Category Archives: Poetry

Back to Life

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.2016-06-09 20.58.20

For now, know that sunsets are beautiful at home, the garden is growing, and there’s music to be played live.

 

Viva la Verse!

Dear readers,

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.

School’s out for the Summer…

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.

Falling back into the classroom

My how time flies when you’re busy teaching yourself new songs, moving, planting and growing yourself in a community, and mostly searching for good work to do. Sure there has been some fun along the way, of course. However, after years of relying on Poetry Alive! to find me good work to do in classrooms across the country while I juggled some new projects on my end, I find myself setting sail on a solo adventure that means booking not only the bands I perform with, but also marketing my years of arts integration experience in the classroom as a solo artist.

I started putting applications together last winter and reaching out to organizations that fund this work. I’m excited to share that the Teaching Artists Presenting in Asheville Schools (TAPAS) program funded by Asheville City Schools Foundation in cooperation with LEAF in Schools & Streets and UNCA has accepted me into their cohort of teaching artists for the 2013-2014 school year. This means that teachers working in the Asheville City Schools may submit grant proposals to TAPAS to fund in-school residencies with experienced local teaching artists like myself. I will be updating this website soon with more information about the types of residencies I have done effectively with the SmartARTS program in South Carolina and new ideas for pairing core curriculum with engaging music, writing, and performance residencies. For now, you can check out the brief overview in the new TAPAS catalog below:

If you are a teacher working outside of the Asheville City Schools, feel free to contact me directly about booking and we can discuss rates and other funding options that may be available to you in your area.

My current schedule on this website is a “living breathing entity” (aka “subject to change rapidly”) that contains much of the live music performances coming up with The Gypsy Swingers and The Red Hot Sugar Babies in the area. I also will be playing a show later this fall of original music and some covers outside the jazz genre. I must admit, that has me a bit anxious as I stretch myself a little further into the solo world. I’ll keep updates coming as that develops with some sound bites & lyric dribblings.

Thanks for stopping by and reading! Wishing all the teachers and students heading back to school this week a great start to the new year!

 

Doo-dads & dribblings journaling through the holy daze

Howdy reader! It’s been a while. In fact, I almost let the site disappear, but then realize I’ve grown rather attached to this odd piece of internet real estate where I can park my words. Looking back through the paper journal there’s a gap of words between September and November as my world shifted and moved once again. So, I thought I’d get the new year started here by playing catch up and sharing some of the word droppings that made it to paper since the last blog.

Warning, words are slippery and unless you catch me speaking them directly to you it’s possible that upon reading them you may make new meaning from them that has nothing to do with what I was thinking. I can’t even tell you what I was thinking, because all I have left are these dribblings of those thoughts.

The words are here free for you to read. If you like them or find them useful and would like to see more you can feed the muse by clicking the little donate button in the right column. This allows you to magically add cyber dollars to the paypal account which pays the fee for having this space for words owned by little ol’ me. Also, feel free to browse the other areas of the site which contain more words and music and even where to find me in the real world sharing words and music.

Okay, shameless self promotion done. Now for the journal doo-dads…

11/14/2012
“Tell me about your true love,” he said.
But the answer comes not from a tongue gone mute
In her mind she answers the question for herself
“I have loved before and may love again,
but never had one that’s true.”

12/5/2012
I wish I had something new to tell ya,
But it’s been a whole bunch of the same
Finding my way only to lose it again
As the mirage I’m chasing drifts farther away

I should be on the road by now
Instead of walking round this town
Looking for something I can’t seem to find
But I just can’t get you off my mind

I hear you keepin’ on by the timbre of your song
As the seasons change
Relationships turn strange
Falling back or springing forward
Wondering what to look toward

I wish I had some light to give
To shine you out of the hole you’re in
But the flame died in all the tears I shed
When you let another woman take my bed
I should be on the road by now
Instead of walking round this town
Looking for something I can’t find
But I can’t get you off my mind

I’m looking for a song
That will move my heart along
As the seasons change
Relationships turn strange
Falling back or springing forward
Hoping for something to look toward

———–

We’ve crossed paths missing connection
Crossed hearts swearing no lie
But that offers little protection
Crossing the world before we die

12/27/2012
I walked across town in the rain
To wash away the fear & pain
For the bodies buried on Babylon’s shore
For Mia Zapata & women around the globe
For the children of Sacramento
For the children of Littleton
For the children of Newton
For the children who died today
not knowing it was Christmas somewhere
Gone too soon, taken from us
I wash the fear in drenching rain
I let the past let go again
Stepping through the veil
To awake refreshed, wide open & frail

1/5/2013
We open & you hear me
Even from a-far
The thought of you
like fine sweet molasses
pours over my soul
soothing all that aches
Love heals

1/7/2013
Step out of fear & into the moment
We are all here together

1/8/2013
Dropped out of the whirlwind of cyber delusion
Lost in the mainstream now
Surrounded by masses fed media until
confusion drowns.

