Afternoon poetry and jazz

Jazz for a Rainy Afternoon Audio CD

Sometimes a few notes of music follow you for days are weeks or years. Sometimes a line of poetry haunts you like a memory you can’t quite recall. It’s like rain, it permeates the air, wets the ground, even makes tea taste more pronounced.

Here’s part of a story I can share with you. After I was at university studying art and design, I found an audio CD in a music store titled Jazz for a Rainy Afternoon. What attracted me to the album, a compilation, was the fact that the cover art reminded me of a sexier version of Gustave Caillebotte’s famous painting. I purchased the audio CD. It was background music initially. Something to edge off lonely days as a poor graduate beginning a career in graphic design. About the same time I discovered, and purchased, a copy of William Kistler’s poetry book America February.

I have always enjoyed poetry and music, but reading Kistler’s work was rigorous for me. Light verse and traditional poems, the variety that fill American and English school book anthologies, were what I was familiar with. But Kistler’s poetry was a new dish for my inexperienced palate. Equally, understanding the musical selections of Jazz for a Rainy Afternoon as more than a background soundtrack was challenging.

A line from one of Susan L Daniels’s poems has captured my attention this past week—the way jazz and poetry sometimes do. The speaker in the poem answers a question, so you like jazz, by saying: “…the answer is no/I live it sometimes…” That’s what I have come to enjoy about the complicated progression in a song or a poem that avoids a clean resolution.

Jazz and poetry work into you. It takes you down that familiar path of a rainy day afternoon, a common enough subject, but it is a variation of that theme. Never the same way twice. Like reading a poem as a school boy and reading it later as a graduate and later as a professional. Same poem printed on the page, but different. Always different. But familiar, because you “live it.” There’s more to this story. Maybe I’ll share it with you on another rainy day afternoon.

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