Archives for posts with tag: Music

Ernest Hébert (1817-1908) _ La Musique, 1880 - Arte e Dettagli (1)
Music
by Elaine Nadal

I forgot I had known you.
I didn’t remember your ways,
your body, how it moved
like a snake sometimes—
or a dolphin, spontaneous and playful,
leaping for air. And you are air.
I had known you,
the manner in which you move a heart
dispirited by storms. You catch the storms,
and they become dissonant wonders.
How did I manage to live like this—
with the heaviness of things—
without your sky?
I wasn’t looking for you.
Your embrace came unexpectedly
on a cold day of thunder and lightning.
You saw me off-key—with achy, dry bones,
sitting on my sofa with too many pillows.
Your eyes, finding beauty in a desert or pasture,
lit up the room. A song rose from slumber,
and I felt alive, a little less lonely.
I will cherish you.
I will take the debris, the roots, the particles,
the pockets of joy, the butterfly and the cocoon from which it came,
and I will turn it all into breath, into life, into you.

PAINTING: The music by Ernest Hébert (1880).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem thinking about a bad day turned sweet when out of nowhere, I started singing a song I used to sing as a teenager. This is my way of remembering. This is my love letter to music.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net-nominee, Elaine Nadal is the author of two poetry chapbooks: When and Sweat, Dance, Sing, Cut, published by Finishing Line Press. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in several journals and anthologies. Nadal has shared her work at many venues. She recently did a TEDx talk on hope, poetry, and music. Visit her at elainenadal.com and on Instagram.

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When I Got Down with the Christ
by Jewish person Rick Lupert

When I was older than a boy, but younger than
the man I am today, I went to see a high school

production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
I was not in high-school, but a friend of mine was

and she was playing a soul sister, or a dark angel
or, honestly, I don’t remember, it was a hundred years ago.

I wanted to say death eater but then I remembered
that’s from Harry Potter.

As a Jew I was not down with the Jesus.
I didn’t know any of the music, the story, and

had a general sense that he was not my guy.
Somehow I found myself in the center of the front row –

little Jewish man, alone at a high school with
Romans and parents and Christ.

Judas came out first. I didn’t know enough
to have heard his name in pop culture.

But now, whenever it gets mentioned I have
deep memories of that guy and what he sang.

Then What’s the Buzz. This was rock and roll.
This was the concert I never knew I wanted to be at.

At a certain point, me, at this high school,
with these people in the last throws of their childhood

almost pulled me out of my seat to mosh-pit
in the space between the front row and the orchestra.

To say this musical, this high school production
was better than Cats is to say that there is air in the air.

Since then I’ve seen it thirty silver pieces worth of times –
The film, stage productions of every size.

It’s always good. That’s the way he wrote it.
I had to put on the soundtrack to write this.

I’m dancing between every stanza.
Half of my knowledge of history comes from musicals.

I’m an expert, and I know, if this whole Judaism thing
doesn’t work out, I’m going to ride into Jerusalem

on the back of this sacred rock and roll.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was tearing my brain apart trying to find one good memory to write about and then the email came from Broadway in Hollywood letting me know that the 50th anniversary tour of Jesus Christ Superstar was coming to the Pantages while I was staring at the empty word processing document. I was immediately transported back to the 90s when I first saw the show. I bought three tickets for New Years Eve and wrote this poem.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rick Lupert has been involved with poetry in Los Angeles since 1990. He is the recipient of the 2017 Ted Slade Award, and the 2014 Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center Distinguished Service Award, a three-time Pushcart Prize Nominee, and a Best of the Net nominee. He served as a co-director of the Valley Contemporary Poets for two years, and created Poetry Super Highway. Rick hosted the weekly Cobalt Cafe reading for almost 21 years which has lived on as a weekly Zoom series since early 2020. His spoken word album Rick Lupert Live and Dead featured 25 studio and live tracks. He’s authored 26 collections of poetry, including I Am Not Writing a Book of Poems in Hawaii, The Tokyo-Van Nuys Express, and God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion (Ain’t Got No Press) and edited the anthologies A Poet’s Siddur, Ekphrastia Gone Wild, A Poet’s Haggadah, and the noir anthology The Night Goes on All Night. He also writes and draws (with Brendan Constantine) the daily web comic Cat and Banana and writes a Jewish poetry column for JewishJournal.com. He has been lucky enough to read his poetry all over the world. Visit him on Facebook.

