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Category: reading table

Thursday, June 2nd

never enough

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), Piano Sonata No. 17 in D minor (Op. 31, No. 2; 1801-02; “The Tempest”); Maria João Pires (1944-, piano), live, published 2018

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lagniappe

reading table

In this world
we walk on the roof of hell,
gazing at flowers.

—Kobayashi Issa, 1763-1827 (translated from Japanese by Robert Hass)

Sunday, May 29th

back to church

White Hill Hymn Choir, “Ezekiel Prophesize,” live, Mt. DoWell Baptist Church, McConnells, South Carolina, 1987

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lagniappe

reading table

Not once did I think
I’d throw these fresh spring blossoms
into this dense smoke
and stand back to watch it rise
and vanish into the sky

—Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827), translated from the Japanese by Sam Hamill

Wednesday, May 11th

sounds of New York

Robert Dick (flutes, composition) with Resonant Refractions, Concerto for Flute, Bass Flute, Strings and Percussion, live, New York, 4/2/22

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lagniappe

reading table

I have just had a long early-morning visit from Faustina who is still carrying on selling her “ticketys” (lottery tickets) bravely and walking miles every day with them, at the age of eighty-two. First she has to have a small drink of cognac, then she advises me about what number to buy this week—it’s 2—then she tells me lots of gossip, except that I can’t understand much of it; she speaks a sort of elementary gibberish of her own, part Spanish, part English. She is carrying all her tickets and money these days in a cardboard suit-case, brown wood-grained, with a red cross on one side, and “The Little Doctor” in large print. She was also carrying a large mirror, very tarnished, in a silver frame, that someone had given her. She is going to take out the mirror and use the frame for a photograph of, first—she said—her daughter, second thought, an improvement, the “Virgin Maria . . .”

—Elizabeth Bishop (Key West, Florida), letter to Robert Lowell, November 18, 1947 (Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell)

Monday, May 2nd

sounds of Moscow

Alexei Lubimov (1944-, piano), live (4/13/22, Moscow), playing, after pieces by Ukrainian composer Valentyn (aka Valentin) Silvestrov (1937-), Franz Schubert’s (1797-1828) Impromptus (1827), until being interrupted by the police

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Alexei Lubimov:

“Two months ago, we announced the program, of Valentyn Silvestrov’s vocal cycle ‘Steps’ with Yana Ivanilova and the Schubert Impromptus and some lieder. It was a planned event, and was publicized normally. There was nothing dangerous about it. But, on the morning of the day of the concert, the director of the hall [Alexei Munipov] got a call—I don’t know from which authorities—and they asked him to cancel the concert. He replied that he couldn’t cancel it because it was sold out, and that there was nothing problematic or dangerous about the program.

Before the concert, [Munipov] asked me and Yana Ivanilova to speak carefully during our introductions to the pieces, without references to politics or the war. And we did so. We just explained who Silvestrov is—a very well-known composer, of course a Ukrainian composer, a famous member of the avant-garde from the 1970s and ’80s—[and talked] about ‘Steps’ and so on.

We performed ‘Steps’ with great success. Then we began the second part, with the Schubert Impromptus, which were supposed to be followed by Schubert songs. But during the end of the first Impromptu, the policeman came into the hall, and announced loudly, ‘You have to leave the hall, because we have to check for a bomb. There’s been a bomb threat.’

I immediately understood that this was a provocation and that it was fake. So I continued to play, going into the second Impromptu. And the police were waiting at the entrance of the hall. But after four minutes, they came up to me at the piano. I was worried that they would close the piano, but they didn’t. When I finished, there was great applause, and cries of ‘Bravo!’ and so on.

They said we had to stop. I asked why. They explained again that there was probably a bomb, and that they were waiting for the bomb-sniffing dogs to arrive. I asked how long it would take. They said 15 minutes. So I told the audience, ‘Please, let’s follow the procedure. We’ll stop for 15 minutes.’ Everybody understood immediately: There were no protests, no political statements. It was absolutely quiet and polite.

