Each one of us, then, should speak of his roads, his crossroads, his roadside benches; each one of us should make a surveyor's map of his lost fields and meadows. Gaston Bachelard.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Jack Gilbert (1925-November 13, 2012)

Jack Gilbert was a poet unconcerned with academic achievement or structural perfection. He was a poet who wanted poems to matter. Poems that could change a reader's life. And they often did.
Jack Gilbert died today.


We find out the heart only by dismantling what
the heart knows. By redefining the morning,
we find a morning that comes just after darkness.
We can break through marriage into marriage.
By insisting on love we spoil it, get beyond
affection and wade mouth-deep into love,
We must unlearn the constellations to see the stars.
But going back toward childhood will not help.
The village is not better than Pittsburgh.
Only Pittsburgh is more than Pittsburgh.
Rome is better than Rome in the same way the sound
of raccoon tongues licking the inside walls
of the garbage tub is more than the stir
of them in the muck of the garbage. Love is not
enough. We die and are put into the earth forever.
We should insist while there is still time. We must
eat through the wildness of her sweet body already
in our bed to reach the body within that body.

-Jack Gilbert

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Talking with Ghosts

My husband and I joke that our newborn baby sees ghosts. We watch as he stares into dusty corners, opens his eyes wide, shakes his head and forms an OH of surprise with his lips. He loves watching the white curtains blow in the bedroom, the contrast of the shadows through the window beside his change table. 

When I look at him, when I hold him, I feel like I'm on a threshold. Like he has joined us from somewhere else, come to us from the other side. In him it seems possible to see worlds gone by, places I miss, people I've lost. I imagine a small group of these people gathered around his bassinet, talking to him, preparing him, protecting him. 

This is a recording my husband made of our son sleeping and talking with his ghosts. Photo also by Yana Kehrlein.

Welcome to this world, Ulysse Walter Pierre Kehrlein. We are very happy you're here. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Frasier's Violin

I am five years old when I announce that I will play the violin. Not the piano? My mother asks. She plays the piano, we have a piano. We don’t have much money, violins cost a lot. I wake up one morning and my mom, bleary eyed in the kitchen, presents me with a gift. She’s made a violin entirely out of cardboard. An exact replica. So I can hold it, she says, practice the movements, play silent music. But it was never silent, I could always hear it.
I am twelve and my grandpa gives me my first full sized violin. It comes in a ratty old case, belonged to a member of his church. I’ve thought about upgrading but by now we know each other so well. Where the dead notes are, the windfalls, the small corners, the spot where we sing.
I am thirty years old and I’m stuck in Montreal for immigration reasons. I don’t have my violin so my friend lends me his. It belonged to his friend before him. Frasier. Perhaps his grandpa gave it to him, I’ll never know. Frasier passed away far too young, left his violin. His parents gave it to my friend and my friend lent it to me. This piece is for Frasier. It was recorded on his violin.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Got to Have a Boa Boa

Sultry hand-drawn animation by Frances McKenzie. "Got to Have A Boa Boa," lyrics by Sonia Zagwyn, music written and performed by me. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Old Songs

Some albums, like old photographs kept in a wooden box or tucked away in a worn leather wallet, remind us not only of who we once were but of who we are. I recorded OLD SONGS six years ago in my hometown in British Columbia, Canada with a host of talented friends and family. I'm happy to finally share it with you. You can stream it, download it or order your own handmade copy of it here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling

I am in Las Vegas with Nettle performing at CES and I can't stop listening to this song. The melody, the quiet rhythm in the background, Tex Ritter's voice.
I regret not bringing my cowboy boots.