Our next meeting: Sunday, April 28

Our last open session of the Spring 2013 semester will be
Sunday, April 28;  2-3:30 PM;
in the SDS Room of the Mattin Center on the JHU campus, in Baltimore.


We will record poems, with live improvised music, on an as-yet-unspecified, mysterious theme. Perhaps something about the bitterness of endings, and the promise of return.

Sunday, April 7: Twisted Spring

Spring! Spring! Spring! Spring…spring is upon us; and with spring, its incumbent regrets. All those birds, and all those flowers–depressing, disturbing. Unsettling. Deeply unsettling. As Robert Herrick once said, of daffodils, ” We die / As your hours do, and dry / Away…”

Ten poems of the Twisted Spring:

Frightening, these daffodils. Frightening.

Frightening, these daffodils. Frightening.

We met to record poems related to this subject, the Twisted Spring,
on Sunday, April 7th, 2-3:30 PM, in the SDS Room in Mattin Center on the JHU campus. Sound files from this session can be found here on SoundCloud.

“Sun, leprous flowers, foul child. The asphalt burns.
The garrulous sparrows perch on metal Burns.
Sing! Sing! they say, and flutter with their wings.”

– John Gray, “Poem”

Poems included the following works of Gray, Herrick, Millay, Thomson, & Clare…& Nashe, & Shakespeare:

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Pictures from To Die in Athens reading in Łódź


This is the choir teaching the audience a few choruses from the show, in the gallery next to the theater, right before the performance. Picture by photographer Rami Shaya. More pictures will be posted here as soon as they are uploaded.


Improvising choristers and Parallel Octavians of the global variety are invited to join us this Wednesday, March 27 at Fabryka Sztuki in Łódź, for a new version of TO DIE IN ATHENS, the show we presented at the Homewood House Museum in Baltimore in July. Now with 100% more Polish!


Poetry Out Loud this Saturday

Parallel Octave will perform as a guest act
at the Maryland state finals of the Poetry Out Loud competition
on this Saturday, March 9th
at the Baltimore Museum of Art,
at the Meyerhoff Auditorium.

2012 winners and finalists from the Poetry Out Loud competition.

2012 winners and finalists from the Poetry Out Loud competition.

We’ll be drawing on ParOct favorites for this event:
we will read Wallace Stevens‘s “The Emperor of Ice-Cream” at 1:30 PM,
and Gertrude Stein‘s “Stanzas in Meditation,” with audience participation, at 3:00 PM.

Followed by free food for all, performers and audience, at Gertrude’s!

From the Poetry Out Loud website:

Please join us at the Maryland Poetry Out Loud State Finals, March 9, 2013, 1:00 pm, at the Baltimore Museum of Art’s Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Auditorium. The competition will be hosted by Aaron Henkin, host of WYPR’s weekly arts and culture radio magazine, The Signal, with performances by Emmy-nominated singer/songwriter ellen cherry and Baltimore-based improvising chorus, Parallel Octave.

The event is free and open to the public.

Sunday, March 3rd: Tercets N’ Dregs, from Ernest Dowson to Robert Graves

“But I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, all the time, because the dance was long:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.”

– Ernest Dowson

We will meet
on Sunday, March 3rd
in JHU’s Mattin Center, in the SDS room
from 2-3:30 pm
to record poems
with live improvised music
upon the theme of Tercets N’ Dregs.

I have been faithful to thee, Ernest Dowson, in my fashion.

I have been faithful to thee, Ernest Dowson, in my fashion.

In keeping with this session being on 3/3/13, we have chosen to focus on the triplicative, triangular, three-sided tercet–a three-line stanza. (The one we have shown you above is actually half of a six-line stanza, but, you know…who’s counting…not us.)

In keeping with the dreaded month of February finally being over, we have taken Ernest Dowson’s poem “Dregs” as the second half of our theme, and also sampled some poetry from him, Robert Graves, and others, that relates to things having dragged on longer than they should.

Those things might be relationships, life, human existence, Phil Jackson’s coaching career, or somebody or other’s long, long poem in tercets (ahem, Wallace Stevens, ahem).

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Our next meeting: Sunday, February 17: Love, Cruel Love

We regret to inform you that the “Love, Cruel Love” session has been cancelled. Perhaps it should have been called “Love, Inconstant and Fickle, Unpredictable, Swerving Love.” We will save our selected poems, archived below, on the woes of love for next year’s February. That’ll be 2/14 in 2014–time to complain, if ever there was a time to complain, about the divagations of Aphrodite.

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