The Wire

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Listen: Bob Cobbing recordings

December 2014

Listen to two recordings of the poet Bob Cobbing performing

Daniel Spicer writes about the poet, publisher and organiser Bob Cobbing in The Wire 370: "Bob Cobbing’s work as a sound poet began in earnest in 1964, with the creation of his piece ABC In Sound. Recorded in 1965 and released the same year as one side of an LP on his Writers Forum imprint (reissued on CD by the British Library in 2009) the piece captures Cobbing’s sonorous, rhythmic progression through the alphabet, splicing together multilingual snippets and abstract syllables. As one of the key works of 20th century sound poetry, ABC In Sound alone should be enough to secure Cobbing’s importance. But, at the same time, he also acted as a crucial lightning rod for the UK experimental arts scene in his role as manager of the shop and countercultural fulcrum, Better Books, on London’s Charing Cross Road between 1965–67. During his tenure, he published texts by Allen Ginsberg and John Cage, released sound poetry records by Henri Chopin and François Dufrene, and helped organise two hugely influential poetry readings at the Royal Albert Hall, as well as other events like the Destruction In Art Symposium in 1966. Through all these endeavours and more, Cobbing was a vital, catalysing figure in the rapidly coalescing British counterculture."

An exhibition of publications, texts, posters and footage of Cobbing, Bill Jubobe, is at London’s Chelsea Space until 19 December. Benedict Drew gives a performance responding to Cobbing’s work at London’s Triangle Space in Chelsea College of Arts on 18 December.

Recordings copyright the Estate of Bob Cobbing


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