Sonny, With a Chance of Awesome

Very soon the darkened stage of Royce Hall will spring to life with the first show of our season—Sonny Rollins. What a show and what a life it is.

Sonny Rollins is known as the saxophone colossus and his great gift at expressing joy, sorrow, love, peace and humanity in general through the medium of jazz is legendary.  He’s an extraordinary individual who’s lived an incredible life. September 7 marked his 81st birthday. You can celebrate with him (and us) here in Royce Hall Sept. 22 and you can pick up his brand-new live album next week. Road Shows vol. 2 hits stores on the 13th.

Sonny’s 80th-birthday celebration at New York’s Beacon Theatre last September was the jazz event of the year, and the release of Road Shows, vol. 2 allows everybody to share in the proceedings.

More about the album and Sonny’s thoughts from the Doxy/Emarcy Records album release:

Sounding as robust and inventive as ever, the tenor saxophone titan joins forces with an unprecedented array of friends old and new, including Jim Hall, Roy Haynes, Christian McBride, Roy Hargrove, and, most unexpectedly, alto sax revolutionary Ornette Coleman. The festivities add another illustrious chapter to the career of jazz’s most prodigious improviser.

For Rollins, the palpable affection and respect of his peers was the evening’s most profound gift. “I was extraordinarily happy that my colleagues agreed to come and join me for this birthday celebration,” says Rollins, whose delight is evident as he energetically doubles as the concert’s emcee. “It was really a great honor that all these guys came. I was quite touched that everybody seemed anxious to do it.”

On an evening marked by one musical high point after another, the encounter that set fans buzzing for months was the dramatic arrival of Ornette Coleman, who was also in the midst of celebrating his 80th year. While they had never before shared a stage together, Rollins notes that he and Coleman once practiced together on the beach in Malibu back in the mid-1950s when he came out to Los Angeles with the Max Roach–Clifford Brown Quintet.

He didn’t know whether or not Coleman was going to perform at the Beacon until the last minute, so there was no rehearsal before he introduced the harmolodic innovator in the middle of an already riveting performance of Rollins’s blues “Sonnymoon for Two” with the ageless trap master Roy Haynes and bass virtuoso Christian McBride (reprising the pianoless trio format defined by Rollins more than five decades ago). At almost 22 minutes long, “Sonnymoon” is the album’s centerpiece, less a cutting contest than an inspired parallel conversation between jazz’s most surgically acute dissectors of time.

It was a piece Rollins selected with Coleman in mind, “something that would be open enough to lead to free conversation, and could go any place, rather than something like ‘I’m in the Mood for Love,’ with much more set harmonic patterns,” Rollins says. “The blues would be wide enough for Ornette to do whatever he wanted. It was all spontaneous. It was exciting to play with him again so many years later, a nice circular situation.”

Coleman’s indomitable presence on the stage was only one of the evening’s completed circles. McBride and Haynes performed with Rollins at the 2007 Carnegie Hall concert marking his golden anniversary as a bandleader, an epochal event documented on the concluding track of Road Shows, vol. 1.

Guitarist Jim Hall’s participation at the Beacon concert harks back to his crucial role on The Bridge, the 1962 album that announced Rollins’s thrilling return to the scene after his first famous hiatus. They’ve been close ever since, and Rollins was so intent on featuring him on Road Shows that he includes Hall’s sublime rendition of “In a Sentimental Mood,” a piece on which Rollins sits out.

“I love playing with Jim and I really wanted to get him in there,” says Rollins, who notes that a technical glitch on their version of “If Ever I Would Leave You” prevented him from including the performance on the album. “We go back a long way, and I have an affinity for his interpretations. It’s always exhilarating playing with Jim.”

A more recent Rollins associate, trumpeter Roy Hargrove, joins the saxophonist for riveting performances of Billy Strayhorn’s classic “Rain Check” and the beloved standard “I Can’t Get Started.” They’re accompanied by Rollins’s working band featuring guitar star Russell Malone, rising young drummer Kobie Watkins, versatile percussionist Sammy Figueroa, and Bob Cranshaw, the redoubtable bassist who’s been a dependably swinging Rollins mainstay since the early 1960s.

