Friday, March 20, 2009

Assigned listening at Lindenwood University

This thing about our band Eleanor Roosevelt's song settings of texts from Technicians of the Sacred being assigned to college students seems to be going around.

This, from my old friend Michael Castro, a pioneering poet, translator, and critic.

Thanks for sending me yr post with the musical settings from Technicians of the Sacred. I love them. Been sitting here listening over & over & trying to find the originals in the text.

It took a minute but I did & could see how you stayed true yet felt free to MAKE IT NEW. Just how Jerry R & Richard Johnny John would've wanted you to. Have you sent a copy to Jerry yet & gotten a response? I can get you his email address if you need it.

I am doing a tutorial now with a young poet who is a student atLindenwood -- going through Technicians of the Sacred & spinning off into other things. So your extension of it is timely. I'd like to play your pieces for him. We're getting on to contemporary applications & this is the latest & gotta be among the greatest.

Keep 'em comin'.

If you caught us in the middle of this movie, of this poetry score, let me break it all down, briefly.

Eleanor Roosevelt: my band from the mid-1990s that evolved into Three Fried Men, the house band for song settings on Poetry Scores.

Technicians of the Sacred: epochal anthology of worldwide ritual and mythic performance presented on the page as poetry, edited by Jerome Rothenberg.

Jerry R: Jerome Rothenberg. His friends call him "Jerry". Michael Castro is his friend. I aspire to that status and only logistics seem to keep me from achieving it.

Richard Johnny John: A Senecan man who worked with Jerry on a world-changing set of translations of songs from the Seneca's Society for Mystic Animals.

As for Michael Castro himself, I know him from St. Louis poetry circles. I was a boy poetry impressario when he was a mid-career poet in town who had been a significant part of the post-modern, multicultural Beat awakening.

Michael doesn't seem to have a web presence commensurate to his varied accomplishments over the years, but I will pay him a high compliment in saying his recent work is his best: his cotranslations of Hungarian poetry (with Gabor G. Gyukics) published in the anthology Swimming in the Ground.

As for the song settings in question ... let me repost.

Free mp3s

Head in a hummingbird's nest"
Lyrics: Quecha trad., trans. W.S. Merwin
Music: Chris King, Lij
Performed by: Eleanor Roosevelt
Produced by: Meghan Gohil

Lyrics: Alonzo Gonzales (Yucatec Maya), Allan F. Burns
Music: Matt Fuller, Chris King, Lij, John Minkoff
Performed by: Eleanor Roosevelt
Produced by: Meghan Gohil

Both songs appear on Eleanor Roosevelt, Walker With His Head Down (Skuntry, 2007), which is available at independent shops in St. Louis and via digital download.


Lindenwood jersey from some dude's Flickr site.

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