Author photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher. 

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Piano
by Anita Howard

In the early days
before forced marching took over,
they brought me to see
the place where I would go to school.

I stood on a polished, wooden floor
and was shown the piano,
the mechanism of music without choice.

A white-headed woman,
her kind smile not to be our fate,
turned upon a padded stool
and shimmered the heavy keys
to emit a few juddering notes.

“It sounds like a lioness,” I said,
my thoughts back to the zoo,
and the laughter nearly knocked me down.
No harm to find my roar
before the place revealed its demons.

©Anita Howard

PHOTO: Two lionesses (Chobe National Park, Botswana, 2017). Photo by Geran de Klerk on Unsplash. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The poem was inspired by an early memory of childhood.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anita Howard is a writer, storyteller, and actor living in Passage West, County Cork, Ireland. Her work has appeared in HeadStuff, Poetica Review, Bluepepper, JA Books Magazine, Written Tales, and the Don’t Get Caught! anthology by Write In 4 Charity, Leicester, as well as the Zooanthology by Sweetycat Press and the Querencia Fall 22 Anthology. She is on Twitter as @AnitaHowardSto1.

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Last Chance Melody
by Maryann Hurtt

two days before he gets up
and leaves
after eighty plus earthbound years
my grandpa tells me
Get out my ol’ mouth harp

it sits in a nest
of worn Kodaks
recording a now too-long life

I crank the sick bed
prop pillows
as his at one-time wife
mother of seven kin leans close
then sings old woman
cracked notes
to his wheezy harp tune breaths

a harmony of sorts
dances the air
hymns and tunes played back
in Depression time before
lead and zinc chewed lungs
and booze held sway

listen now
you might find yourself believing
for this little while anyway
in torn and tattered
stick around love

two doors down
Death waits patiently
hums along to a few hymns
knows not to disturb

Originally published in Anti-Heroin Chic.

Photo by wallpaperuse.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I went to see my grandpa two days before he died. His breathing was awful after years working in the mines and living a rough life. He wanted to play his harmonica again. I propped up his pillows and he was able to wheeze out a few tunes. I ran back to my grandma’s…they had long ago separated but maintained something still kind. She came back with me and I listened to her sing and him play. This will always be one of my favorite memories and gives me a sense of hope even in hard times.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Now retired after working 30 years as a hospice Registered Nurse, Maryann Hurtt listened to and savored a thousand stories. Her family members were all great storytellers, and she recorded in her sixth-grade diary that when she grew up, she wanted to be a “storyteller (a good one).” She lives in Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine, where she hikes, bikes, reads, and writes almost daily. Since retirement and able to travel, she has had the energy to pursue researching Oklahoma’s Tar Creek environmental disaster. Her grandpa worked in the lead and zinc mines and her great grandmother and grandmother worked at the Quapaw Indian Agency, where the minerals were initially mined. Turning Plow Press published Once Upon a Tar Creek Mining for Voices in 2021. Her most recent poems have appeared or upcoming in Verse-Virtual, Gyroscope Review, Moss Piglet, Hiroshima Day Anthology, Oklahoma Humanities, and Writing In a Woman’s Voice. More can be found at maryannhurtt.com.

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Space Is a Long, Long Time
by Lillian Nećakov

I think it was while they were still living on Lansdowne, just up the street from the skating rink. The sidewalk purpled under an awning of mulberry trees, it must have been summer, I could hear Qaani chanting, you walk and you walk and you walk and you stop, from the dappled shade of the Kentucky coffee trees. She was about six, her father John and I on the stoop, a funny little fan club, Frank Zappa in the background singing but space is a long, long time. And I believed her, believed that you could just stop, but you can’t. There are teeth and lips and blades of grass and hate and sausages bubble-popping in the fry pan and Werner Herzog walking in ice for 21 days and Patsy Cline long, long past the midnight of this poem. Sea-swirl and the resistance of garbage bins against meaty hands, Johnny Cash as a bullet made of books and soft brass, over Old Hickory Lake, an ear pressed to the asphalt where happiness lives. A small puddle where you see the reflection of your birth, a hole-full of beating hearts, here where you left me, orphan-gray, bowed under the ash and bone of you as I walk and I walk and I walk.

