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This review is taken from PN Review 250, Volume 46 Number 2, November - December 2019.

Cover of Kalimba
Anthony BarnettPoem Setting
Kalimba, Petero Kalulé (Guillemot) £10
Petero Kalulé’s poem ‘Transcribing Noise’, in three parts, Compression, Amplitude, Rarefaction, opens: ‘listening presents itself as an everyday maintenance, twigwork’. I have a bee in my tree, my bonnet, a bee both calm and noisy, which is that composition lies at the heart of poetry while improvisation lies at the heart of music. That’s rather simply and easily put and it leaves out a good deal of probably required explication but somehow I think Petero Kalulé might agree. I have written about this working theory of mine elsewhere so I won’t labour the point again, except to say that I once toured with Douglas Oliver and his Diagram Poems, and musicians including Evan Parker, as Composed Poetry and Improvised Music. I was both: musically the percussionist. No, in no way was it that thing called poetry & jazz. I’ve touched critically on that too – with a little history about a different thing, the setting of poetry to music – in my monograph on Nancy Cunard’s consort, Listening for Henry Crowder, and in ‘True Musicians’, which is an essay about the New York Art Quartet and Amira Baraka in Antonyms Anew: Barbs & Loves, as well as in a 1990s interview with D. S. Marriott, scion, in my book, of Aimé Césaire. Poetry & jazz, along with poetic offerings by jazz musicians, some of them truly great musicians: forget it, most of it. Agree or not, one could not do better than to look at many of the poems in Renate da Rin’s anthology Silent Solos: Improvisers Speak, from her unprepossessingly named Buddy’s Knife Jazzedition.

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