A Seven of Sonnets – Poems by Mike Alexander


for tenor and piano (2016)




18 min.


Tenor and Piano


Mike Alexander


Prelude - The Steps
Ms. Pacman
"the six strings of yesterday"
"this skeletal jockey"
"this one lavendar disaster (Basquait)"
Good Friday Autopsy
Postlude (piano solo)

Program Notes

Since 1975 I’ve written song lyrics as well as classical music. From 1999 to 2000, I tried being a poet, taking a small break from music composition. I presented at Houston’s Mausoleum – a converted house/event space. Wednesday night’s poetry slam was run by Mike Alexander – kindly and benevolently. Mike also read his poems – which were phenomenal. Taking traditional forms such as ekphrasis, sestina, and the patoum, he fills them with contemporary content and linguistics. Above all, he is a master of all sonnet forms (you will find more information about him at P&Jpoetics.com). He became a friend and I a fan of his poems.

After going back to writing music, Mike and I kept in touch; he would ask about my music, and I about his poetry. In the year 2015 I finally bought a copy of his book RETROGRADE. Reading it cover to cover in a day and enjoying it tremendously – I then chose five as favorite possibilities for music. I shot off an e-mail and he granted permission for me to set those poems, and later, from a few in his chapbook January Y2K Blues, which I didn’t know existed until a year into the project. Some settings did not work out. Narrowing it down to six between the two books, and still needing an opening poem, Mike sent me a tremendous new sonnet The Steps, which was the perfect beginning for the set.

A Seven of Sonnets – Poems by Mike Alexander contains songs about a video game, guitars, Alzheimer’s, An Andy Warhol painting of electric chairs, and more. This list does not begin to evoke the richness, pathos, and humor of the poems (not all at once). Musically mirroring the subjects of the poems was easy. All in all, the words sang in my head, and the accompaniments came. I have captured the inflections, subtext, and intent with grace in my melodies and accompaniments.

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