Archive / 1980-1989

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Cage, John 1983; 1992

Sunday, September 25, 1983
Sunday, March 1, 1992


There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to see, something to hear. In fact, try as we may to make a silence, we cannot.

– John Cage

Listen to John Cage’s 1992 Poetry Center reading:


Vintage poster of Poetry in Motion: a film by Ron Mann with Amiri Baraka, Ted Berrigan, Charles Bukowski, William Burroughs, John Cage, Robert Creeley, Diane Di Prima, Kenward Elmslie, Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Ed Sanders, Gary Snyder, Tom Waits, Anne Waldman at the Poetry Center of Chicago.

Vintage poster of Poetry in Motion: a film by Ron Mann with Amiri Baraka, Ted Berrigan, Charles Bukowski, William Burroughs, John Cage, Robert Creeley, Diane Di Prima, Kenward Elmslie, Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Ed Sanders, Gary Snyder, Tom Waits, Anne Waldman at the Poetry Center of Chicago.


Read John Cage’s “Lecture on Nothing:”

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Check out this documentary about John Cage:

U B U W E B – Film & Video: “American Masters” John Cage: I Have Nothing to Say and I Am Saying It

John Cage On His Way With Sound By JOHN J. O’CONNOR New York Times Published: September 17, 1990 Perhaps the most striking thing about John Cage is his ability to reduce just about anyone in his vicinity to a gentle smile.

More info on John Cage⇒

Ryan, Michael 1989

Friday, October 13, 1989


They slept and ate like us.
Feral they were not.
The intricacy of their handiwork
bespoke a fineness we’d be taught.

– Michael Ryan, “The Others”

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Read an interview with Michael Ryan from How A Poem Happens:

How a Poem Happens

Michael Ryan’s Threats Instead of Trees won the 1973 Yale Series of Younger Poets Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award; , for which he won a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Whiting Writers Award, was a 1981 National Poetry Series selection; won the 1990 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; and New and Selected Poems won the 2005 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award.

Wanting leads to worse than oddity.
The bones creak like bamboo in wind,
and strain toward a better life outside the body,
the life anything has that isn’t human.

– Michael Ryan, “Where I’ll Be Good”

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Watch Michael Ryan read his work at Poetry@Tech:

Poetry@Tech: Michael Ryan – Part 1

Poetry@Tech presents: Michael Ryan Fourth Annual Bourne Poetry Reading October 26, 2005

More info on Michael Ryan⇒

Dobyns, Stephen 1988

Friday, February 26, 1988


Ashes, the dissonance of unicorns: the edges
of my written name begin to curl, the ink
still visible through the fire. In absence of stars,
my natality card remains safely in Washington.

– Stephen Dobyns, “Name-Burning”

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Read this interview with Stephen Dobyns from The New Yorker:

Poetry Questions: Stephen Dobyns – The New Yorker

This week, the magazine features “Determination,” by Stephen Dobyns. I had the chance to ask the author about the kindling and spark that fed this comic poem. “Determination” begins with and loops back to that infamously slippery “first word” of the blank page.

Groggy, sure, and in the midst of bad dreams,
it must have been a dispirited awakening–
expecting everything settled, the long night
without interruption suddenly interrupted,

– Stephen Dobyns, “The Mercy of Lazarus”

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Watch Stephen Dobyns read his work at Poetry@Tech:

Poetry@Tech: Stephen Dobyns

Stephen Dobyns October 27, 2011 Produced by the Georgia Tech Cable Network

More info on Stephen Dobyns⇒

Ignatow, David 1983

Friday, May 13, 1983


Interesting that I have to live with my skeleton.
It stands, prepared to emerge, and I carry it
with me–this other thing I will become at death,
and yet it keeps me erect and limber in my walk,
my rival.

– David Ignatow, “My skeleton, my rival”

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Read this interview with David Ignatow from the Paris Review:

Paris Review – The Art of Poetry No. 23, David Ignatow

The Paris Review is a literary magazine featuring original writing, art, and in-depth interviews with famous writers.

I carry my keys like a weapon,
their points bunched together
and held outwards in the palm
for a step too close behind me
as I approach the subway through the

– David Ignatow, “To Nowhere”

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Listen to David Ignatow read his poem, “What about dying:”

David Ignatow reads What about dying

David Ignatow reads his poem What about dying.

More info on David Ignatow⇒

Segal, Lore 1982

Friday, September 24, 1982


The doctors, nurses and patients in the overcrowded, too-brightly lit Emergency Room turned toward the commotion. It was the very old woman thrashing about her with improbable strength and agility. “You do not,” she shouted, “you do not tell me to relax! I will not relax.”

– Lore Segal, Half the Kingdom

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Read this interview with Lore Segal from BOMB Magazine:

BOMB Magazine – Lore Segal by Han Ong

Ilka Weissnix, fleeing Hitler’s Europe, lands in America and promptly falls in love with a disaffected black intellectual at least two decades her senior. This odd-duck affair, by turns thrilling and frustrating, is how she learns to become American, and it gives an idea of her creator Lore Segal’s striking gift for askew juxtaposition and reversal.

Watch Lore Segal read and discuss her work:

Lore Segal begins speaking at 4:30 minutes. 