While Rollins first recorded “Rain Check” in 1957, he first heard the original Duke Ellington recording shortly after it was recorded in the early 1940s. “It’s a very important song in jazz history, something that I thought Roy could display his wares on,” Rollins says. “We didn’t have a lot of time to rehearse, and I thought ‘Rain Check’ was perfect for letting these guys show who they are.”

Rollins spotted Hargrove as an immensely gifted young player nearly two decades ago, and they bonded on a shared love of the American Songbook. It’s an ongoing passion reflected by their mutual caress of Vernon Duke’s soaring melodic line on “I Can’t Get Started.”

“When I first heard Roy and recorded with him back in 1990s I was amazed at his knowledge of jazz repertoire,” Rollins says. “I had some older fellows in the band that didn’t know some of the standards that Roy and I chose. It’s one thing that makes him so special. When he’s playing ‘I Can’t Get Started,’ you’re hearing him today and a history of the music.”

In keeping with the road rubric, the album opens and closes with tracks recorded in Japan about a month after the Beacon concert. A nearly 15-minute up-tempo romp through Irving Berlin’s “They Say It’s Wonderful” serves as a rousing overture for the birthday tracks, and offers yet another example of his capacious gift for turning familiar standards into vehicles for enthralling improvisation.

“That’s a great song to improvise on,” Rollins says. “Johnny Hartman and John Coltrane played it as a ballad, but it’s a great up-tempo song. The band really had a good groove on that one. That’s a tight rhythm section! I think finding drummers is part of my legacy. It’s very important for the drummer I play with to have a certain feel, and Kobie has a beat I feel I can improvise on. I accumulated some good karma by getting guys like Bob, Kobie, Sammy, and Russell Malone, who loves ballads and knows a lot of jazz standards.”

The album closes with a brief run through Rollins’s famous calypso “St. Thomas,” a piece he uses as a sign-off, perhaps following the old show business maxim to always leave the audience wanting more.

Every End Has A Start

We closed out our 2010-11 season last Thursday night on a literal high note. The pairing of two American music traditions–jazz and bluegrass–was incredibly seamless and utterly joyful.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the Del McCoury band ended a collaborative show with a rousing rendition of “When The Saints Go Marching In,” complete with umbrella-toting audience members gleefully marching their way to the stage.

And just before these two seminal bands took the stage, we took the opportunity to announce details on  all the shows in our upcoming season.

We’re looking forward to a lot of changes ahead, with our new leader Kristy Edmunds and as we work with her on the future of UCLA Live, we will celebrate in Royce Hall with a great lineup of music legends and rising stars in the 2011-12 season.

Subscription packages are on sale now and you can build your own series by choosing any four events from our calendar on our website. Or, individual tickets for all shows go on sale July 22. (You get access to the best seats and 10-15% savings during the subscription window).

I’m especially looking forward to a couple of events, what would basically be MY “choose your own” subscription package.

Stew and The Negro Problem-Check out this “afro-baroque” band from L.A. Stew’s a wholly unique artist and he’ll be in residency here this fall working on a song cycle about life in this city, called “The Westside of Your Mind.” I’m really intrigued by the thought of an L.A. artist working on something about L.A., then performing it for an L.A. audience. I’m all about shared experiences.

Rebecca Skloot–This science writer wrote one of the best books I’ve ever read–fiction or non-fiction. If you have a book club, consider taking on her epic bestseller The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks this summer. It’s incredibly illuminating, tackling complex scientific and ethical issues while simultaneously being emotionally riveting thanks to Skloot’s compelling narrative style. Read it, discuss it among friends and then join us for her spoken word appearance and hear more about the decade she spent working on the book and the ripple effect of its creation.

Max Raabe and They Might Be Giants–I think we could all use a little more whimsy in our lives these days and these two events from talented performers will bring us an abundance of it.

Hope you will join us many times in the upcoming year!

UCLA Live and Poetry…..Winning!

We had some fun this month with National Poetry Month, sponsoring our very first UCLA Live poetry competition and getting great news about one of our poetry spoken word artists.

