Passages, our new CD, was released on October 1! Hard to believe that it has been nine years since our we made our first recording of melopoeia,, the art that so delighted Rhina Espaillat when she heard it as a child in the Dominican Republic. Rhina’s earliest memories include the pleasurable one of hearing poetry recited in her home to the sound of guitars and the piano. Her grandmother, herself a poet, would invite other poets and musicians to the house for recitals. Though as a child she could not understand what was being said, she understood immediately an essential thing about how it was said: music came from the spoken words as well as from the instruments. “These people were having fun!” she remembers.
We’re still having an awful lot of fun putting together programs of melopoeia and performing them for appreciative audiences, though I’m afraid many of our best performances take place around Rhina’s kitchen table. It must be the sherry!
In this most recent program we explore various kinds of journeys, or passages: the very different sea-voyages of conquistadors and exiles; the swift travel of atomic particles; a seemingly inconsequential walk from the work-place to the bus; and finally, the passage of time and the final border-crossing that lies ahead of us all.
Classical/flamenco guitarist John Tavano has never sounded better!
Thanks to Alan Bull for letting us use his painting for the cover, to my sister Elise Nicol for doing the graphic design, and to the wonderful poet Alicia Stallings, and the great Richard Wilbur, whose poems we’ve borrowed to add to the mix.
You can view track listings and listen to samples at CDBaby.
The Newburyport Literary Festival is happening this weekend. Here is the complete schedule. It’s going to be a beautiful day!
Here is an excellent essay on the poetry of Rhina Espaillat written by another wonderful poet, Leslie Monsour: The Gravity of Rhina Espaillat’s Levity
The Boston National Poetry Month Festival arrives every April like poetry’s Opening Day. I’ll be one of the Thirteen Keynote Poets reading in The Commonwealth Salon at 700 Boylston Street on Friday, April 7. And on Friday evening, as part of the Poetry, Music and Dance Concert, Anne-Marie Codur and Jill Borenstein will perform “La Girafe,” a song I wrote with guitarist John Tavano.
Over the past two decades, The West Chester Poetry Conference has played a central role in shaping American poetry. You’ll get a hint of why the conference has been a game-changer for so many people when you watch this video.
Here’s a poem that I honestly considered overwrought when Rhina brought it to The Powow River Poetry Workshop many months ago, because who then could have believed that Donald Trump’s campaign would ever gain any traction? The poem sounds a lot wiser now. Thanks to Micah Mattix, editor of Prufrock, for sending out this link to “After the Rally” by Rhina Espaillat, originally published in The Hudson Review.
Never miss a chance to listen to what Rhina has to say. Here she is in conversation with Meghan Chakrabarti of WBUR, talking about translating Robert Frost’s poems into Spanish. You can also listen to her read two of her poems, the wonderful villanelle, “Guidelines,” and perhaps her most anthologized poem, “Bilingual/Bilingue.” (You’ll see a lovely photograph of Rhina, too!)