Tag Archives: poetry

ESSENTIAL MUSIC: Concerts From Home

by Peggy Lee and Wendy Hanamura

“That’s how I think of it now: listening as intimacy. My shoulders dropped. The muscles in my neck and face relaxed. I breathed more deeply.”

—Donald Antrim, “How Music Can Bring Relief During These Anxious Times,” The New Yorker
Santa Cruz-based steel lap guitarist, Bill Walker, performing some “essential music,” in a virtual concert from home.

Every Monday at 9:55 a.m., the concerts begin. Lap steel guitarists. Feminist indie folk bands. Improvisational cellists. For the Internet Archive staff, spread across many continents, these ten-minute concerts that begin and end our work week create an aural bubble where listening together feels intimate, uplifting. For us this music has somehow become, yes, essential. For the artists, zooming in from makeshift home stages, the chance to perform live for our staff of 100+ creates a connection with an audience that has been severed during the pandemic. “It was so nourishing to be supported, not only emotionally, but also financially at a time when musicians are being hit incredibly hard,” said singer-songwriter, Annie Hart. “It made my art feel valued and appreciated and helped me continue to make more.”

The idea to create this impromptu concert series originated with Alexis Rossi, who heads the Internet Archive’s Collections team. Five minutes before our Monday morning and Friday lunch staff zoom meetings, Alexis and Web Archiving Program Manager, Peggy Lee, act as virtual stage managers, getting performers dialed in, audio levels tweaked. The Internet Archive pays performers a small fee and staffers “tip” the artists through paypal or Venmo. “”I have several friends who are full time performers, and shelter in place completely destroyed their ability to work and make a living,” explains Rossi. “So I jumped at the chance to help book acts because I knew that even a little bit of income would help.”

Jess Sah Bi performs original music in in French, Gouro, and English.

“The music series has been a way we bring people into our house, the place where we come together as a community, and have this shared experience together. I love those ten minutes.”

—Peggy Lee, Co-producer, Essential Music

What started as a fun idea has solidified into ESSENTIAL MUSIC: Concerts From Home, a program that we believe could be replicated anywhere, offering organizations many intangible benefits. “The Internet Archive’s live performances have been such a bright spot in my week,” says engineer, Jason Buckner. “They bring such a positive energy to our meetings and you can see it in the faces of everyone watching on Zoom.”  Just ten minutes of music seems to have a magical effect on staff: inspiration.  “Seeing other creatives excel at what they do helps bind me closer to my work,” agrees Isa Herico Velasco, Internet Archive engineer. “It affirms what we are actually stewarding: the preservation and celebration of humanity.”

Here are some of the Essential Music concerts, recorded and shared by permission of the artists:

Ainsley Wagoner / Silverware (6/16/20)

Ainsley Wagoner creates ethereal music as the artist, Silverware. Ainsley is also a product designer who co-created the super cool OAM project — an experiment in mixing sound, colours, and geometries on the web. “Performing is one of my favorite parts about being a musician,” says Wagoner. “Even though I have recorded music online, nothing beats playing a song live. For now, I don’t have an in-person performance outlet, so it felt really good to do that virtually with the Internet Archive.”

Alex Spoto (6/22/20) 

Alex is a multi-instrumentalist who has performed and recorded with Last Good Tooth, Benjamin Booker, and many others. He is a longtime contributor for Aquarium Drunkard and the co-author of Fowre 2: Gone Country, a book of interviews with contemporary Country musicians. He got his start playing classical violin, then ‘old-time’ folk music, and then improvised “free” music. He is currently musically obsessed with cajun fiddling, old cumbia, the jazzier side of Merle Haggard, the polyrhythmic foundation of Saharan folk music, the sly and sensitive folkways of Michael Hurley, and the Internet Archive’s 78 project!

Vickie Vertiz (6/26/20)

The oldest child of an immigrant Mexican family, Vickie Vértiz was born and raised in Bell Gardens, a city in southeast Los Angeles County. Her writing is featured in the New York Times magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, Huizache, Nepantla, the Los Angeles Review of Books,  KCET Departures, and the anthologies: Open the Door (from McSweeney’s and the Poetry Foundation), and The Coiled Serpent (from Tia Chucha Press), among many others. 

Vértiz’s first full collection of poetry, Palm Frond with Its Throat Cut, published in the Camino del Sol Series by The University of Arizona Press won a 2018 PEN America literary prize. Vickie is a proud member of Colectivo Miresa, a feminist cooperative speaker’s bureau, her first poetry collection, Swallows, is available from Finishing Line Press. She teaches at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Jess Sylvester / Marinero (6/29/20)

Jess Sylvester is a Bay Area chicanx songwriter/composer, also known as Marinero. Marinero is known for his dreamy, cholo-fi signature style of taking samples of 60s latin music and adding spacey pop flavors. His newest album, Trópico de Cáncer, is rooted in bossa nova and Tropicália sounds. Watch his profile in Content Magazine.

