Sunday, November 6, 2011

United Nations and Poetry Society of America

I received two lovely commissions to write and perform new work in October. Cristina Diez of FTD Fourth World in New York invited me to write a song based on texts from people living in poverty in Ireland to perform at an event to commemorate International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Irish singer songwriter Michael Brunnock worked with me on the song we called 'Be Change' and we performed it at the United Nations on October 17.

Alice Quinn of the Poetry Society of America invited me to perform at the launch of the Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry, which took place at Poet's House on October 25. Two of the songs on my album 'Singing in the Dark' are in the Anthology as poems - Theodore Roethke's 'In A Dark Time' and Anne Sexton's 'A Woman Like That', and Alice asked if I would write music for another poem from the Anthology. I chose Paul Laurence Dunbar's 'Life's Tragedy':

It may be misery not to sing at all,
And to go silent through the brimming day;
It may be misery never to be loved,
But deeper griefs than these beset the way.

To sing the perfect song,
And by a half-tone lost the key,
There the potent sorrow, there the grief,
The pale, sad staring of Life's Tragedy.

To have come near to the perfect love,
Not the hot passion of untempered youth,
But that which lies aside its vanity,
And gives, for thy trusting worship, truth.

This, this indeed is to be accursed,
For if we mortals love, or if we sing,
We count our joys not by what we have,
But by what kept us from that perfect thing.

It was wonderful to debut the song in front of a room packed with poetry lovers and to be performing with Erik Della Penna and Jason Sypher once again.