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Capturing the Imagination

From Rima Staines and Tom Hirons comes this invitation to help them realize their dream and in the process perhaps an invitation to kickstart our own dream if we haven’t realized it already.

 

“Hedgespoken is our dream – we’ve thought long and hard about how best we want to live our lives, how to do what we love doing in a way that serves our communities and fulfills our dreams of living close to the land in a creative, sustainable way. Hedgespoken is our best shot, our way of taking our skills and our love of story, of art and magic, and living in a way that means we’re using all of that, all the time. And, it’s our promise, to ourselves and to our children, that we will refuse to live half-lives. Hedgespoken is a gamble – to live on the road is to embrace uncertainty and certain kinds of insecurity, after all – but it’s a gamble that we have to take, because we dreamed this in the week that we first met and we knew then that we had to find a way to make it real. With your help, we’re getting there, in Hedgespoken style, living lives that are full, not empty, nor half-lived or hollow – with your help, we’re already creating something beautiful, allowing something of the magical world to be born.”

Sketch By Rima Staines

“Hedgespoken is our attempt to try and live our dream right here and now in this life, fully and heartily and with all the colours available to us. It matters because of the flame that burns in all of us to really live our dreams, despite all those voices – inside and outside – telling us that that’s not possible. It matters because by sharing soul-nourishing arts with others in this way, we are re-weaving a tribe of those who yearn for this old magic that feels at once delightfully strange and very familiar. It matters because sitting under the stars by firelight together is a fundamentally old and human thing to do, and because when we sit there in the woodsmoke and owlsong and crackle of darkness, we Remember…”

Photo by Andy Letcher

 

It’s our awareness of the world around us, and the world’s awareness of us.

 “Sila: The Breath of the World” by 2014 Pulitzer Prize winner John Luther Adams premiered at Lincoln Center July 25, 2014.

“Sila” is an Inupiaq word similar to Yup’ik “Cella” or “Ella,” meaning the universe expressed as a conscious personality.


Anastasia Tsioulcas describes ‘the quiet, deeply contemplative nature of Adams’ elegantly wrought and mesmerizing work’ in the following report. 

“Sila is a piece intended to be played by 16 to 80 or more musicians grouped into five separate ensemble choirs of woodwinds, brass, percussion, strings and voices, who may perform the work in any combination, either simultaneously or successively. There is no conductor, and each musician chooses his or her own pacing through the score, as long as each sustained tone or rising phrase “lasts the length of one full exhalation,” according to Adams’ notes.

The piece is set within 16 “harmonic clouds” grounded on the first sixteen overtones of a low B-flat… The music shimmers and shifts in magical and beautiful ways. And Sila is as much performance piece as sonic work. The long, luxurious phrases were underscored by choreographer Mark DeChiazza, who had the performers make slow, sweeping tai chi-like gestures that seemed to halt time.

The composer translates the Inuit title of the piece this way: “Sila is the wind and the weather, the forces of nature. But it’s also something more. Sila is intelligence. It’s consciousness. It’s our awareness of the world around us, and the world’s awareness of us.” Even with the buzz of Manhattan so close, Adams and his musicians created a work of music, and of theater, that encouraged listeners to look both deeply inward and out into an imaginary expanse far beyond Hearst Plaza.

Sila ends with performers blowing through megaphones — no notes sounding, just long exhalations of breath you had to lean in closely to hear. Just as Saturday’s performance was drawing to its close, a breeze visited, creating new waves of ripples in the pool.”

 

“We Are Continually Exposed to the Flashbulb of Death”

 

This video, narrated by Barbara Fischer, Director of the University of Toronto Art Centre, explores the recently opened exhibition of photographs by Allen Ginsberg at UTAC. Organized in collaboration with the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, the exhibition comprises over 150 photographs taken by the legendary Beat poet and activist. The photographs are drawn on the collection of close to 8,000 prints recently donated by The Rossy Family Foundation to the Fisher Library and the University of Toronto Art Centre.

 

“As [Beat] poet and photographer Allen Ginsberg told an audience at the Sackler Lecture Hall [in March 1988] “we are continually exposed to the flashbulb of death,” cameras flashed away and a roar of laughter rose from the crowd of nearly 200 people.

Poetry and photography came together in that instant, and the connection of the two was the topic of Ginsberg’s speech on photographic poets in the second of three lectures sponsored by the Friends of the Harvard Art Museums called Focus on Photography.

Photographers fix the shadow of the moment and preserve it,” said Ginsberg, who also praised the 20th century imagist poets such as William Carlos Williams for their attentiveness to detail and for “seeing a decisive moment in a glimpse on the street.”

In the question and answer session which followed, a man known as Brother Blue praised Ginsberg saying, “you are the living poem.”

All of us with ordinary minds have the capacity for not living in eternity. Out of sensitivity [to the others with whom we also suffer], we find the bold head in front of us luminous,” said Ginsberg in response.”

