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Archive for November, 2018

2 Days of Poetry & Music & a Quandary

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on November 26, 2018

Good Poetry

I crossed the Rio Grande this past Saturday, not the river, but the street (Rio Grande Blvd, in Albuquerque, NM). There is a bookstore located in a small shopping center here, near my rental house. It’s a great local independent bookstore, featuring book signings by authors I like, music, poetry, and activities for kids, and even visits by comic strip artists like Stephan Pastis of Pearls Before Swine fame. By Stephan Pastis of Pearls Before Swine

Saturday’s event included poetry by a new poetry slam group, Burque Revolt. “Burque” is local slang for Albuquerque. The group performed hard-hitting poetry stories about race and sexism, and actually represented people of color in their lineup. They see themselves as activists and poets. Now, perhaps you’re thinking that poetry should make you feel good. Sometimes it does, sometimes it makes you listen, and think. That was the case. All of the poets, Mercedez Holtry, Dnessa McDonald, Reina Davis and Sophia Nuanez blasted us with heartfelt stories in slam poetry style. They had memorized every bit, since slam poetry is really a performance art. The poems were designed to shock, to challenge and to educate. And I think they succeeded. One of the poets, Sophia Nuanez, included references to the double helix of DNA, so I really liked that. Science and poetry should go together. I spoke with Dnessa about one of her poems. She is fairly new to this slam poetry thing, but has managed to have a poem published.

poetry slam

Despite the fact that some of the poetry slammed men in general and (a category I find myself in) white people, white men in particular, for a pattern of racism and sexism that continues to this day, I was smitten with one of the poets. Even the other poets were impressed by her beauty. As soon as I walked into the store and looked at the people waiting for the event to start, my eyes riveted on her. At my age, I’m not all that impressed by beauty of itself. I really need to know a woman to find myself interested. But once in a while I see a woman that pops the eyeballs out of my head. It’s a quandary. I guess it’s a reflex action borne of a society that prizes physical appearance more than intellectual accomplishment, and a sexist society to boot. I found a photo of her, but a two-dimensional photo doesn’t really do justice to the beauty of this woman in person, and her voice, her poetry and smile.

Reina Davis

I had a chance to meet her, confused a poem of one of the other poets with hers, and couldn’t remember what I had meant to say to her if I ever spoke to her. At one point, I had come up with a line of poetry to describe her effect on my eyeballs, but I forgot it completely when she was standing directly in front of me and listening. I couldn’t even remember her poems at that moment. Women still do that to me sometimes.

There was music then. D. B. Gomez & Felix Peralta a.k.a. Gato Malo, of Dos Gatos, performed some ranchera-inspired new music, and I felt like dancing. Years of dancing to salsa and merengue, cha-cha and rancheras inspires me to dance as soon as I hear it, Unfortunately, Reina, the queen was gone.

Well, Sunday morning came around and I went to Chatter Sunday, a regular Sunday morning venue for music of a more classical nature, and poetry, including slam poets sometimes, and Sophia Nuanez Sophia Nuanez has performed there before. It takes place at Las Puertas, meaning doors, because there are lots of them there from when the space was used to sell antique doors. There is also an espresso bar, which is such a fine way to start a Sunday (not to mention the home-made treats). The program began with the entire ensemble performing a 1986 piece: Airs from Another Planet – wind quintet and piano – reels, airs and jigs, by Judith Weir. One of the numbers from the four-part piece was called Strathspey and reel, so I had to look up strathspey: Strathspey is the area around the strath of the River Spey in Scotland. Uhh, OK. It also has some connection to shields and coats-of-arms, but that wasn’t very helpful either. What it is, is a type of dance tune, a reel played at a slightly slower tempo, with more emphasis on certain beats. Glad I cleared that up.

In the space between music sets, Rowie Shaundlin Shebala, (Dinรฉ), told the story of her Arizona grandfather seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, among other poems that gave us insight into her life as the youngest daughter of a Navajo family. She has a wonderful voice and her poetry is well represented in print and at slam competitions. Rowie

Then we went back to the music, this time from 1796, by Ludwig van Beethoven: Ludwig von Beethoven a quintet for piano and winds (op. 16). This was a much more spirited piece than the earlier airs, and the musicians really threw themselves into it this time, even standing throughout, probably to give themselves room to move about, because the energy was frenetic.

Stopped for breakfast on the way home, wecks and had a bowl of hash browns, covered with bits of sausage, bacon, one egg, and lots of green chile as well as red chile sauce, along with two corn tortillas. I was not hungry again for nine hours, which was fortunate, because I went to another rare evening Chatter performance, this time, the Cabaret at the Albuquerque Museum, and a lot of pricy food is available. I did buy a glass of a California wine, a 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon by Joel Gott Wines, which was very tasty (“clean, complex, and elegant”, according to their web page).

The music at the museum started off with a piece from 1720, by Johann Sebastian Bach: JS Bach facial reconstruction Sonata No. 2 in D Major for Viola de Gamba and Keyboard. Fascinating, and so well-played.

That was followed by music of Philip Glass, Glass so I cringed mentally when I saw that in the program. A fifth is the interval from the first to the last of five consecutive notes in a diatonic scale. As it was explained, fifths are never played consecutively, ever, not even two or three at a time. Well, that is, that used to be the case, but Philip Glass did whatever he wanted to do, so he composed a piece built entirely of nothing but fifths. Very unusual and interesting. Ten minutes of it. I sipped my wine throughout.

After intermission we were treated to the 1921 music of Erich Wolfgang KorngoldErich_Wolfgang_Korngold, a composer of operas, and a contemporary of Richard Strauss. He is one of the founders of film music, and you’ve all heard his music. Some of the sixteen films he scored were The Adventures of Robin Hood, Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk, The Sea Wolf, Deception, Kings Row, and The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. (As a purely irrelevant aside, my sister Mary Elizabeth is married to Sara Essex.)

Anyway, the Piano Quintet (op. 15), was delightful, and played with intense passion by the seven Chatter musicians, some local, some visiting: James Shields on clarinet, Nathan Ukens on horn, David Felberg & Ruxandra Marquardt on violins, Keith Hamm on viola, Dana Winograd on cello, and Judith Gordon on piano.

Two days of fun and music. Much to think about, much to research, and music to seek out. And fresh-roasted green chile to eat. Green chile

 

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