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Ode To Gravity:
A Poetry Reading by Charles Reznikoff, March 21, 1974

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Item Type: Sound Recording Duration: 55 min
Event Type: Spoken Word Program Origin: KPFA

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A reading by the then 80 year old Charles Reznikoff, recorded at the Poetry Center of San Francisco State University on March 21, 1974, in which the poet reads a selection of his works written from 1918 to 1974. Reznikoff, along with fellow poets Carl Rakosi, Louis Zukofsky, and George Oppen were dubbed the Objectivist Poets by Ezra Pound back in the 1930s, and it is Oppen who offers a warm introduction at the start of this program. Reznikoff then reads a number of his mostly short and untitled poems, the topics of which range from vignettes about life in New York City, portraits of working people of varying ethnicity, stories garnered from law reports, and ruminations on Judaism. Always cheerful, never boring, and free of all pretension, this is a poet for the ages.

Note: The attribution of these poems is based on the 2005 edition of “The Poems of Charles Reznikoff” edited by Seamus Cooney except where noted.

Part 1 of 2:  
Musical Selections:  “Salmon and red wine” [”Inscriptions No. 23”] (0:40) -- “I have neither the time nor the weaving skill, perhaps” [”Inscriptions No. 21”] (0:24) -- "When the sky is blue, the water over the sandy bottom is green" [”Jerusalem is Golden No. 71”] (0:20) -- Building Boom [”A Fifth Group of Verse No. 13”] (0:30) -- "The house-wreckers have left the door and a staircase" [”Poems No. 7”] (0:08) -- "Among the heaps of brick and plaster lies" [”Jerusalem the Golden No. 69”] (0:09) -- "These days the papers in the street" [”Jerusalem the Golden No. 10”] (0:18) -- "Scrap of paper" [”Inscriptions No. 24”] (0:08) -- "Of course, we must die." [”Inscriptions No. 41”] (0:12) -- "Rails in the subway," [”Jerusalem the Golden No. 17”] (0:09) -- "This subway station" [”Autobiography: New York XVIII”, from “Going To and Fro and Walking Up and Down”] (0:15) -- "What are you doing in our street among the automobiles" [”Jerusalem the Golden No. 39”] (0:09) -- "Permit me to warn you" [”Jerusalem the Golden No. 42”] (0:06) -- "As I was wandering with my unhappy thoughts" [”Inscriptions No. 20”] (0:28) -- "On a Sunday, when the place was closed," [”Autobiography: New York XXVII”, from “Going To and Fro and Walking Up and Down”] (0:15) -- "Fraser, I think, tells of a Roman," [“Inscriptions No. 45”] (0:15) -- "The hillside facing the river was much used by the citizens last night" [”By the Well of Living and Seeing II No. 32”] (0:33) -- Rainy Season [”Autobiography: Hollywood XII”, from “Going To and Fro and Walking Up and Down”] (0:13) -- Scrubwoman [”Rhythms II No. 7”] (0:15) -- "The peddler who goes from shop to shop," [”Poems No. 4”] (0:11) -- "The winter afternoon darkens." [”Rhythms II No. 5”] (0:10) -- "The elevator man, working long hours" [”Autobiography: New York XVII”, from “Going To and Fro and Walking Up and Down”] (0:13) -- "The young fellow walks about" [”Autobiography: New York XXV”, from “Going To and Fro and Walking Up and Down”] (0:29) -- "Showing a torn sleeve, with stiff and shaking fingers the old man" [”Poems No. 9”] (0:14) -- "Two girls of twelve or so at a table" [”Inscriptions No. 7”] (0:37) -- "Simple soul, who so early in the morning" [excerpt, from “Depression” from “Separate Way No. 8”] (0:31) -- "In the drizzle" [excerpt, from “Depression” from “Separate Way No. 8”] (0:32) -- "The shopgirls leave their work" [”Rhythms No. 9”] (0:12) -- Millinery District [”Separate Way No. 6”] (0:10) -- Cooper Union Library [”Autobiography: New York XXIII”, from “Going To and Fro and Walking Up and Down”] (0:18) -- "You must not suppose" [”By the Well of Living and Seeing I No. 11”] (0:09) -- “I am always surprised to meet, after ten or twenty years” [”Autobiography: New York XXVI”, from “Going To and Fro and Walking Up and Down”] (0:22) -- "The new janitor is a Puerto Rican;" [”By the Well of Living and Seeing II, No. 10”] (1:15) -- "Most of the stock in the hardware store" [”By the Well of Living and Seeing II, No. 13”] (1:43) -- "The Chinese girl in the waiting-room" [”By the Well of Living and Seeing II, No. 11”] (0:21) -- “During the Second World War, I was going home one night” [”By the Well of Living and Seeing II, No. 28”] (1:31) -- Fable [”Inscriptions No. 50”] (0:24) -- "One of my sentinels, a tree," [”Inscriptions No. 3”] (0:10) -- "I have not even been in the fields," [”Rhythms II No. 1”] (0:08) -- "Blurred sight and trembling fingers-" [”Inscriptions No. 48”] (0:15) -- Heart and Clock [excerpt, ”Separate Way No. 1”] (0:34) -- "If my days were like the ants," [excerpt, ”Separate Way No. 1”] (0:13) -- "The clock" [”Jerusalem the Golden No. 62”] (0:09) -- "My hair was caught in the wheels of a clock" [”Jerusalem the Golden No. 63”] (0:33) -- "Hardly a breath of wind," [”Inscriptions No. 12”] (0:14) -- “After I had worked all day at what I earn my living” [”A Fifth Group of Verse No. 19”] (0:09) -- Te Deum [”Inscriptions No. 22”] (0:07) -- “Amelia was just fourteen and out of the orphan asylum; at her first job” [”Testimony II”] (01:10)
Genre:  Poetry
Subject:  Poetry
People:  Amirkhanian, Charles; Oppen, George; Reznikoff, Charles, 1894-1976
Recording Date:  3/21/1974
First Broadcast Date:  5/15/1974
 
Part 2 of 2:  
Musical Selections:  “The company had advertised for men to unload a steamer across” [”Testimony I”] (01:38) -- Land of Refuge [excerpt, from “New Nation” from “Separate Way No. 11”] (0:37) -- Brief History [excerpt, from “New Nation” from “Separate Way No. 11”] (0:33) -- The English in Virginia, April 1607 [”Jerusalem the Golden No. 74”] (1:10) -- Samuel [”A Fifth Group of Verse No. 20”] (1:11) --From the Apocalyptic Ezra [”Inscriptions No. 15”] (3:10) -- "The highway I was walking on" [”By the Well of Living and Seeing II No. 7”] (3:33) -- "God saw Adam in a town" [”A Fifth Group of Verse No. 17”] (0:15) -- The Bastard (3:29) -- "I like the streets of New York City," [excerpt “Autobiography: Hollywood No. 1” from “Going To and Fro and Walking Up and Down”] (0:36)
Genre:  Poetry
Subject:  Poetry
People:  Amirkhanian, Charles; Reznikoff, Charles, 1894-1976
Recording Date:  3/21/1974
First Broadcast Date:  5/15/1974
 
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