On December 31, 2018 my poem entitled “The Blooms” was published in the Flying Island Literary Journal. You can read it here.
Until that final day of 2018, this blog had been the only place of publication for my writing. Reaching a point to self-publish my work was an experience of courage. Having a poem published in a literary journal was an experience of validation.
“The Blooms” came about while I listened to the album Autumn by solo piano artist George Winston. The sounds swirling through my ears met with the simple thought that Winston is also brand of cigarettes. Suddenly, the music became a plume of smoke rising out of a piano. Sound translated into a vivid visual experience, eventually escaping mental boundaries to create full-body sensations. It was all quite a ride and capturing a representation of it in the poem remains very gratifying.
If you are not familiar with the music of George Winston, I encourage you to listen. A few YouTube users have uploaded the full Autumn album. The tobacco version of Winstons are best left to mental imagery.
The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s second annual INfusion Music Festival took place this past May. One of the festival concerts was very different from the usual live symphony experience. The first half presented Liquid Interface, a composition by Mason Bates. It blends the orchestra and electronic sounds with shifts between the two occurring seamlessly. Liquid Interface is described by the composer as “a piece inspired by water in its variety of forms, inhabiting an increasingly hotter world in each progressive movement.” It was fascinating how the sounds of the live orchestra and synthesized elements created flowing streams and dripping water. The air felt as if it was cooled with the evaporation of sound.
The second half was an equally amazing experience, combining the powerful lyrics and vocal talent of Amos Lee with the full Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. At times the orchestra provided a beautiful lush backdrop; while other times the orchestra added a power and richness to Amos Lee’s performance that was transporting.
This was another case of a mesmerizing live musical performance triggering my creative flow and I had to capture the words as soon as possible. Typically, I would reach for my phone to make a few notes, but there was no way to do that during the concert without being disruptive. So, as soon as the final song ended and everyone leapt to their feet in a standing ovation, thumbs flew into action creating a stream of text messages to myself. A great deal was captured in that moment, and once I was home, the poem was put on paper in one rapid-fire release. Some of the lines I do not yet understand, but nothing was filtered out as words poured onto the paper. No doubt Liquid Interface, Amos Lee and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra filtered through my mind and spirit that evening to allow creation of a “River of Light”.
Music of all sorts occupies an important place in my life. My workdays are filled with everything from Beethoven to Beck; or John Pizzarelli to Portugal. The Man. Sometimes the flow of my writing is triggered by hearing a song. “Pajama Waltz” happened as a cascade. First, I heard a song from Meaghan Smith called “I Know”. The feeling of that song made me think of “We Just Couldn’t Say Goodbye” from Diana Krall. After listening to both songs, the flow started. I felt like dancing……..and writing. I encourage you check out both songs – and maybe rearrange the furniture.
We are very lucky in Indianapolis to have a music venue simply called The Cabaret. In a just-the-right-size setting we are able to witness the magic of live shows from the world of jazz or the Broadway stage.
Ms. Dee Dee Bridgewater
In August 2016 the jazz legend Dee Dee Bridgewater took to The Cabaret stage in a whirlwind of a show. She took us on a trip one Friday evening from the tender emotion of “What A Wonderful World” through a few hilariously heated moments in the bedroom with “Whoopin’ Blues” that even seemed to surprise members of her band. The latter was recorded as a duet on an album, but that particular evening was all Ms. Bridgewater…….and a story which referenced a stick of butter. For that part, you needed to be there.
I was captivated by her performance that evening. She owned the stage and was in full control of the show, but never wavered from being a lady. A number of times she allowed a member of the band to shine center stage during a solo as she floated off to the side. Those breaks also allowed a moment to cool off using an ornately decorated hand fan. Ms. Bridgewater gave us every last ounce of her talent and ability, which made that little fan as necessary as any instrument on the stage.
Watching a jazz legend in an intimate concert space creates a memorable experience. When that legendary talent comes from a woman who obviously is enjoying herself while retaining the humility to appreciate her fellow musicians as well as her audience, it is truly inspiring. I distinctly remember trying to shield the light from my phone using the billowing tablecloth as I texted the first line of this poem to myself during the show. Thank you, Ms. Bridgewater, for the performance and for the inspiration.
Visit Dee Dee Bridgewater and The Cabaret to learn more about each.