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.
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