Friday, April 16, 2010

Here is the valley of shallow Polish rivers

Since the tragic news from Poland, like many other people I have been taking stock of my personal connections to that eastern European country. I have a few.

I have a pen pal in Wroclaw, a musician whose band I reviewed once in a New York magazine, and befriended after he sought me out to thank me for my glowing praise. I still intend to release, one day, the recordings by his old band Krakersy.

Also, Poetry Scores has on its long list of future long poems to score Building the Barricade by Anna Swirszczynska.

I know of this epic of the Warsaw Uprising through excerpts included in Postwar Polish Poetry, edited by Czeslaw Milosz. That delectable volume also inspired another set of miscellaneous shorter poetry scores that I will share, here, in draft form.

I imagine a future band record for Three Fried Men titled Here is the valley of shallow Polish rivers, a line from one of Milosz's own poems he anthologized.

(No foul in that; for Milosz to exclude Milosz from an anthology of post-war Polish poetry would be like Shakespeare leaving Shakespeare out of a volume of Elizabethan drama.)

Here are four sketches toward this imagined future record. I wrote them all one night with my longtime collaborater and coproducer Lij. These are nothing but sketches, skeletons, but I like them enough to share them; and I need to do something to connect with Poland and its people at this time.


"The specialist"
(Poem by Tadeusz Rozewicz)

"A herd of pianos"
(Poem by Jerzy Harasymowicz)

"I leave myself"
(Poem by Tadeusz Nowak)

"And even, even if they take away the stove"
(Poem by Miron Bialoszewski)

Music by Lij and Chris King. In some cases, the poem is titled differently than I have titled the songs. All translations are by Milosz. And therein lies the fun of scoring poetry - just like that, we have collaborated with a Nobel laureate! The baby squalling, at points, is my daughter Leyla Fern, now age 7, which dates these crude recordings.

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