Archives for posts with tag: Singers

by Crystal Cook

Her image was taped up high
on the wall in the record store (you remember those, don’t you?)
It was her hair that caught my eye,
it was was lovely and brown
and ten thousand times longer than mine.
It was the seventies (you remember those, don’t you?)
and it was all about the hair.
The longer the better
and hers was the longest,
the best,
and most beautiful.
Her name was Crystal Gayle
and I thought it must be fate
that she and I would share a name.
I wanted to be
like her one day
with hair down to my feet,
and while I waited
and wished it would grow
I wore my nightgowns upon my head
like cotton wigs,
flowery fabric trailing behind me
wherever I’d go.
I listened to her songs
on the radio
pretending she was me
and I was her
until one day I simply forgot
and I cut my hair
while hers continued to grow.
The poster came down,
the record shop closed,
the seventies
and Crystal Gayle
became memories
except every now and again
I think about her hair.

PHOTO: Singer Crystal Gayle, circa late-1970s.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I think back on my childhood memories, Crystal Gayle and her long, flowing hair are always among them. I was never the little girl tiptoe dancing along in the ballerina dresses, I never played princess or dreamed of shooting high into space in a rocket like the other girls in my neighborhood did. I simply dreamed of having hair down to there, just like Crystal Gayle did . . .

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Crystal Cook — otherwise known as Qwietpleez here on the interwebs — goes by many names, most notably “Mommy.” Proud wife and mother four, she is an Autism Warrior Momma and an advocate for those with special needs and their families. She writes about about life and love, the good and the bad, the serious and the silly over at, and sometimes to make some spare change for Venti iced coffees, she writes about other things. She has been a guest writer for Sammiches and Psych Meds, Mamolode,The Mighty, and a contributing writer for the books Lose the Cape: Never Will I Ever (and then I had kids), and Fall in Love With Writing.

james brown
When I Hear
James Brown’s “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag”
by Leslie Sittner

1963 October
Homecoming Weekend
I flew to Ohio State to see the summer boyfriend.
His fraternity’s big-time performer, James Brown,
had lunch with us but was distracted
by the inadequate peg of his pants.
Still, it was very cool.
That night he sang Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.
We danced, sweated, and grooved.

1966 June
Wedding Day
I married my Cornell college sweetheart.
He wanted our first dance as man and wife to be to
Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag by James Brown.
I felt slightly insulted by this
but in the end, we did so.
Some didn’t “get” it,
Some thought it hysterical.

We split up ten years later because
Papa had a brand new bag.

I wasn’t insulted or hysterical, just relieved.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Here we are cutting the cake. Since my new husband was an architect, our cake was created as Villa Savoye, a famous building by his favorite architect, LeCorbusier.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leslie Sittner, born in 1945 in upstate New York, is a new creative nonfiction writer just finding her voice. She is pleased to report that her second husband, while loving Rock’n Roll, never wanted to dance to “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.” And he never found a new one either.


Aretha at the GAP
by Beth Cooley

And I slide back thirty years to a yellow house where Jeannie sets the needle in the track. First song on the album.

“Just listen to her, girl.” Barefoot, cutoffs, pink halter top, Jeannie shimmies, punches the air with her elbows. “What you need is right there on the record player.”

I coil the telephone wire around my fingers, drag the receiver from its cradle and across the table. He is one week and two days out of my bed. Banished for lying again. Jeannie taped an index card to the white princess phone: DO NOT CALL in red Sharpie.

“Step one. Admit you have a problem, yeah?” Her mother is in AA. Just a little bit, just a little bit. I say nothing, suffer chronic addiction, acute withdrawal. Crave his smell—bonfire and wet pine needles. Burlap voice brushing my ear. Blue eyes cutting like a broken bottle neck.

“Don’t even think about it.” She uncoils my fingers, takes the phone away from me. Spells R-E-S-P-E-C-T off key as she recradles the receiver. When the song ends she drops the needle again, lifts me to standing.

“Dance with me,” she says. “Let’s dance.”

PHOTO: The author in North Carolina (1977).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I think most women can relate to Aretha Franklin’s rendition of “Respect.” Especially young women who suffer from crushing, spellbinding, debilitating romance—like I did so many years ago. I love this song! And it still makes me want to dance!

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Beth Cooley
grew up in North Carolina and now lives in the Inland Northwest. She has published poetry, fiction, essays and two YA novels. She teaches at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington.

Leonard Cohen Tour- Melbourne
by Greg Santos

What the hell am I doing?
Sometimes overproduce
Something’s obscure
On the wrong side of accessible

Savage about our vision
You can pretty well tell
It nourishes me
It’s the done-ness of it that I really like

There’s always a group I’m working at
There’s a few I’d like to finish before I die
Always like a bear in a honey tree
In some corner of the heart

It’s a lovely melody
That I can’t find any words for

SOURCE: “Leonard Cohen on Longevity, Money, Poetry and Sandwiches” by Gavin Edwards, Rolling Stone (September 19, 2014).

