Poetry & Music: Two Sides of Consciousness

With SpeedPoets rolling back into InSpire Gallery Bar today in Brisbane’s West End, I have been busily thinking about which poems I might perform with musical powerhouse, Sheish Money. It is an incredible thing when poetry and music come together; and for me it is not just about the musician interpreting the words of the poet. Just as important is the poet’s interpretation of the music.  This morning I was reading an interview with Beat Poet, Michael McClure and Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek, and I think McClure summed up the relationship between music and poetry (almost) perfectly:

When a poet and a musician share a successful symbiosis, the two sides of consciousness mesh together and the audience becomes more engaged in the work.

The side that responds to music and to the sensibility of time and beauty comes together and works with the part of consciousness that responds to words. The two working together create a larger experience for the person.

It is this belief that has driven SpeedPoets along for the past nine years and drives much of my own creativity. When writing a poem, I always stop to consider how it may sound when working with Sheish. More often than not, the end result sounds completely different to my initial imaginings, but for me it is important to give a great deal of thought to ‘sound’ during the writing process.

So if you are out and about today in Brisbane, enjoying the Autumn sun, stop by InSpire (71 Vulture St. West End) and unite your consciousness. SpeedPoets will be lighting up the room from 2pm to 5pm.

And I totally recommend reading the complete interview with McClure and Manzarek… to see and hear what they are talking about check out this performance of McClure’s poem Czechoslovakia.


Filed under events & opportunities, interviews/artist profiles, poetry & publishing

9 responses to “Poetry & Music: Two Sides of Consciousness

  1. Agreed; having music in mind while writing a poem, and trying poetry out with music makes a huge difference, and, I think, has really improved my writing. At present, I’m still loving the wonderful collaboration between experimental band, Tuatara, and poet / Rumi scholar, Coleman Barks. If you’ve not heard, you can listen on their website (http://www.tuatara.com/); I especially recommend “A Grainy Taste”.
    Still love listening to you and Sheish, too, as well as Rowan Donovan and his musical co-splendours. And Kevin Gillam’s stuff, where the music and words speak to each other, somehow unlocks another entire world.

  2. PS My question to you is this: do you find music can bring you to a different voice? I sometimes get restless that much of what I write has a similar pace to it, and suspect that the right music could really send it somewhere new. You’ve mentioned writing to music, but do you also write to the particular music you intend to have accompanying the poem?

    • gnunn

      Collaborating with Sheish has definitely extended my voice… he has really pushed me as a performer and encouraged me to explore different vocal delivery styles. I have never written to Sheish’s music, but I think that would bring about some interesting results. We are planning on toying with some different things soon, so this might just have to be one of them! Hope life is good,

  3. Your very blessed to have a musician as a sidekick (and a photographer).

    • gnunn

      I am certainly blessed! Sheish is so much more than a sidekick Gabe… he is an innovator, a collaborator and contributor. My work would be so much poorer without him… and I will add Cindy in to this statement as well. Yes… I am very lucky!

  4. What power when the two come together like that!

    On a sort of different note, I just came out with a CD of indie rock tunes based on a Nobel Prize winning poet’s work. There was a little more pre-calculated thought going into this, since her poems were adapted into lyrics, but the power and effectiveness is much the same as your descriptions.


    Thanks for listening!


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