My poetry springs from an oral and spiritual tradition with similarity to jazz/ blues music development. My early influences were recordings where poets join jazz ensembles, e.g., Langston Hughes or Kenneth Patchen reading with Charles Mingus’s Jazz Workshop, or Jack Kerouac’s work with a pianist and sax players. The late Ted Joans, one 1950s originator of Beat poetry, trained me in 1985-86 to improve my interactivity with musicians.
My practice is neither standard songwriting, nor “vocalese,” recreating virtuosic instrumental solos using words. Mine goes beyond the two common music/poetry collaborative styles: floating words above musician-initiated rhythmic patterns, or reciting to elicit response by improvising musician(s).
I intentionally fit my words—loosely as a jazz drummer might insert unanticipated beats—into the structure of a tune, while musicians play that form. The song may have other lyrics, or a well-known title. Just as jazz soloists express ideas to hipsters by “quoting” phrases from other compositions, I choose to associate songs with my poems that deliberately—but subtly—embellish my message with allusions to implied words or concepts.
I thrill to live in a virtual world where sounds can be associated with text. I invite you to visit my VIMEO site to experience how my print poetry can come alive.