All posts by Kenyon Tarquinio

Humans of Etown: Arthur Gaudreau

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Introducing AJ…

Arthur Gaudreau (also known as AJ, ÀJ or The Almighty Gaudreau) is sophomore music therapy major at Elizabethtown College. His primary instrument is voice and he is a baritone.

Home life-

Anyone that knows AJ knows he’s from Maine. AJ hails from South Portland, Maine where he lives on Main street. He lives with his mother and two younger brothers, Noah and Benjamin, and his dog, Sadie.

Elizabethtown-

AJ found Elizabethtown through AMTA’s (American Music Therapy Association) list of approved college programs. He was looking for schools in Pennsylvania and Etown was one of the first on the alphabetized list. He’s not sure why he had such a fascination with Pennsylvania when picking colleges.

Music-

AJ started singing classical repertoire in 5th grade with choir, but began taking vocal lessons in high school. He likes to sing in German, specifically Schubert and Brahms. A lot of the pieces he sings were written in the Romantic era.

Music Therapy-

AJ enjoys the sense of community among the profession. The National AMTA Conference, which the department attends annually, introduced him to this community. It showed him that the profession was a very open, accepting, and a passionate field.

Currently, AJ hopes to work with children in the hospital setting, either a children’s hospital or pediatric care. He wants to use his personality as an entertainer and as a caregiver to be there for a child going through medical assistance.

Free time-

AJ is a member of Phalanx, where he enjoys taking a break from his classical repertoire. He will be an RA in Ober next year. When he’s not working, he enjoys getting to know others. He also likes to play video games and sleep when he can.

Humans of Etown: Ryan Sagedy

“Ok, now I know that you’ve grown up having two younger brothers, so how would you define brotherhood based off of those experiences?”

 

“I view myself as more of a role model for them. I’ve let them make their own mistakes throughout their entire lives simply because that’s how I think people should be raised. I think, in essence, brotherhood is loving each other no matter what your differences are and being accepting of differences even though you have the same blood relatives. Knowing that even if you don’t talk to them all the time, they’re always gonna be there for you and that you’re always gonna be there for them. And I’ve tried to not let me being a role model detract from that, but I think it’s, kind of, strengthened it a little bit, too. Which is good. And also just being able to be open and goofy with each other, that’s a really important part of *[brotherhood.]”

*camera cut off

Humans of Etown: Kevin Hughes

“I was told at the end of my junior year that I should try and apply for a Fulbright [Scholarship] and I was like, “Oh, that’s very exciting!” At the beginning of my senior year, I got in touch with Joel in the Office of Prestigious Scholarships and he helped me go in the direction I needed to to apply for the Fulbright…and there’s a lot to do the apply for the Fulbright, in a very short amount of time. I’m scrambling to get everything in by Oct. 27, I think was the deadline. After that, it was very much a hurry-up-and-wait process. I had all my information in. Joel said I had a very competitive application. I was very excited for it and I knew exactly what I wanted to do, where I wanted to do it, and all that.

 

And then I had to wait. I had to wait until March to hear whether or not I was a finalist, and I was. Eventually they were like, “Congratulations, you’ve moved up to the final round of determining things.” So that means the American committee had selected me, now the German committee has to select me. Then in late April, I found out I didn’t make the cut on the other side. It wasn’t as big of a deal as I thought it was because I can always apply again and I was selected from a pool of 10,000 applicants. So for me to have, at least, made it to the semi-finalist round must have meant something.”

Haiku and You: An Interview with Michelle Tennison

This article was originally supposed to be an opinion piece about the enforcement of the 5-7-5 syllable rule for haiku, but rather than creating drama, I decided to just publish this lovely interview with South Jersey poet, Michelle Tennison. Michelle is a friend of my father, who is also a published haiku poet.

 

The following interview occurred over email on April 14, 2017:

 

Dear Kenyon:

Below I have shared some answers to your questions. For the inquiry regarding how my poetry has changed over time I referenced my response to a similar question on The Haiku Foundation website.

 

Thank you for getting me thinking about haiku today. I enjoyed the exchange, and hope it was helpful to you and your project.

 

Warmly,

Michelle

 

 

How long have you been writing haiku?

I began the study and practice of haiku in the year 2000.

 

How has your poetry changed with time?

The writing itself has changed, as modern and contemporary Japanese haiku in translation and experimental haiku in English have broadened my scope of what haiku can be. In terms of technique, I am, as are many, experimenting with variations of the traditional form and language of haiku, including one-line and/or one image haiku. I am also increasingly comfortable with ambiguity, (even to the point of surrealism), and I have a greater appreciation of the role of symbolism in haiku. Perhaps most significantly, I have shifted away from the early haiku ideal of objective realism and many of my haiku are no longer written out-in-the field, so to speak. I have directed renewed attention toward inner landscapes of experience.  Many of my more recent haiku have developed directly or indirectly through heart-centered / consciousness-shifting avenues such as meditation and breath work and other practices that encourage non-ordinary, non-egoic (transpersonal) perception. Due in part to the work of Richard Gilbert, I now recognize haiku as poems of consciousness.

