“Howe is a poet who has spent her career reminding us that our experiences of meaning and sound are synchronous.” (Tess Taylor, The New York Times)
Concordance is Susan Howe’s and David Grubbs’s fifth album in the unexpected and richly satisfying collaboration that began with Thiefth and includes Souls of the Labadie Tract, Frolic Architecture,
and WOODSLIPPERCOUNTERCLATTER. Where these works feature the fragmentation and multiplication of Howe’s recorded voice—in a style akin to her celebrated text collages—with Concordance they’ve pared down their materials to voice and piano, aspiring to the hushed intensity of their live performances. After fifteen years of working together, the subtleties of inflection and interaction that previously resulted from Howe’s nuanced delivery and Grubbs’s composition using recorded materials now arrives as unadorned duo performance.
Howe’s text for Concordance originates in a collage poem of the same name published by Grenfell Press, which then became the title work in her most recent book, published to acclaim by New
Directions in 2020. She has continued to rework the text for this performed version, incorporating material from her 2015 book of essays, The Quarry. Her source material is scissored from print
Concordances of the poetry of Milton, Herbert, Arnold, Browning, Dickinson, and Coleridge as well as old field guides to birds, rocks, trees, moths, and mushrooms; Howe’s fiery commitment to placing these echoes of the past in dialogue with the present speaks to her position as one of America’s essential artists.
Susan Howe’s collection of poems That This won the Bollingen Prize in 2011, and in 2017 she received the Robert Frost award for distinguished lifetime achievement in American poetry. Her earlier critical study, My Emily Dickinson, was reissued in 2007 with an introduction by Eliot Weinberger. In October, 2013 her word collages printed and published by Leslie Miller at Grenfell Press were exhibited at the Yale Union in Portland, Oregon. Spontaneous Particulars: The Telepathy of Archives was published by Christine Burgin and New Directions in 2014. New Directions published her
selected essays, The Quarry, in 2015; Debths in 2017; and Concordance, designed by Leslie Miller and first published in 2019 by Grenfell Press, was reissued by New Directions in 2020. She lives in Guilford, Connecticut.
David Grubbs is Professor of Music at Brooklyn College and The Graduate Center, CUNY. He is the author of The Voice in the Headphones, Now that the audience is assembled, and Records Ruin the Landscape: John Cage, the Sixties, and Sound Recording (all published by Duke University Press) and, with Anthony McCall, Simultaneous Soloists (Pioneer Works Press). Grubbs has played in Gastr del Sol, The Red Krayola, and Squirrel Bait and performed with Tony Conrad, Pauline Oliveros, and Will Oldham, among many others.