Our National Poetry Month spoken word event this Saturday night features two former U.S. Poets Laureate, Billy Collins and Kay Ryan.

And it was a winning week for UCLA Live and poetry. Kay Ryan, UCLA alum was just named a Pulitzer Prize winner on Monday April 18. She’s being honored for her most recent collection The Best of It: New and Selected Poems, which the Pulitzer committee called “a body of work spanning 45 years, witty, rebellious and yet tender, a treasure trove of an iconoclastic and joyful mind.”

And she’ll be here to read selections from that long and storied career this Saturday night.

Meanwhile, our poetry competition tied to the event with these two poets working at the top of their craft received a truly stunning amount of submissions. We thrilled (and only a little surprised)  to discover what a truly creative community of UCLA Live lovers we have surrounding us.

As a member of the committee that read every single entry and I was really impressed with many of the submissions. Those of us reading collaborated and discovered we had very similar poems in mind as finalists.

We unanimously whittled those down to a few selections and sent them off to Billy Collins and Kay Ryan, then eagerly waited to find out which ones these amazing authors selected as the winner and two runner ups.

And now, here they are! We’re proud to announce the winners and so grateful for all the great submissions we got. Thanks to everyone who participated.

The first prize winner, Bobbi Jacobsen’s poignant poem Shoshannah struck a chord with all the UCLA Live readers. She will be here Saturday night to read her poem from the stage and claim her $100 gift certificate  to Book Soup, and get an autograph from the artists.

Second and third prize winners also will be awarded gift certificates to the eclectic indie bookstore.

Here are all the winning entries. Enjoy and see you Saturday night!

First Prize:

Shoshannah by Bobbi Jacobsen

There’ll come a time

When your child asks for a pet,

A cat, or a dog, a turtle or a fish.

You’ll say, “No, no, no!”

Knowing you’ll be the one

To buy the food

To clean up the hairballs

To pay the vet bills

To pick up strewn toilet paper

To stretch for the gritty litter

Behind the toilet.

There’ll come a time

When your kid brings home a kitten

(That his girlfriend has already named!)

You’ll say, “Oh, alright,”

Knowing you’ll be the one

To dangle the red ribbon

To sprinkle the catnip

To pet her impossibly white

Fur until her eyelids droop

To worry about traffic

To calendar boosters.

There’ll come a time

When she’s sick and swollen

And your son will want to drive

And will want to hold her weakened body

While her paw is shaved

And the needle eased in

And because your son is twenty-one

You’ll have to let him.

Second Prize:

Signifying  Something by Katherine Thompson

I am in a class full of idiots,

assigned to The Sound and the Fury,

and most of us are beginning to think the title

a fairly apt description.

Among us is the boy with the long greasy hair,

who wears black and spouts Ulysses with a stutter,

who thinks the nonsense is intentioned, who,

applauding Faulkner’s genius, won’t hear our underbreath whispers

that you can still smell spilt whiskey

on each page.

Among us too are the requisite several girls who never speak,

the requisite several boys who rarely show,

the boy from Baltimore who likes to think he’s Southern

since it lets him start sentences with

“Well, for me personally,

being from the South,

I think the symbolism of the

syllogism has a

very imagistic effect on the

heinous (pronounced hyenous)

adaptivation,

if you get my meaning.”

There are some of us who scribble idle poetry

beneath our notes, which consist

of caricatures of some oddly morphed entity

like our teacher and like Faulkner, drunken and drooling.

There’s the graduate assistant who sits on his nervous hands

to keep them from volunteering intelligence

into this fog of stupidity, and

on top of it all, there’s the hotshot teacher hired for fame

who wouldn’t know the difference

between a student and a dog

if it bit her.

And I’m tired.

Tired of the lack of punctuation,

of the sentences endless and thick as forests,

of the time travel crammed between two words.

I’m tired of humoring a cocky writer who assumed

I would do the work required to understand,

when my reward for understanding

is deeper knowledge of depressing, sadistic, masochistic, misogynistic,

abused, abusive, apathetic,

idiotic, incestuous,

cultish characters for whom I never cared,

though now I harbor some resentment

that (for me personally, being from the South) so much of the world

thought they represented so much of the South

for so long.

