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James Joyce’s Poems Get a Musical Facelift
In 1907, shortly after publishing a book of love poetry titled Chamber Music, Irish writer James Joyce penned a letter to his brother Stanislaus: “Some of the verses are pretty enough to be put to music. I hope someone will do so, someone that knows old English music such as I like.” A century later, a group of independent electronic, folk and rock musicians have done just that.
All 36 verses from Joyce’s book of poetry have been put to music by artists such as Peter Buck from R.E.M. and Lee Ranaldo from Sonic Youth. Click the following link to listen to some of Joyce’s stanzas put to music:
You can hear the full story from NPR below…
The poet Emily Dickinson suffered from severe anxiety. In her series of poems, “Part 1, Life, XCVIII,” she writes: “While I was fearing it came, But came with less of the fear, Because that fearing it so long, Had almost made it dear.”
The lyrics from her poem are used as the basis for a rock song about anxiety. It’s called “Fearing,” by the band, The Amygdaloids
Deborah Ager, born in 1971, co-founded the poetry magazine known as 32 Poems in 2003. Her manuscript, Midnight Voices, was published by Cherry Grove Collections. She’s one of my preferred young American poets.
Summer Nights, by Deborah Ager
The factory siren tells workers time to go home
tells them the evening has begun.
When living with the tall man
whom I didn’t love, I would wander
the streets, dreaming of Italy.
Trekking the handful of avenues
with him, he would say look there
between pink cobblestones,
there’s manure like mortar.
The sweet smell of it Wednesday nights,
the night before auction,
when the misery of cows greets me
heading home through town.
Lake quiets, tired of my lies.
When will I tell truths again?
The siren. My love is home.
Nights, we stay in and X the days.
Denise Duhamel is a poet whose work I enjoy greatly. This poem starts as lines streaming together to form a story. You do not know anything except what the author is telling you. “She tries to pee in the trash can but misses”, “she puts her socks over her shoes”, “she wears all her necklaces at once”, “she hides her rings in the toaster slots”. This poem is written in Mobius Strip because it does not matter which order these lines are said in, you still get the same message and you still get the full story.
Modern [and very controversial] for his time, Walt Whitman lived in Washington, DC from 1863 to 1873. He arrived to search for his brother George, reportedly wounded in the fighting around Fredericksburg, VA. His original intention to stay two weeks stretched into ten years. While in Washington, DC Whitman created some of his most memorable works. During this period he wrote Drum-Taps, Democratic Vistas, and Passage to India. Here, John Graham presents “Democratic Vistas” by Walt Whitman.