What the Poets Are Saying – Ted Dyck

Violinmaker’s Lament, the song-cycle, however, arguably turns out to be the very model of everything that performance poetry might aspire to – a seamless blend of song, music, drama, and spoken word that, by paying full attention to the unique qualities of each genre/mode, creates out of them something far greater than the mere addition of their qualities”

VMLcoverWhen I settled myself at a table in the West End Cultural Centre (WECC) in Winnipeg the evening of Sunday May 31 with a friend to attend a performance of Violinmaker’s Lament (VML2), the song-cycle, I had forgotten that I had reviewed John Weier’s VML1, the book, some ten years ago. Commissioned by EMERADO, VML2, a song-cycle for mezzo-soprano, baritone, violin, cello, and piano, with music by Randolph Peters and text by John Weier, falls within the aegis of what we call performance poetry.

As the term is usually understood, unfortunately, it mostly refers to an often exaggerated recitation of lines of sometimes dubious poetic merit. VML2, the song-cycle, however, arguably turns out to be the very model of everything that performance poetry might aspire to – a seamless blend of song, music, drama, and spoken word that, by paying full attention to the unique qualities of each genre / mode, creates out of them something far greater than the mere addition of their qualities. I can’t describe the experience of engaging in that performance, but my companion and I joined the crowd in a standing ovation – after which all I could say was I’ve got to find John and congratulate him.

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