bbqing Mom, composition shop talk & poetry

The phone rang a little after 8 AM yesterday. It was my Mom. She wanted to know when Eileen and I were coming by to pick her up for our Memorial Day backyard cookout. She wanted to rest first and was making sure she had time to do so. About an hour later she called again saying she didn’t think she was going to feel well enough to make the cookout. I told her I would give her a call around 11:30 and see if she had changed her mind.

I did and she did and I stopped by to pick her up and bring her over. She chatted with Eileen in the backyard while I prepared a lunch for us of grilled veggies, BBQ chicken breasts (for the carnivores), sliced tomatoes, cucumber spears, lo-cal potato chips, and lo-cal chip dip.

Afterwards I went over to the church and practiced organ for a bit. I am pondering submitting a composition to a contest sponsored by the Greater Kansas City Chapter of the American Guild of Organist. I revised a composition last year and used it as postlude. It’s sitting here online (pdf).


Yesterday I noticed that I hadn’t clearly indicated the intended articulation. I’m also thinking about how to make the registration suggestions more helpful. I’m skeptical that it fits the expectation of a jury as a legit submission. I can hear Zappa influence in it. But I was also skeptical when I submitted my setting of Psalm 146 (pdf) for choir and organ to a similar contest and it won second prize.

I had figured that its almost jazzy anticipatory rhythm throughout would make its implied style inaccessible to most “AGO type” judges. Then speaking on the phone with one of the judges I was surprised to talk to someone who seemed to understand what I was doing with it.


This probably resulted in the over confidence I displayed when I took it to the local college choir conductor.  He said he would look at it, but never mentioned it to me again. This was several years ago. Last year, I asked him again about it. He said he would look at it. Hmmm.


This morning I finished off a couple of books of poetry I have been reading: Today: 101 Ghazals by Suzanne Gardinier & Music Minus One by Jane Shore. Both were pretty good reads. Gardinier has written all of her poems in the form of the ghazal. She has adapted the Arabic poetic form to English.  The poems are in couplets with each second line of a poem ending in the same word or phrase. I think the couplets are intended to be able to stand by themselves. So narrative and continuity is sometimes not what Gardinier is working towards.  Wikipedia says that ghazals “deal with both the pain of loss or separation and the beauty of love in spite of that pain.” Gardinier’s do that and add another layer of global awareness and anger to many of them.

Here’s one I like. You can see how she repeats the ending phrase at the end of each of couplet.


Is this why my hips ache in the morning
From dancing in circles all night with no one

Is this a kiss Your lips in a dream
Is this a prayer A whispering to no one

When the guard stops me by the river I show
my pass with its photograph of no one

Question Who will not meet you by the river
that doesn’t exist Answer No one

A tour of the emperor’s model city
City inhabited by no one

Hard on the heart Easy on the shoe leather
Cheek to cheek tango all night no one

Yours devoted to fabrications Writing
To a phantom who meets me by the river To no one

I have liked some of her other poetry more than these poems, but I admire her ability to sustain her voice throughout a book using only this form.

Jane Shore’s poems have been described as poetic vignettes which are accessible even to anti-poetic people. I think they are good despite this. The last poem in the book is a devastating story of her mother’s death. In it, her dying mother forbids the author to visit her during her last days. The mother also weirdly is described as going through photographs of herself and cutting out her picture. Interspersed throughout is a first person description of a mother and daughter assembling one of the Visible Women models.


Chen Guangcheng, In U.S., Has Fears For Family at Home –

I guess Chen is planning to return to China after schooling at this point. Hope that works out.


The Politics of Religion –

Despite the online right wing claims, the Old Gray Lady did cover the silly Catholic lawsuit claiming violation of religious freedom. I agree that it looks like a partisan play. Framing makes me crazy.


Fiscal Phonies –

Krugman elucidates the dishonesty around Paul Ryan and Romney’s pose as deficit hawks. More framing of issues in order to disguise intent. Not limited to the right by any means.


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