 

(With reference to Richard Gilbert’s recent books of haiku criticism and commentary, Poems of Consciousness, 2009, and The Disjunctive Dragonfly, 2013, both with Red Moon Press).

 

What’s your opinion about the “5-7-5” rule?

Interestingly, haiku in Japan are written in one vertical line.

 

Haiku in English have essentially done away with syllable counting. Brevity is the point here. 5/7/5 is an inaccurate representation of the Japanese form when it is being translated into English. The Japanese syllable is not actually a syllable as we think of it, but rather more of a “sound,” and English syllables can be measurably longer. In addition, the Japanese 5/7/5 tradition includes counting of linguistic devices that we do not have in English, such as kireji or “cutting words” and words that function in place of punctuation.  So, although it was helpful and perhaps necessary for those in the West to conceive of haiku in the 5/7/5 format when it was originally brought to us about 100 years ago, we now understand that this is at best a starting point for our introduction to what was at the time a very foreign and somewhat mysterious art form. Haiku in English, were we to compare stylistically to the Japanese, should be shorter than this. If there is need for a measuring stick, seventeen syllables or less as a rule, and more like 13 syllables or 9 English words.  I have found a helpful measure to be that of the length of single breath. This gives more of a sense of the spirit of haiku, which for me is primary and transcends any need to focus on syllables.

 

Should institutions enforce this format? (referring to 5-7-5)

Although this form plays an important role within a historical perspective, haiku in 5/7/5 style in English are rare today due the reasons stated above, as well as the fact that they tend to call attention to themselves in their verbosity. They often feel contrived or padded to fit the form. Haiku need to read naturally. This is a primary feature of the genre, and the early 5/7/5 conception tends to get in the way of that.

 

In the West, we often to need something to hold onto, and in that sense this form served a purpose in allowing us an entry point into an otherwise very esoteric and foreign style of poetry. Haiku now tend to be very organic to their subject matter, eschewing line or syllable rules in favor of authenticity and imagistic effect. Haiku in one line are quite common, and we see haiku in two lines, four, five, and more, all while adhering to the sense of brevity that is integral to the genre.

 

So, I would say that any enforcement of this 5/7/5 rule for haiku in English would be both incorrect and very limiting in respect to the multitude of styles and forms we now recognize as authentic haiku in English. Even a brief review of contemporary journals or anthologies will quickly illustrate this fact.

 

Finally, what does haiku mean to you personally?

I have come to believe, based on experience, that there are hidden dimensions of experience within this one and that haiku illuminate an animating spirit within the phenomenal world. We can experience glimpses of this potential when we shift perspective through modes such as meditation, sound work, breath work, anything that raises our frequency and shifts our intention and stance to heart-centeredness. It is possible to know a bit of this “Heaven” right here and now.

 

I believe haiku is a both a path and a destination regarding this other potential and that it allows us to reclaim some of the mystery and magic that was natural to us as children, and to reorient ourselves in the larger sphere of our existence, our home within the communicating, intelligent multiverse that exists just outside of ordinary consciousness.

 

What happens when we join the space of mind with the heart space, where love is primary, communion is possible and natural, where everything is communicating all the time? It is a space of joy. It is coming home. The attitudes of mind that encourage authentic haiku are the same that open the heart – love, empathy, compassion, non-judgment, grateful acceptance, humor.

 

When the heart is fully online it produces an electromagnetic field 5,000 times stronger than the brain’s and can be detected by sensitive scientific instruments up to 10 feet away.

 

The heart entrains with other electromagnetic fields it encounters, and there is a rapid exchange of information.

What people perceive when they live from the heart is quite different from what they perceive when they live in the head. In coherence, a whole new world opens, and things not normally perceived become commonplace . . . a rapid download of information between organisms happens naturally.

 

This is the doorway to who we are within a much larger context than we are normally accustomed to, and to who we likely have always been but have simply forgotten.

 

And it became clear to me over time that, along with those listed above, the singular attitude of heart that is most essential to haiku, and the one that is perhaps most difficult for individuals in the West to attain, is simply, and beautifully this: Humility.

