Voicing: soprano and piano
duration: 10+ minutes
Minnesota poet Julia Klatt Singer lends her exceptional voice to these four songs in this cycle. In her poetry the word “kiss” is used in captivating and refreshing ways, and Hagen captures both the passion and the sensuality in these songs.
This song cycle is dedicated to its commissioners, with sincerest gratitude.
Carrie Henneman Shaw (Minnesota)
Niels Moes (the Netherlands)
Carol Monzell Mikkelsen, for soprano Caroline Hatchett (Georgia)
Mike Russell, for soprano Rachel Velarde (New Mexico)
Eileen Strempel & Sylvie Beaudette (New York)”
In the Dreamed of Places
At the end of the dock, the rowboat, tied,
a familiar rope, a simple knot, as easy to
loose as a kiss from my lips, as easy to sail
as the stars in this night sky.
In the dreamed of places, there is always you,
this boat of longing, the steady hum of a song
not yet written, a world, just beyond tomorrow.
In the dreamed of places we sleep,
our bodies fragrant and sweet. Once I was so poor,
I thought a butter and sugar sandwich was
decadence. Once I was so young I thought the
world only spoke in rhyme, spun like a record,
played the same song, over and over until
I knew my heart, knew by heart the map to love.
Trace a shadow onto skin, let night fall
dense and deep, like this dream we now begin.
How to Bone a Fish
My skin sensed you first. Felt the
ripple of air your body made,
walking. I swam toward you
down that hallway made of sunlight
and polished wood.
You are far enough away
that I can see you walking.
See how your shoe hits the floor firmly
yet lingers, sole to wood, before touching
I see how your hips tilt with each stride
how they carry you closer now
I follow the row of buttons on your shirt
(cream colored, four holes each)
to your throat. You are talking to a colleague.
You are talking about music. The importance
of the adagio. The slow movement
of things. I cannot look at your
lips. Your mouth. For I would want you
to devour me.
I would let you devour me.
Your eyes now. On me.
My bones, soft as a fish’s bones,
my flesh as sweet to eat.
Your Hands (El Corazon)
I will not talk about silence
how in the absence of sound
hollows are formed, small graves
to bury each thought, every desire.
I will not talk about the moon
how she curls up in the night sky
tugs at the oceans within me,
spills light upon darkened streets.
I will not talk about love, how
it is as clear & fragile
as dragonfly wings, that when it lands,
it leaves its mark, dusted in pollen.
Instead I will tell you
that it looks like it might snow,
and that when I smell smoke
I want to kiss your hands.
One More (Steer Towards Danger, He Says)
I think of cliffs to drive
over, horses I’ve tried to ride,
sailing at night in winds too strong
to hold our course, dogs
at the gate ears up and panting
eyes glassy and lit from within,
strays of any kind, that baby smell of newness &
endless possibility, infinite love,
men I was attracted to
for their long legs &
slow smiles, their teeth
white and gleaming behind
lopsided grins, the way
their jeans hung low on their hips,
how their elbows unhinged me.
I think about that moment when
a moth flies into the light,
a tree limb drops, the sound of it
tearing away, straining until
it gives way to the obvious.
One more step and I’m in
over my head, one more minute
and it’s pouring, one more kiss
and I’m not going home.
– all poems by Julia Klatt Singer
Minnesota poet Julia Klatt Singer lends her exceptional voice to these four songs in this cycle entitled Kiss. I noticed in reading through her poetry that the word “kiss” is used in captivating and refreshing ways. I wanted to explore the different ways she uses that word to depict diverse emotions. In three of the four poems, she uses the word directly, but in the second movement, “How To Bone a Fish,” I believe the word is beautifully implied, making the act of kissing even more delicious and achingly sensual.
Musically I was discovering that pulse became an important aspect in most of the songs. In the second movement specifically I recognized it as a metaphor to the singer’s heartbeat. The third movement, “Your Hands,” is devoid of a pulse, but instead focuses on long sustained lines, with the singer ascending and descending chromatically while the pianist plays modes in various colors of tonality, stepwise and in counterpoint to the vocal line. This is also the first time I’ve ended a song cycle with a proverbial bang. The syncopated melody and accompaniment veer towards danger and a passionate cry ends the cycle as the singer exclaims “one more kiss and I’m not going home.”
This cycle was commissioned by a consortium of singers, teachers and art song enthusiasts. In 2014 it will receive premieres in Georgia, New York, New Mexico, Minnesota and the Netherlands. Poems are taken from Julia Klatt Singers’ book entitled In the Dreamed of Places, published by Naissance Press in 2011.
– Jocelyn Hagen, (2014)