Tuesday Tidbits: Singing Without the Music

I come from a cultural and familial tradition of oral storytelling. Singing without the music is how I thought of it, listening to the rise and fall of the stories of my grandmother.

Within this tradition, there is an understanding that some stories are for sharing and others are private. There is an understanding that to share with the larger world means finding your own stories to play out on the page or the stage.

I took these lessons to heart, found some of the stories I wished to tell-

-And found myself instantly in trouble.

It is not so obvious when writing poetry.

There is an understanding, in traditional and not-so-traditional forms, of rhythm and meter.

There is an understanding of the music beneath the words and the demand to arrange the words to meet the music.

My poetry has always had a direct line to the spoken, is meant to be read and shared as songs without music.

In a longer form, it is easy to lose that rhythm, the heartbeat that sits beneath the flow of a spoken story.

I thought about what I wanted to accomplish, what I was trying to do and say.

I wanted to write a story that was meant to be read.

So I read it.

All 92,000 words of With Honor Intact were read aloud, listening for the tempo, the dynamics, the stuttering of rhythms.

It is not the story my grandmother would have told, but it is my story.

I like to think that she would have enjoyed it.

I hope that you do too.

With Honor Intact Cover 11aI translate to the page the rhythm of the telling and hope you hear it beneath the words

The joining of the oral and the written has been a major piece of my work with the Virtue Inn series. I can only hope that I have succeeded.


With Honor Intact will be available digitally from all Amazon sites on April 23, 2015. To read the first book in the series, you can find The Guests of Honor here.

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