IMAGE: Leonard Cohen by Graham Denholm, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was created using snippets from an interview with Leonard Cohen from Rolling Stone, prior to the launch of his new album Popular Problems and his 80th birthday. I’d like to think of this poem as an homage to the mastery of Cohen and the mystery of poetry.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Greg Santos is the author of Rabbit Punch! (DC Books, 2014) and The Emperor’s Sofa (DC Books, 2010). He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. He is a graphic designer, teaches creative writing to at-risk youth, and is the poetry editor for carte blanche. He lives in Montréal with his wife and two children. Follow him on Twitter at @moondoggyspad.

by Sue Barnard

In the kind of world I live in
there are no compromises.

I don’t put on a show.
There is no falsity in me.

I don’t go in for half measures.
I love being able to let myself go.

This is what I am.
I’m myself, and I let the wind take me.

SOURCE:  Freddie Mercury interview, The Guardian (Nov. 22, 2011).The piece first appeared in Melody Maker (December 1974).

IMAGE: Freddie Mercury of Queen in 1974. Photograph by Michael Putland, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve always been a huge admirer of the late, great Freddie Mercury. In this poem, I’ve allowed his own words to encapsulate my perception of him – a wonderful performer and a truly great free spirit.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sue Barnard is a novelist, an award-winning poet, and a member of the editorial team of Crooked Cat Publishing. She has a mind which is sufficiently warped as to be capable of compiling questions for BBC Radio 4’s fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz – an attribute which once caused one of her sons to describe her as “professionally weird.” She lives in Cheshire, UK, with her husband and a large collection of unfinished scribblings.To learn more, visit her blog.

by Sue Barnard

I go with my gut instinct.
I don’t have competition.
I’ll admit it: I’m a control freak.
I customized my school uniforms.
I had Post-Its on all the breakfast cereal.
(Every time I haven’t, it’s been a mistake.)
I can live with my own mistakes.
But I’ve finally made the transition.
This line has been a lifetime in the making:
I’m a gay man in a woman’s body.

SOURCE: Victoria Beckham interview in Marie Claire (October 2010).

IMAGE: Singer/fashion designer Victoria Beckham.

Sue Barnard author pic

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sue Barnard is a novelist, an award-winning poet, and a member of the editorial team of Crooked Cat Publishing. She has a mind which is sufficiently warped as to be capable of compiling questions for BBC Radio 4’s fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz – an attribute which once caused one of her sons to describe her as “professionally weird.” She lives in Cheshire, UK, with her husband and a large collection of unfinished scribblings.To learn more, visit her blog.

by Sonja Johanson

I can’t be seen weeping.
We’re talking in a world where
people are dodging bullets,
having their nails pulled out –
one is never really certain.
All I’ve got is a manual for
living with defeat, song
that operates on so many levels,
trying to beat the devil, trying
to get on top of it. We rehearsed
longer than is reasonable; we’re
coming to the end of the book –
but not quite yet.

SOURCE: Dorian Lynsky’s interview with Leonard Cohen in The Guardian (January 19, 2012).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I couldn’t think who I would choose for a celebrity, and then ran across this interview with “The Poet of Rock Music,” Leonard Cohen. Who wouldn’t be in love with L.C.? I actually knew him as a poet long before I was ever exposed to his music — “Suzanne ” [Takes You Down] was used as an example of free verse in a Norton’s Poetry Anthology (which I was reading, for fun, at age twelve). I hated it. It didn’t rhyme, I couldn’t scan it, the meaning was vague — what a piece of tripe! And I read it over, and over, and over. I have grown ever more fond of Mr. Cohen as the years have passed, and he has only become more wonderful in his current “comeback” phase. It was such a pleasure to find his essence and his voice through his interview question.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sonja Johanson attended College of the Atlantic, in Bar Harbor, Maine. She has recent work appearing in The Albatross, Off the Coast, and Out of Sequence: The Sonnets Remixed, and was a participating writer in Found Poetry Review‘s 2014 Oulipost Project. Sonja divides her time between work in Massachusetts and her home in the mountains of western Maine.

The Top of Mr. Cohen’s Head
by Donna Hilbert

I wear the hat,
get dressed everyday.

The devil laughs if you say
there’s no temptation.

Never thought myself
a singer.
On those matters, don’t linger.

I’m sent like a postcard
place to place.

The universe is a doorway,
hard to enter.

Songs move,
there is a place to live in rhythm.

I love the moment when I close
the hotel room door.

I have worked for 1,000 years,
been wearing a fedora

for a long, long time.

SOURCE: “Hallelujah! Leonard Cohen Meets Uncut,” interview with Leonard Cohen by Brian D. Johnson, Uncut (December 2008, Take 139).

