Responding to Billie Holiday:
I’m at my desk allowing moments between conscious thought to become immersed in the voice of Billie Holiday… ‘Strange Fruit’ ‘Good Morning Heartache’ ‘God Bless the Child’ ‘No Regrets’
Her voice is consistently her own: delicate, thin skinned, complex, beautiful, earth and gravel, mist and warmth. I close my eyes, breathe the pain and the regrets; breathe-in the obsessive, addictive idealist that she must have been…the music lingers and opens, intensifies and just as the mythology around her life, the re-mastered tracks of her voice and the huge stack of negatives tip the scales, I understand she greeted each day new and learned how to survive.
In my response to Billie Holiday for Stirred Poetry I became part of that eloquence of being and allowed the music, the lyrics and the scores of articles about her life to carry me forward to a place where I could hold the moment, mould it inside my mouth, capture the sounds with pen and paper and draw poetic ghosts around an artist who understood that love was freedom; an artist whose experience of love and freedom was too limited and confused to make her complete:
‘Good morning heartache
You old gloomy sight
Good morning heartache
Thought we said goodbye last night
I turned and tossed until it seems you were gone
But here you are with the dawn.’
Still here eyeing this moment waiting
An ache too deep to excavate familiar but not fully known.
I push my finger along last night’s line – the chalky white-out of orgasm
The bed an unformed reminder
And your passion buried within sheets
I look forward to presenting the rest of this response to Lady Day on 28th September at 3MT. I’m looking forward to hearing the responses of other writers – see you there.
Stirred Poetry is running two creative writing workshops responding to Billie Holiday:
Stirred: summertime and the living is easy
Poetry Workshop at Chapter One Books
19 Lever Street, Northern Quarter, M1 1BY
5pm-7pm £1/2 Donation
Stirred: Good morning, heartache
Poetry Workshop at Kim by the Sea
49 Old Birley St, Hulme M15 5RF
5pm-7pm £1/2 Donation
And our performance night is at 3MT on Monday 28th September! Be great to see you there. You can sign up for an open mic slot by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Guidelines here.