Levine’s Bud Powell and Matthews’ Bud Powell

For this month’s Music post, a look at two poems about jazz musician Bud Powell, William Matthews’ “Bud Powell, Paris, 1959” and Philip Levine’s “On 52nd Street“.

There are poems about the sound of the music, and there are poems about the musicians, and there are poems about the experience of music. It’s probably true that all music genres have a special hero worship to their culture, but it seems like jazz in particular has HEROES. (Rock music I guess more has rock GODS.) Both Matthews’ and Levine’s poems are about their jazz hero Bud Powell in less-than-stellar form. Continue reading “Levine’s Bud Powell and Matthews’ Bud Powell”

Sampler: Levine likes ’em

A recent and quite nice “Here & Now” interview with Philip Levine  (our new Poet Laureate, a post whose honor and worth admittedly don’t always prove to be quite the same thing) – a “working class poet” interview for Labor day. (The interview starts 1:10 in).

I particularly like his defense of stories in poetry (why should fiction get to hog all the narrative fun?) and his response to “Is Eminem a poet?”

Levine mentions several poets writing today who thrill him (well, Larry Levis isn’t writing today, he died in 1996, but the others are alive and active.) Did the googling for you — links to a poem by each:

Larry Levis “Anastasia and Sandman”
“I refuse to explain.”

Joseph Stroud “Night and Day”
“So it traps itself in things: obsidian, crows.”

Tom Sleigh “On the Platform”
“cello cutting through garble, Bach’s repetitions
hard-edged as a scalpel probing an open wound.”

Adrienne Rich “The Art of Translation”  (audio)
“neither as genius nor terrorist would they detain you”

Dorianne Laux “Facts About the Moon”
“Forget us. We don’t deserve the moon.”

Daisy Freed “Econo Motel, Ocean City”
“the promiscuously cheerful guilty American scientist dies horribly.”

And here’s one of Levine’s, titled “Gospel.”