Artist Quote 2: Tom Verlaine

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“In madness, there is order.” Tom Verlaine – singer, songwriter, guitar player and frontman of Television rock band

Tom Verlaine photo credit: Getty images


Patti Smith – “I’m Not a Female; I’m an Artist”

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“I never felt oppressed because of my gender. When I’m writing a poem or drawing, I’m not a female; I’m an artist.” Patti Smith, singer-songwriter, musician, author and poet

Patti Smith photo credit: 1975 Portrait of Patti Smith by Robert Mapplethorpe

“…I’m not a female; I’m an artist.” Only when we start thinking outside the gender paradigm we have internalized, can we begin to contemplate how we lie at the intersection of multiple identities and many possibilities.

Music As My Refuge

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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

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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.

Plucking at the Heartstrings

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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.


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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.

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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.