Music of the
Ink Dark Moon:
An Evening of
Music and Poetry
Improvising flutist Linda Chase from New England Conservatory's Contemporary Improvisation faculty joins Jane Hirshfield, award-winning poet and translator of classical Japanese poetry, for this collaborative evening.
Hirshfield will read her own poetry and translations of love poems by women of the ancient court of Japan. Chase and other NEC faculty members and students will perform new music written for Hirshfield's recent poems and new improvisations of music and poetry.
This collaboration came about after Chase returned from a Japan Foundation fellowship-sponsored visit to Japan, where she sought understanding of how elements of Buddhism and reverence for nature are reflected in music and the arts such as shakuhachi (flute), chado (tea ceremony), ikebana (flowers) and haiku and tanka poetry.
Chase happened to be 100 miles north of Tokyo on March 11, 2011 during the Great East Japan Earthquake. Carrying the book Ink Dark Moon, Jane Hirshfield's and Mariko Aratani's translations of poetry by medieval "immortals" Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, these poems became central to her life and the healing process.
After writing the story of this experience in Japan, she sent it to Jane, who had astonishingly just gotten back from Japan a few weeks before the earthquake, and whose own encounters with traditional Japanese culture include eight years as a full-time student of Zen Buddhism, three of them in a monastery in silence.
More and more I have come to admire resilience.
Not the simple resistance of a pillow, whose foam
returns over and over to the same shape, but the sinuous
tenacity of a tree: finding the light newly blocked on one side,
it turns in another. A blind intelligence, true.
But out of such persistence arose turtles, rivers,
mitochondria, figs—all this resinous, unretractable earth.
Poems and songs performed tonight include:
Jasper, Feldspar, Quartzite
Hope and Love
Lake and Maple
Three Times My Life Has Opened
The Tongue Says Loneliness
Building and Earthquake
Seems Only Yesterday
Illustration: Ono no Komachi washing the book during the poetry competition (1859) by Utagawa Kunisada