Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"A View of the Gulf"

A View of the Gulf

Fourth floor condo at the beach,
Kids bounce over waves,
parents standing guard
or reading under blue umbrellas.
Occasional walkers rush by,
or stroll, hunting shells.

Clouds of different shades of gray
watch at the horizon
as I watch from this side
the constant waves
lunging at the varied humanity below.

The clouds and waves could not care less.
I could not care more,
though I,
like them,
am helpless.

Carmen Leone
© 2012-the present

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons
German postcard circa 1900 - public domain

Monday, April 29, 2013

"tromba marina"

tromba marina

tango pink queen conch shell aperture
the drone within like a radio all shades of
static—serape draped on a folding chair

scarlet maize emerald indigo next to a
flamenco guitar silent at this moment—
back & sides cypress wood like amber

enfolding quavers—the asian pear bloom
white & crimson where bees would hum on
a blue May morning that hasn’t taken place—

chromatic harmonic—birds unseen in
hedges their ultra violet feathers existing on a
spectrum the eye can’t see—you have listened but

heard not—crunch of kwanzan blossoms on
concrete I couldn’t prevent them falling

AK Barkley
© 2013

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons
illustration of a tromba marina (marine trumpet) from Olga Racster's "Chats on Big and Little Fiddles" Frederick A. Stokes, NY 1922 - public domain

Friday, April 26, 2013

"amnesia 4 (physics and flow)"

amnesia 4 (physics and flow)

like the smoke
that parts from her lips
and has no more cohesion
unity and sense lost
to air flows and physics
and a butterfly
no sooner landing
than taking off
so her thoughts
even those most intimate
imagings of self
are no sooner thought
than gone

Mairi Graham-Shaw
© 2013

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons
"Cabbages & Butterflies" – Nianyi (Chinese, active ca. 15th-16th century) – ink & color on silk
Public domain

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

“Bedtime Story”

Bedtime Story

for Jeremiah

Come hear a sory, children,
   and help me make it real.
Take the path that Alice took
   and spin the golden wheel.

Come chase that odd, white rabbit
  down to the Mad Hatter’s place,
then search for the grinning cat
   who somehow lost his face.

      Let’s go meet Cinderella.
   Let’s shake the Prince’s hand.
Let’s take the yellow brick road
         and fly to Neverland.

      Come meet Christopher Robin
   and nap with Winnie-the-Pooh.
Let’s fret with piglet and Eeyore
   and romp with Tigger and Roo.

      We’ll fight of witches, dragons
         and a ticking crocodile.
Let’s find out where the sidewalk ends,
         then sit and rest awhile.

We’ll drink from a chocolate river
   and care for Paddington Bear,
then stop and watch the tortoise
         outrun that lazy hare.

Just listen to the stories children,
         and listen to them well.
Just sleep and we will go there
      to see them for ourselves.

Barbie Angell
© 2012

Friday, April 12, 2013


Happy Friday, friends! A short post in terms of words, but some very beautiful music.

If you checked in last Friday, you know that I’m featuring the music of guitarist Kaki King this month on the blog. Indeed, Kaki King is a personal favorite guitarist, not only because of her amazing chops & stunning compositional skills, but also because of her singular & intense creative spirit.

Actually, the video I wanted to use for today’s post has been disabled for embedding—something I discovered in the eleventh hour (literally true in more ways than one), & that’s part of the reason for this post is a bit short—there was some scrambling involved at an hour when I didn't intend to be doing any such thing. But I found King’s performance of “Goby” from the same concert as last week’s post (“Playing with Pink Noise”), & that is also a fine version with good audio. If you’d like to listen to my first choice, you can watch it on YouTube here. The audio on that one is really high quality. There are also some cool versions of King playing “Goby” with her guitar rigged to a synth set-up—great fun! One such performance
—& a good one at thatis here

“Goby” was released on Kaki King’s third album, Until We Felt Red on Velour. As I understand it, the tuning is CGCFGC  (again, as with the tuning I mentioned in last week’s post, this doesn’t come from an authoritative source, & I haven’t double-checked it.) Those who are familiar with alternate guitar tunings will notice that this is a full step down from the D suspended tuning, better known as DADGAD (these being the notes of the open strings), & I understand King likes that tuning, so this all seems quite plausible.

While “Playing with Pink Noise” featured much of King’s percussive playing—fretboard tapping, slapping the strings, drumming on the guitar, “Goby” is a bit more of a “conventional” fingerstyle piece, though it very much carries her individual stamp, & her playing is both powerful & exquisite.


