A few weeks ago, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop hosted a night of poetry and music at the beautiful Church of the Covenant for our first CWW Presents event in Boston, MA. The Church of the Covenant offer a massive yet warm and welcoming space to all who enter. We sat in the pews amongst others gathered to appreciate art in all its forms and listened to the art of Audrey Harrer, Janaka Stucky , and Fawn.
The night was opened with Audrey Harrer, a composer, harpist, and vocalist who bridge the gap between traditional music and new technology to create haunting melodies that linger with you long after the notes have dissipated into the air. As she plays on the harp or sings during her performance, Audrey records the melodies and melds them into her work, creating harmonies and dissonances that create music that fills the space of a cathedral.
As Audrey left the stage, Janaka Stucky stood before us. Janaka is an American poet, the founding editor of Black Ocean, and the poetry journal Handsome. He opened his performance with poetry that both commanded the attention of his audience, but turned to soft intimacy that knocked the wind out of the audience with each new poem. He talked to the audience almost conversationally at one point, and we laughed for a moment, unknowing that a conversation about mechanics would turn to poetry of an army of insects made out of his own body. His performance that evoked imagery that was both unnerving yet so personal reached into a part of people that we are almost afraid of acknowledging, the mortality of our bodies but the permanence of what we leave behind.
The final performance of the night was by the light, melodious strings and vocals of the group Fawn, led by Anne Malin Ringwalt and Will Johnson, who released their debut EP Neither Dog Nor Car in the November of 2016. Their music, a balance struck between the strings of ukulele, banjo, and guitar is so carefully struck with synth it is seamless, yet symbiotic in its need for the other. One song performed was a version of Amazing Grace whose lyrics had been changed to a version the created a connection with the air in our lungs and its connection with the world we inhabit that nearly brought me to tears. It is the nature of their music’s composition and lyrics that brings light into turmoil and releases the tension that comes with the passage of time.
Voice is the oldest way to tell our stories, words and sounds passed down from generation to generation that linger long in memory. We are so grateful to these artists for sharing their voices and music with us, and the Church of the Covenant for giving us such a beautiful welcoming space to share the art of music with the city of Boston.
Our next CWW Presents evening will take place on Friday May 5, 2017 at the Democracy Center and will feature poetry, fiction, and music performances by Elizabeth Devlin, Diana Norma Szokolyai, Erini Katopodis, and Rita Banerjee! Stay tuned for more information on our upcoming CWW Presents evening in Cambridge, MA!
Photos by Yasmina Hilal
Shannon O. Sawyer
CWW Media Development Intern