Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.Maya Angelou
If I were to chronicle my musical journey till my admission exams at the Conservatory, I would say I literally crawl back to where notes reside on a daily basis. Practicing solfege and sight reading, as well as singing allow me to alleviate some of the blues, the turmoil, the anxiety.
Music, once more, creates a space for me – of generosity, calm and transcendence. And within that realm, loneliness doesn’t scream anymore, it becomes melody. And I follow the tune wherever it may take me.
A poet’s work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep. Salman Rushdie
Poets should resort to language for a purpose far greater than mere aesthetics, especially with what’s going on in the world today. When everything seems to become increasingly political (and polarized), it’s almost imperative that the poet use their craft to take a stand against injustice and other ills of the world. To leave matters wholly in the hands of politicians is to deny the monumental power of language.
I will leave you with another favorite quote of mine by English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley from his essay A Defence of Poetry (1840):
Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
Poetry is plucking at the heartstrings, and making music with them.Dennis Gabor
Because poetry should inspire one to sing and song should inspire one to write. Because language and music are often complementary and act, at least ideally, like two strands of DNA. In tandem, in harmony. We hear rhythm and beat within a poem, we hear words that speak within piano chords.
As an aspiring poet and classical singer, I feel that language and music continue to intertwine in curious ways, making my universe a little bit (or perhaps a lot) more bearable.
…It needs no mediation. Some of the most profound experiences I’ve had were all related to music. The queen of my heart, magic in the making, always providing me with guidance and tales of hope.
This particular quote is from a book I am currently reading entitled Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by best-selling author and neurology professor, Oliver Sacks. For me, neuroscience is fascinating enough as it is. But when coupled with music and how people experience it, it becomes something akin to an odyssey to the workings of our brains when exposed to music.
Although the term ‘musicophilia’ literally translates as ‘love for music’ (from the Greek philo which means loving, fond of), author and journalist Stephen Poole brilliantly captures the essence of the concept as it is described in the book:
Musicophilia is about the more mysterious, and currently inexplicable, ways in which music affects the brain, for good or ill.
A remarkable gathering of ‘neurological musings’ – I highly recommend it.
deforestation, disaster disinterested, dissect a drone that demolishes and destroys, declassify danger, dirty debates in drowsy debauchery, dissension, distortion, division, distrust, you don’t decide, decry democracy for what it has denied, disturbing disorganization, denounce the decrepit design and the deranged, demented policies, degradation and delirium, a descent into delusion, do the deed and ditch all definitions;
devoid of differential diagnosis, dermatology delineated, disemboweled, disembodied
dig a tumor, degenerative, daring and deceased disease disease disease
dengue fever, disability, diabetes, dealing drugs, drilling death on and on
dubious devious death.
ding dong, drip drop, the drums delay the day
dormant deference, demand and defend a dostoievski story, do you mind?
dunes and dust, dissipation in degrees, deep space that dulls a theory, doppler effect in a decade, dissolution and diffusion, divergence disposition, a dose of dreams, dark matter in decay;
didn’t i decide it was too much? it made all the difference. draining depression, detract and discharge. it is done.
“Sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.” Itzhak Perlman
For someone who has not quit pursuing music, despite the many challenges, this quote has stayed with me ever since I first came across it.
Itzhak Perlman is an Israeli-American violinist, conductor, and music teacher who has been suffering from polio since age four. It is said that he once finished a concert playing on a three-string violin after one string broke. This is why for me this quote stands as a brilliant metaphor for what we can achieve when we believe we can defy the odds. Or gravity.
So whatever you feel your task is as an artist, never stop. Magic is on its way.
blue raspberries call my name, and on that sunny day, at lunch, i recall why i liked you in the first place.
no reason, no gain
nothing but solitary bugs glistening in the sun as they cross our table;
we dream of far off places, perhaps the berlin you painted for me in vivid colors,
a secret garden in the corner of belief, a land where black grapes can’t pass for olives,
a land where our taste buds aren’t confused, a land where I get to taste you without remorse…
the yellow of the table gleams with hope, a language i can understand better than any other language i hope you never get panic attacks again i hope you get on your boat i hope you never start smoking again i hope you are well i hope
last winter we were only two strangers reading inscriptions on the walls of bars, howling our angst and dissatisfaction at the moon
me on the cusp of begging you to grab another beer and forget
you chasing the night away, hand it to the claws of neglect
please don’t look at me this way, you said
I broke the rules and looked at you exactly that way
i have traced the shape of your lips with my brush dipped in red several times before
and each time it took the shape of affliction
a testament of my bleeding carved on your demeanor
whence this longing? this stupendous longing?
for more than just a swift hello and an even swifter bye
without all the meaninglessness in between
i wish i wouldn’t have to look you in the eyes and see something,
that something that is on the verge of nothing
i want you near me with the same force i am repelled by you
where is my exit, my fire escape?
am i one of your burnt writings?
scattered ashes of a random whole on the roof of creation?
always stuck in her old ways
but when the lilacs bloom, we can finally have our spring
nestled inside the painting studio near the park
all that green will feed us and we’ll live off the smell of wet paint and the taste of wine
a candid bowl of soup and kindness served at our glowing lunch table…
a primitive feast awaits us but it never comes
and yet it has come, if only in a different form
there is no requiem for this fantasy