Featured Video: SEVEN MINUTES with… Mary Halverson,
interview by Nancy Mitchell
Seven Minutes with Mary Halvorson: Poetry and Jazz, Hand in Hand
In September’s Seven Minutes, we’re thrilled to host acclaimed jazz artist and MacArthur Fellow Mary Halvorson, who was named “a rising star jazz artist, and rising star composer of the year” in a recent Downbeat Magazine Critics Poll.
Halvorson talks with us about the challenges and joys of writing song lyrics for the first time in traditional poetic forms, as well as composing the accompanying music for the vocalist and band for her new album Code Girl.
Below are some of the poems/lyrics, as well as a link to the album. It’s terrific, so give it a listen:
Artlessly falling through overstretched arms delivers the night underground, a hole.
I spool splintered smiles around your gray eyes, sparklers devouring The Southern Cross. Old patterns crystallize, form double salt
I feign to dissolve. Eighty-eight stars wild.
Cards leak our future, decidedly wild.
The Fool: unnumbered, white roses in arms, feathers in hair and his heart sieving salt.
I grip my reveal, an ace in the hole.
The Hierophant hoisting a triple cross,
two fingers skyward in homage to gray.
Pull my hair, dulling from neon to gray, totaling childish fancies gone wild.
Rescind these feint lines drawn too late across my odd face. Keep the bubbling ghosts at arm’s length. Find a last-ditch way to swallow whole the tastings of a life below the salt.
Trucks blanket Brooklyn with sheets of street salt. Shoes secrete outlines of mountainous gray. Snowdrops not yielding this winterized whole- sale storm. A feasting of wool to breed wild sweat, wetting regrettable prints on arms.
Denial soaps gentle lies on the cross
we bear. Sweating plastic whiskey, eyes cross. Cloudy rim pulsing and happy with salt. Dizzy circles blur into two tonearms. Medicinal clicks squeeze sleep out of gray mourning windows. My clarity blows wild reasons, ever-forming, down that black hole.
You wouldn’t call it that, but it’s a hole— smothering lackluster limits we cross.
The prognosis clings to my mouth: a wild hurling of bottleneck wounds rubbed with salt. The chill of your love (love fading to gray) unfolds as a serpentine race of arms.
A hole-in-one warns me: not worth his salt.
Crosscut that arctic orbit as a gray
whale: wild, breaching. To hell with your wrong arms.
Walls And Roses
You arrive with daggered hands.
Anonymous spongy fields.
A headless bull in transit,
with a pregnant nest of dimes.
Anonymous spongy fields.
To the front, walls and roses with a pregnant nest of dimes. Behind you, a shrinking man.
To the front, walls and roses. Wary of the hiccupped copse. Behind you, a shrinking man subletting a swarm of lives.
Wary of the hiccupped copse,
a headless bull in transit. Subletting a swarm of lives,
you arrive with daggered hands.
Trace amounts of dynamo smolder offbeat eyes. Well-pressed behind proper dress, shoes and wedded hand. Muzzling unwashed thoughts not meant to vocalize.
Floozy legs, stockings caught inside a dropped sunrise. Camouflaged by warblers’ wings trilling reprimand. Trace amounts of dynamo smolder offbeat eyes.
Fruitless attempts to salvage all the butterflies. Copycat polkadots branding spurious land. Muzzling unwashed thoughts not meant to vocalize.
Lavender grasses flatten as they mime disguise, while shepherds’ purses inhale lives that fast expand. Trace amounts of dynamo smolder offbeat eyes.
False decorum wells up and boxes out the skies. Filtered smiles posturing for excess on demand. Muzzling unwashed thoughts not meant to vocalize.
Out go the insides, hoping to legitimize
a monumental moonlight rigged with contraband. Trace amounts of dynamo smolder offbeat eyes, muzzling unwashed thoughts not meant to vocalize.
Lyrics by Mary Halvorson © 2020