PHOTO: Leonard Cohen by Lorca Cohen, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I consider Leonard Cohen the premier songwriter/poet/mythmaker of my lifetime. He finds the mystery in the mud of human life.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Donna Hilbert’s latest book is The Congress of Luminous Bodies, from Aortic Books. The Green Season, World Parade Books, a collection of poems, stories and essays, is now available in an expanded second edition. Hilbert appears in and her poetry is the text of the documentary Grief Becomes Me: A Love Story, a Christine Fugate film. Earlier books include Mansions and Deep Red, from Event Horizon, Transforming Matter and Traveler in Paradise from PEARL Editions and the short story collection Women Who Make Money and the Men Who Love Them from Staple First Editions and published in England. Poems in Italian can be found in Bloc notes 59 and in French in La page blanche, in both cases, translated by Mariacristina Natalia Bertoli. New work is in recent or forthcoming issues of 5AM, Nerve Cowboy, PEARL, RC Muse, Serving House Journal, Poets & Artists and California Quarterly. She is a frequent contributor to the online journal Your Daily Poem. Her work is widely anthologized, most recently in The Widows’ Handbook, Kent State University Press. Learn more at

Taylor Swift as Guided Meditation Leader
by Lisa Mangini

Figure may be the most natural thing. Go,
question, and change with your past. How is it
reflected on the common interest? Think just
as a person; try to be open: walking on the street,
so affected by those the same. Be vulnerable

to new and painful emotions. Let those into yourself.
Experiment in becoming comfortable. You know
you comfort in weird ways, and that’s that.

You are dancing, and it’s a pleasure to dance – so
good – and quest on to be a deluxe version
of honest. There is “actually.” Maybe. Basically,
you know what happens when you get an idea.
The first thing is to sit on the edge and play.

Whatever. Gibberish comes first. Release
any of that before you hear a malady, and then
you’ll be able to go, and you’ll listen
to what it ended up being when it was hopeful.

Some insight into you: act on the secret
messages in the previous you. Keep on
liking, keep on doing. If you like, keep
doing it, but also thinking about the tangible

quality of a photograph. We have been taking
so many that time, in the physical, opened up
as little envelopes, in each hot and cool. Shy

as we meet each other, I am because I’ve been.
I’ve waited outside you; I waited outside
a whatever. I want to meet this person. We created
something alienated, annoying. It means that “giving
away” is just a lot of information, a lot of stuff:
Norway, sky, Pandora, you. Today.

We love you, beautiful. I’m so new when I’m there.
Surprise is the story: there’s a quest for years, manic,
all too busy – but we flew, played together; we start
talking about ideas in mind to tie to this metaphor,

metaphors and cats. My idea was life itself, greatly
reflected in your willingness, today, to inherent
dancing, projecting love into the middle.

SOURCE: “Taylor Swift Answers Fans’ Questions about 1989 (ABC News, August 18, 2014).

IMAGE: Cover of 1989 by Taylor Swift (Big Machine Records, October 2014).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I approach a poem with a found text or source, I usually try to think about what the secret life or thoughts or surprising “other self” qualities the author or original speaker may have. This is purely projection on my part based on a small sliver that can be seen, but it allows me to create a different character to stand in for that individual, while also weaving in aspects that might seem to remain true. I chose Taylor Swift because I find her shape-shifting and musical genre-bending intriguing (perhaps because I work in multiple genres myself, in writing). In this poem, I tried to imagine what this bubbly, often lovesick country-turned-pop star might sound like if she ventured into a Haight-Ashbury, mind-expanding phase next.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lisa Mangini earned her MFA from Southern Connecticut State University. She is the author of the full-length poetry collection, Bird Watching at the End of the World  (Cherry Grove Press), as well as three chapbooks, all available or forthcoming throughout 2014. She is the Founding Editor of Paper Nautilus, and the Interim Editor-in-Chief and Faculty Advisor of Freshwater. She teaches at several colleges in Southern New England. Visit her at

by Liz Worth

You have a reputation;
a working girl doesn’t get much sleep,
heels lilting before the sun.
Rivals: dream, the heart.
How do you make time for the depths,
blue smoke, the momentum of rest.
You’ve said your anthem is a
phase of the moods.
To be inside, inspired.
Connect again; your spirituality
It’s too hot to bond,
gossip gathered on the front,
fond shade.
Sickness, beloved;
the lack of faith a stable motion.
Something else might fall out.
What it’s like to have things,
all things –
just live by that,
what you do best.

SOURCE: “Country Music Legend Dolly Parton,” Country Woman magazine ( Aug / Sept 2014).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I picked Dolly Parton for this project because she is just so kick-ass. Whether you’re a fan of her music or not, it’s hard to deny her success. She’s had a prolific career that has branched out far beyond country music, from charity work to her theme park. But what’s always really impressed me about her was her perspective. Every time I hear a quote from her it just seem so right on. Even though when I put her words through my filter they come out kind of sad (because that’s my style, I guess!) I can’t help but feel uplifted and inspired by her. She’s an unlikely icon for a spooky girl like me but there’s something about her that I think is really cool.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Liz Worth is a Toronto-based author. Her debut book, Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk in Toronto and Beyond, was the first to give an in-depth account of Toronto’s early punk scene. Liz’s first poetry collection, Amphetamine Heart, was released in 2011, and her first novel, PostApoc, was released in October 2013. She has also rewritten Andy Warhol’s a: A Novel as poetry. You can reach her at