Creativity Workshop, Goals, Music, Poetry, Writing

Leave Your Sleep … and write a poem

In perfect timing for my Creativity Workshop goal this week, I’ve been listening to Natalie Merchant’s newest recording Leave Your Sleep. I have to thank Cynthia Newberry Martin’s lovely post on this 2-cd with accompanying 80-page book for incentive to purchase this.

Natalie’s latest work was seven years in the making. Inspired by poems she read to her daughter, Natalie wrote music and lyrics to twenty-six poems and nursery rhymes in musical styles as varied as Celtic, pop, jazz, bluegrass, reggae, chamber orchestra, R&B, Chinese folk, Balkan, and others. Listening is an amazing adventure.

Some of the 19th and 20th century poets she honored are: E. E. Cummings, Laurence Alma-Tadema, Robert Louis Stephenson, Nathalia Crane, Ogden Nash, and Lydia Huntley Sigourney. A multitude of musical talents accompanied her, as varied as Wynton Marsalis, The Memphis Boys, Hazmat Modine, and Joseph Fire Crow. Recorded in live ensemble, this work is an aural feast.

I’m almost as new to poetry reading as I am poetry writing and must confess I hadn’t heard of most of the poets represented in Leave Your Sleep. But through reading the works of new poet friends (as well as my published poet d-in-l Sarah Chavez) my mental wall is crumbling. This is why I chose to write four poems as one of my workshop goals. I’d like to fell that wall once and for all.

Please enjoy this performance video and visit Natalie Merchant’s site for more videos and to read the poems she selected for this work. Cynthia also has a great interview video in her post.

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20 thoughts on “Leave Your Sleep … and write a poem”

  1. Beautiful song and very interesting back story to the album. I’ll definitely have to check it out! I find I’m not able to be very ‘poetic’ when I try and write poems 😦


    1. There are so many I like, actually there are none I don’t like, but I don’t know if I can choose a favorite yet. Anything with a Celtic or jazz/blues vibe catches my ear first. Sometimes I like the music of one more than I like the lyrics/poem and vice verse. I’d say Indian Names and maggie and milly and molly and may are favorites today, for different reasons. The Adventures of Isabel sets my toes a tapping. 🙂

      Do you have a favorite?


        1. Oh, that is a sweeper and I love the poem that inspired it. Today, I have Vain and Careless on repeat … though it doesn’t go with what I’m writing at all. 🙂 And it reminds me of a Cat Stevens song, which I can’t quite place but will have to look up now or it will nag me.

          Update: the Cat Stevens song I was thinking of is The Boy with a Moon & Star on His Head. Odd connection?


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