On Her Relationship with Music, Three Poems by Rose Solari
Read all three poems by Rose Solari: Another Country, Myself When I was There, and That Day on the Redux Literary Journal site
“These three poems are all rooted in my relationship with music. After my brother died, I was going through some old photos when I ran across one of us as young adults in our parents’ living room. Mom was at the piano singing and playing, and he and I were laughing, trying to sing along while he balanced me on his shoulders. This became the basis for ‘Another Country.’ Our mother was a tremendously gifted pianist and singer, and her music — opera arias, Italian folk songs, some jazz and pop standards – was the soundtrack for our growing up. She opened my ears to many kinds of music, and as I formed my own tastes, I fell in love with modern, improvisational jazz, which I often write to. “Myself, When I Was There” was written to the title piece of the great Charles Mingus piano improvisation album, Myself When I Am Real. I tried to capture some of Mingus’s disciplined freedom in both content and form.
The story of ‘That Day,’ an elegy for jazz singer and pianist Shirley Horn, is all there in its lines. I was lucky enough to see her perform several times, and when I heard of her death, I immediately thought of Frank O’Hara’s poem on the death of Billie Holiday, ‘The Day Lady Died,’ and I took the plainness of O’Hara’s language as my model. When I read the poem, I sometimes talk about the power of Horn’s unique slow-motion style, the way she could keep you deliciously waiting for the next word, the next note. She was somehow at once both fierce and ladylike — a description, I realize, that would also apply to my mother.”