Love Letter to an Unread Book – live

My love letter to an unread book is better as a performed poem. As an entity static on the page it lacks a certain energy. I love to perform it at the start of any reading and now it’s more frustrating to see in its inert state.

I recorded this on May 6, 2016, as a portfolio piece to apply for an Associate Artist in residency with Jessica Abel at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. The application was successful (hooray) and the experience was fantastic. I never asked Jessica which parts of my portfolio got me over the line, perhaps I should, but I recorded this all in a rush as I realized that the poem on the page just felt wrong and I needed to approach my portfolio differently.

I kept it unlisted on Youtube until now (July 23, 2017) because having a piece you perform live recorded can feel so awkward! But what the heck, it’s interesting to see people’s process, how we grow and change, so why not share this bit!

 

Love letter to printed assembly instructions digitally remastered!

There is something quite beautiful about how machine or novice translated words reflect different aspects of their native language. There can be a beauty to what bones ruggedly shine through.

I didn’t want to change too much of the original, but I did want to make it more fun to read. I hope you enjoy this little blast from the past.

Assembly_instructions

Lament for Pie

The only reason this exists is because Jeffrey Peterson sponsored me to write a love song to baked goods.

Imagine a musical.

photo from flickr by alfre_pictures

We open with a razzle dazzle song and dance number from the chorus. We’re in America, there’s food of every kind being celebrated. Everything is supersized and ranges from American cuisine at it its finest to food that really should be forgotten. Establishing the place, the musical themes and ambitions of this culinary obsessed world.

Our protagonist is thrust into the middle of this world, an Australian, possibly arrayed in the most hideous of cliches… cliches that have gone through to some other dimension. Vegemite sachets dangling from a wide brimmed hat instead of corks, that kind of thing… or as much as you can manage without throwing up a little. A high energy number between the protagonist and the chorus. The protagonist has ambitions, wants to be somebody, they’re going to make it!

Photo from flickr, by goosmurf

The adversary appears, oh no! The chorus changes from being on the protagonist’s side to being on the adversary’s side. Turmoil! Conflict! A wild burst of decadence and adventure, but it only leads to the crushing of dreams, the horrors of financial reality! The spark goes out of the protagonist’s life, they’re stuck doing soul crushing menial work for the adversary – or worse yet they have been deluded by the adversary and are leading a high life, but a false one… all hope is gone!

They are physically and emotionally far from their path of DESTINY… but then, in a moment of quiet reflection our protagonist reveals a deep inner yearning, the deep inner yearning that they will follow, pursue, and when they do they will be triumphant. The protagonist doesn’t realize it yet, but this song, THIS song, is the turning point.

Lament for Pie

photo from flickr, by stickypix

I’m an alien from down under
You have many foods to plunder
Slow cooked meats, wild berries
All things Mexican

So many culinary wonders
Yet it feels like such a blunder
To have so much, yet lack
The thing I need

I want a pie
And I’m not talking fruit or sweet
I want a pie
Dark brown gravy softest meat
I want a pie
Filo pastry not hard crumb
I want a pie

I’ve eaten hot pastrami
That’s like Harry meeting Sally
Broccoli tofu from one who
Fought an Iron Chef*

Wild salmon fresh caught from the river
Microbrews will bruise my liver
From the vast array of local
Things to try

But I want a pie
It’s not the timtams that I miss
I want a pie
Though decent ryebread would be bliss
I want a pie
And not pay 10 bucks for one bite
I want a pie.

—-

Recorded using iPhone’s memo function and the built in microphone. I hope to do a better recording, but at least this way I won’t forget the tune!

And this version was created by EJ. She read the lyrics and got earwormed by her own tune. I asked her to record it for me and she kindly did. Her courage in recording and sending made me brave enough to put my own recording up.

* A shout out to the delectable Dirt Candy!

Love letter to a Soy Sauce Bottle, from the rotten cabbage at the back of the fridge

Photo from flickr.com by satrin0

This cabbage song has taken a long long time, but at last, at last we have it. I love this project, because it gives me permission to filk.

Thank you Les R Evil for this truly evil challenge.

Sung to the tune of The Armadillo, by Flanders and Swann.

Cabbage and Soy

The fridge was getting stinky, in the summer of ‘08

For a cleaning last occurred in ‘99

I had picked up bleach and bucket, gas mask firmly down in place

When I heard a voice that sang a sad refrain:

Oh, my darling soy sauce bottle

Let me tell you of my love

Hear me, I’m your rotten cabbage s’il vous plaît

Yes the mould has shaped my leaves

A cultured Savoy if you please

Be my darling soy sauce bottle all the day

I was somewhat disconcerted by this curious appeal

For a lovelorn talking veggie you will own,

Is a rarity, not commonly, recorded in the news

And for it to woo some soy sauce is unknown

I crept closer to the fridge,

Pressed my ear against the door

As I secretly listened to that

Cabbage sing some more

Oh, my darling soy sauce bottle

How thrilling it would be,

If over all my leaves you’d gently pour

Your sticky salt’s an inspiration

Can’t you hear my lamentation?

