We turn this composition into a little quiz game with our audiences. We ask the name of it and where they have heard it before. See if you can tell.
Oxana, of course, had known Miserlou only as an opening titles tune for Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. Oxana is a huge Tarantino fan and played Honey Bunny in a skit for Initiation Day in her University.
Andrew and Steve, being better musically educated, knew that Miserlou had been recorded many times before Tarantino had an insight to use the song for his seminal piece of cinematography.
In fact, Spotify has hundreds of versions. But it was Dick Dale’s American surf rock version of Miserlou that took flight to fame thanks to Pulp Fiction. Steve does a bit of riffs on his mandola in honour of that version for us.
I Shall Find You is a song by Tori Morrill&Al Newman. Inanna Sisters in Rhythm, who has originally played it, kindly gave us permission to perform the song and even shared their score notes! Inanna Sisters in Rhythm also count the late Layne Redmond as one of their teachers.
Sandi and Oxana made a couple minor changes in frame drums’ patterns, but overall it’s what our sisters across the ocean play. Andrew with his clarinet and Steve with his mandola make the magic complete.
Andrew also play a set of ankle jingles – something that Oxana and Sandi found impossible to do while playing frame drums at the same time – so kudos to Inanna Sisters in Rhythm for performing that feat! We all try to do our share in singing, and intend to use our voices more and more in the future.
Oxana and Sandi of Incidentals were excited to introduce adults and children to frame drumming at Heptonstall Family Day 2016. We were warmly welcomed by the organiser Beth Hardman, who subsequently said: “It was really good having you as part of the day.”
We had families with children young and younger join us informally and check out the instruments.
We played a couple of songs and instrumentals and led an introductory session of frame drumming.
Oxana and Sandi by the stained glass windows
Children had their first try of frame drums along with shakers and other percussion in the beautiful interior of Heptonstall Church.
The wonderful Lady Mayor & Mayoress of the wonderful Todmorden invited women to Todmorden Town Hall, dressed in Suffragettes’ green, purple and white (I still remember vividly the touching and expressive opera “Emily” by Todmorden’s own Tim Benjamin).
Crowds flocked to browse the stalls of various women’s organisations and buy crafts and treats made by women of Todmorden and beyond. Emma Decent gave us all the gift of Open Mic, to which she contributed her memorable poems about her dog, having sex with the sky, and of course the epic comment poem about a man who shouted “Lezbo!” at the very first Magic Words – the incident which I witnessed. It is not often that one finds oneself in a spot where history is made.
I started with frame drumming and singing a spring ritual song from the Slavic culture, “Kostroma”. Lovely women around the stage area greatly helped me by shaking multicoloured egg shakers – perfect symbols of spring.
I was happy to share my poems too, in particular “Spring Equinox 2013” to welcome the approaching holiday.
In the Soviet Union Internationals Women’s Day was a public holiday, and so it remains in post-Soviet Russia. It is a celebration of Women, of Spring, and there are tulips everywhere. I shared a short topical poem remember from childhood with the women of Calderdale:
Мы скажем маме: с Женским Днем!
Весь год мы помнили о нем.
(We will say: Happy Women’s Day to our Mom!
We have remembered it throughout the year.)
Oh – and thanks go to Jude for acting as a photo reporter!
I had a lovely time at Puzzle Hall in Sowerby Bridge, in the company of Freda Davis, Gaia Holmes and Sean Bamforth. Freda told me an amazing story of her aunt, who worked as a governess in Imperial Russia and after the 1917 revolution travelled with her pupils across the country by train to flee into China, from where she brought the children to the US, and went back to the UK herself.
Gaia very kindly said: “a BIG daffodil yellow thank you to you for being our guest at ‘The Puzzle’. You were wonderful…poems of poignancy, power and variety.” Very generous, coming from a skilled and emotional poet such as Gaia Holmes. Gaia was also kind enough to take this atmospheric photo (above). Thank you, Gaia!
Puzzle Hall Poets have an interesting tradition: poets bring and show physical objects that are related to their poetry. So, I brought a set of postcards with images of my hometown Tomsk, printed in the 1980s – for my “The Way through Tomsk” poem. In it, I, echoing the structure of Rudyard Kipling‘s “The Way Through the Woods”, trace all the places familiar to me since my childhood that got closed and turned into cogs of capitalist machine.
I also brought some yellow dried birch tree leaves, to reflect on two poems: “Singing Grove”, and one from Sherlock Suite set, both of which mention birch trees.
But most importantly of all, I brought a fridge magnet version of a drawing by Rachel Johns, my frame drumming friend and an immensely talented artist, whose works overflowing with feminine earth power take me away every time. I paired her drawing with my poem “My beloved is with me”, which, as Freda Davis astutely noted, is a nod/parody of “The Song of Songs“.
I had been looking forward to the last Magic Words of 2012, as I was supposed to give a guest performance of 15 minutes. I carefully chose my material, guided mostly by a wish not to spread more doom and gloom in the darkest time of the year. I included a feminist parody of William Carlos Williams’ poem “This is Just to Say” and I finished with a poem about last spring, in the hope that spring will come again.
Unfortunately, the last Magic Words of 2012 also turned out to be the last held in Bramsche, as the bar closed down. Emma Decent is holding off Magic Words until spring 2013. So, instead of Magic Words in January, come to Speech Bubble, on 24 Jan in The Hole in the Wall, where established poets will mix with the beginners to raise funds for the Flood Relief – and where I will read my Sherlock Suite with my brother’s music.
At Magic Words, Emma was very kind introducing me. In fact, I was overwhelmed with gratitude I felt for her, the audience and fellow performers who had been so supportive since March 2012 when it all started.
Before I started my set, I told a true story of how when the audience first clapped before I even started reading, I was taken aback and even forgot my lines – I literally did not know how to handle this.
At the next Magic Words, when I mentioned this to an audience member and said I did not know what to do, she said: “Don’t get cocky!”. So, in response to that my fellow performer John Hepworth wrote this as his feedback: “Cocky about taboos! And all the better for it” – John Hepworth. I read some menstrual poems. Or, perhaps, he meant the taboo of not mocking William Carlos Williams.
John himself, in addition to his usual brilliant performance, also recited, to my delight, one of my favorite poems ever: Talking Turkeys by the marvellous vegan Benjamin Zephaniah. if you absolutely MUST do Christmas (which magic Words regulars will know I oppose, as I read an anti-Christmas poem for the two last months), at least make it vegan!
The kind people of the audience and fellow performers wrote this about my poems and frame drum: (You can find more audience feedback here).
“Honest, varied, idiosyncratic, true. I like it!” – George Murphy
“I like how you use the drum to accompany your poems” – Julie Rose
Always enjoy listening to your work” – Robert
“Brilliant, quirky, rhythmic and utterly without rhythm, engaging, intriguing, slightly twisted, totally unpredictable and very, very wonderful” – Beth
Well, what can I possibly say in response to that?