PAINTING: Frank Zappa (Acrylic Stereoscopic Anaglyph Painting) by MadevilMercantile, available at etsy.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lillian Nećakov is the author many chapbooks, including, The Lake Contains and Emergency Room (Apt. 9 Press; shortlisted for the bpNichol Chapbook Award), as well as the full-length collections il virus (Anvil Press; shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award), Hooligans (Mansfield Press), The Bone Broker (Mansfield Press), Hat Trick (Exile Editions), Polaroids (Coach House Books) and The Sickbed of Dogs (Wolsak and Wynn). Her new book, duck eats yeast, quacks, explodes; man loses eye, a collaborative poem with Gary Barwin is forthcoming in 2023 from Guernica Editions. She has also published in many print and online journals in Canada and the U.S. Lillian lives in Toronto.

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Learning By Heart
by Laura Foley

I was seven, couldn’t sleep,
fearing my French teacher,
afraid I couldn’t learn
a line I had to memorize.

Mom, trilling the night’s
loneliest hour, at the piano,
made up a lilting song,
to help me remember—

I did, and still do,
her voice etched in tenderness,
fingers running over the keys,
somewhere deep inside me.

Published in Why I Never Finished My Dissertation (Headmistress Press).

PAINTING: Woman at the Piano by Henri Matisse (1924).

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I really do still remember the line I had to memorize. It was: “Une etudiante n’est pas attentive, elle est un peu bavarde.” Throughout her life, my mother, Barbara, was a warm, bubbly, inviting presence. I am so happy to conjure her again, and share her, on the page and in the heart.

PHOTO: The author’s mother, Barbara Ball Cosden, on a friend’s yacht in the Caribbean (1968).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Laura Foley is the author of eight poetry collections. Everything We Need: Poems from El Camino was released, in winter 2022. Why I Never Finished My Dissertation received a starred Kirkus Review, was among their top poetry books of 2019, and won an Eric Hoffer Award. Her collection It’s This is forthcoming from Fernwood Press. Her poems have won numerous awards, and national recognition—read frequently by Garrison Keillor on The Writers Almanac and appearing in Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry. Laura lives with her wife, Clara Gimenez, among the hills of Vermont. Visit her at laurafoley.net.

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Jim Morrison and I Head to Standing Rock
by Lindsey Martin-Bowen

Dakota Pipeline, North Dakota

When clouds form an eagle above a red sun,
and the Flint Hills and dried-up wheat fields
beckon us onward, we head east and north—

beyond the Great Plains and the narrow lanes
to which we’d become accustomed—after spinning
across sand in our chase for California dreams

of peace and love, still uncaptured. Here, police
shoot pepper spray and water cannons at 30 of us.
Security guards unleash dogs that maim six,

one a small child. Still, we clutch signs—black
crosses against a blue sky, where cirrus clouds
hover then become black knots of rain.

We clasp hands with the Standing Rock Sioux,
pray with them in a circle, and I ask Jim
if he wants to risk getting arrested.

He shakes his head. “We’ll help. But this is their
Wounded Knee. It isn’t to be fought by you—by me.”
He pulls out three fifties to leave for munitions.

I nod to agree, it’s the natives’ call. Even if it’s for all
of us, they must win it in these unaligned times
when the eagle cloud rises high on the horizon.

Previously published in (Tittynope Zine 2017). Forthcoming in the author’s collection Cashing Checks with Jim Morrison (redbat books 2023).

PHOTO: Native Americans demonstrate against the Dakota Access Pipeline in May 2021 at the Standing Rock Reservation, which straddles the border of North Dakota and South Dakota. Learn more at standwithstandingrock.net.  Photo by Jolanda Kirpensteijn on Unsplash. 