Caught in the funnel
Fumbling for air
If we don’t breathe
there’s no riding the current
If we fight, we sink

Check your center
Focus to stay afloat
Reach out a hand to help a brother
rather than pushing them under
to save yourself.

———–

OCD, PTSD, ADD, Autism, Asbergers,
what you be?
Labeled filed & defiled
by the pharmaceutical industry?

Where I’m From (now)

One of my favorite things about facilitating Poetry Alive! institutes is the chance to sit down and play with the writing assignments while the participants are writing. For thirty minutes there’s no talking to listen to and finally I have the freedom to put pen to paper and see what flows out. I’ve done the “Where I’m From” and “I Am” (for a character in a poem) exercises more times than I can count, and I’m always surprised at what comes out. Since I have a few hours of riding in the passenger seat down the freeway toward my dog and the elusive spot I call home, I thought I’d type up for you what came out this time. Let me know where you’re from now…

Sunset over the neighborhood

*********

“Where I’m From”

I am from racing cars & horses
Building computers smarter & faster
While finding ways to make the garden grow
Always flowers, rarely food
Then the first flower turned tomato this year
Jazz men light up the night like firecrackers
Morning birdsong flute trills

I am from eleven generations of stubborn runaways
Fleeing the family to grow independent
Dust bowl survivors growing violets & collecting coins
Doctors, editors, engineers, vets, accountants, dreamers
Women working & creating alongside the men
Mending & melodies with crops & technology

I am from the Emerald City
Flying backwards over the rainbow
To the heartland
Tracing the arteries of the continent
To find a southern home
Reverse migration after the west was won

I am from constant movement
Fifteen years of travel
Never settling to form a family of my own
Letting go of everything
To fly where I’m needed next

***

“I Am” (as a little star in “Wynken, Blynken, & Nod” by Eugene Field)

I am a joyful shining star
I wonder why those kids are trying to catch my reflection
I hear the moon ask them what they wish
I see them toss nets at my light reflected in the water
I want to laugh at their foolishness
I am a joyful shining star

I pretend I’m a herring fish swimming too fast to be caught
I feel the nets splash past my light
I touch the foam on the waves
I worry the kids will lose their way
I cry to the moon to help them
I am a joyful shining star.

I understand the children are dreaming
I say I’m never afraid
I dream of diving under the waves
I try to brighten the night
I hope to light the children’s way home
I am a joyful shining star

More from the journal

When the words won’t come to my fingers under the keyboard, I go back to putting pen to paper. Sometimes when all the world’s words are spinning by so fast, the pen in hand helps slow down and distill the essence.

Here are a few barely edited blurbs fresh from the page:

4/15/12

Tax Day
Sun Day
No taxes
Taxed
Tracing the lines
of lies
Tied to the $ signs

*****

Addictive
Adaptive
nearly twins
2 sides of a coin
Anything done to excess
will kill you

4/16/12

Riding the rapids
Through the deafening babble
Dog sits stoic at the bow
watching
As a lone fly buzzes
endlessly

4/23/12

Neither money nor fame
are core human values
so why are so many humans
caught up in the struggle?

4/26/12

Why spend time attacking those who dare approach
rather than building a bond of love so strong
as to weather every storm?

*****

Driving the highway river
finding the center of flow
no longer in a hurry
with just a few hours to go
rolling into the Blue Ridge
as the sun sets at our backs
white red yellow lights
wink on to light the track
like a backwards river
flowing up the hill
dancing through the rain drops
whispering “peace be still”

*****

His heart was bigger than this world.
Now he has the wings
to see it all
& sing his songs into the wind.

5/11/12

Already into May
the winter bites back again
reluctant to let summer
reach the northern village
Barefoot Beltane in Southern Spring
this northern ground chills through shoes
shifting green for gray
Springing back to Summer
through the city that never sleeps

5/16/12

Sunset from Robert Moses Causeway
Sunset from Robert Moses Causeway
Oak Beach after Sunset
Oak Beach after Sunset