Tape Poems (1969)

Tape Poems (Duration: 54 min.)

Side One
  1. Vito Hannibal Acconci - Untitled
  2. Michael Benedikt - Some Litanies
  3. Scott Burton - Adding "Minutes"
  4. Ted Castle & Leandro Kats - Some Toast & Principles or Something
  5. Eduardo Costa - Four Works
  6. John Giorno - Give It To Me Baby
Side Two
  1. Joseph Ceravolo - Poems and Background
  2. Dan Graham - "Foams" plus Fill
  3. Bernadette Mayer - Complete Works of Webern, A Movie
  4. John Perrault - FIve Works for Tape Recorder: Two Minutes and Eighty Feet of Silence and/or Intermission and/or Do-It-Yourself-Tapes Poem and/or Tape Poem To Be Read From Tape And Recorded And Then Played Back
  5. Anne Waldman - Three Minutes of My Life
  6. Lewis Warsh - Halloween
  7. Hannah Weiner - Three Poems
Edited by Eduardo Costa and John Perreault
Audio Engineer: Alcides Lanza
4 Track Stereo
Speed 7 1/2, Time 54 minutes


This is the first collection and the first "publication" of works created specifically for stereophonic tape. The works exist completely in terms of aural phenomenon, rather than in terms of visual systems of signs, thus beginning a new art of the tape recorder that has in common with written literature the fact that it refers to real language.

Some poets have already issued phonograph recordings of readings from their written works. TAPE POEMS, however, do not exist as printed works, Also there are many differences between phonograph recordings and tape recordings. Among other things, a tape recording can be easily erased, edited and re-recorded.

We see TAPE POEMS as the initial exploration of a new medium for the artistic use of language that will co-exist with written literature.

The use of this new medium will call attention to ordinary speech as one of the most important ways of producing aesthetic emotion through language. It will regain for "literature" tones of voice, pitch, and the other characteristics of spoken language that are lost when it is translated into the printed word. These nuances are linguistically relevant, since they can indicate age, sex, class, geographical origin and emotional state of the speaker.

Written literature can be thought of as consisting of some of the possible combinations of the letters of the alphabet arranged on a plane; but aural literature, such as Tape Poems, consists of sounds arranged in space.

Another difference between aural literature and written literature is that in written literature the author has little control over the speed at which his language is perceived, whereas in aural literature – as in the cinema- the author does have control.

In the past, documentation was restricted to writing. Now as well as writing we use photography and tape recording to document and to remember. Tape recordings become sound snapshots.

But there is a difference between photo documentation and sound documentation. In a photograph the materiality is not the same as the materiality of the object represented. For instance, a photo of a person is not flesh, but paper. But when we play a tape we have sound as in the original phonic language.

Of course, the fact that the materiality is the same does not mean that when we listen to a tape-recording of language we are listening to the real language. We are only in front of language mediated through a different system of restriction, through another code than that of written language.

The tape recorder is already as necessary as the typewriter. It may soon replace it. In the future it may not be necessary to learn to read and write. Perhaps all we will need to know is how to hold a microphone and push a few buttons.

Vito Acconci in UbuWeb Sound
John Giorno in UbuWeb Sound
Dan Graham in UbuWeb Sound