My poor website has languished from lack of attention. I just spent the school year working with eight outreach Girl Scout troops as a Program Provider, working catering gigs for weddings, developing a website and social media for an inventor’s new product, moving, giving an eight year old girl some voice lessons, and of course playing as much music as I can with friends. My poetry has suffered. Writing creatively has taken a break from being in my world as I work more on living life than hiding behind my notebook or laptop.
However, that doesn’t mean my muse is dead, just dormant for a bit. Inspiration is a friend that thrives on golden moments when we slow down to really observe the world around us. These days there are so many words and news streams and photos and memes and viral videos to distract us that it is hard too find the time to breathe. I hope to breathe life into work this summer and perhaps there will finally be something for me to write about again that is worth sharing. You might just catch me taking my dog to the river too in between the works to be done.
For now, know that sunsets are beautiful at home, the garden is growing, and there’s music to be played live.
Happy Spring to you! My apologies for letting this poor blog languish from neglect. Never fear! I have been rehearsing and developing new material and residencies since leaving Poetry Alive! last Spring. The good news is that the word is not dead, and in fact is finally reborn to bridge the gap and join the music in my world!
Through TAPAS (Teaching Artists Presenting in Asheville Schools) I have been doing residencies where we link the rhythm and sound of poetry with American jazz, blues, bluegrass, rock, reggae, and pop to understand how fractions allow us to count time in both music and poetry.
From this experience the fabulous Andy Pond (CX-1, Snake Oil Medicine Show, A.V.A.S., Pond Brothers) has joined me to share a family friendly interactive musical-poetic adventure mixing words from Samuel Taylor Coleridge to Tupac Shakur with the sounds of the American melting-pot of musical genres developed over the past century.
I am very excited to share that we have a public performance of Viva la Verse! coming up Friday, April 24 as part of the Tryon Poetry Festival which you can read more about in the current issue of Bold Life. Students can also sign up for the Pop Up Poetry and Writing the Blues workshops at Tryon Fine Arts Center on Saturday, April 25 where I will help them to express their own thoughts and bring poetry to life. Join us if you can, or let me know if you are interested in having Viva la Verse! to come to a school or performance venue near you.
Also, for those of you wondering, I am still playing with the Red Hot Sugar Babies who have some hot shows coming up this Spring. In addition, there are some solo performances and special appearances with bands like Electric Campfire that allow me to break out of the jazz mold and rock a bit coming up as well. One of these days I might finally get my calendar up to date again, but you can always catch me posting things last minute as a raging muse on Twitter and Facebook.
I can’t believe July is already over! I’ve had a very busy and productive spring/summer with Poetry Alive!, Red Hot Sugar Babies, Tanglewood Theatre Camp and some special odd projects helping with database cleanup and editing from behind the scenes. I am looking at August and beyond wondering how to fill many empty dates quickly. If you have projects to do, need music for an event, or know of a job opening that would fit my talents please shoot me an email.
I also want to put a general call out to teachers getting ready to go back to school about booking me as a teaching artist bringing music and poetry to your classroom. I just updated my Teaching Page with workshop examples and my teaching artist resume. For teachers in Asheville City Schools please check out the link to the TAPAS Grants and contact me about how to fill out the form to get the funding for a residency with your students. If you are outside the district, please email me and we can discuss possible sources of funding.
The word of the day (in my email feed from when I fisrt connected my PC dialing through my landline on a modem to connect to the internet) is canaille. The simplest translation to modern English is “common people.” I also learned the word “favela” today, and read a bit about what the government organized “peace force” has done to those generationaly maintained communities in preparation for this game the world is watching on their tvs. I believe in peace officers & shepherds who help the flock learn & grow. Today’s news broke my heart, and my immediate community reminded me that love is stronger than fear or regret.
It’s been a wild and speedy Spring bringing poetry and music to classrooms as far flung as Wyoming and Vermont as well as right here in North Carolina. In addition to touring with Poetry Alive! and playing with The Red Hot Sugar Babies as well as some gypsies, I was excited to work in Andy Pond’s EC Math classes through the TAPAS program for the first time. I’m looking forward to more arts integration workshops through the program this fall. To find out more about the work I do in the classrooms or to book a classroom visit to your school, please visit my new “Teaching” page on the website here: jazzandpoetry.com/teaching
For now, here’s a little video montage of some of the photos from the road and home this Spring with an original song I wrote and recorded in the hotel rooms.
Here’s a little something I’ve been working on since it flew into my head and wouldn’t leave me alone until I finished it.
I took the time today to do a little housekeeping on this website and decided to give it a fresh look for 2014. This marks the sixteenth year of blogging since I started the Tour Doodles journal while I was on tour my first year with Poetry Alive! Looking back at the old style of framed web page that took forever to update and modify, I’m thankful the updates today were a breeze thanks to WordPress and all the widgets. Back in 1998 I was carrying around a Windows Thinkpad and plugging into a phone line at the hotel to dial up a local Earthlink phone number for service. Now it seems every hotel, even the really cheap ones, have WiFi access. Things have changed rapidly. Back then we carried a road atlas, called for directions and read the signs before the days of GPS. Sometimes though, I still like to read a map and am glad that is something I learned growing up.
As the technology continues to advance, I find myself growing ever fonder of the simple things in life that have nothing to do with a screen. I look at tables of people in restaurants with screens in every hand and wonder when we stopped making time to look at and communicate with the people right in front of us. I find myself journalling more with pen and paper again or banging out poems on the old Underwood typewriter just to get away from the ever present screens. The faster the communication happens, the more I crave a quiet walk with the dog undisturbed by phone calls. Just because we can call, text, or email anyone we know at anytime doesn’t mean that it is healthy for any of us. My goal for the new year is to be more present in the now of each moment rather than distracted by the twitter of the phone. I turned off a bunch of the notifications that were doing little but interrupting the present so that I can once again divide my time between the screen and the real world. I’ll still get all the messages faster than I would have back in 1998 on my analog tape answering machine, but I choose to be more human than cyborg in order to enjoy this life.
Wishing you, dear reader, a beautiful New Year experienced with all of your senses, not just two thumbs, eyes and ears attached to a screen.
I was writing down this:
When I started thinking about this:
But can’t figure out how to get wordpress on my phone to rotate the photos, so it may be tricky to read this brainstorming. Email me or comment below with ideas or click the donate button and feed the muse a dollar and I’ll get the game started typing on my crackfaced phone.
After all the recent poetry and jazz, this ditty fell out of my head. It’s a work in progress that doesn’t sound like any other song I’ve made before…