Image of Kaki King at the 1st Adelaide International Guitar Festival links to its source on Wiki Commons. Its creator is Mandy Hall, & this file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

"not titled yet"

life takes blood
and blood takes life

it's the only real circle
she says, with a laugh
that's only a little bitter
a touch too sweet

you heard about her
from a woman who drinks
with the grandfather
of your friend's friend
from down the block

so here you are
(down more than one block)
where she holds court with no one
gesticulating smoke
and menacing you
with a can of beer

you brought her offerings
out of necessity if not respect
most of a bottle of jack
a pack of unfiltered camels
a lock of hair
(it's not really yours
but you can both pretend)

you just hope it's enough
it's not like you have more
(you wouldn't be here
if you weren't desperate)

she takes what you have
laughing like she's taking you
(she probably is
this is probably a scam)

and promises you
that life takes blood
and blood takes life

Mairi Graham-Shaw
© 2013

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons
Kniende in orange-rotem Kleid (Kneeling Female in Orange-Red Dress): Egon Schiele - 1910
public domain

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sonata in D Minor, K. 213 – Domenico Scarlatti

Happy Sunday, friends.

The guitar as we know it today was most certainly not an instrument used in early music. The modern classical guitar (& all its various descendants) is in many ways a 19th century invention, a thorough re-working of an instrument that lacked many of its current properties, especially in terms of sound projection.

Of course there was the baroque guitar, which is an ancestor of our modern instrument, without question, but there were a number of dissimilarities, & also the baroque guitar was primarily a continuo instrument, & as such its voice often was not featured. Of course, the classical guitar as we know it today is primarily a solo concert instrument.

Still, much music from the Baroque period & even earlier has been adapted for the classical guitar. The repertoire of Gaspar Sanz, Sylvius Leopold Weiss & Robert de Visée, who all wrote for both baroque guitar & lute, is often adapted, as are works by the well known Baroque composers—obviously, Bach, whose cello & lute works in particular have been transcribed & often performed, but also other well known composers of the time, such as Vivaldi, Handel & others. & so, rushing in where angels fear to tread, I’ll be featuring classical guitar performances of Baroque music this month on Early Music Sunday.

Here we have guitar virtuoso John Williams' performance of Domenico Scarlatti’s Sonata in D minor, K. 213, originally written either for harpsichord or the early form of the pianoforte. If you’re curious, you can hear this piece played on a piano at this link.

Domenico Scarlatti was Italian by birth, but lived much of his life in Spain & Portugal, where he was music master for both royal families. He was the son of Alessandro Scarlatti, who was a renowned composer himself, especially in terms of the early opera.

Scarlatti arrived in Lisbon in 1719, & became music teacher to Portuguese princess Maria Magdalena Barbara. After spending some time in Italy in the later 1720s, he moved to Sevilla in 1729, & in 1733 he traveled to Madrid to be rejoined with his pupil Maria Barbara, who had since married into the Spanish royal house. He is thought to have composed most of his keyoboard sonatas during his years in Madrid, where he stayed until his death at age 71 in 1757. Scarlatti, like Johann Sebastian Bach’s son, Carl Phillip Emanuel Bach, is seen as a composer who bridged the Baroque & early Classical periods.

A lovely version of this lovely piece of music—enjoy!

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons
Retrato de Domenico Scarlatti (Portrait of Domenico Scarlatti), Domingo Antonio Velasco, 1730 – public domain

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Photo of the Week 4/6/13

Peace Mural - "Practicing Non-Violence is a Way of Life"
SE Belmont, Portland, Oregon
Friday 4/5/13

Friday, April 5, 2013

“Playing with Pink Noise” – Kaki King

Hello, friends! What do Acoustic Guitar magazine & the Robert Frost’s Banjo blog have in common? Easy: we’re both featuring the music of Kaki King this month. Now I know that for quite some time banjo music has held sway on Fridays, but at least for this month I’m giving that series a rest in order to feature a performer whose music is, to my mind, as exciting as anyone on the scene today.

As is the case with so many exceptional musical performers, Kaki King showed an inclination toward music at a young age, & was first introduced to the guitar around age five. She also played bass & drums starting in adolescence, & one can hear & see this background in her approach to the guitar both as a player & as a composer. As Kaki grew up, her musical tastes broadened, & she notes that performers like Nick Drake, the Red House Painters & some of the Windham Hill artists were early influences.

Kaki King signed her first record contract, with Velour in 2002. Her debut album, Everybody Loves You, which was released in 2003. From this album on, much of the basics of King’s style already became clear: a percussive technique with both the right & left hand, as she employs fretboard tapping as well as flamenco type soundboard percussion; in addition, King employs altered & open tunings to great effect.

