Today I am delighted to have talented children’s writer and poet B.J. Lee as my guest blogger. I met B.J. through the Poets’ Garage and we share a love for poetry. I also recently learned that, not surprisingly, she has a passion for music as well. Take it away, B.J.!
I grew up with many interests, but my main interests were music and the English language. And even though I eventually chose literature (and writing poetry) over music, music took me far. Because of 14 years of piano lessons, I was able to teach piano to help pay my way through college. After graduate school, where I studied Library and Information Science, I was able to land a job as Music Librarian at The Boston Conservatory.
It was at the Conservatory where I became friends with a composer. When I listened to him talk about composing, he could have been talking about writing poetry, or any kind of writing for that matter. Composers use musical notation while poets use words and meter to notate their music and poetry, respectively.
Since writing music, then, is similar to writing poetry, I wondered what else music and poetry might have in common. Here is what I discovered:
Musicians use time signatures to divide their music into measures consisting of beats and rests.
Poets use poetic ‘feet’ to measure out their poetry.
Such forms as the ballade and the rondeau were first musical forms which later became poetic forms.
Blues is a form used by both musicians and poets with essentially the same parameters. Blues poems (and music) are often about struggle, but also filled with determination to overcome difficulty.
Here’s an example of a blues poem by Langston Hughes. This poem could just as easily be the lyrics for a blues song.
Gregorian Chant is another very good example of the music/poetry connection. In Gregorian Chant, melody and rhythm actually imitate the length and inflections of the words themselves.
I’ll always be appreciative for my upbringing, rich in music and English literature for it has made me the poet I am today. And if I lean a little heavily toward metrics as one of my favorite aspects of poetry, I understand why.
B.J. lives in Florida with her husband, poet Malcolm Deeley, and toy poodles, JoJo and Clementine. She primarily writes poetry, although she also has a YA manuscript work-in-progress. She has over 50 poems and stories published in anthologies such as CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: THINK POSITIVE FOR KIDS, and magazines such as Highlights for Children. B.J. has a M.S. in Library and Information Science from Simmons College. For more on BJ and her poetry check out her blog and website. She also recently had a poem published in HIGHLIGHTS FOR CHILDREN which is up on their website.