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Years ago, when I (my persona) screamed down asphalt through mauve Kansas fields and the Flint Hills, rock shaman Jim Morrison crawled out of my car stereo while a yellow hornet on the windshield danced like a Kachina in a sand painting. It was magic. Perhaps. I still don’t know. Yet poems resulting from this encounter resulted in my third poetry book, CROSSING KANSAS with Jim Morrison. In it, Jim comes with me to find La Loba*, in hopes she’ll resurrect his bones. But the wolf woman refuses, and we go to Paris and the Père Lachaise Cemetery. There, Jim’s dark monument, wrought with graffiti, commemorates him. I’d thought this story had ended when I left him there. But I was wrong. He won’t leave me alone. He pushes into poems and ignoring his burial, often joins figures from everywhere—ancient Greece and Eleusinian mysteries, wild and wooly creatures in my “frenzies” poems, and post-modern philosophers. Even today, he whispers to me when I stare at a waffled, red-lace sky filled with popcorn clouds looming above our foothills.

*Wolf woman. Bone woman. According to Southwest legends (from various tribes and Mexican cultures), La Loba works with angels to gather bones of humans and wolves, then resurrect them. 

Photo of Jim Morrison, found in The Collected Works of Jim Morrison (June 2021). 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Pushcart and Pulitzer nominee Lindsey Martin-Bowen’s fourth poetry collection, Where Water Meets the Rock (39 West Press 2017), contains a poem named an Honorable Mention in Writer’s Digest’s 85th Contest. Her third, CROSSING KANSAS with Jim Morrison, won Kansas Authors Club’s 2017 “Looks Like a Million” Contest, and was a finalist in the QuillsEdge Press 2015-2016 Contest. Her Inside Virgil’s Garage (Chatter House) was a runner-up in the 2015 Nelson Poetry Book Award. McClatchy Newspapers named her Standing on the Edge of the World  (Woodley Press) one of Ten Top Poetry Books of 2008. Her poems have appeared in New LettersI-70 ReviewThorny LocustFlint Hills ReviewSilver Birch Press, Amethyst ArsenicCoal City Review, Phantom Drift, Ekphrastic Review (Egyptian Challenge), The Same, Tittynope ZineBare Root Review, Rockhurst Review, Black Bear Review, 15 anthologies, and other lit zines. Three of her seven novels have been published. Poetry is her way of singing. She taught writing and literature at UMKC for 18 years, MCC-Longview, and teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and other criminal justice classes for Blue Mountain Community College, Pendleton, Oregon. Visit her on Facebook and on Amazon.

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Jim Morrison Tells Me I Have Greek Feet
by Lindsey Martin-Bowen

Jim claims inherited feet shapes
are based on their origins.
“With that index toe outgrowing
your hallux (big toe),” he says,
“yours are Greek.” Then he grins.

For decades, I ignored my feet,
except to clean—soak in Epsom salts—
until this year, when they bleed.
I rub a pumice stone over cracks,
wait for them to heal, and
meditate about feet:
Cornerstones to columns,
pedestals to pillars—
our feet hold up our worlds.

Greek feet—barefoot runners
leap across urns for eternity.
Greeks used few feet in poetry—
Sappho’s many lines lost.
And they wrote plays
in couplets, repeating the first line’s
number of feet in the next,
so back-row listeners knew
who spoke when feet repeated.

“You know that means you dominate
a marriage or household,” Jim adds,
grins again, wrinkles his nose.
“I don’t,” I boldly say.
“I am still waiting for that to be.”

