Rachel Blau Duplessis

Over the 2008-2009 academic year, I got to work with Rachel Blau DuPlessis. Rachel is a feminist poet, literary critic, and editor of some great collections of modern poetry. A prolific writer and deeply interested in the avant garde movement and the influence of (early 20th century) modernism on poetry at an international level, Rachel was fun work with. At different times throughout the year, she brought me projects that could be tackled with digital tools, including producing high-quality scans of a collection of poems titled Draft 94: Mail Art for the Australian journal of poetry Jacket*, so we developed a great working relationship. And when she was asked to participate in two events out of reach for mid-year travel, we produced a couple of videos so that she might attend virtually.

In this first video, Rachel reads from from her invited contribution to the Tapa notebook collection, housed in the University of Auckland’s (New Zealand) special collections library. She also reads a poem, Draft 95: Erg.

In the second, Rachel reads her remarks prepared for a conference celebrating the poetry of Ron Silliman. She was not able to attend the conference in person, so I worked with her to film her reading, which the conference organizers used to let a handful of commenters participate virtually. Her reading focuses on Silliman’s The Alphabet.

And finally, Rachel was invited by David Need to participate in a local (Durham, NC) reading series called “Arcade Taberna”. Since the other two video projects had gone so well, she asked if I would like to film this one as well. A bit longer than the other readings, I enjoy this video best as it gets into some of her more playful poetry.

You can hear more of Rachel’s readings, going back to 1982, at her PennSound page.

* John Trantner’s journal Jacket has been given the institutional resources it deserves and is now a project of the Kelly Writers House, affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania. See jacket2.org for more.

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