Tuesday, January 23, 2018

CO2 Has Its Debut in Trenton

What a tremendous pleasure, and really an honor, to be able to perform "CO2--We're an It" in the presence of 150 lovers of poetry, including our nation's Poet Laureate, in the Trenton Library reading room this past week. My torso got to play the role of carbon, while my outstretched fists served as oxygens. The piece starts out with "We're an it, not a he, not a she. LGBT has nothin' on us three, 'cause we're CO2, you see? Just a little bit of matter that never used to matter ..." Afterwards, the MC shook my hand and told the audience, "That's the first time I ever shook hands with a molecule."

The open mic session, before poet laureate Tracy K. Smith read from her new book, brought out a wonderful variety of talented writing and deliveries, and a glorious rendition of "Wade in the Water".

I'm told that Dorothea of Labyrinth Books worked with a friend to get the ball rolling on the event, which was run by the African American Cultural Collaborative of Mercer County. The Collaborative will have another open mic Feb. 8, 2018, this time at the Arts Council of Princeton as part of its community stage programming.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Climate-Adapted Popular Songs

Our Climate Cabaret show includes a mix of comic theater sketches interspersed with satirical drug commercials ("Lyatol is packed with the lies you need to get through the day") and music. Some of the music is original instrumental jazz, but we continue to add climate-adapted songs to the repertoire. These are popular songs from the past that are being adapted to survive on a planet transformed by climate change.

My Climate Valentine -- Becomes a love song to a very special planet. "Is your figure less than Greek? Is your jetstream getting weak? When we change you week by week, are we smart?"

My Unembraceable You -- Recasts "Embraceable You" as a love song to the environment, which is constantly embracing us, but can be logistically difficult to embrace back. "How could what is all around me ever leave me, never do, my unembraceable you."

There's a Road -- John Denver co-wrote "Country Roads" in 1970, the same year as the first Earthday. Climate-adapted lyrics turn it into an anthem for the electric car, powered with renewable energy. "There's a road we can take, to the place we belong. West Virginia, keep your mountains. Let the sun take us home."

If We Only Had a Brain -- From Wizard of Oz. "Oh the oceans wouldn't be risin', and continents downsizin'--a future full of pain. We'd have listened to Al's story, taken heed of allegory, if we only had a brain."

I Should Care -- How many lyrics completely change the song's meaning in the last two words? "Maybe we won't find a planet as lovely as you, but I should care, and I do."