PHOTO: Ancient marble statue with a young foot hanging into the void. Photo by Lnmstuff, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Years ago, when I (my persona) screamed down asphalt through mauve Kansas fields and the Flint Hills, rock shaman Jim Morrison crawled out of my car stereo while a yellow hornet on the windshield danced like a Kachina in a sand painting. It was magic. Perhaps. I still don’t know. Yet poems resulting from this encounter resulted in Lindsey Martin-Bowen’s third poetry book, CROSSING KANSAS with Jim Morrison. In it, Jim comes with me to find La Loba*, in hopes she’d resurrect his bones. But the wolf woman refused, and we went to Paris and the Père Lachaise Cemetery. There, Jim’s dark monument, wrought with graffiti, commemorates him. I’d thought this story had ended when I left him there. But I was wrong. He won’t leave me alone. He pushes into poems and ignoring his burial, often joins figures from everywhere—ancient Greece and Eleusinian mysteries, wild and wooly creatures in my “frenzies” poems, and post-modern philosophers. Even today, he whispers to me when I stare at a waffled, red-lace sky filled with popcorn clouds looming above our foothills.

*Wolf woman. Bone woman. According to Southwest legends (from various tribes and Mexican cultures), La Loba works with angels to gather bones of humans and wolves, then resurrect them. 

PHOTO: Jim Morrison (Dec. 8, 1943-July 3, 1971) at age 25 in a promotional photo for The Doors (1969).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Pushcart and Pulitzer nominee Lindsey Martin-Bowen’s fourth poetry collection, Where Water Meets the Rock (39 West Press 2017), contains a poem named an Honorable Mention in Writer’s Digest’s 85th Contest. Her third, CROSSING KANSAS with Jim Morrison, won Kansas Authors Club’s 2017 “Looks Like a Million” Contest, and was a finalist in the QuillsEdge Press 2015-2016 Contest. Her Inside Virgil’s Garage (Chatter House) was a runner-up in the 2015 Nelson Poetry Book Award. McClatchy Newspapers named her Standing on the Edge of the World  (Woodley Press) one of Ten Top Poetry Books of 2008. Her poems have appeared in New LettersI-70 ReviewThorny LocustFlint Hills ReviewSilver Birch Press, Amethyst ArsenicCoal City Review, Phantom Drift, Ekphrastic Review (Egyptian Challenge), The Same, Tittynope ZineBare Root Review, Rockhurst Review, Black Bear Review, 15 anthologies, and other lit zines. Three of her seven novels have been published. Poetry is her way of singing. She taught writing and literature at UMKC for 18 years, MCC-Longview, and teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and other criminal justice classes for Blue Mountain Community College, Pendleton, Oregon. Visit her on Facebook and on Amazon.

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One small child
by Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad

At my teacher’s second-floor studio,
I fidget on the piano stool.
I am staring at
the opening bars of
The Moonlight Sonata.

I am still waiting
to perfect this piece,
fine-tune it in time
for the Christmas concert,
feel and express it
as viscerally
as my teacher does—
each sombre note
seeming to dissolve
on her fingertips,
tell-tale tears twitching
on her waterline.

I peek outside through
a gap in the curtains
and see my father—
he is waiting in his car,
windows rolled up,
air con turned on,
patiently parked
in the shade of two acacias.

It was an hour-long drive
to get me to my lesson,
and my father naps off
his fatigue,
knees folded against
the dashboard. He and I
have been doing this
ever since I was
a toddler,
and I have often wondered
what he dreams of
during his micro sleeps
as he waits for me to finish.

While the Moonlight Sonata
lulls my mind,
something tells me
that he dreams
of Christmas Eve,
seated in the audience,
waiting to hear me play
his all-time favourite piece-
“One small child,”
like I have
every year

PAINTING: The Piano Lesson by Henri Matisse (1916).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I am very fortunate to have a devoted father. He used to drive me to my piano lessons. This was usually after a long day, after he had worked two jobs. Over the years I evolved as a pianist and my father has heard me perform many pieces. But to this day he says that his favourite remains “One small child.” I like to believe that that one small child is me. My father will turn 74 this year and I wrote this poem for him.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad is an Indian-Australian artist, poet, and pianist who was raised in the Middle East. She holds a Masters in English and is a member of Sydney’s North Shore Poetry Project. Her recent works have been published in Silver Birch Press, River and South Review, Bracken Magazine, Ethel zine, and several other print and online literary journals and anthologies internationally. Her poem, “Mizpah,” was awarded an Honourable Mention at the Glass House Poetry Awards 2020, and her poems on the Covid crisis were made into a podcast by The Someone New Theatre Company, Melbourne. Her mixed-media pieces have been published in over 40 literary journals, including 3AM Magazine, Star 82 Review, Otoliths, and The Amsterdam Quarterly, as well as on the covers of Ang(st) the Body Zine, Pithead Chapel, Uppagus, Periwinkle Literary, and elsewhere. She is a chief editor for Authora Australis, and regularly performs her poetry and exhibits her paintings at shows. She teaches art to young children, and lives in Sydney on the land of the Ku-ring-gai people of the Eora Nation. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

