Gargoyle 49 (CD: Poetry/Music)
Produced by Richard Peabody, postproduction/sound by Zenon Slawinsky
Gargoyle Magazine is a known quantity and has made a national difference in the literary world for more than two decades. Recently, publisher/poetry curator Richard Peabody has ventured into the world of sound. Gargoyle 49 is poetry and music combined, not the first of his audio ventures, but the best.
In the world of poetry and music, theorists talk about relationships—of material to sound– and finally the overall tone. We can call this aesthetic quality—still a useful phrase. For audiophiles, the hardware drives the software and we care very much that one track does not amplify differently from the next. Thank God the technical is superior from the hands of Xenon Slawinsky who has an established reputation riding on it.
I think the victory of this edition is the combined effort where the sensibility of the performers all fit within a general discourse, pieces of the same cultural puzzle. Gargoyle 49 is a criticism of the world from many poetic positions. It presents the artists' prevailing consciousness and conscience at a time when intellectuals seemingly have no other power over events. As we listen we realize the effectiveness of thought, image, humor, satire more than ever before—making the mainstream world an ok place to visit but we’d rather hang out with a Gargoyle reality.
35 (and more) poets and musicians offer renditions successfully different in meditation and emphasis -- from the clarion voices of Donna Denize (“Sacred Geometry,” “Babylon to Baghdad”,) and Bernadette Geyer (“The Eye Forgets,” “The Rose Forgets Its Beauty”,) to the hilarious, memorable Jenny Badman (“The Boyfriend Poem”) and the incorrigible incandescent, Jeffrey McDaniel (“What Year was Heaven Desegregated”.)
These and others are poetcritics of the society they live in, connecting us to ideas with mystical intelligence and sometimes a stand-up-comedy precision. The CD is important, not only as a paradigm of America in the 21st century but as a showcase for the changes we see in poets who have spoken over the years. How else would we hear Sydney March’s “Monk’s Misterioso,” so different from his previous works, or the new musical intentions of Zenon Slawinsky (“Now Hear This”) who has been inventing technology for sound for more than a quarter of a century.
Some of the other music selected I have to say is still in love with he 70’s,but; in fairness, certain kinds of music frames words the best and let us remember that impresario Peabody is faithful to his mission -- presenting poetry. It is unlikely he’d let the word be subsumed by a heavier beat. Just when we thought we knew everything about his work, we find the CD cover adorned with original Peabody sculpture and photos.
The only resistance that finally changes the world is creativity. This collaboration is an exciting compendium of voices and sound and one I’ll keep in the car radio for a very long time. For orders: firstname.lastname@example.org. More information on the website: www.gargoylemagazine.com
Grace Cavalieri, producer “The Poet and the Poem from the Library of Congress