Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Stravinsky in his Cell

I do on occasion write poetry, and even less occasionally do I feel good enough about a poem to actually share it with the world, but I spent four weeks in Jan-Feb 2012 as composer-in-residence at Playa, along with five poets who shared their work nearly every night, and being around them inspired me to finish a poem I'd been thinking about for a while.  Then one night I shared the poem with them, and a visual artist who was also a resident there named Jamie Newton was inspired to paint a work of art based on the poem and sharing the same name.  So, here together for the first time are the poem "Stravinsky in his Cell" by Keane Southard, and the painting 'stravinsky in his cell' by Jamie Newton.  

Stravinsky in his Cell

My freedom will be so much the greater and more meaningful the more narrowly I limit my field of action and the more I surround myself with obstacles. Whatever diminishes constraint diminishes strength. The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees oneself of the chains that shackle the spirit.”
—Igor Stravinsky, “Poetics of Music”

Sixty-four square feet makes
a coil around the body,
but who can contain the soul?
An imperfect cube of peeling painted plaster
and iron bars filled with Siberian chills.

The crime: breaking the ballet, shattering triads,
the jury decreed; it clearly wasn't Rite.
“Spring is a time of fragrant cherry blossoms,
not a spastic stomping dance of death.”

An oaken desk, one rickety chair,
and a stiff plank cot.
He sits as saintly as a tritone.

(In the adjacent cell, unbeknownst to him,
an ornithologist named Olivier
is having Visions of the Amen
while witnessing the End of Time)

Above, in the ceiling, a crack
runs down the parapet like a river
unleashing amazons of tide and silt
watering his fertile mind
as he dreams up
Symphonies of Psalms

'stravinsky in his cell' by Jamie Newton

1 comment:

Scot Siegel said...

Loved the poem when we heard it. The painting with poem is a nice collaboration. Congratulations to both artists.