Kaki King followed her first release with Legs to Make Us Longer on Sony in 2004, which was also a solo effort but one that involved more looping & multi-tracking with other instruments. After this, Kaki King moved into a band setting with a more electric sound for Until We Felt Red (on which she returned to Velour.) King has produced a string of high quality recordings in the past few years, with Dreaming of Revenge, the EP Black Pear Tree (both 08), the Mexican Teenagers EP in 2009, Junior in 2010, & Glow—which is an amazing record at so many levels—last year. In fact, King is currently on tour in support of Glow, in the wake of the successful Traveling Guitar Freak Show (which I stupidly missed here in Portland
—still kicking myself for that.)

“Playing with Pink Noise” comes from the Legs to Make Us Longer record. King is playing her customary Ovation Adamas guitar—she has a signature model, the 1581-KK model, tuned CGCGAD (as I understand; I haven't tested this, & it's not from an official source), which is almost like the guitar simply being taken down a whole step from drop-D tuning, except that the 3rd string remains at concert pitch. For those of you who are inclined to take a shot at playing this tune (hint—you need a guitar with low action to do all the slap style & hammer-ons!), you can listen to Kaki King explaining the tune here on YouTube. I should also mention that King played this song as her contribution to Guitar Art Show at the Littlefield  in Brooklyn with her hands covered in pink paint. That 2009 performance can be seen at this link.

This is truly exciting music from an important contemporary performer & composer! Hope you enjoy it.

Image of Kaki King at TED 2008 connects to its source on Wiki Commons. The photographic image was produced by Steve Jurvetson of Menlo Park, California & has generously been made available & published under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Barbie Angell Wrestles Calista Flockhart Over Star Wars Legos & Much More!

A happy Wednesday, friends! I have a special treat for you today, which is an opportunity to get to know our own poet Barbie Angell in one of her other incarnations!

Most of you who follow Barbie Angell through Robert Frost’s Banjo probably think of her primarily as a children’s poet & illustrator, & indeed these are important parts of her creative life. But Barbie’s artistry & creative energies aren’t limited to those fields, as fine as they are in themselves & as beautifully as she practices them. She also writes poetry with a more adult slant, & is a talented performer of what she calls “bar poetry.” But beyond that, Barbie Angell is a bona fide social media wit, pop culture maven & more. If you follow her on Twitter (@barbieangell) – & if you are on Twitter you really should – you know that she tweets as a larger of life character on a mind-boggling range of topics.  It's not for nothing that we call her "rock star poet-in-residence" around here!

You’ll get a sense of Barbie Angell’s other side from this interview she recently did on the Figures Sold Separately podcast with hosts Ken Krahl, Jimmy MacKenzie & Plucky McFeatherton.  As the podcast’s very own Facebook page proclaims:

Figures Sold Separately is the pop-culture podcast & web show by the giant geeks behind Multiverse, Pluckychicken.net, and Stuff Monsters Like! Join Plucky, Jim, and Ken each week as they tear into the latest topics in fan culture, give away cool swag, and roll out a new pop-culture-inspired cocktail!

& I send my own kudos to those folks, because they've put together a fine & fun podcast...& in the interests of full disclosure, I will say this comes from someone who as a kid owned the original-not sure-how-many issues of the Silver Surfer from the 1960s, & slowly trashed with gazillion readings, not to mention the many Avengers, Fantastic Four & Sub-Mariner et al. issues that all met the same fate. If I'd only known...

The podcast is taped at the Zapow in beatiful downtown Asheville, & produced by Zapow’s own Matt Johnson. & I should note that the podcast comes with an “explicit language” warning, so if that sort of thing is not your cup of tea, then please don’t partake.  

But I think those who give the interview a listen—it’s here in case you missed it first time! Will really enjoy hearing Barbie’s take on everything from Star War Legos to Harrison Ford’s hat!

Yes, that's what I mean; had both of these & many more. Comic book images links to their source at Wiki Commons. Photo of Barbie Angell (tweeting) by Plucky McFeatherton. Photo of Barbie & Plucky McFeatherton by Figures Sold Separately.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

"The Tire Swing"

The Tire Swing

I was made for lapping miles,
city streets and pikes and roads,
rolling free through days and nights
hauling folks and heavy loads.

But such a life has worn me bald.
I’m out to pasture, so to speak,
joined by a rope to a tall oak tree
between a farmhouse and a creek.

She bursts outdoors and leaps on me
and kicks as we ride high and higher.
I soar with her and hold her tight,
and I am more than just a tire!

This, after all, I now can see,
has always been my destiny.

Carmen Leone
© 2012-the present


Image links to source on Wiki Commons
"Girl on a Swing": Winslow Homer, 1879 - public domain