cover image I Live in Music: Poem

I Live in Music: Poem

Ntozake Shange. Stewart, Tabori, & Chang, $17.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-55670-372-0

This galvanic fusion of poetry and mixed-media art leads readers on a dreamy stroll though a jazz-and-blues-drenched universe, from an urban setting to a bayou. Novelist/playwright Shange provides the synaesthetic text, imagining music through all the senses: ``sound/ falls round me like rain on other folks/.../ i cd even smell it/ wear sound on my fingers.'' Visually melodious collages by Bearden (1912-1988) offer a lyrical counterpart to Shange's verse. A biography at book's end quotes the artist as saying that as a painter, ``You must become a blues singer-only you sing on the canvas''; his dynamic compositions, listed by title on the final page, effectively echo the music, alternately somber and lively. Golden watercolor tones illuminate areas of lush green in the collage and watercolor Theresa; in patchwork assemblages, scraps of bright paper resemble aging advertisements peeling off a building's facade. A portrait of a trumpet player, Solo Interval, seems literally to smoulder-the mute resembles a chunk of glowing ash. Phrases from Shange's poem insinuate their own meaning into Bearden's visions for an unusually rewarding experience. All ages. (Oct.)