Archives for posts with tag: songwriters

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.

Greg Santos 3

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.

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

by Roxanna Bennett

Could I be crazy, amazing? My twisted
confessional is not slander if followed
by a question mark. I’m sick of saying
it’s crazy that I’m crazy, I’m a girl.

If I could just find someone who looked
at me like I’m a girl. Like a girl they want
because they don’t know me, I’m crazy.
Because of guys who write and say they want

to chain me up in their basements I have no
social life. It’s crazy, being scared in the middle
of a conversation on a bus, in the mall, or
an airport bathroom at four in the morning.

If I could find someone who just looked at me
like I’m a girl. Like a girl they want to be.
It’s crazy that I’m thought of as a weapon,
I’m a girl. The cartoon character most people

see me as is crazy, a rumour of a girl.
I never had a conscious decision to be
crazy, my actual life has no shocking
angles, my actual dimensions are not

crazy. I’m a girl. I need love everywhere.
If I could just find a guy who wants
to know the girl, the actual never girl,
like, a guy who wants to know stories

of who I was before this, and things that
didn’t happen on an awards show—
it isn’t true that I’m a rumour of a girl.
I’m a weapon of loss, loneliness,

sadness in a song. I told my mother:
do not complain about this life.
It’s crazy, amazing. You don’t know me,
I just look grown up. I’m a girl. Why

would you obsess over guys, they don’t
like it. Or me. Because I’m crazy. Just
a girl they never know. It’s ludicrous
to love a girl. They can’t have me.

SOURCE: “Taylor Swift’s Telltale Heart” by Nancy Jo Sales, Vanity Fair (April 2013).

PHOTO: Taylor Swift (Vanity Fair, April 2013).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I am not Taylor Swift’s target audience and have heard little of her music, but, even so, have been aware of the way she’s perceived as being “boy crazy,” which is a stupid thing for anyone to say about anyone. Reading this interview, I was struck by how many times the word “crazy” was used and what that must mean to a young woman who really is working very hard and trying to have a life inside of a fishbowl. And how terrifying it is that because so many men have threatened to chain her up in their basements, who have tried to break into her apartment, who want to use her and hurt her, this woman they have never met, that she has to have a 24-hour security detail, is actually crazy.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Roxanna Bennett is a Canadian writer whose nonfiction and poetry have been published in numerous North American and UK journals. Her first collection of poems The Uncertainty Principle is available now from Tightrope Books.

by Ira Lightman

Tempest was like the rest of them. The songs
just fall. It’s not the album mind. To make
religious takes a concentration – to pull
that off 10 times, a record sense . . .  the Time

beginning playing ages… people hear
to play for Mind weren’t meant for work.
There enters scene unnoticed on and on.
Forever through the centuries. Trick

connecting Sixties Fifties, Woodstock War.
The Book of Acts, the town to roam was woods
and sky and rivers, streams, and summer, spring,
the culture circuses, preachers, bands

and malls and all the rest. You know, you grow,
it stays in you. I left, which was, I guess,
I saw and felt of who I am, I guess.
Those days were cruel and other stuff to me.

I saw the death of what I love and life.
Performer doesn’t feel at all in this.
Rephrase your questions, think of new ones. No,
I got it here, was hauling ass from back

of pack on side of road, to town for help.
I’m not like you. I’m not like him, real proof
I write the songs I sing and Dylan’s here!
Go to the grave site. Jerry blew my mind.

For long grow tall, leaves fall, and die. Things change
a gold watch out of steam to learn to do.
Your soul redeemed, a high, a low, but few
are chosen, people, never find the real.

A lot of people don’t. Habitual
for propaganda purposes. And Ford.
from both the North and South, the Southern states,
all kinds of stuff like that, the shot was fired.

It was on streets? John came from hinterlands.
We heard the same things growing up. Our paths
had faced adversity. We grew his aunt
was fenced off Britain, there’s history heads

if you’re a Brit. Don’t worry, Mum, to hang
about. How could you not? It’s endless stuff
I thought was close to lives of hardship blues.
Tempest is what I went with, written songs.

It’s sad – it is. It’s sad for me, for them.
Oh, yeah, in folk and jazz. That certainly
is true, for me and Henry Timrod. Rot.
And Wussies, pussies. See ’em in their graves.

SOURCE: Bob Dylan interview, Rolling Stone (Sept. 27,2012).


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I love Dylan but I’m also a plagiarism sleuth, and I find this the most chicken interview. I misread a friend who was sending round the call [for submissions from Silver Birch Press, and thought] that it had to be in blank verse. So I combed the interview for iambic pentameter possibilities.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ira Lightman is a poet. His double column poems are in Trancelated at He makes public art, organizing a community’s poems into visual art. He broadcasts on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb.

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

Dean Martin sings “Nevertheless” in a clip from 1955.

by Harry Ruby and Bert Kalmar (1931)

Maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong
Maybe I’m weak, maybe I’m strong
But nevertheless I’m in love with you.
Maybe I’ll win, maybe I’ll lose
Maybe I’m in for cryin’ the blues
But nevertheless I’m in love with you.
Somehow I know at a glance the terrible chances that I’m takin’.
Fine at the start then left with a heart that is breakin’.
Maybe I’ll live a life of regret
Maybe I’ll give much more than I get
But nevertheless I’m in love with you.
Somehow I know at a glance the terrible terrible chances that I’m takin’.
Fine at the start then left with a heart that was breaking.
Maybe I’ll live a life of regret
And maybe I’ll give so much more than I get
But nevertheless I’m in love with you.


Come one, come all — if you are in the San Francisco, California, environs or plan to visit — to the David Dondero Record Release Show on June 5, 2013 (it’s free!). If you haven’t heard of singer/ songwriter/ guitarist David Dondero — like Bob Dylan, a native of Duluth, Minnesota, and like Dylan named one of the “Best Living Songwriters” by National Public Radio‘s Robin Hilton, who called Dondero “a brilliant artist” — do yourself a favor and check out this amazing performer/poet.

If you’re a fan of Tom Waits, Daniel Johnston, and other original bard/troubadours, you’ll  feel as if you’ve discovered a new planet in the indy folk/rock universe when you start to listen to David Dondero. Check out “#Zero with a Bullet” at

WHAT: David Dondero Record Release Show for Golden Hits Vol. 1

WHO: David Dondero with special guests Tom Heyman and Rymodee

WHEN: Wednesday, June 5, 2013, 8 p.m.

WHERE: Rite Spot Cafe, 2099 Folsom St. (at 17th St.) San Francisco, California, 94110


David Dondero‘s lyrics will appear in the upcoming Silver Birch Press Summer Anthology — available in June 2013. Stay tuned for more information.