We left the hall, but we couldn’t go back inside. The bomb-sniffing dogs didn’t come until two hours later. The police said they were just following orders, and they obviously didn’t know the music or why they had these orders. But it was immediately obvious to us that they wanted to stop the concert because Silvestrov had spoken clearly about the war and Putin’s dictatorship in interviews. [Silvestrov is currently in Berlin.—Ed.] The authorities probably recognized the name: ‘Silvestrov means you’re against Putin and against the war.’ They probably thought his name was a dangerous anti-war symbol.

[The concert was interrupted] although Silvestrov’s pieces have been performed in this hall—just counting this hall—four times since December. He’s a famous composer, and despite his Ukrainian heritage his works are played often in [Russian] concerts of contemporary music. Even in these dangerous times.”

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reading table

Every moment of life is an attempt to come to life.

—Robert Duncan (1919-1988, The New American Poetry, ed. Donald M. Allen, 1960)

Sunday, May 1st

testify!

Vernard Johnson (1948-, alto saxophone), “I Won’t Complain,” live, Kansas City, Mo. (58th Women’s International Convention, Church of God in Christ), 2008

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lagniappe

random sights

other day, Oak Park, Ill.

*****

reading table

The Locust Tree in Flower (second version)
by William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)

Among
of
green

stiff
old
bright

broken
branch
come

white
sweet
May

again

Saturday, April 9th

never enough

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), Rondo in D Major (K. 485), Fantasia in C Minor (K. 475); Leif Ove Andsnes (1970-, piano), live, Vienna (Austria), published 4/8/22

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lagniappe

reading table

For you I have emptied the meaning
Leaving the song

—Louis Zukofsky (1904-1978), from “Anew” (section 9)

Sunday, April 3rd

sounds of Chicago

Progressive Church of God in Christ Radio Choir (Maywood, Ill.), live (TV show [Jubilee Showcase]), 1975

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lagniappe

random sights

other day, Oak Park, Ill.

*****

reading table

Spring and All
by William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)

By the road to the contagious hospital
under the surge of the blue
mottled clouds driven from the
northeast—a cold wind. Beyond, the
waste of broad, muddy fields
brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen

patches of standing water
the scattering of tall trees

All along the road the reddish
purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy
stuff of bushes and small trees
with dead, brown leaves under them
leafless vines—

Lifeless in appearance,
sluggish dazed spring approaches—

They enter the new world naked,
cold, uncertain of all
save that they enter. All about them
the cold, familiar wind—

Now the grass, tomorrow
the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf

One by one objects are defined—
It quickens: clarity, outline of leaf

But now the stark dignity of
entrance—Still, the profound change
has come upon them: rooted, they
grip down and begin to awaken

Tuesday, March 22nd

spring: another take

Sun Ra Arkestra (SR, 1914-1993, piano, composition; June Tyson, vocals; John Gilmore, tenor saxophone, et al.), “Springtime Again,” live, Rome, 1980

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lagniappe

reading table

Thus spring begins: old
stupidities repeated,
new errors invented.

—Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827), translated from the Japanese by Sam Hamill

Thursday, March 17th

voices I miss

Billy Bang Quintet (BB, 1947-2011, violin, compositions; James Zollar, trumpet; Andrew Bemkey, piano; Todd Nicholson, bass; Newman Taylor Baker, drums), live, New York, 2006

(clip plays)

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lagniappe

reading table

Look at your past, how it’s grown.

—Karen Solie (1966-), from “All That Is Certain Is Night Lasts Longer Than the Day”

Sunday, March 13th

back to church

“Until I Die,” Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, 2001

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lagniappe

random sights

other day, Oak Park, Ill.

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reading table

On​ the first day, we hid in the Mins’ka metro station with our dog, Zlata. The entire platform was covered with people. We found a little gap next to a large family with lots of children and a sick grandad who was getting sicker and sicker. Their cat kept peeing from fear and the smell was everywhere. Some people were better prepared than others: they had brought fold-up chairs, blankets, flasks of hot tea. We came with nothing, though I had started packing a bag as soon as the sound of explosions woke me up. I couldn’t solve the puzzle of what exactly you’re supposed to take with you if you might never go back to your home, or if you might die at any moment. I tried to pack my things several times, but in the end we left with our hands almost empty.

—Sofia Andrukhovych (translated by Uilleam Blacker), from “Day 5, Day 9, Day 16 / Responses to the Invasion of Ukraine,” London Review of Books (3/24/22)

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