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Wayne Gilbert, voice; Charles Rourke, sax, keys and fx; John Larchick, percussion
"An Allen Ginsberg Story


Ryan Chighizola:

"Jolts to Complacency" with thanks to Hakim Bey


Charles Rourke, musician and video artist. 

POETS ON THE LOOSE, April 7, 2006

His introduction to a musical improvisation on his saxophone. 


Transitions are a great time to pause, look back, reflect a bit. . .

Over the past six years, Iíve had the privilege of being exposed to some really remarkable poetry.  Tonight is certainly another of those privileged occasions.  In fact, not only have I been exposed, but Iíve had the experience of interacting with this poetry in so-called multi-media performances.  Now, Iíve been performing music for over 20 years and I can say without hesitation that this experience has proven to be the most artistically challenging of all.  You see, Iíve come to learn that poetry/the spoken-word (especially really good poetry/spoken-word) carries with it a great power, richness and density.

Academically speaking, my music professors would talk about the three elements of music:  rhythm, melody, harmony.  Rhythm: yes, the spoken word has an undeniable rhythm.  Melody: absolutely, since everything we say is at a specific pitch and inflection creates a variance in that pitch.  Harmony, certainly as every change in pitch has a harmonic implication.  So the spoken word (having these three elements) is already music.  On top of that, you have words, their meanings, the images they inspire.  The end result is a fully realized, complete work of art much like a film and its score. 

So attempting to play music with poetry is much like dancing with a rhinoceros.  And, since the saxophone and the human voice occupy the same sonic space, same frequency range, itís like dancing with a rhino in your bathtub. 

Rule #1:  Let the Rhino lead! 

Beyond that, I havenít discovered too many rules that hold consistently true.  Success seems to come in all too fleeting moments, perhaps when instinct has overcome conscious thought.  Could be Iíll never truly succeed, but trying to dance with rhinos has made me a better dancer. 

For this, I thank you.

I dedicate this first piece to all you poets on the looseóyou spoken-word artists.  If Iíve had the honor of reading or hearing your words then I carry you with me.

More specifically, Iíd like to dedicate this piece to a co-artist, a mentor, really the finest teacher I never had. . .  He has shown me that there can be forged a seamless connection between life and artóand that it takes a great deal of honesty and even more courage:  my good friend, Wayne A. Gilbert.

This is ďTribute to the Spoken Word Artist.Ē


From the editor:

While this intro was given for a specific moment in time for a specific poet (one represented here) this intro acts as a discussion for the spirit of performance of any language spoken aloud.