Sylvester says: “I was actually touched by the introduction given to me right before playing a song for their team. It was a shock to hear the level of research they had done referencing my life and past projects, and in retrospect made sense considering it was the Internet Archive just living up to their name.” Thank you for listening to my music and making me feel heard and supported.”

Ivan Forde (7/6/20)

Ivan Forde is a Guyanese-born, Harlem artist. Forde (b. 1990) works across sound performance, printmaking, digital animation and installation. Using a wide variety of photo-based and print-making processes (and more recently music and performance), Ivan Forde retells stories from epic poetry casting himself as every character. His non-linear versions of these time-worn tales open the possibility of new archetypes and alternative endings. By crafting his own unique mythology and inserting himself in historical narratives, he connects the personal to the universal and offers a transformative view of prevailing narratives in the broader culture. 

Zachary James Watkins (7/10/20)

Zachary James Watkins is an Oakland-based sound artist. He was one-half of the defunct duo Black Spirituals and is now part of the current duo Watkins/Peacock. Zachary has received commissions from Cornish, The Microscores Project, The Beam Foundation, Somnubutone, the sfSoundGroup and the Seattle Chamber Players. He has shared bills with Earth, the Sun Ra Arkestra, and designed the sound and composed music for the plays “I Have Loved Strangers.” His 2006 composition Suite for String Quartet was awarded the Paul Merritt Henry Prize for Composition and has subsequently been performed at the Labs 25th Anniversary Celebration, the Labor Sonor Series at Kule in Berlin Germany and in Seattle Wa, as part of the 2nd Annual Town Hall New Music Marathon. Zachary has been an artist in residence at the Espy Foundation, Djerassi and the Headlands Center for The Arts.

Bill Walker (7/13/20) 

A gifted composer and instrumentalist, Bill Walker’s music has been described as cinematic, adventurous, and innovative. His solo performances create a rich tapestry of layered sounds, blending electric and acoustic guitars, lap steel guitars, and percussive guit-boxing with state of the art live looping techniques and sound design.

This Santa Cruz, CA-based musician was featured in Guitar Player Magazine for his collaboration with Erdem Helvacioglu on the critically acclaimed CD, “Fields and Fences”. To hear more tune in to his YouTube channel.

Jennifer Cheng (7/17/20)

Jennifer S. Cheng’s work includes poetry, lyric essay, and image-text forms exploring immigrant home-building, shadow poetics, and the feminine monstrous. She is the author of MOON: LETTERS, MAPS, POEMS, selected by Bhanu Kapil for the Tarpaulin Sky Award, and HOUSE A, selected by Claudia Rankine for the Omnidawn Poetry Prize. She is a 2019 NEA Literature Fellow and graduated from Brown University, the University of Iowa, and San Francisco State University. 

Jess Sah Bi (7/17/20)

Jess Sah Bi, with his musical partner, Peter One, is one of the most popular musical acts in West Africa, performing to stadium-sized audiences at home in the Ivory Coast and throughout Benin, Burkina Faso, and Togo. Their album, Our Garden Needs Its Flowers, originally thrust them into stardom in the late ’80s. The album was inspired both by classic American country and folk music and the traditions of Ivorian village songs, but it focused thematically on the political turmoil of the region. Songs are sung in French, Gouro, and English.

Theresa Wong (7/24/20)

Theresa Wong is a Berkeley-based composer, cellist and vocalist active at the intersection of music, experimentation, improvisation and the synergy of multiple disciplines. Bridging sound, movement, theater and visual art, her primary interest lies in finding the potential for transformation for both the artist and receiver alike.
Her works include The Unlearning (Tzadik), 21 songs for violin, cello and 2 voices inspired by Goya’s Disasters of War etchings, O Sleep, an improvised opera for an 8 piece ensemble exploring the conundrum of sleep and dream life. In 2018, Theresa founded fo’c’sle, a record label dedicated to adventurous music from the Bay Area and beyond. Theresa has shared her work internationally at venues including Fondation Cartier in Paris, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, Cafe Oto in London, Festival de Arte y Ópera Contemporánea in Morelia, Mexico and The Stone and Roulette in New York City.

After her performance, the artist wrote, “I could sense the spirit reaching out beyond glass and pixels, sparking back to life that basic need of connecting with others.”

Audio Poetry and Books

Naropa Poetics Archive

(AUDIO) – Over 800 programs of poetry readings, classroom workshops and performances of mostly post-WWII American poetry, from the Beats to Language poetry and beyond, but also many lectures covering the history of poetry. The recordings were made at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, founded in 1974 by Anne Waldman and Allen Ginsberg.

The list below shows at a glance many of the poets whose talks are available in the collection. It’s not comprehensive, but it covers those with more than one entry (for example, there are over 100 Allen Ginsberg programs). It does not include all theme programs, panel discussions, faculty readings and tributes. (For those without a link, copy the name, click the link to the Naropa collection, then search from there.)

