Thursday, April 7, 2016

Listening to Friends: Poems, Music, and Storytelling

One thing I haven't been doing in the last few months is getting out to hear live music, storytelling, or poetry. There is nothing quite like being there, in the moment, listening and living in the words and music, especially when it is the words and music of friends.

The last few weeks I've been making up for lost time. First was the fiddle concert with Dave Bing and the fiddle class from Cedar Lakes, which I posted about in this blog.

And, as luck would have it, I got to hear Dave again at the local library, presenting a program on West Virginia fiddlers and fiddling. Dave is a multi-instrument musician who makes his own fiddles and travels to Spain and other places teaching workshops and presenting. But lucky for us, he lives in the neighboring county. His presentation at the library was an hour and a half long, and spanned a wide variety of West Virginia old-time fiddlers and fiddling styles. This tune, I believe, is called Bob Wine's Favorite.

I have learned a lot about our state's music and musicians over the years but Dave introduced me to some I'd never heard of before. I really liked his banjo playing too.

You can learn more about Dave and his music from the video The Crooked Tune: An Old-Time Fiddler in a Modern World. You can also hear him playing a few years back at the Wolf Folk Club in Norfolk, England on this clip.

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to hear my good friend Ellouise Schoettler present her program, The Hello Girls, at Fairmont State University. Ellouise lives in the suburban DC area and I don't get to see her often, so I was thrilled that she was coming to Fairmont, only 2 1/2 hours away.

Ellouise's presentation explored the story of women operators who were recruited in 1918 by the US Army and sent to France to man switchboards that transmitted messages from the trenches to Army headquarters. Some of these women were very close to the battlefields and went through some harrowing events, and yet on returning to the US were denied their rights as veterans. It's the kind of history often lost, not told in history books or even (yet) in movies, but an important story that needs to be told. Ellouise did a fantastic job of making these women come alive for a full house that included many college students as well as people from town.

Yesterday evening I drove up to Parkersburg for a poetry reading by the Sacred Way Poets, a group based in Parkersburg that drew their name from a street in Marietta, Ohio. I think it fits them well. Poems ranged from thoughts of spring to love, both bitter and sweet, to old memories, Native Americans, holidays, and one of my favorites, The Red Dress of Poetry by Sherrell Wigal, a poem that found its beginnings in Sherrell's mis-reading of a line that actually read "the redress of poetry." But the red dress of poetry--ah, yes. That defines the richness and variety of poetry so well.

Wilma Acree's poem, whose title I cannot remember, warned of falling in love with a man born in the astrological fire signs. I would really like to have a copy of that poem to read again and again. It was a good evening, and has pushed me to get back to writing more poetry, something I've let slide in the past couple of years.

Next week, the poets are bringing the vibrant voice of Amber Decker to Parkersburg, and I plan to be there to hear this outstanding young poet's strong work. This old lady intends to shake the winter dust out of her hair and get out to be inspired by the songs, poems and stories of my talented friends!

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


mamabug1053 said...

Looks like you've been one busy lady! Glad to be catching up with you again.

Susan Anderson said...

Sounds like some great events. I would have loved the fiddling. My mom was a concert violinist, but sometimes she and her friends would do some fiddling at our house. Such fun.


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