Poetry Friday: Jazz @Preservation Hall

I first visited New Orleans when I was a teenager on family vacation. As a dedicated band nerd, the one thing I wanted to do most of all was to take in a concert at Preservation Hall. The rest of my family did not share my fascination with jazz (and due to factors such as not wanting to take children to Bourbon Street area at night and having other activities scheduled with the conference), so my parents did not take me to a concert. I’ve been waiting over 30 years, but I finally made it back to New Orleans.

This time, we stood in line outside the door of Preservation Hall long enough to insure we would get inside the small concert room. Not only did we get  in, but my daughter and I were able to find floor seats on the first row. We were close enough to reach out and touch the band. It was well worth the wait to hear this legendary jazz band that has played for over 50 years.

It is impossible to fully translate the experience to words–even poetry–but here is one attempt.

Jazz @Preservation Hall

Music shimmies through the streets,
spills out of doorways,
echoes through the generations.
Trumpet blares and blasts the melody
as it dances up and down the scales.
Trombone slides underneath
as it moans the blues.
Bass thumps and twants
as it beats a steady rhythm.
Clarinet sings and trills
as it twists around an old tune.
Keyboard pounds a cascade of notes
as it tickles the ivories one more time.
Drums rat-a-tat-tat the beat
as it sizzles in syncopation.
Voices blend and shake in harmonies,
echo and answer one another,
shimmy through the ages.

If you want to explore more about jazz through poetry, check out JAZZ by Walter Dean Myers and illustrated by Christopher Myers. The poems and pictures dance across the pages. The poems are such fun to read aloud. They play with sound and rhythm in a way that mimics how jazz plays with melodies and harmonies. The vibrant illustrations and playful typefaces turn up the heat even more. Not only do you have all this fun on every page, but you learn much about the history of jazz. I dare you to read it and not want to get up and dance!

Each Friday, I am excited to take part in Poetry Friday, where writers share their love of all things poetry. Mary Lee Hahn hosts the Poetry Friday Roundup today at A Year of Reading. She introduces (to me at least) a new form–a blitz poem. It looks like it could be fun to try even if a bit challenging. Drop by and see what poetry morsels are offered this week.

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, including in the linked picture above. Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

18 Comments on Poetry Friday: Jazz @Preservation Hall

  1. Laura Shovan
    August 9, 2018 at 4:29 pm (3 years ago)

    I love the first three lines of the poem, Kay. What was your band instrument when you were a teen?

    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 10, 2018 at 7:57 am (3 years ago)

      Thanks, Laura. I played the flute. I miss it, but the bursitis in my shoulder has other ideas!

  2. Tabatha
    August 8, 2018 at 12:11 pm (3 years ago)

    Glad you made it back and got to hear your concert! Music is fun to write about, even though it’s hard.
    You reminded me of a poem I saved a while back:

    Play me a song, Trumpet Man
    Sorrow sings deep in my bones
    I ache to feel it out loud
    Wail, Trumpet Man
    Drown this city in brassy tears
    Beat in my blood
    Pump the anger and hurt out my heart
    Wash it away in the slippery sewer
    Swirl it down in your long last note.

    (It’s a sidewalk poem from St Paul, MN — not sure who wrote it)

    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 10, 2018 at 7:56 am (3 years ago)

      Thank you, Tabatha, for sharing the sidewalk poem! It captures so much of what I love about music as emotional expression and a way to deal with strong emotions.

  3. bookseedstudio
    August 6, 2018 at 9:27 am (3 years ago)

    How cool to introduce your daughter to this tradition, Kay. I love the movement in this poem & thank you for bringing me a new word as in

    “Bass thumps and twants
    as it beats a steady rhythm.”

    And also I appreciate being reminded about JAZZ by Walter Dean Myers.

    I am embarrassed to say that in my three trips to NOLA I have not made it into
    the tiny Hall, but this is inspiring me to put it at the list top.

    Happy shimmy summer to proud band nerd, you.

    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 10, 2018 at 7:55 am (3 years ago)

      Thanks! I’m not sure it that’s a new word or just a typo! Oops! Isn’t JAZZ just a wonderful book? I first bought it to share in my Little Free Library, but I’m having a hard time letting go of it.

    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 5, 2018 at 3:24 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks, Michelle! I’ll have to look for Collier’s book.

  4. Brenda
    August 4, 2018 at 9:34 am (3 years ago)

    That is a fabulous poem, and it sounds like it was a great concert. How wonderful that New Orleans is still celebrating jazz.

    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 4, 2018 at 8:01 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks, Brenda. Jazz is most definitely thriving still in NOLA. I heard it everywhere!

  5. Jone MacCulloch
    August 3, 2018 at 11:44 pm (3 years ago)

    My toes started tapping midway your poem. I am.with you in this moment.

    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 4, 2018 at 8:00 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks, Jone. My feet have been tapping every since I sat on the floor in front of the band!

  6. Linda Baie
    August 3, 2018 at 11:26 pm (3 years ago)

    I’ve never been but grew up part of my life in Kansas City, MO, known for its jazz. My husband & I spent more than one evening at some of the jazz clubs. Your poem is grand, full of the actions seen. What a great story, your waiting for this moment, Kay! Thanks for the book rec, too. I’ll look for it.

    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 4, 2018 at 8:00 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks, Linda. The Myers’ book is exceptional. I hope you enjoy it.

  7. Linda M.
    August 3, 2018 at 7:13 pm (3 years ago)

    What a WONDERFUL post! I love that the trombone moons the blues….funny and true. And, my impression of New Orleans is a lot of shimmy. Thanks for the delicious musical treat.

    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 3, 2018 at 8:27 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks, Linda! NOLA does indeed shimmy! I loved walking down the street and hearing music drifting out from the bars and encountering band after band after musician playing on the streets. We even enjoyed a mini-concert from a cellist (my daughter also plays).

  8. Mary Lee Hahn
    August 3, 2018 at 2:34 pm (3 years ago)

    I think you captured the sounds and spirit of Jazz perfectly in your poem! Well done!!

    • Mrs. McGriff
      August 3, 2018 at 8:26 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks, Mary Lee! Jazz is hard to capture due to its ever-changing nature. I could sit and listen to the PH band all night.


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