all the things, you know, that he does in terms of facilitation. But the moment where he says "you poets," I was, like, trying to imagine myself doing that in a room of, like, my poet colleagues who I totally enjoy, I can't imagine just being like, "all you poets," [McGregor laughs] and what their reaction would be to that. It's so, it's so weird. But also I think really speaks to that relationship he had, a very particular relationship that he has with them and probably nobody else does. And he's emphatically not a poet, right? In hailing them as "you poets," it's also marking him as not poet. But he gets to do that because he has the special relationship, and I think because of the work he's done over, you know, the past decade and more in really cultivating a literary community. Yeah.
[00:32:02] EM: I mean we we talked briefly about the sort of the Modernist landscape in this recording, especially because we have sort of super traditional readings from the Bible, and then immediately the thing that follows that on the tape, which is not in the explicit recording, is like experimental sound poetry. And how for a lot of the 20th century, that mix of like deep investment in Western Canon and formal experimentation is actually a hallmark of poetic communities. And I think the other hallmark of poetic communities is the increasing role of the critic. Yeah, right? And then that's bringing us back to authority in a way, as well. Like, it is not being the producer or the artist that is the most authoritative position but in being, like, kind of a critic or curator or even in other like other artistic fields, like people like Diaghilev who was like a ballet producer of a kind but was not himself a dancer and not even a choreographer. Well, sometimes he was. Yeah, anyways. Yeah, that's up for debate.
[00:33:08] KS: Yeah, I think, I mean, this recording, in a lot of ways, and Tallman's presence across the recordings, invites us to look back at literary communities and think about the roles of folks who weren't themselves writers, but the role that they played and establishing those communities and the labor that they performed to facilitate events, etcetera. Often gendered, often gendered.
[00:33:33] EM: Oh, very gendered. [Laughter].
[00:33:36] KS: Yep. This is around the time that we normally do a shoutout to an event, a book, a reading, something that you'd like to recognize and so I'm going to start with Amy, and ask you what would you like to shoutout?
[00:33:52] AT: Am I allowed to shoutout myself?
[00:33:53] KS: Yeah, you can. [laughter] Go for it.
[00:33:55] AT: By the time this podcast comes out, you listeners could go view my honours project online, if you're interested in Canadian poetry or environmental writing or forest fires. We'll put a link in the shoutouts to my digital exhibition.
[00:34:14] KS: And as your supervisor, I must say it's a very excellent project. Super cool. Hannah, what about you? Shoutout?
[00:34:21] HM: I'm going to shoutout my favourite reading series in Vancouver, which is called the Real Vancouver Writer Series, which was started during the Vancouver Olympics in response to the sort of Olympic Committee sanctioned cultural programming. It was a series of readings that were meant to sort of, it was the literary community in Vancouver saying like, "no actually here's what Vancouver literary community looks like." It's now been running for a decade, I believe. And it's remarkable. I think it happens quarterly and it's a really remarkable reading series both for the level of thoughtful curation that goes into the kinds of stuff that you get to see there, but also for the host Sean Cranbury and Dina Del Bucchia, just do this amazing job of creating this environment where, like, there is more cat-calling at this reading series that I have ever experienced at another literary event, and it has so much to do with the tone they create through hosting. And I was really thinking about the sort of work they do around the series when I was listening, so shout out to the Real Vancouver Writer Series.
[00:35:27] KS: Awesome. Thank you. Emily, what about you? Shoutout?
[00:35:31] EM: my shout-out is a bit of a cheat as well because I want a shoutout for Amy. [Laughter].
[00:35:37] KS: Amy is well deserving of many shout outs.
[00:35:39] EM: [Overlaps] Definitely, definitely. Amy is presenting on her honours thesis in the Tech Talk series at The AMP Lab here at UBCO campus on the 26th of March at 12:30 p.m.
[00:35:52] KS: I don't usually do a shoutout, but I'll do one. And actually I'm going to do one that we had from last time, but It is coming up really soon. It's the inaugural Sharon Thesen lecture by John Lent and it's coming up on Thursday, March 19th, which is also going to be passed by the time this comes out. I'm really just dropping it left and right here.
[00:36:15] HM: Love these weird audio archives.
[00:36:16] KS: Yeah. It's like wait a minute. Time. Passing. Okay. [Laughter] Well, I'm going to wrap this up. Thank you so much. Hannah McGregor, here from Vancouver. Hannah, do you want to say what you're here for? Giving a workshop.
[00:36:33] HM: Yeah. Well, I mean that's definitely going to be in the past by the time people are going to be listening to this.
[00:36:36] KS: It is definitely going to be the past. But I feel like it deserves a-
[00:36:40] HM: Yeah. Yeah, shout out to podcasting. That's what I'm giving a workshop about. You know what? In general, shoutout to maybe the other podcast that I host which is the SpokenWeb Podcast. Which this has been an episode of. SoundBox Signals has been an episode of, but more other things. I am actually the April episode of the SpokenWeb podcast is me. Is me? Speak.
[00:37:04] KS: We haven't had that from you yet.
[00:37:06] HM: No, you haven't. So, you're gonna get to hear what I do, which is just complain about male poets [Laughter].
[00:37:13] [theme music]
[00:37:18] You've been listening to SoundBox Signals, episode four. My name is Karis Shearer and I was joined in the studio by Hannah McGregor, Amy Thiessen, and Emily Murphy. We recorded the episode back in early March when we were still able to get together in person and I'm recording the outro right now in my new studio at home, which is a blanket fort. I can assure you that we will continue to bring you new episodes of SoundBox Signals over the summer. You can find them on Apple iTunes, Spotify or wherever you find your podcasts. I want to thank the estate of Warren Tallman for allowing us to use the recording which you can find online on our website soundboxsignals.ok.ubc.ca. Please stay safe.