Commentaries - November 2012

Notley's 'In the Pines' set to music, and performed

Andrew Whiteman (Broken Social Scene, Apostle of Hustle) and Ariel Engle (Land of Kush) have formed a new group, called AroarA.  Andrew has long been a PoemTalk listener and serious user of PennSound recordings. He visited Kelly Writers House a few years ago, while in Philadelphia on tour — came by to meet us and get a feel for the actual place. A few weeks ago, Andrew returned to KWH with Ariel and performed songs from In The Pines by Alice Notley. They use all fourteen poems from Alice’s book and convert them (back) into faux folk song forms. Each poem became its own song.

In a 2011 interview (given in Miami),Whiteman was asked about the book of poetry he's been writing (how far along was he?), and here was his answer:

Not far. Broken Social Scene is still working a lot. Plus, I have a new band (hopefully playing on the 30th) called AroarA with Ariel Engle — she sings in Montreal with a band called Land of Kush. We are singing the poetry of Alice Notley's In the Pines in a bizarrely concocted version of faux folk. But I do keep working away at it, so hopefully it'll be online by the end of the year. It's called Tourism and its about being on the road. I might read a couple of things.

Celebrating Marjorie Perloff

On November 10, 2012, there was a celebration at the Kelly Writers House in honor of Marjorie Perloff's induction into the American Philosophical Society. We timed the publication of a major Jacket2 feature on Perloff's life and work to coincide with the induction and the party. Here are a few photos taken that evening.


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Emotional deficit strikes Singapore

'Fun City' it ain't, survey claims

Singapore, November 2012, photo (c) John Tranter
Singapore, November 2012, photo (c) John Tranter

More about Singapore in South-east Asia, where I recently enjoyed the 2012 Singapore Writers Festival:

Thanks to Singapore’s strength in finance, pharmaceuticals, electronics, and other industries, its economy almost doubled in 10 years, making the country of 5.3 million people one of the world’s wealthiest, with per-capita gross domestic product of $33,530.

Fun City it ain’t. U.S. pollster Gallup conducts surveys in more than 140 countries to compare how people feel about their lives. Singapore ranks as the most emotionless society in the world, beating out Georgia, Lithuania, and Russia. Singaporeans are unlikely to report feelings of anger, physical pain, or other negative emotions. They’re not laughing a lot, either. “If you measure Singapore by the traditional indicators, they look like one of the best-run countries in the world,” says Jon Clifton, a Gallup partner in Washington. “But if you look at everything that makes life worth living, they’re not doing so well.” [from Bloomberg Businessweek]