 

Photo by Jill Krementz

 

 

 

“If one is to express the great inevitable defeat that awaits us all, it must be done within the strict confines of dignity and beauty”

 

“When I was packing in Los Angeles, I had a sense of unease because I’ve always felt some ambiguity about an award for poetry. Poetry comes from a place that no one commands, that no one conquers. So I feel somewhat like a charlatan to accept an award for an activity which I do not command. In other words, if I knew where the good songs came from I would go there more often.

I was compelled in the midst of that ordeal of packing to go and open my guitar. I have a Conde guitar, which was made in Spain in the great workshop at number 7 Gravina Street. I pick up an instrument I acquired over 40 years ago. I took it out of the case, I lifted it, and it seemed to be filled with helium it was so light. And I brought it to my face and I put my face close to the beautifully designed rosette, and I inhaled the fragrance of the living wood. We know that wood never dies. I inhaled the fragrance of the cedar as fresh as the first day that I acquired the guitar. And a voice seemed to say to me, “You are an old man and you have not said thank you, you have not brought your gratitude back to the soil from which this fragrance arose. And so I come here tonight to thank the soil and the soul of this land that has given me so much.

Because I know that just as an identity card is not a man, a credit rating is not a country.

Now, you know of my deep association and confraternity with the poet Frederico Garcia Lorca. I could say that when I was a young man, an adolescent, and I hungered for a voice, I studied the English poets and I knew their work well, and I copied their styles, but I could not find a voice. It was only when I read, even in translation, the works of Lorca that I understood that there was a voice. It is not that I copied his voice; I would not dare. But he gave me permission to find a voice, to locate a voice, that is to locate a self, a self that that is not fixed, a self that struggles for its own existence.

 

 

As I grew older, I understood that instructions came with this voice. What were these instructions? The instructions were never to lament casually. And if one is to express the great inevitable defeat that awaits us all, it must be done within the strict confines of dignity and beauty.

And so I had a voice, but I did not have an instrument. I did not have a song.

And now I’m going to tell you very briefly a story of how I got my song.

Because – I was an indifferent guitar player. I banged the chords. I only knew a few of them. I sat around with my college friends, drinking and singing the folk songs and the popular songs of the day, but I never in a thousand years thought of myself as a musician or as a singer.

One day in the early sixties, I was visiting my mother’s house in Montreal. Her house was beside a park and in the park was a tennis court where many people come to watch the beautiful young tennis players enjoy their sport. I wandered back to this park which I’d known since my childhood, and there was a young man playing a guitar. He was playing a flamenco guitar, and he was surrounded by two or three girls and boys who were listening to him. I loved the way he played. There was something about the way he played that captured me. It was the way that I wanted to play and knew that I would never be able to play.

And, I sat there with the other listeners for a few moments and when there was a silence, an appropriate silence, I asked him if he would give me guitar lessons. He was a young man from Spain, and we could only communicate in my broken French and his broken French. He didn’t speak English. And he agreed to give me guitar lessons. I pointed to my mother’s house which you could see from the tennis court, and we made an appointment and settled a price.

He came to my mother’s house the next day and he said, “Let me hear you play something.” I tried to play something, and he said, “You don’t know how to play, do you?’

I said, “No, I don’t know how to play.” He said “First of all, let me tune your guitar. It’s all out of tune.” So he took the guitar, and he tuned it. He said, “It’s not a bad guitar.” It wasn’t the Conde, but it wasn’t a bad guitar. So, he handed it back to me. He said, “Now play.”

I couldn’t play any better.

He said “Let me show you some chords.” And he took the guitar, and he produced a sound from that guitar I had never heard. And he played a sequence of chords with a tremolo, and he said, “Now you do it.” I said, “It’s out of the question. I can’t possibly do it.” He said, “Let me put your fingers on the frets,” and he put my fingers on the frets. And he said, “Now, now play.”

It was a mess. He said, ” I’ll come back tomorrow.”

He came back tomorrow, he put my hands on the guitar, he placed it on my lap in the way that was appropriate, and I began again with those six chords – a six chord progression. Many, many flamenco songs are based on them.

I was a little better that day. The third day – improved, somewhat improved. But I knew the chords now. And, I knew that although I couldn’t coordinate my fingers with my thumb to produce the correct tremolo pattern, I knew the chords; I knew them very, very well.

The next day, he didn’t come. He didn’t come. I had the number of his, of his boarding house in Montreal. I phoned to find out why he had missed the appointment, and they told me that he had taken his life. That he committed suicide.

I knew nothing about the man. I did not know what part of Spain he came from. I did not know why he came to Montreal. I did not know why he played there. I did not know why he he appeared there at that tennis court. I did not know why he took his life.

I was deeply saddened, of course. But now I disclose something that I’ve never spoken in public. It was those six chords, it was that guitar pattern that has been the basis of all my songs and all my music. So, now you will begin to understand the dimensions of the gratitude I have for this country.

Everything that you have found favorable in my work comes from this place. Everything , everything that you have found favorable in my songs and my poetry are inspired by this soil.

So, I thank you so much for the warm hospitality that you have shown my work because it is really yours, and you have allowed me to affix my signature to the bottom of the page.”

 

(artist unknown)

Listen to one of LC’s latest songs here -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Quus1kcrbPk

 

 

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