I’m emerging from a nourishing year of composing the song cycle, “Body.” The songs are concerned with the impermanence of our physical, human bodies (in my own body by the sudden, long-term disabling event of PASC or Long Covid*) and with the impermanence of our planet, our landscapes: the Earth body, with which our human bodies are in ever-present and constantly changing relationship.
The experience of writing poetry and music outdoors (in Vermont and Puerto Rico), or in my sheltered open-air garage studio, in close contact with gardens, sky, great bodies of water, and all forms of weather, was deeply powerful. I focused my work and intentions on the liminal spaces between day and night, the transitions between seasons, writing in the heart of climate crisis when the air was dangerously thick with wildfire smoke and during both the drought and flood of summer 2023 in Vermont.
I had the good fortune of collaborating with my beloved friend, Stephanie Lynn Wilson, on two of the songs in the cycle. The poems in the song cycle hold celebration and grief, places between times, the ever changing curves of shorelines, and the dream-twisted strands of migration and ancestral knowledge. All are original poetry and musical composition.
I am ever so grateful to Audrey Pirog for testing out many of the harmonies and duets with me. The opening song in the cycle, Cantus Avium, is written for her and set in the Winooski River delta. It recalls ancestral migration along water ways with a deep respect for water birds. We got together to read/sing through it the day after the Great Flood, as the waters were still rising in the Winooski River and the Intervale, where she farms currently. Having written the poem and music months prior, it was a surreal experience to sing it with her while the farms that feed us were flooding and those very birds coping with the wild waters. That is a story for another time.
This work would not have been possible without the financial support of the Vermont Arts Council Creation Grant and their partner funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. Thank you! Also a big thank you to John Thompson-Figueroa, who helped with the construction of my temporary, semi-outdoor studio, to congregation Ruach HaMaqom for the off-season loan of the sukkah which provided the studio’s bones, and again to John for some after hours transcription that helped trellis the project’s pace of growth.
I will be back here soon to describe my creative process in this work and share some samples. For now, enjoy some photos of the landscapes that held the creation of “Body”. Thank you for your interest. If you’d like to receive email notifications of new blogposts, fill out the form on the contact page and let me know.
* Long Covid is now a disability protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. I was infected in late February 2020, tested positive in March 2020 as soon as tests were available, recovered from the acute infectious phase and began experiencing disabling Long Covid symptoms in June 2020. I have had severe Long Covid for three years and counting.