Be my darling soy sauce bottle all the time.

I opened up the fridge, hoping to catch them in the act

A mouldy cabbage singing… to a bottle empty as.

Should I tell him, softly rotting, with his heart upon his sleeve

This bottle has no soy sauce, it is just what he believes.

I left him to his singing

Put off cleaning for a year

Breaking cabbage hearts aint easy

And the corn has been all ears

When I’m walking past the kitchen

I can hear that sad refrain

Singing soy sauce, soy sauce, soy sauce for my leaves

And I seem to hear it still

And to clean, well that would kill

Be my darling soy sauce bottle all the day

Be my darling soy sauce bottle all the day

Love Letter to a Blu-ray Player

Writing a love letter to a Blu-ray player was tricky indeed. I didn’t want to let Matt McDaniel, my sponsor, down and I discarded many ideas.

Thanks to this challenge I know a lot more about the history of formatting wars, data density of different lengths of light and the importance of protective coating technologies. It also pleased me to find out that Blu Ray runs on Java rather than a proprietary system. Discovering the minute details of an object has been one of the joys of this project, and why it will probably never die. Love is an ecosystem, a garden to be explored.

One of the discarded versions was a filk of Under Pressure by Queen (ba ba ba blu ray, on my blu ray etc), but an improvised jam session between Queen and Bowie turns out to be fiendishly difficult to rework.

Instead I went to one of my great loves, Suzanne Vega, for inspiration. This filk is a bit more melancholic, I was aiming to capture that slightly giddy/detached feeling you get when you’ve watched way too many episodes of something that speaks to your soul and now it’s dark and when was the last time you ate?

Those Whole Worlds, sung to the tune of Those Whole Girls (Run In Grace), by Suzanne Vega

Photo of a cat with complete set of Lord of the Rings blu-ray dvds

image by csullens

Blu-ray plays
Onto my screen
Vivid worlds
I’ll bathe my skin

screen it soothes
actors know me
The story runs
Infuse my heart

Image of a Cat with a blu-ray dvd of a Clockwork Orange

image by csullens


The data dense
Spin intact
Java program
That HD lacks

I’m not alone
Soft light holds me
Moving light
Runs with grace

Runs with grace
Runs with grace
Runs with grace

Day… almost done! Why so quiet?

Note the steel capped boots.

Why so quiet Liz? Well, I’ve only got one outstanding object to write a love letter to… and I’ve roped in the song writing skills of fellow write-a-thon participant Kelly Lagor to help me with that one (I believe my words were something like “Yaaaaaargh! Help me Kelly!”). That one might take a little while, might take us a little bit beyond the write-a-thon period so that we can make it rock (sorry Les R Evil).

I’m waiting from replies from a few mighty sponsors, so there’s a good chance a few more love letters will be written and posted up here over the next few months. If you want to pick an object for me to write a love letter to, but haven’t sponsored me yet, you have a day or so to get your $20 in.

Thank you everyone for sponsoring me. I’m truly astonished by how long that roll of honor on the side has gotten. Every time I get a donation I kind of stare at the screen for a while in a dumbfounded state with a puzzled, yet happy, smile on my face. This write-a-thon/creative project has been a crazy trip and I’m excited by all the ways I’ve challenged myself.

I’m tempted to find a way for this project to go on, I’m not sure. Life is a series of experiments – one building on the other. If you have some ideas about what I should do next I’d love your thoughts in the comments or drop me a line at liz@lizargall.com

Love letter to Ellaroo – a baby sling.

For Alison Rose.

Dear Ellaroo,

An ellaroo in action

Ellaroo baby sling, woven by women in Guatemala. When I think of you happy little tears form in my eyes and my throat feels tight.

We have never met, but I love you for what you give to my dear friend. My friend is a mother now. Her life is smaller and richer and bigger and she has what she has always wanted and fought for with more grace and grit than any other I know. She’s one of the bravest people I know.

Her life is smaller now and each freedom more precious as she walks steady into the mouth of this consuming path. She is woven into community that loves her, but there is much of this adventure that is just her in the whole wide world. We are not always there for her. But you are. You let my dear friend climb mountains, her little one snuggled safe against her chest. You cradle her baby, a baby I have never held but you joyously keep safe through adventure after adventure.

I imagine you blue like the ocean, green as the forest, a rainbow of hugs as my dear one holds her baby tight.

Thank you for helping her have adventures. To walk boldly through, bush, brush and in to town. That these adventures increase the bond between mother and her small person. That to go out into the world will not create distance but connection, heart beat to heart beat. As she climbs that mountain her heart pounds with a rhythm that pulses through her child. You are there to hold, you show that nestling and walking boldly are not adversaries, they are companions on this adventure of passing life from one generation to the next.

Thank you Ellaroo, a traveling cradle of adventure, hugs and capability.

Love

Liz

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