Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A song about a poem about a photograph of a girl at a bar in Newfoundland

"All the Clubs from Holyrood to Brigus #24, Colliers, Conception Bay"
By Scott Walden (2006)
Artist retains rights 

Like I was saying, Poetry Scores has a live premiere of a new poetry score on Saturday, May 30 at the Schlafly Tap Room in downtown St. Louis.

We are scoring "All the Clubs from Hollyrood to Brigus" by Mary Dalton, a twelve-poem sequence of "fictions, ruminations and riddles," according to its subtitle, about the taverns and social clubs that line a 16-mile stretch of one of the oldest highways in Newfoundland.

It's interesting that we are translating into music poetry that was itself the translation of photographs. Mary Dalton based her poetic sequence on a series of photographs taken on the road between Holyrood and Brigus, Newfoundland, between 2005 and 2007 by Scott Walden.

Only two of the twelve poems in the sequence are subtitled after a specific photograph. "Girl at the Bar" is subtitled after the 24th numbered poem in Scott Walden's series, "All the Clubs from Holyrood to Brigus #24, Colliers, Conception Bay" (2006). The poem even mentions the photographer and places his portrait of this young woman in the history of art alongside Vermeer and Botticelli.

The poem is self-consciously ekphrastic: it's deliberately a poem about a work of art.


Girl at the Bar
All the Clubs from Holyrood to Brigus #24

By Mary Dalton

I spend most of my time not dying.
That’s what living is for.
—Frederick Seidel, “Fog”

She is looking into the distance.
The light touches her forehead, her neck,
hovers about her eyes and chin,
gold strands of her hair,
gold of the beer glass.
Fiery light glances off her
hair, upswept at the back.
The busy iconography of the bar,
its framed memories and plaques,
the phone talker nearby—
against their blurry clutter
a stillness, a space at once inner
and knowing, a pool of solitude
in the whirl of the carnival.

Here, in the commotion, the crowd,
the photographer’s found
a Botticelli angel,
a Vermeer beauty,
yet his gaze travels further:
one senses that soon
the moment will vanish;
she will slide off the bar stool,
toss off a wise-crack,
grin at the comeback,
sashay out with buddy,
out into the lava shift of the strobes,
out into the roiling
spree of the dance floor.


We are scoring "All the Clubs" compilation-style with a committee of songwriters, and Ann Hirschfeld called for "Girl at the Bar." Here is her demo.

Video of Mary Dalton reading "Girl at the Bar," recorded just for our show.

The original announcement of the May 30 show with more details.

Mary Dalton

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