In September 2010, I was appointed Poet Laureate of Friends of Chamber Music for their 2010-11 season. For the past four months, I have been writing original poems during each of the concerts in the Classic Series, as well as the Not So Classic and Vocal Arts Series concerts. These poems have been posted on the Friends of Chamber Music website (http://www.focm.org) and their Facebook page, as well as in print in the concert programs. For each concert, I have attempted to capture the essence of the music—envisioning scenes, characters, and drama invoked by the musicians. To my knowledge, I am the only chamber music Poet Laureate in the nation. It has been a unique challenge to put into poetry the music of composers, played by internationally renown chamber ensembles.
Here's a recent poem I wrote to Bela Bartok's Quartet No 6 performed on December 7, 2010 by the amazing Takacs Quartet. Mesto is Italian for 'sad' or 'sorrowful'.
Written while listening to Bela Bartók’s Quartet No. 6
composed in Budapest, 1939
Damp cave in a foreign land. A woman sits
surrounded by a circle of stones to protect her
from the night creatures that crawl and fly.
Day and night, night and day measured
by the stitches she unravels from a sweater
left by her beloved—taken away
how many months ago?
Every day she knits it back together.
The smell of her beloved is fading—fading
too the colors. Demon bats sweep down—
seize skeins of yarn in their greedy claws.
Her hair, greasy and thin, no longer attractive
to man or beast.
Nazis strut by—
their staccato words
barbs of fear
of her hideaway.
A deep cello sound resounds in her ears,
then nails scratching on ancient walls.
A turmoil of desire. A disturbing dissonance.
Her last day, an intermezzo. She stumbles
out into the spring sunshine, blinded
with joy. The grass is cool and fragrant.
Wildflowers begin their bloom.
Today she will rest from her task, draping
the yarn over her famine-swollen belly.
How sweet the lark’s song. How slowly
the heart beats at the end.
Vultures carry away strands of yarn
in their beaks. Lifting off, they flap
their heavy black wings, bound
for their aeries in the sky.
Copyright by Margaret Chula