My poem “Carapace” is out today in The Ofi Press Magazine.
The Strawberry Man
and his little pinto pony
in the city street
If you’d like to perform the piece, you can buy a digital download (in multiple keys, even!) from Lisa’s site. I’d love for this to become part of singers’ repertoires.
Medusa was raped.
Medusa was not raped.
Medusa was given rohypnol.
Medusa lured Poseidon from the sea with a bed of seaweed soaked in salt water.
She became pregnant.
She did not become pregnant.
She became pregnant and used her knowledge of the medicinal arts to end her pregnancy.
She became pregnant and gave the resulting child to Poseidon to raise.
She gave the child to her own parents, Phorcys and Ceto.
She and her sisters raised the child, who then became a sculptor, a psychoanalyst, a designer of prosthetics.
Her body after death produced a winged horse and a golden giant.
Her body after death wept from its palms and the tears mixed with earth to create a golem.
Her body after death was dressed by Versace and laid in a bronze tomb in Buenos Aires.
Medusa angered Athena.
Athena was jealous.
Athena was not a feminist.
Athena was a prude.
It did not matter to Athena what actually happened to Medusa.
Athena was required to take action by a committee.
Athena was wise but had already had to deal with mansplaining gods that night.
Athena was a slut-shaming bitch.
Medusa was made an example of through the great wrath of a goddess warrior.
In the long nights, a mortal woman made immortal because of her story ran
from a temple, from a cave, from Kisthene’s dreadful plain eeking blindness, baldness, rebirth
with her sisters.
So many stories. Let us begin anew.
Out January 2022 from Unsolicited Press.
Yesterday I presented a workshop called “Using Your ‘Research Pantry'” at the joint meeting of TMLA and AMS-SW. You can now download the slides and my speaking notes for it here from Humanities CORE.
Here’s the abstract:
What’s in your research “pantry”? What topics, materials, and data are already on your shelves or in your files, just waiting to become papers, presentations, or articles? The pandemic may have stopped many of us from some of our usual research, library, and archival work, but there is still a lot we can do using materials and information we have and maybe haven’t even thought about. This 1-hour workshop will focus on how we—musicologists, librarians, everyone—can continue or develop research projects working with sources that are immediately available. We’ll discuss taking stock of what we have and how to generate project ideas from those materials; how to work with new and emerging online networks to access archival materials when we can’t travel to the archive; consider how to use recent classroom experiences and data in developing pedagogy- and learning-centered studies; and talk about how librarians and teaching faculty can collaborate on projects that require their specialized skills and training. Participants are encouraged to bring questions, ideas, and projects to discuss. We’ll end with a moderated group discussion to help foster connections and brainstorm further possibilities of using what’s in your research pantry.
CLASS MOVED: This will now take place December 5 and December 12, from 2-3:30 Central. Sign up at via Writespace!
History surrounds us and makes our world what it is. Every object, every sidewalk, every house or jail or meeting spot is dappled with layers of stories, events, and emotions. In this class, we’ll explore using history in writing, whether you’re interested in historical novels, writing a family history, or creating an epic poem about a famous—or notorious–event. We’ll talk about how to find inspiration in history and historical materials; research the past for your work and keep track of what you find; approach writing about the past in terms of language, like using slang and speaking conventions of different time periods; and develop new or on-going projects that beckon the ghosts of the past into our words.
I’ve needed to write an artist’s statement for a while, but it’s been difficult. It’s easy for me to list my accomplishments as facts, turning lines on my CV into sentences. But despite writing about personal things in my poetry, I haven’t been comfortable writing a full statement about what I believe about creating art. ThenI was confronted with the need for an artist’s statement for a project proposal. Here’s what I wrote. What should I add? What should I take away? I know the statement will be fluid, and change over time.
I come to poetry from a background of music performance and scholarship and the study and love of literature. I believe in the philosophy of tikkun olam, “repair of the world,” and I believe that through art, I can leave the world a better place that it was when I arrived. Inspired by history, language, and the mythopoeic, I create works that address social justice issues, particularly those involving women; the environment; and the nature of compassion.
