Author: Compton, Cliff

Music Camp Poetry

The comedic and slightly twisted bluegrass group called the “Cleverly’s” has a member with a great appreciation for, and a penchant to, quote Shakespeare as part of his act. He is a blind, left over flower child, and has learned the bard from his “collected works of Shakespeare” written in brail. Unfortunately, the binding on the book came undone and the pages have been mixed up and damaged, leaving him with a somewhat skewed version of the original poetry. This, however, doesn’t keep him from spouting nonsensical sonnets with power and passion, leaving the audience amused and confused.

I like to consider myself following in this grand tradition. I’ve written a number of books of poetry, two of which are published, one called “Playing on the right side of the grass”, which is basically an ode to the bluegrass community.

About the time this was published, the first superbowl jam in Bakersfield was going on. Mark Varner approached be with the idea of having me write a bluegrass poetry column for the “Bluegrass Breakdown”. I said yes, and the “bluegrass bard” (Marks’s name, not mine”) was born.

Writing a poetry column for the Breakdown, is kind of like writing a column for your parakeet. You never know if he’s reading it or not, but you know that once a month you’re gonna change the paper at the bottom of his cage, and you hope he reads it while he’s nibbling on his bird seed. The Breakdown is there to report on events coming or going in the bluegrass community, and other topics of interest from cooking to instrument repair, hopefully the poetry column serves a function.

In the works of Ron Thomason, another spouter of Shakespeare, I told you that to tell you this….

I’ve been asked to do a poetry “slam” at the music camp at grass valley this year. They slipped me into a slot right before dinner on Tuesday where Ingrid must have figured I’d do the least damage. Now I don’t really know what a poetry slam is, but whatever it is, I guess I’ll be doing it., reciting a bunch of bluegrass related poetry or whatever. If you’re at the music camp and have an interest, please come. I’ll do my best to amuse and confuse.

On a semi-serious note. Poetry is always been a big part of bluegrass. Look at the words of Ralph Stanleys “Great High Mountain” or his “a robin built a nest on daddy’s grave.”
How about “Tear that Still house down” or the plaintive words to “blue moon of Kentucky”

Or perhaps the greatest piece of pure poetry since the death of William Shakespeare…

How does it feel to be lonesome
When someone is through with you
My heart is sad and lonesome
I’m lonesome, are you lonesome too?

See you at grass valley.

Posted:  6/8/2012

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