Keith Abbott
Kathy Acker – 1979 reading w/Michael Brownstein pt 1; pt 2
Helen Adam (photo) – 1979 lecture pt 1
Jane Augustine – on Clarice Lispector pt 1; pt 2
Amiri Baraka – on speech, rhythm, sound and music
Gregory Bateson – on consciousness and psychopathology
Dodie Bellamy
Bill Berkson
Charles Bernstein
Mei Mei Bersenbrugge – 2001 reading pt 1
Robin Blaser – Where’s Hell?; Irreparables
Lee Ann Brown
Michael Brownstein
William S. Burroughs, Jr.
William S. Burroughs, Sr. – lecture
Reed Bye
Don Byrd
John Cage – Empty Words, pt 1; Empty Words pt 2
Jim Carroll – plays recordings of his songs, pt 1
Steve Clay, publisher of Granary Books
Andrei Codrescu – surrealism
Jack Collom
Clark Coolidge – jazz lecture; on Samuel Beckett
David Cope
Gregory Corso
Robert Creeley
Fielding Dawson
Diane Di Prima
Ed Dorn
Rikki Ducornet
Robert Duncan – 1976 lecture ‘Warp and Woof’, pt. 1; pt. 2
Kenward Elmslie
Clayton Eschleman – on translating Aime Cesaire
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Kathleen Fraser
Benjamin Friedlander on Paul Celan
Alan Gilbert
Allen Ginsberg – on Russian Futurists, w/Ann Charters; and more
John Giorno
James Grauerholz
Robert Grenier
Barbara Guest – a tribute
Joy Harjo
Carla Harryman
Bobbie Louise Hawkins
Lyn Hejinian
Anselm Hollo
Bob Holman
Lisa Jarnot
Jazz – lectures and performances
Pierre Joris – Poems for the millennium, pt 1 of 4
Jack Kerouac
Kevin Killian
Kenneth Koch
Joanne Kyger
Steve Lacy and Irene Aebi
Vladimir Mayakovski – lecture by Andy Clausen, pt 1
Bernadette Mayer
Michael McClure
Meredith Monk performance
LeRoy Moore
Thurston Moore performance
Harryette Mullen
Eileen Myles
Alice Notley
Peter Orlovsky
Simon Ortiz
Jena Osman
Ron Padgett
Michael Palmer – 2002 lecture; reading pt 1; pt 2
Alexs Pate
Julie Patton
Bob Perelman
Majorie Perloff
Wang Ping
Ezra Pound – diPrima on Pound
Kristin Prevallet
Carl Rakosi – reading his interview, 1987
Margaret Randall
Tom Raworth
Joan Retallack – lecture: Stein’s influence on John Cage
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
Elizabeth Robinson
Jerome Rothenberg – lectures on ethnopoetics and shamanism
Peter Rowan
Sonia Sanchez
Ed Sanders
Leslie Scalapino
Andrew Schelling
Eleni Sikelianos
Harry Smith – Native American cosmos – 07/08/90; 07/15/90; 07.22.90;
Cajun Music; The Rationality of Namelessness
Gary Snyder
Juliana Spahr
Cole Swenson
Warren Tallman
Steven Taylor – several lectures on music
Lorenzo Thomas
Edwin Torres
Chris Tysh
Cecilia Vicuna
Anne Waldman – on women writers
Lewis Warsh
Peter Warshall – on animal sounds
Marjorie Welish – 2001 lecture, The Lyric Lately
Philip Whalen
Jim White
Peter Lamborn Wilson
John Yau
And more…
See also Ron Silliman

The Other Minds Archive contains many programs of poetry, primarily by practitioners of Sound Poetry – Charles Amirkhanian, Bob Cobbing (photo), Henri Chopin, Bernard Heidsieck, etc.



(AUDIO) – Recorded readings of classic literature. Many works are also available in their original language. Here I’ve made a selection of Modernist works using a single reader. This list is not representative of the variety of books available from LibriVox – from ancient classics to children’s books, and more popular authors such as Jane Austin and Mark Twain. These works are in the Public Domain and for many the text version is also available on Internet Archive.


Joseph Conrad – The Point of Honor
T.S. Eliot – The Waste Land
Theodor Fontane – Effi Briest (in German)
Sigmund Freud – Dream Psychology; Reflections on War and Death
G.W.F. Hegel – Introduction to the Philosophy of History
Aldous Huxley – Crome Yellow
Karl Marx – Eleven Theses on Feuerbach; Wage-Labour and Capital; The Communist Manifesto
Nietzsche – The Twilight of the Idols
Ezra Pound – Cathay
Santayana – Some Turns of Thought in Modern Philosophy
Gertrude Stein – Tender Buttons
Wallace Stevens – Poems
Virginia Woolf – Night and Day

See other sub-collections for Audio Books and Poetry.

Jordon Zorker

Poetry on the Archive




  • Icons of Black Poetry, iconic poems read by 4th graders and acommpanied by images of their artwork
  • Tatlin, a puppet animation of the life & work of Vladimir Tatlin, the constructivist artist, with an accompanying poem by Velimir Khlebnikov.
— Alexis