Poetry

Charles Leggett: Pergolesi/Mayfield–“Live!”

In Contest, Finalists - 2011, Poetry on November 17, 2011 at 7:23 pm

 

Charles Leggett is a professional actor and voice-over artist based in Seattle.  His poetry has been published in Measure: A Review of Formal Poetry, the Rio Grande Review and Liquid Imagination, among others, and is forthcoming in The Lyric and Ellipsis…Literature and Art.  His long poem “Premature Tombeau for John Ashbery” is an e-chapbook in the Barnwood Press “Great Find” series, and his villanelle “Lost Love Blues,” published in Kansas City Voices this past October (2011), has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Other projects  include a play, The River’s Invitation, most recently featured in Seattle’s first annual Solo Performance Festival, “SPF 1: No Protection!” in March 2007.  He also spent three years as lyricist/front-man for the Seattle blues band Uncle Ed’s Molasses Jam.  In audiobook recordings he has voiced both Edgar Allan Poe, a major character in Louis Bayard’s detective novel, The Pale Blue Eye (he also played Poe in Amy Freed’s one-act, Claustrophilia), and Walt Whitman, in Kurt Andersen’s historical novel, HeyDay.
My chief aim in all this is simply to take part in the conversation.  The poem presented here notwithstanding, the lion’s share of my reading (outside of contemporary journals) and writing deals in formal rhyme and meter, which earns me a place in an admittedly sometimes freakish minority–over all which I shall hold off bloviating until I get to the bar.” – Charles Leggett

Twitter Handle: N/A

Know the Poet:

GSLR: Favorite Poet(s) –
James Merrill.

GSLR: The last book of poetry you enjoyed –
I enjoyed: Wallace Stevens’ The Collected Poems.  Had it in my dressing room at the 5th Avenue Theatre–he’s great for warming up.  And, since the play was a biographical musical about the Jazz Age Pentecostal evangelical preacher Aimee Semple McPherson, I took a particular mischievous relish in “Sunday Morning.”

GSLR: Themes you usually write about –
My favored theme seems to be art and art forms, and their uses in human life–particularly music, and particularly as regards the relationship of art and its forms to, and its uses as a means of coping with, suffering.

GSLR: If you didn’t write poetry you would –
If I didn’t write poetry: I would cast about for a vocation as rich, and likely fail to find it.

GSLR: 2 poems you enjoyed reading in GSLR –
Nick DePascal’s “Letter to a Sick Friend” and Frank William Finney’s “Delugions.”

 

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PERGOLESI/MAYFIELD—“LIVE!” – Charles Leggett

Magnificat; assemblage of high school choirs
and orchestras, Lodi, CA, late 1970’s

“Medley:  My Bottle is my Companion / The
                         Highway is Like a Woman”; recorded April 4,
1983 at Uncle Charlie’s in Corte Madera, CA;
released by Winner in 1992

 

Sitting on my stool straining
to dance with a rented string
bass at eight o’clock
on a Wednesday in a church;

Percy plunks four keys—three octaves—
and laughs, a hoarse chuckle.
Fondles and dips
into molasses.  Now this

faced into the orchestra
far stage right, so
the two hundred fifty
seventeen year-olds—

           is blues, he croons; tangles
to a seventh, and the chest
caves in as his boys
slide into the mud.

all those voices
hollering and cooing in
the nubile holiday—
are to my left.

His boys move slow but sound
impatient: the brushes, thwack;
the stand-up, bony;
the hollow-body, soaked
in a mild Lethe of reverb;
the keyboards, a helpless narration.

Our conductor is bald,
my calluses have burst
and people cough,
but how the faces glow.

 

Charles Legget’s Pergolesi/Mayfield–“Live!” is the Golden Sparrow Poetry Prize 2011 Finalist.

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