Sunday, 3 May 2020

PARLOUR GAME: a sonnet

I like to think of Parlour Game as a mini-sonnet, but it didn't start off that way. I originally jotted down lines way back in 2010, at a time of some upheaval beginning in my life; these included the closing couplet. I went back to it in 2018, and had it virtually finished. But it still needed a title. I think it was in the summer that I got an email from Jenny Scheinman's mailing list with a track from her and Alison Miller called 'Parlour Game', which was also the name of their new quartet.

I listened to about three bars and realised I'd found the title. Not because of the music; this isn't a poem inspired by the sounds, but the title just works too well on its own. The music had a certain back and forth to it, like much of Scheinman's work, a sense of being just off the main track, tangential one moment, ethereal the next, and like the poem itself, moving from one short motif to the next, edgy but still rhythmic. It did get me reading the poem out loud again, and that brought two small but I think crucial changes. So thanks to Parlour Game, the band.

I'd come to Jenny Scheinman's violin playing in Bill Frisell's 808 quartet, and then her own wonderful Crossing The Field, whose title appealed to me because it suggested Robert Duncan's classic poetry book The Opening Of The Field, and whose 13 tunes seem like a progression through all sorts of indigenous American music, with elements of classical, jazz, country and bluegrass. It's one I play often. Credit synchronicity. Here's a mini-sonnet with a jazz violin title.


I ponder it
What is the point
Of heatedly
Debating why or not you care,
If what was there's no longer there?

You like to say
Your sad clichés
So lovingly,
With words whose shadows signify
The door's already shut, goodbye.

Illusions die when truth impinges,
Drowned out by groans of rusty hinges.

1 comment :

Unknown said...

Excellent. Thank you, Michael.