Not so long ago, the composer Roger Briggs was inspired by the Montana poet Patricia Goedicke’s poem titled The People Gathering Together. His original composition, along with a few others, will be performed Sunday, April 3 at 3 pm in the Performing Arts Center (WWU). The concert is free to the public.
Roger asked me to design a poster for the event, and I was happy to do that, and made a watercolor painting inspired by the poem and the idea of music. I received permission from the University of Massachusetts Press, which published Goedicke’s book Crossing the Same River in 1980, to create a broadside of her poem, which uses the artwork I made for the poster. The poetry broadsides will be available, in an archival edition, for purchase at the concert.
The poem, like Roger’s music, is beautiful. You can hear Roger’s work this Sunday, and the poem will be read there by my favorite poet: James Bertolino. I’ve copied the poem (below), which I hope you’ll read out loud. Take it slow. It sounds best that way. And then take another look at the poster (above) and ekphrasitcally imagine that the poem is on the poster instead of the other information. That’s what the broadside looks like.
Foremost, if you intend to be anywhere near Bellingham this Sunday, I hope you’ll plan to take in this concert of remarkable music.
The People Gathering Together
For all over the earth I can see them,
In every city and town
The people gathering together,
Sailing the dark waters
In great glowing patches of brightness,
Islands of floating flowers.
Once a week they swing
And dip and bend together,
Garlands of party-going faces
Wallowing in the troughs
Or high up on the crests
Refusing to think about the feet
Dangling beneath them,
The long wavering roots
Loose now, forever
They are as dazzlingly brave
And brilliant as coats of arms,
All week they work hard,
Each in the boat of himself commands
As much of the ocean as he can
So that thinking of it I could weep,
For now none of us knows where he is going
Any more than he ever did,
There are these huge distances between us,
Over the blank, heaving waves,
The vast trenches of the sea
Therefore we stick to the surface,
Floating along like huge colonies of water lilies
Whether it is Paris or London
Or a primitive tribe in New Zealand
All over the earth we keep coming together,
We keep giving each other these parties,
These heartbreakingly beautiful parties.
from Crossing the Same River
University of Massachusetts Press, 1980