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 JOHN WOODSWORTH
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Poetry & piano
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(page updated 25 April 2012)
now in mp3 files
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improvise ['impra,vaIz] v.tr.1  compose or peform (music, etc.) extempore

extempore [Ik'stemparI]adj. & adv.  1 without preparation  2 offhand
[Latin ex tempore on the spur of the moment]
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How poetry and piano came together 

OTTAWA  ICONOGRAPHER & POET, Miroslava Linda Sabbath (currently President of the Sacred Arts Council of Canada), one day approached JW, looking for someone to compose music to go with her poetry on sacred themes.  JW proposed not composing, but improvising new musical creations to correspond with her poems.  The offer was accepted.

Each of the twenty poems provided by Ms Sabbath was placed in turn on the piano.  As JW read the poem silently, music flowed through his fingers and onto the keyboard for a corresponding length of time, and duly recorded on cassette tape (the only recording medium he had access to at the time).  He subsequently recorded a reading of each poem, mixing it with the music track.

When Ms Sabbath heard the combined result, she was surprised to discover aspects of her poems that had hitherto eluded her notice.  Similarly, the piano combined with the poems proved a fresh revelation for the pianist.  Indeed, it appears, in this case at least, that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. 

Miroslava Linda Sabbath is an Ottawa iconographer, lay theologian, art teacher and poet, as well as president of the Sacred Arts Council of Canada.  The following poems are from her collection Detour to Paradise,  published (informally) earlier in 2002 by Sasquatch Writers Performance Series.  For samples of Ms Sabbath's icon painting, please click here.

Two of JW's favourite Miroslava Sabbath poem-piano combinations are included below as mp3 sound-files.  For a text version of these poems please click here.

JW later decided to try a similar combination with two poems written by his wife, Susan Keyes Woodsworth, this time with already recorded improvisations which seemed to be a perfect complement to the poem.  One of them, "The Universe, dance and me -- continuing", combined with JW's improvisation "Thought crevices #3", is given below in two variant recordings: (a) the original poem in English; (b) John Woodsworth's Russian translation.  For the text of the poem please click here.

Enquiries from established producers/distributors are welcome.
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EXAMPLES OF POETRY & PIANO COMBINATIONS
(click on underlined titles to hear in mp3 format)

NOW in mp3

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by Miroslava Linda Sabbath

Nostalgia for Paradise (1:05 / 1.3 megs)

Maniwaki Magnificat (1:51 / 2.2 megs)
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by Susan Keyes Woodsworth

The Universe, dance & me -- continuing

Original in English (2:30 / 3 megs)

in JW's Russian translation (2:30 / 3 megs)
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 For  more examples of JW's piano improvisations
please click here
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"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you... 
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

-- John 14:27
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E-mail : <jw[at ]kanadacha.ca>
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