Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Few Words From Audrey Niffenegger

"...the great thing about fiction is that anything can happen. In fiction, the ghost has just as much reality as any other characters, because they're all imaginary.
"You can do anything in fiction. There's no ethical thing holding you to accuracy in reporting. So why can't the monkeys fly? Why can't we live in a world where everybody eats blood oranges? There should be in fiction an element of experimentation...."--novelist Audrey Niffenegger, from "Anything Can Happen" (profile) by Kevin Nance, Poets & Writers, November/December 2009

Monday, May 24, 2010

Three New York Musicians Record With Gay San Francisco Poet

"Jeff Lilly's poetry dances through music and delivers a lyrical punch that should be heard and acknowledged out there in the world of words and sound."--Neeli Cherkovski, poet and author of Ferlinghetti: A Biography.

Jeffrey Lilly is a San Francisco-based poet who has recorded two poetry with music CDs, "The Butterfly Flies," his most recent, and "Promised Land Poems." "A number of poems of my recordings," says Lilly, an openly gay man, "are an expression of eros or a defense of eros." Especially same-gender eros, which Lilly celebrates without fear or shame or equivocation and with artistic beauty. In "Come Christmas Day's Two to Oneing Morn" (from "The Butterfly Flies") the poem is set to music that quotes from the carol, "Noel," and explores a sexual relationship in the early morning hours of Christmas. Lilly explains the origin of the poem this way: "It originally began after the Christmas morning episode with a man I was in love with. We had known each other for some time. I finished it after a relationship with a second lover. There was also the memory of a two-day fling with a German tourist. This was before the days of AIDS. I was writing about the joy of safe sex. The first two encounters weren't brief encounters, but the original idea of flexibility and alternation came out of that early encounter with a German tourist." "African Beauty," another gay-oriented poem on "Butterfly," is a tribute to a male lover, " a man with whom I lived for some time."

"The Butterfly Flies" features three New York musicians: Jonathan Comisar (piano), a faculty member at Hebrew Union College, who studied under the Pulitzer-Prize winning composer David Del Tredici, also composes Jewish liturgical music; Mike Cohen (clarinet and flute), who has performed at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Birdland, and other venues; and Ivan Borenboim (clarinet), and artist-in-residence at Central Synagogue and a performer throughout the United States, Argentina, and Europe. Hans Christian, the German-born composer on "Promised Land Poems," is also a record producer and studio engineer.

Over the years, Lilly, a convert to Judaism in 1992, has read his poetry at his GLBT synagogue, Sha'ar Zahav, as well as other venues in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Lilly believes his "reading style is more like poetic song that is well matched with the music which amplifies my words." He has been "told I have a good performance voice that goes well
with music." In addition, he continues, "I have had the good fortune of having very talented composers [Jonathan Comisar and Hans Christian] to work with."

Among the writers Lilly has been influenced by are Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg whose pairing of poetry and music was"one essential part of the Beat movement."
A few of the poems on both CDs mix words from different languages. Lilly, who earned a master's degree in Russian language and literature and another one in comparative literature, sees this as his way of "conveying a musical sound." He "draws on my studies of Russian, French, and Italian, as well as other foreign words I've encountered in the multicultural world of San Francisco."

Lilly is co-editor of Art Mugs the Reaper, a project he describes as "an artistic quilt." It celebrates the work and lives of gay men such as photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and poet-playwright Assotto Saint, who have died from AIDS. He is also at work on an as-yet-unnamed novel about a Russian emigre writer. The book is an outgrowth of his social service work among Russian emigres in San Francisco.

For further information about the CDs, you can contact Jeffrey Lilly at JL@jeffreylillypresents.com.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

John Wayne Was Full of Crap!

I recently watched an American Masters special on PBS about director John Ford and John Wayne. While watching the program I kept thinking about the radio infomercial that I've heard many times. The infomercial selling a colon health product stated that when John Wayne died, his autopsy revealed that he was carrying 25 pounds of impacted fecal matter. In other words, Wayne was full of crap, literally.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

On Malcolm X and His Legacy

In commemoration of Malcolm X's upcoming birthday on May 19, I have linked to the following article from theroot.com.http://www.theroot.com/views/malcolm-xs-complex-legacy