More info on Lore Segal⇒

Hayes, Alice Judson Ryerson 1981

Friday, December 18, 1981

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The president is walking in his sleep.
At the ends of his arms
air-flicking fingers thrum
dreaming of turning on a light.
Sleep, surrounded by switches
is iridescent in the Dark House.
His sleepy hand fumbles and reaches,
cheerful. Numb. Near.

– Alice Judson Ryerson Hayes, “Calling-People”

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Watch a video about Alice Judson Ryerson Hayes’s Ragdale Foundation:

The dilly silly court
on diases of raw silk
smirked at the dwarf
toddling. Oh, the milk
spilling down his chin!
Even the Imam laughed
as the eyes rolled
in the lolling head.

– Alice Judson Ryerson Hayes, “Jester”

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More info on Alice Judson Ryerson Hayes⇒

Rothenberg, Jerome 1980

Friday, May 16, 1980


Time runs thru my fingers,
laughter & feathers
against her lips
when I bend to kiss her

– Jerome Rothenberg, “A Slower Music”

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Read this interview with Jerome Rothenberg from Rain Taxi:

Poet and Polemicist: an interview with Jerome Rothenberg

by Sarah Suzor Poet, translator, and polemicist Jerome Rothenberg is the author of more than 80 books of poetry, and has edited or co-edited ten major anthologies/assemblages, including Shaking the Pumpkin, Technicians of the Sacred, and three volumes of Poems for the Millennium.

the gauleiter & the rabbit
form another segment
of the dream     their motion thrusts them forward
until he drives his teeth into the other’s neck
purveyor of a custom so within the norm
the world will hardly recognize it

– Jerome Rothenberg, “The Gauleiter & The Rabbit (2)”

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Watch Jerome Rothenberg read some of his work:

Jerome Rothenberg ” Visions and Affiliations

Jack and Adelle Foley hosted readings by Southern California poets included in Jack’s chrono-encyclopedia, Visions and Affiliations, at Beyond Baroque. — Saturday, December 8th 2012 — * Watch the whole show: * Read a profile of Jack and this book: * Jack and Adelle Foley: * Visions and Affiliations: * Beyond Baroque: — Find more at

More info on Jerome Rothenberg⇒

Benedikt, Michael 1980

Friday, December 5, 1980


The tulips never really hurt
As they rose up in the night
Thrashing over the bed

– Michael Benedikt, “Tulips”

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Read this NPR highlight on Michael Benedikt:

Wise, Funny Poems, Saved From The Trash Bin In The Nick Of ‘Time’

The Selected Poems of Michael Benedikt Paperback, 225 pages | It always feels good to see a poet rescued from oblivion. Michael Benedikt (1935-2007), a prominent figure in the poetry scene of the 1960s and 70s, was not exactly an important poet, but he was – and in his work, he remains – a deeply enjoyable one.

Fraudulent days, the surfaces collapse
When against them you press your finger
The beautiful brick suit
When you scrape it is only a tinsel clothing
The whole upper stories of the building
Touched, is a seagull’s back, revealed

– Michael Benedikt, “Fraudulent Days”

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More info on Michael Benedikt⇒

Duyn, Mona Van 1981

Friday, April 24, 1981


Before you leave her, the woman who thought you lavish,
whose body you led to parade without a blush
the touching vulgarity of the nouveau-riche

– Mona Van Duyn, “Advice to a God”

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Read this article honoring Mona Van Duyn from the Beltway Poetry Quarterly:

Andrea Carter Brown on Mona Van Duyn

In the spring of 1992, the Library of Congress broke precedent, naming Mona Van Duyn its first female Poet Laureate.

From a new peony,
my last anthem,
a squirrel in glee
broke the budded stem.
I thought, where is joy
without fresh bloom,
that old hearts’ ploy
to mask the tomb?

– Mona Van Duyn, “Sonnet for Minimalists”

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Listen to Mona Van Duyn read some of her poetry:

More info on Mona Van Duyn ⇒

Strand, Mark 1982

Friday, April 2, 1982


It is evening in the town of X
where Death, who used to love me, sits
in a limo with a blanket spread across his thighs.

– Mark Strand, “2032”


Broadside of “2032” by Mark Strand

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Vintage poster of Mark Strand's reading at the Poetry Center of Chicago.

Vintage poster of Mark Strand’s reading at the Poetry Center of Chicago.

Not the attendance of stones,
nor the applauding wind,
shall let you know
you have arrived,
nor the sea that celebrates
only departures,
nor the mountains,
nor the dying cities.

– Mark Strand, “Black Maps”

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Read this interview with Mark Strand from Guernica:

Not Quite Invisible

Mark Strand finds it somewhat un-poetic to know too much about himself. He isn’t always sure what he’s saying when he writes a poem. What he does know is that he’s going to “relinquish basketball and become a fútbol fan,” that he wants to shake up his life, and that he is ready for “harmony in the boudoir.”

It shines in the garden,
in the white foliage of the chestnut tree,
in the brim of my father’s hat
as he walks on the gravel.

– Mark Strand, “The Garden”

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Watch Mark Strand talk about his work:

More on Mark Strand ⇒