Burlington Discover Jazz Fest, 17 Syllables at a Time | Live Culture
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Monday, June 3, 2013

Burlington Discover Jazz Fest, 17 Syllables at a Time

Posted By on Mon, Jun 3, 2013 at 4:18 PM


Many of you probably already knew that Reuben Jackson, host of Vermont Public Radio's "Friday Night Jazz" program, is not only a jazz geek; he's a poet. And if you don't know, writing poetry is hard. Writing really short poetry is even harder.

That's why I'm getting a kick out of Jackson's haiku coverage of the concerts he's seeing during the jazz festival.

Remember haiku from high school English class? Seventeen syllables. A spare and elegant description of ... whatever. Japanese poets of yore generally focused on nature, and somehow managed to say something deep.

Jackson is more concerned with conveying the moment. Despite being under the weather, he gamely went to see Bobby McFerrin at the Flynn Center on Saturday night. He writes on a VPR blog

What would the stern but loving church-going elders of my Georgia and Washington, D.C., youth have thought of Bobby Mc Ferrin's tender, swinging (and kaleidoscopic) performance of spirituals?

Not even a formidable head cold would prevent me from finding out. 

McFerrin's show focused on his new album, spirityouall (see Dan Bolles' interview with McFerrin about it here). After listening, Jackson came up with this:

I could feel the sand
In my brand new Sunday shoes
On rural back roads.

His vocals conjured
Blues dark as country evenings-
Whispered falsettos.

The ensemble swung -
Transported us beyond the
Humid world outside.

Walking up Church Street-
Concertgoers sang bits of
Mc Ferrin's magic.

If they'd sold his charm
At the Flynn's concession stands-
I'd have bought a case.

I hope Jackson doesn't mind that I've shared his verses, and his own charm, here. You can keep up with him at the VPR website. Keep the poetry, and the jazz, coming, Reuben!

Photo courtesy of VPR.

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About The Author

Pamela Polston

Pamela Polston

Pamela Polston is the cofounder, coeditor and associate publisher of Seven Days. In 2015, she was inducted into the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame.

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