Three Artists, One Stone

I must admit, I was skeptical about a “mixed media” arts event.  Frankly, if I head out to listen to open-mic poetry, I don’t care to hear a harpsicord, or a bongo, or even a guitar accompaniment thank you very much; nor do I stay for a slam if I went for open mic.  Call me a purist.  Poetry. Or music. Or visual art.  Well, but I know the visual artist, and love her work, so I bravely forged ahead to Union Square in Somerville on a Saturday night for what I might sum up as a three-woman, feminist-leaning, multimedia artists’ event (reading/performance/exhibit).  Oh, now I know what you’re thinking, but it worked!

Mary Alexandra Agner began with the odd Willa Cather’s Dedicatory.   It was an introduction to the rather fine poem Ode to PioneersGeese Speak is a poet’s dream: it began as an exercise to combat writer’s block, yet it turned into a three-word-per-line poem that was quite good, smooth and interesting, not cute and gimmicky.  Brutus—an imagined monologue in which the ultimate backstabbing bud apologizes to his wife for leaving her out of the loop on the ol’ planning to off my friend plot—makes the heart of an old Shakespearean tragedy fiend go pitter-pat.  The poet plans to write a poem for each of Shakespeare’s plays.  Ooh, can’t wait!

Now comes the transition into collaboration.  Ms. Agner reads her poem The Marian Lee in front of a lively painting of it, rendered by artist Julia Tenney.  Audible sighs from the audience.  Cool! 

Next up was Carolyn Jean Smith, playing the recorder.  I confess my ignorance of the finer points of recorder finesse; however, I do know the difference between average recorder-playing and coming as close to jamming as one might’ve come in the 18th-Century drawingroom.  This woman can jam.  She made the instrument cry.  Yes, cry.  Her performance of The Bird and the Donkey included…wait for it…playing two recorders simultaneously.  Unreal.  This piece of music was also depicted in a painting by Julia Tenney.  Don’t ask me how she makes a tear shape into a horse, then flames, then a bird in one painting; a fish or dragon or tree in others.  I told you she’s good.  You should see her bunny tarot cards.

The only complaint I have about the event is that few of us 21st-Century types have enough class to be big fans of all three media, so as the Bard would say, brevity is the soul of wit.  It’s quality art presented in an imaginative and unique manner, so shorter time quantities for each part would be plenty.  Brava!


Just Say ‘Yes’ to Classic Rock in Boston

July 20th, 2007 by makingpoetry
What’s up with Rock fans in Boston? Last weekend I went to hear one hell of a Classic Rock band, Shoot the Moon, but the size of the audience did not do them justice. Most of my old college friends are not into Rock, but the Bostonians who braved the heat and half-million crowd to see Aerosmith on the Esplanade last summer are fans of true Rock. They buy Steven Tyler’s gritty sound by the CD-ful, maybe go to Red Sox games and support the troops (despite having a serious problem with this war-waging in and of itself).  Why aren’t you folks turning out to see younger rockers?! Classic Rock is seriously American. Is the problem that older Rock fans (Watch it, now!) don’t actually go to concerts, thinking there will be tons of “youngsters” there, and young people are closet Rock fans (It’s so violent, dude.); so nobody shows up? It’s live Rock!

Granted, I’m so into Steven Tyler that he’s in my memoir, and one of my favorite poems to read at open mikes is “Oxygen & Aerosmith”, which is lots of fun in combating stereotypes about how stuffy we Bostonians are–but still…. Yup, I think drugs are stupid, but Sex and Rock ‘n’ Roll still go together, and lead singer Sammy Miami is too sexy! There is a connection between musicians and poets that is organic and electric. In person, when the thump of amplified drums and guitars tuned into a certain wavelength, this poet was lifted, transported on a natural high. Sounds good, right?

There’s nothing like a clear, mellow-masculine voice and long, denim-patchworked legs that goes better with the jangle of a tambourine, shaped like a crescent moon. Maybe you can slap some sensuality into your humdrum weekend next time these guys are in town. It’d be a shame to lose them to New York! Get a temporary tattoo stamped onto your hand, and have a blast. Your endorphins will thank you!