 

Haiku, if done well, teaches humility. I don’t believe you can be a successful haiku poet without it, and you certainly can’t access the realms of the heart without it. Haiku requires a non-egoic perception of the ‘ordinary world’ to perceive its depth. The how of haiku, remembering our oneness, remembering our hearts, requires a stance of humility, and this is the stance that changes everything. There is a “breakthrough threshold” in haiku that occurs when we see the world as it is – not as we are – when suddenly we’re are not experiencing our preconceptions or projections but are becoming informed by the inherent wisdom of what we are observing. Nature is making this offering always. The first step is recognizing that there is something there worth seeing, worth listening to. We must adjust our stance to that of at least an equal with our subject, and most ideally to that of student. A student of the pine tree. A student of the marshes, or the valleys, or the blackberry bush. Haiku that are deeply resonant and successful begin with humility, the open stance of receptivity and all it teaches. It seems to me that this is one of the most essential gifts that we as a species can aspire to – and the one that holds most promise for healing the rift between ourselves and the environment. In this sense, haiku is a source of great hope.

 

(Note: The above passages in italics are taken from the magazine article The Heart as an Organ of Perception, by Stephen Harrod Buhner, in the March/April 2006 issue of Spirituality and Health

Balance & Composure’s Third Album Brings Something New (but Not Necessarily Enjoyable for Their Old Fans) To the Table

I’ll admit it. I was a late bloomer to my “emo phase.” I don’t think I’m entirely over it yet.

Bands like Manchester Orchestra and Brand New still haunt my Spotify playlists. A notable band from my emo-childhood is Balance & Composure. Having all of a band’s records on vinyl keeps me listening to them. Recently, their second album, “The Things We Think We’re Missing,” has been spinning nonstop. This rekindled relationship led me to check out their newest effort, “Light We Made,” which was released in 2016.

Forming in 2007, Balance & Composure started to garner success in 2013 when “The Things We Think We’re Missing” reached 51 on the Billboard 200 and 10 on the Independent Albums chart. The band, who hail from Doylestown, Pennsylvania, have had a consistent alternative rock sound since their conception. It only makes sense that the band would branch out on their newest release. I would liken “Light We Made’s” sound to shoegaze… now I just wish I liked it.

The first song “Midnight Zone” sets the tone for the whole album. Starting off with a lilting fuzz loop, I was immediately turned off by the mixing of the vocals. Throughout the rest of the album, the vocalist will go on these incomprehensible rants. (I would’ve missed half the lyrics if I didn’t have them open in another tab while reviewing this.) When the vocalist’s voice was brought back to the center of the song, I was pleasantly surprised to hear him trying falsetto.

“Midnight Zone” features repetitive lyrics of a confusing relationship. This was new to me. Their older songs moved through well-crafted scenes of remorse and selfishness, rarely following the verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus structure. With that in mind, there seems to be a new lyrical theme of looking beyond oneself and allusions to “Separation” with lyrics about flowers in songs like “Mediocre Love” and “Loam.”

“Spinning” continued to push me away from the computer with the distant vocal effect, but had remnants of their old music buried within it. I liked the sonar effect that can be first heard on this track and is used on other songs like “For A Walk.”

“Afterparty” is the standard Balance & Composure song. If I was introducing a friend to this artist, I would share this song with them. It featured loud guitars, though I felt like I’ve heard four songs of theirs with the same guitar part. This song also marked the first time I could hear the bass in the album. It was not nearly as interesting or as prominent as old tracks like “Stonehands” and “Quake.” On the next track, “For a Walk,” the bass suddenly becomes too loud after only being subtly introduced in the previous. I audibly exclaimed, “Hell that’s a fuzz bass!” when the song began. It scared me a bit to be honest.

There are consistent lyrical themes of sex and death juxtaposed. Death is used only as analogy for ending the problems within a relationship or ending the relationship itself. For example, “For a Walk” features lines like “Undress me, the lights low. I’m dying in your bedroom.” “Mediocre Love” does the same: “Underneath your linen fabric, lay yourself to rest.”

“Postcard” was the only single I listened to before I fully-immersed myself in this album. I first heard it when they posted a music video for the song. While the music video is a good combination of sound and visuals, the music alone has little to offer. The beat is impossible not to dance to, but I feel as though this song (as well as the whole album) was made with the intention of being background noise. Something you would only put on against the backdrop of a noisy house-party or ignore as you write a research paper.

I adore listening to music and up until “Light We Made,” Balance & Composure used to make that kind of music. I’m nostalgic for the stories of regret and self-pity and how well they used to display raw human emotions in their lyrics. I miss the loud instruments and grunge vocals of years past. If Balance & Composure doesn’t want to make alt rock music anymore and move forward with their sound, I’ll respect it. I just can’t guarantee that I’ll enjoy it as much.

All in all, I would say I didn’t mind checking out “Light We Made,” it just might be a while before I check it out again. Songs that I enjoyed the most are “Afterparty” and “Fame.” On a scale of one to 10, this album gets a strong 3/10, maybe leaning towards a low four. If this review in any way encouraged you to check out “Light We Made” or any of Balance & Composure’s other music, you can find them on iTunes or streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify.