After much hustling and bustling today as we realized the flyers I had distributed around town had next Tuesday's date on them rather than tonight's, we were glad to see an excellent turnout for our small town Creative Arts Council. With a chelation IV stuck in my right arm this afternoon, I had clumsily called half the members from our town -- Judith the other half. (Note to self: perhaps calling the membership list is a good idea each month!) I counted 23 people at one point -- an excellent little turnout for what was to be a breathtaking performance worthy of the stage rather than a slightly stuffy conference room in a small town library.
After introductions and announcements, we quieted for the "featured artists." Bryan first played some of his "dream compositions" from his computer audio system, explaining the themes and ideas behind the one-minute snippets of complex arrangements. Then Judith read "pomes" (as she calls them) from her latest and excellent book, living with what remains. As she read, Bryan played his musical compositions, both from his computer recordings as well as LIVE from an electric violin. Yes -- I'm not kidding: Electric. Violin. As Judith's voice described the shoreline, Bryan trilled the song of seagulls on his violin so realistically that I nearly detected the tang of salt in the room. Here's a portion of Judith's poem -- imagine the music rising and falling, the violin crashing and receding behind her gently strong voice as she reads:
And the sea-swell,
its bulge and heave; the way the sun
spills into every brief translucence,
repeating itself in myriad instant glories.
Like the birthing of light itself...
This is too much to live without.
And this -- this I envy you:
The fringe of seagrass that
feathers out upon your spit of land,
that plunges fibrous fingers deep
for grip, like anchors
in the sand and drifting soul.
(Dupree, Judith Deem. living with what remains. Quiddity Press: 2004.)
My words cannot give the vaguest outline of the magic of this event. As I peeped around the room, most people sat with their eyes closed -- the rounded grapes and home-baked cookies lying untouched before them --allowing their imaginations to ride aloft on the music and poetry. And I did the same -- I was no longer in a small cramped room in a small anywhere town. I was the seagrass, waved by the entrancing notes of the violin. Then Judith finished the performance with several poems from this latest collection of her work, closing with the title poem, which begins:
the quiet hours now,
when darkness settles down among us ...
crickets ratcheting their evening chorus,
dogs on patrol, describing their peripheries,
jasmine spilling - seductive woman of the night.
and we are almost seduced; it's almost believable --
our ancient theory that the world is round,
when we know that it is flat, and caving in.
It was an extraordinary night. I mean that word in its fullest sense -- a night truly beyond the ordinary in every way. It was art in motion, flowing together, then apart -- notes and words entwining ... separating ... embracing each other again in a waltz of creative expression and artistic wealth.
Truly, to close with the old cliche -- it was an evening to remember.