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How to find your voice
By JC. Sulzenko

It’s not every day your voice forsakes you.

From childhood on, I learned songs by ear—nursery rhymes, carols, Broadway tunes, gospel, folk, and rock.

I sang around campfires, on long car rides, in a mass choir, and later in an a capella group.

Just after my mother died, I dropped out. I got used to humming anthems and pop songs to myself, to whispering lullabies to my grandchildren.

Until the other day, when I had my granddaughter’s attention and remembered that song about wheels on the bus.

I heard the melody in my head and started to sing, but the notes, the words came out with a rasp and off-key.

I drank cold water and tried again. I switched to a simpler rhyme, with the same results. That’s when I had to admit my singing voice was missing. I needed to find it.

I began in the top left hand drawer of my dresser where I keep practical things—nail files, combs, unopened lipsticks and compacts, single buttons, along with an array

of discouraging cloth facemasks. What had I hoped to find there? If not my voice, then a clue as to where it had gone and why.

I rummaged in the back of my closet, behind the silk sheaths that won’t fit until I emerge from this claustrophobic cocoon, my wonky hip is replaced, and I can exercise without

pain. I pulled out my jewelry box—I’d forgotten the crystals I wore to the last party we attended when we could go wherever we wanted. I put them back.

I speculated. Perhaps my singing voice had gone dormant under the fine snow, which fell for a day, a night and sculpted the landscape to its design.

Or perhaps, constricted by lockdowns, my voice escaped and fled into heaven’s blues, icy Blues. Or perhaps it simply lost itself, whatever the reasons.

It needn’t worry that it’s not good enough. The child will recognize her grandmother’s music, even on a small screen.

ART: The Banjo Lesson by Mary Cassatt (1893).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As most of my interaction with everyone outside the home, including our family, has become virtual, I noticed how my own inner and outer dynamics have shifted. Sometimes for the better. Sometimes not. Prolonged isolation has affected my self-discipline, my sense of purpose, and my readiness to write. It also has made me realize how much I miss singing with other people. Instead of shelving poetry ideas as I am wont to do at this point in my life, I felt some urgency to compose “How to find your voice” once I saw Silver Birch Press’s call for “how to’” poems. As an aside, I recently joined an online choir and enjoy the sessions more and more each week.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: JC Sulzenko’s poems appeared on Arc’s Poem of the Year shortlist, Maple Tree Literary Supplement, and Oratorealis, in anthologies and online, either under her name or as A. Garnett Weiss. Silver Birch Press and The Light Ekphrastic publish her. In 2020, her work appeared in Vallum, the Naugatuck River Review, and the Poetry Leaves project. She won the Wind and Water Writing Contest and the WrEN award (Children’s Poetry) and judged poetry for the National Capital Writing Contest in 2019.  Another Dysfunctional Cancer Poem Anthology (Mansfield Press) the Poet’s Pathway, and County CollAboRaTive projects featured her in 2018. Point Petre Publishing released JC’s South Shore Suite…Poems (2017). Her centos took top honours in The Bannister Anthology (2016, 2013). She presented workshops for the Ottawa International Writers Festival, the Canadian Authors Association, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, the Ottawa Public Library, and a number of Alzheimer societies, among others. She has published six books for children and co-authored poetry chapbooks Slant of Light and Breathing Mutable Air  with Carol A. Stephen. Based in Ottawa, Canada, JC curates the Glebe Report’s “Poetry Quarter” and serves as a selector for bywords.ca. Visit her at jcsulzenko.com.