It’s April, time to celebrate U. S. National Poetry Month! We’ve had a tradition here over the past five Aprils of performing “The Waste Land” in serial-installment fashion, and now this year we’ve come to the landmark Modernist poem’s final section: “What the Thunder Said.”
Since the Parlando Project officially launched in August 2016 it’s been a tremendous effort to lead this exploration of a variety of poetry and ways it can be performed with original music. Last year we crossed the 500th piece threshold — an incredible achievement in creative productivity that I’m often proud of. One could spend hours here just exploring the poets we’ve featured and the ways we’ve performed their work. Though I expect most listeners will enjoy only a portion of what the Parlando Project does, I’d say this month is a good opportunity to wander randomly through our archives or use the search function to see what we’ve explored.
Putting a little worn patina on The New, The Modern…
I am a little sad and a fair bit intimidated in reaching this section of “The Waste Land,” the ending. It has become harder for some uninteresting reasons to keep up this project’s pace, but as I come to this April, I know I’m going to miss my annual return to the sprawling collage that is Eliot’s great poem. Though I’m hugely grateful for the ability to come this far, sadness is all around me, friends and relatives in suffering situations that I’m unable to address or help, and a sad tribunal is taking place a few blocks from where I sit and write.
I’ve always found this section of the poem a confrontation with sadness, and as it largely removes the masks and personas that have peopled the rest of the poem, I think it’s the most difficult to perform, both for audience-effectiveness and because the performer should/must confront that element inside themselves.
I’ve always found this section of the poem a confrontation with sadness, and as it largely removes the masks and personas that have peopled the rest of the poem, I think it’s the most difficult to perform…
As dysfunctional and damaged as they may have been, today’s section of “The Waste Land” transitions us from the unreal city, its duplicitous characters, and the sweaty faces and the hubbub of “He do the police in different voices” sections, and begins to move us to the titular waste land that will be the stage on which that final confrontation with sadness will occur. Musically, I open this with an urgency as the battle is about to begin. And so, to hear my performance of the first part of “What the Thunder Said” from “The Waste Land” you may be able to use a player gadget below. If you don’t see the gadget, this highlighted hyperlink will alternatively play it.
Thank you for reading and listening. Over the rest of April, I plan on pressing on to the end of the poem, and to present as much other work here regarding the sister arts of poetry and music as I can. Click follow or come back, check out the other things here, and spread the word about this Project. Those of you who’ve done that are what keep this going.