Friday, September 26, 2014

Welcome to the Fall Contest, Part 2

The second contest honors musician and songwriter Gene Clark who was born in November 1944. Clark had a varied career, starting off in folk (New Christy Minstrels), then helping to create folk-rock with the Byrds, and then veering off into country and beyond.  Unfortunately, for various reasons, including his fear of flying in an airplane and his substance abuse, his career was not a successful one.  More than twenty years after his death, his album No Other is receiving the acclaim it deserves.  This year Beach House, Iain Matthews, and other musicians have toured, performing the songs from that album.  And this fall some of you may be writing poems inspired by them...or other songs by Clark.

We'll start with his songs with the Byrds, the ones that you may recognize.

"Why Not Your Baby," from Clark's work with Doug Dillard, is the saddest song in the world.

"Out on the Side" is more typical of The Further Expedition of Dillard and Clark:

I'm going to skip ahead to No Other.  This is Clark's version:

The recent tour's version is here:

If you would rather listen to individual songs, here are a few.

Here Clark performs "Train Leaves Here This Morning" with Roger McGuinn.  The video is from 1978:

I'll finish with one of Clark's late duets with Carla Olson:

The internet has numerous pictures of Clark as he was photogenic as a young man.  Even as a middle-aged man who did not age well, he was picturesque.

The poem that you submit may be unpublished or published.  Just be sure that you have the rights to it.  Let me know where it was published, and I will credit that journal or book.  

I recommend *not* quoting Clark's lyrics.  The focus of this contest is your poetry.

The deadline for this contest is December 30.  I will publish the poems as I receive them.  Please send them to -- thank you!

And, of course, all poems published this fall are eligible for Thelma's Prize -- even if they don't fit into our contests.

Welcome to the Fall Contests! part 1

Autumn has arrived....the sky is bluer, the sun is brighter, but the air is cooler, and the leaves are about to turn red and yellow and orange.  This means that it's time for our fall contests!

Our first contest honors Thelonious Monk, the great pianist, who was born on October 10, 1917.  Poems in this contest may be inspired by Monk's music, either his versions or those recorded by later musicians.  You may also write a biographical poem about him or his family members (including the Jazz Baroness, Pannonica de Koenigswarter) or the musicians he played with.  The musicians who influenced him may also be worth writing about.  Here are some pictures to inspire you.

The album above is one of my favorites.

Robin D.G. Kelley's biography of Monk is definitely worth reading.  He explodes a few myths.

Above is a picture of Monk as a young man of thirty or so...with Howard McGhee.  Below are pictures of him with the Jazz Baroness and another with his wife.

And, of course, here is Monk's music for you to dip into:

In the spirit of the summer contest, I am also posting contemporary musicians' versions of Monk's songs.

Benny Green performs "Monk's Dream" solo:

Jason Moran plays "Crepuscle with Nellie."  He also provides insight into the problem of playing Monk in 2014.

Moran's version of "Thelonious" is here:

Or you may prefer a big band version:

The poem that you submit may be unpublished or published.  Just be sure that you have the rights to it.  Let me know where it was published, and I will credit that journal or book.  

The deadline for this contest is December 30.  I will publish the poems as I receive them!  Please send them to -- thank you!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Congratulations to the Winners of the Summer Contest

....and thank you to everyone who participated, voted, and encouraged others to vote!

Avis D. Matthews' "Metaphorical" was a resounding favorite, winning in three categories (Thelma's Prize, Jazz...Ron Carter and After, and Local).  Avis' poem was beautiful and inspiring when I read it in the summer, and it is beautiful and refreshing as I re-read it in the fall.  I am looking forward to going to one of Lori Williams' concerts at some point.  (Lori is the singer whom Avis celebrates.)  Poetry is...Metaphorical!  And here is a link to Avis' poem:

For your listening pleasure, here are some of Lori Williams' songs as well, starting with "Afro Blue."

Here she performs "I Remember Clifford" at this year's Poysdorf Jazz and Wine Summer Festival in Austria.

"Little Sunflower" is from the same festival:

Jazz Traditions, on the other hand, ended in a tie between Mary Jo Balistreri's "Jivin'" and Clifford Brooks' "Blues 'round Midnight."  "Jivin'" responds to the jazz paintings of Stuart Davis, specifically his "Premier.""Blues 'round Midnight" reminds us of the blues that grounds jazz, particularly the vocals of Billie Holiday.  Both poems epitomize Jazz Traditions!

To read Mary Jo Balistreri's "Jivin'," please follow this link:

The music of Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross is a good accompaniment for "Jivin'"!

To read Clifford Brooks' "Blues 'round Midnight," please follow this link:

Photographer -- Matthew Polsfuss

I'll mix up some Robert Johnson, Billie Holiday, and....

First, Robert Johnson:

Now  Billie Holiday...

And I think that's all I need....

Before I close, I want to thank Bea Garth, Ed Schelb, and Mary Judkins for their artwork.  Their images have added to this e-zine's appeal.  Also, Bea came up with the term, e-zine, that describes what this journal really is.  And I want to thank Felino A. Soriano for his many, many contributions to this e-zine and his publication of my review of Yusef Komunyakaa's Testimony, the book that helped start everything off:

Good night....and next week I will post information about the fall contests!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Today and Tomorrow are the Last Days to Vote....

You may still vote in The Song Is...'s summer contest, but after tomorrow it is too late!

For more information, see the links below:

Also, if you vote for someone who has more than one poem that is eligible in the category (especially Thelma's Prize), please let me know which single poem you are voting for.  Thank you.  :)

Please feel free to pass these links on to your friends who love poetry.  

Thank you to everyone who has voted already.  

And here is some music to inspire you for the fall contests:

Four pianists (Mulgrew Miller, Kenny Barron, Benny Green, and Eric Reed) tackle "Blue Monk": (better audio, worse visual) (better visual, worse audio)

Benny Green plays "Monk's Dream":

I've gone off YouTube and onto NPR for the Benny Green Trio's performance on Dee Dee Bridgewater's Jazz Set:

Enjoy!  And vote!  

"Cat Dance" -- copyright 2014 by Bea Garth