When It Shatters Into a River: New Music by Playgrounds for the Poor

Official artwork © Playgrounds for the Poor

I’m pleased to share the release of the new single “When It Shatters Into a River…” by the Portland project Playgrounds for the Poor. Experimental musician and visionary front-man Ty Cobb has once again used remixed poetry from the frequency of whispers as the perfect accompaniment to his edgy, ambient sound. The way he mashes verse from various poems across the book into a perfect chemistry leaves me with the feeling that  my poems themselves were merely holding places for “poetic bytes” that a mind like Ty’s could orchestrate into beautiful, brief power verses.

Ty himself categorizes this one as “Electro Trip Hop,” so if you’re looking for something light and melodic you better flip back to your Top 40 station on Pandora. If you’re ready to challenge your musical sensibilities a bit and delve into something dark and meditative, but at the same time inspiring, do yourself the favor of listening through.

Explore Ty’s emerging musical project Playgrounds for the Poor and keep an eye out for more releases at his main site.

NOTE: You can comment on specific moments in the track by clicking on it. Let Ty know what moments really trip you out.

Complete Lyrics:

“When it shatters into a river, I make an exception. ‘The roof of the world is for the patient ones. Hermits and Rivers.’ For those who know the secret places to harvest.”

The Saint and the Slug: A Voki Experiment in Poetry

So I’ve been ramping up a project for my gifted students to use Voki to virtually “perform” some original riddles and the thought struck me…for us introverted poets not likely to be the first to grab an open mic and belt our hot verse to the eagerly assembled masses, might this also be a nice shortcut to get poetry to the ears of a 21st century audience?

We know poetry readership isn’t exactly about to reach historical highs, but what if it came through the voice and performance of an alter ego/avatar? Would it become more accessible? Enjoyable?

Here’s my first experiment. I’ll be the first to admit there are a few awkward moments in the voicing–turns of phrase in which “Paul’s” (Voki provides a menu of male and female voices) robotronic origins betray him. Overall, however, I do think it’s fun.

Without further ado, here’s “Paul” performing my poem, The Saint and the Slug. Full poem included below just in case you don’t catch everything during the enrapturing live performance.

[You can click HERE to view if above link doesn’t work.]

The Saint and the Slug

by Ben Koch

some days you’re practically a saint,

the light from each incandescent bulb

reflecting off the diamonds in your smile

to evaporate the miseries

of every lost dog

or demon.

others you’re like a slug

pulling a chariot

of fat men hurling insults

and cups of piss

in your path.

either way, here’s a secret

the humming echoes of mind

have been whispering

all along—

rest in the Awareness

that sees

the saint and the slug,

’til the transparent seer

is a playground of boundless space-bliss.

Henshin: A Graphic Novel of Transformation by Steve Colloff

Click on the cover page below to view Henshin in gallery format.

Tip: To better see the text, use the Zoom feature of your browser once the gallery is open.

A statement by author/artist Steve Colloff:

Ever since I was young I appreciated things that other people did not seem to.

Looking at a dusty dirt track or watching the shadow of a tree swaying gracefully against a plain brick wall. The sun on an airplanes jet stream would capture my attention or clouds drifting on a full moon night.

Sometimes things seem to shimmer with an unearthly quality that draws me in. This is a mistake – these are scenes of absolute earthliness. This is how the world really is. Not bills nor shops, not work nor television. Not any of the false shell which is accepted as our existence. This is emptiness, not verification of self. It makes one forget oneself.

But moments of natural beauty are glimpses of the heartland. Meditation helps us see this for it is everything, everywhere.

The world within is as infinite as the external world. We cannot capture the inner world on film so we become the camera, our canvas the photo paper which we project images, thoughts and feelings through eye and hand.

Between night and day, light and shadow.

Between sleeping and waking, inside and outside.

Between pencil and paper…

This is my heartland.

By Steve Colloff.

Contact Steve Colloff via email, view his website for The Academy of Imaginary Arts and connect with his project on Facebook.

Two Views of Mind: Poems from Kabir

In Arvind Krishna Mehrotra’s recent translation of the poetry of Kabir (the iconoclastic Indian mystic poet) there is a wonderful juxtaposition of two poems with opposing views of ordinary mind. In the first, the mind represents a “crafty” trickster fed by the 5 senses, an enervating knot to be meticulously untied. In the second, your “runaway mind” can be the very vehicle you ride right out of suffering into paradise.

These two views ARE completely compatible, of course, but they represent different stages or frequencies of the spiritual journey. Sometimes it takes a wrathful seer like Kabir to remind us, however.

The mind’s a shortchanging

Flower mandala painted by an unknown patient of Carl Jung

Huckster with a crafty

Wife and five

Scoundrel children.

It won’t change its ways.

The mind’s a knot, says Kabir,

Not easy to untie.

KG 93


Listen carefully,

Neither the Vedas

Nor the Qur’an

Will teach you this:

Put the bit in its mouth,

The saddle on its back,

Your foot in the stirrup,

And ride your wild runaway mind

All the way to heaven.

KG 81


Mehrotra, Arvind Krishna. Songs of Kabir. New York: New York Review Books, 2011.