Monday, 5 March 2012

New Orleans and music

Preservation Hall, New Orleans, 29th April 2011. Preservation Hall Jazz Band feat. Leroy Jones (seated, front left).

"You know, there's this mood about the music, a kind of need to be moving. You just can't set it down and hold it.”
Sidney Bechet "Treat it Gentle"

A little while ago I mentioned jazz musician Sidney Bechet (1897-1959) in a post back here. Last week I finished reading Bechet's memoir/autobiography “Treat it Gentle” (1960) and I would highly recommend it if you're interested in music, jazz music and/or New Orleans. Bechet started off in New Orleans and, whilst there are a lot of interesting sections in the book, for me the strongest ones are the ones set in that city. He details what the city was like in the early twentieth century (amazing!) and (with great aplomb) how he got involved in being what he calls a “musicianer” whilst still a young boy there.

We absolutely loved New Orleans when we visited it at the end of April 2011 (back here). Even full of tourists it is an irresistible place. After a life of travelling and touring Bechet says of it simply: “New Orleans, that was a place where the music was natural as the air. The people were ready for it like it was sun and rain.”

I've been listening to a fair bit of Bechet too... and so feeling a bit Philip Larkin (it was hearing his poem about the musician on the radio that started this thread). Funnily enough this week on her 6 Music radio show (here) Cerys Matthews read another Larkin poem (near the end of the show) about jazz called “Reference Back” (you can find the poem to read on this page).

Anyway, at one point whilst listening to some Bechet I had one of those 'flash of awareness/poem moments' and then wrote this:

poem temporarily removed

You see? Non-stop poems now...


Danish dog said...

I like your poem very much... as far as it got. I don't think it's quite finished somehow. Something's not quite right with that last line as the last line. Why don't N & co. drown in absolute exhaustion? Perhaps you'll consider a couple more lines?

Rachel Fox said...

N & co?

I have fiddled with this a fair bit already (suitably enough...). No change for now... maybe later.


Danish dog said...

The narrator & his/her companions.

The Solitary Walker said...

Oh, Rachel, that's a beautiful little one... I really like the mixed rhythms, and the way the first line rhythmically echoed the last. Seems complete enough for me.

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks SW. I did send this one off to one of them there top ranking poetry magazines (first time in a while) but no joy. I even put punctuation in... which I don't often do (weird stuff... trips me up, gets under my feet...).

I am kind of... sort of... putting together poems for a possible pamphlet. I had thought this one might make it in - and your reaction will help with that decision. I know you're not one of those people who just says "brilliant" to everything.

The poem does feel complete to me too really. The end is open on purpose... the narrator can't drown... they have just seen/heard the bigger possibilities. They might live forever or something... anything!


A Cuban In London said...

That poem just "flows" through completely. I read it three times in a row. Loved it. It's got an Ornette Coleman touch to it. Ahhh, good ol' New Orleans, where dem cats still giving it big time, man! Oh, yes, I wanna go to New Orleans.

Great post and poem.

Greetings from London.

Rachel Fox said...

New Orleans reminded me of Madrid in many ways (remember I lived there as a young person... 1985-6). There is the architecture, the temperatures, the music in the streets, the relaxed cafe-bars, the late night culture, the lovely food. Obviously we had the young one with us (and were only there for 3 nights) but we did as much as we could in the time and it was a real high point in the trip - really special.

Glad you like the poem. Thanks for the feedback.


Marion McCready said...

Nice to see you writing again, and about water!!

Rachel Fox said...

I wasn't thinking about the Mississippi when I wrote this (not at all) but when I go back and look at the New Orleans photos we took there are plenty of the mighty river. This watery content came partly from that floaty feeling you get when listening to music intently (well, I that's what I get anyway). That and I have been quite meditative of late anyway... which is pleasing (anything's better than anxious!).

The Weaver of Grass said...

Lovely! Poems again.
We have been to various parts of the uS and every time we go
we are bowled over by it - and by Canada.

Anonymous said...

I think that you are a really, really good poet. You often weave your love of music into your poetry and I think that adds such richness to your work. Music is such a great point of inspiration. I love how the river calls out. That is a magical image!

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks, Selma.