My work includes poems, lyrics, libretti, and plays. In my poetry, I’m interested in how language works in creating a story or a moment. I consider word histories, regionalisms, and slang, and often use wordplay. I use words taken from an influential source or write using a meter from such a source. In my poem “Re-Writing King Lear in a time of Pandemic,” for example, I use almost exclusively words from Shakespeare’s play and those that can be anagrammed from “King Lear” and “Covid.” I’m interested in the scientific names for plants and creatures, and use these in writing about the environment. I use place-names from history and folklore in poetry about race, destruction, and erasure. I match cadences and rhythms to the sounds the objects I write about make. I think of language and sound as a sandbox for me to work in, in all of my writing, and I create connections between words and images and meanings in ways that communicate with a wide range of readers and listeners.
In writing text that will be sung, I tell stories about women; about prejudice; about resilience; and about my own lived experiences. I work to create texts that singers will want to sing, both from technical and artistic perspectives, and texts that lend themselves well to the medium of vocal music and opera. I think about diction and pronunciation and phrasing and where singers will need to breathe. I craft lyrics that fit the requirements of a piece: short, regular lines for young singers, texts that offer opportunities for virtuoso passages or extended techniques for more experienced performers. I work closely with composers and performers throughout the process of creating new works that will be set to music, re-writing and changing elements as the piece demands.
My playwriting also engages with women’s issues, exploring the place and rights of women in society, how women are viewed by men, and the concept of the monstrous feminine. I’m influenced in all of my work by feminist authors and visual artists, like Marcin Nagraba and Agnieszka Osipa, whose Pagan Poetry photograph series inspired my song cycle From Wild Sleeping Waters; by writers who are creative and intelligent in their use of language, like Helen Macdonald and Paul Kingsnorth; and writers who work with important issues through highly imaginative frameworks, like Maria Headley Dahvana, Margaret Killjoy, and R. B. Lemberg.
The songs will be published through Lisa’s company, and will include sheet music and accompaniment sound files, so your singers can practice at home and perform online.
I loved writing the lyrics for these three songs! “The Ghost of the Wych Elm,” based very loosely on a real-life mystery, asks if you’ve seen this sad ghost, out in the woods and searching for her hand and her name. In “Werewolf Song,” singers get to howl and growl as they turn into werewolves and chase more mundane critters through the streets. Finally, you’re invited to join zombies, mummies, and more at “The Witches’ Party,” full of spooky fun.
MOON-CROSSED returns! Join me on Wednesday, October 28 at 7 pm Central for a Zoom presentation of Moon-Crossed, my version of All’s Well that Ends Well with WEREWOLVES. Want to read a part? Email me at kendraleonard at protonmail dot com. Everyone is welcome, props are encouraged, and there will be howling galore!
Want to hear me speak about my research, read my poetry, or attend an opera for which I’m the librettist? Here’s my schedule–so far–for the next few months. All times Central.
13 August: Poetry Reading at Writespace Houston on Facebook Live. No Facebook account necessary. 7 pm.
14 August: YouTube premiere of The Harbingers, a one-act a cappella opera with music by Rosśa Crean and libretto by me. Recorded in performance on 31 October 2019 at Rosehill Cemetery’s May Chapel in Chicago. 7 pm.
20 September: Curating Your Poetry Chapbook workshop through Writespace Houston. Join me in this workshop and learn about curating a chapbook manuscript that you can submit to publishers or publish yourself. We’ll talk about how to choose which of your poems to include, put them in an order that makes sense from an artistic and literary point of view, and prepare them for submission or self-publishing. 3 pm.
24 September: “Using Your ‘Research Pantry’,” workshop, Texas Music Library Association and American Musicological Society-Southwest Chapter joint meeting, 2 pm.
26 September and 3 October: Writing About Ghosts workshop through Writespace Houston. In this workshop, we’ll discuss finding inspiration in history and historical materials; how to research the past for your work and keep track of what you find; how to approach writing about the past in terms of language, like using slang and speaking conventions of different time periods; and develop new or on-going projects that beckon the ghosts of the past into our words.