Monday, October 17, 2016
From the archive of The Strange Years of My Life
Entry for the House Wren (Troglodytes aedon), pp. 352-353 in A Guide to the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago (rev. ed., 1980), by Richard ffrench; a prized book in my library, given me as a Christmas present by my parents c. 1985.
Read my poem “Roitelet” here. See more of the archive of The Strange Years of My Life here.
Posted by Nicholas Laughlin at 5:35 PM
Saturday, October 01, 2016
Posted by Nicholas Laughlin at 1:45 PM
Saturday, September 10, 2016
Posted by Nicholas Laughlin at 12:48 PM
Thursday, September 08, 2016
Posted by Nicholas Laughlin at 3:36 PM
Wednesday, September 07, 2016
Friday, September 02, 2016
My colleagues Sean Leonard, Christopher Cozier, and I cherish this photo — taken in late 2006 by the Trinity College exchange-student photographer Ivan R. Belcic — because it reminds us that Alice Yard began as, and remains, simply “a backyard on a small island.” Ten years ago at 80 Roberts Street, Woodbrook, Port of Spain, there was no gallery, no residency living quarters, no annex studio space, no sign. There was a paved yard with an old concrete laundry sink. There was a physical location made available by Sean, and there was an idea for a space where artists, musicians, and others could meet, converse, exchange, make, perform, imagine, play. There was a name: Alice Yard. There were many questions. There were many possibilities — more than we could yet realise.
Ten years later — after hundreds of events and projects and actions, performances and mas bands, thousands of conversations — Alice Yard is still a Woodbrook backyard. It is still a space of questions and possibilities. It is, thanks to Sean and his family, a space of radical generosity. It is a space to investigate ideas of openness and intellectual freedom. It is a space for play.
As we mark Alice Yard’s tenth anniversary this month, “our instinct,” as we’ve written elsewhere, “is less to celebrate and more to affirm our spirit of investigation and exchange, our ethos of generosity and independence.” My own predominating feelings are astonishment — ten years! how? — and enduring gratitude: to Sean and Chris, to the innumerable others who have entered and engaged in some way with our space, and for the immeasurable enrichment of my own thought and imagination over the past decade.
After ten years, we still have no idea where this will go: that’s the most exciting thing of all.
Posted by Nicholas Laughlin at 6:30 PM
Saturday, March 12, 2016
AL: As much as many poems are written in code — and one is especially suspicious of the ones that seem to be frank — yours are very much about pace and rhythm. They are lyrics for songwriters from the Beat era, and for the best rappers of today. How’d that happen?
NL: Funny, I thought I was writing lyrics for Satie’s piano works.... Do you want a Strange Years playlist?
— From “A Strange Conversation”, sx salon 21 (February 2016)
Over the years of start-and-stop writing, the sound-climate in which I composed the poems in Strange Years was musical as much as verbal. Sometimes snatches of melody worked themselves into the actual poems, like the “three piano notes” in “Reading History”. Sometimes it was a fragment of lyric. More often it was a tone, an aural atmosphere, a shiver.
Erik Satie, Gymnopédies (1,2,3); Croquis et agaceries d’un bonhomme en bois; Vexations
Frantz Casseus, Suite No. 1 (Petro, Yanvalloux, Mascaron, Coumbite)
Boby Lapointe, “Framboise”
Franz Schubert, Piano Trio No. 2 in E Flat Major
Richard Strauss, Four Last Songs (as sung by Gundula Janowitz)
Heitor Villa-Lobos, Bachianas Brasileiras (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9)
Rodgers and Hart, “My Funny Valentine” (as sung by Chet Baker); “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” (as sung by Ella Fitzgerald or Anita O’Day)
Ivor Gurney, “I Will Go with My Father A-Ploughing”
Igor Stravinsky, Ebony Concerto
R.E.M., “Strange Currencies”
Bacharach and David, “Anyone Who Had a Heart” (as sung by Dionne Warwick)
Matthaeus Pipelare, Een vrouelic wesen; Fors seulement
Local Natives, “Wooly Mammoth”
Billy Strayhorn, “Lush Life” (as sung by Johnny Hartman)
Traditional, “If I Were a Blackbird” [alas, I can’t find a version I truly like online]
Traditional, “Río Manzanares” (as sung by Isabel and Angel Parra)
Charles Ives, The Unanswered Question
And a lagniappe:
Traditional, “Congo Bara” (as sung by the Keskidee Trio)
Posted by Nicholas Laughlin at 10:34 AM