And outside the spring is passing away

like an unfortunate Yoknapatawphan,

and Quentin on the page keeps saying

and i temporary,

and I know that wasting my mornings in this class is a temporary burden,

but its end is the end of all other wonderful wastes

I’ve been privy to, as a student at this esteemed institution,

when in the middle of the muck of Quentin’s id I find the phrase

you cannot bear to think that someday it will no longer hurt you like this.

“Why does Quentin kill himself?”

the teacher asks, in a voice bright as bleach,

as if she didn’t think it were a stupid question

aimed at a dayroom full of vegetables.

There is silence,

as there always is,

but not because, as she thinks, we didn’t read the book

or were born with pigeon brains.

In one moment of silence I read volumes more than Faulkner ever wrote; it says

we do not speak because we each have an answer,

and each is correct,

and each is reason enough for Quentin to call it quits,

and each is our own secret reason—

my father, my mother, will never understand;

I will never attain my object of desire;

I am motheaten by my secrets;

no one, not even me, truly knows who I am.

I know my answer is on the last page of Quentin’s life,

so since it has weakly to do with the book,

I martyr myself, and raise my hand.

“He cannot bear to think that someday it will no longer hurt him like this.”

“Elaborate,” she says.

Third Prize:

String Theory No Joke by Yvonne Estrada

A string walks into a bar.

A huge crowd has gathered.

Before him the bartender

places a plastic red basket

of hot wings and cheese toast.

The string breathes in, then sighs,

blesses the food.

Cocktail waitresses pass it out.

Even the hecklers eat,

they taunt the string,

they sneer,

“If you come from the cosmic net,

then weave us a miracle,

a blanket that brings back the dead,

or fly a kite into the parallel universe.

Here, take these soup cans,

stretch yourself between them,

take one to heaven,

set the other one on the bar

so we can listen

to the voice of God.

Getting Creative at UCLA Community School

by Theresa Willis-Peters

UCLA Live’s Design for Sharing Program Coordinator

Today is a big day for UCLA Live’s K-12 outreach program, Design for Sharing:  Our residency program at UCLA Community school culminates with the students’ presentation of dance and spoken word performance pieces.

Since October,  teaching artists from DFS and L.A.-based dance company CONTRA-TIEMPO have made  weekly visits to Community School, spending our Wednesdays working with nearly 200 fourth, fifth and sixth graders.  This year, we’ve been exploring the theme of Homeland or Patria through dance, theatre, movement and creative writing.   Each class has prepared a presentation featuring traditional salsa dance, creative movement, and a group poem.

We’ve asked a lot of our students over the last few months, and they have delivered.   We asked them to think and write about home, about country and community, about what matters to them, about their dreams for themselves and  for the world.   These may be big ideas, but the responses were specific and personal:

This land is struggles,

excitement, success

sadness, friendship

mystery, kindness

This land is a piece of me.

-Group poem excerpt, Ms. Arevelo’s class

Home is a fish tank where water is falling

Home is watching cartoons

Home is soft

Home is plants and chirping and blooms

Home is where my heart resides

Home is where I dream of dreaming

-Group poem excerpt,  Ms. S. Kim’s class


It matters that my parents care about me.

It matters that we wrote this poem.

It matters that we learn something,

That we have comfort

That I have a turtle

That my family is together

It matters that we have a tune in our voice.

-Group poem excerpt,  Ms. Lee’s class


I have a dream that poor people will have a home

That I will be a teacher

That tomorrow will be a better day

I have a dream that all people will have work,

That someday, I will be someone…

I dream that people will make justice,

That everyone will be welcome.

-Group poem excerpt, Mr. Sotelo’s class


We also asked them to express themselves off the page.  In groups of 3 or 4, they created their own dance movements representing themes, images or ideas from their writings.  These short combinations became the basis for the choreography in their final performance piece.

The UCLA Community School students have great ideas and huge hearts.  We’re so proud that they were willing to share them with us—and we are even more proud to help give them a chance to share those great ideas with their community at today’s  presentation.


Meet The New Boss: Welcoming Kristy Edmunds

Hopefully you’ve heard the news already, but UCLA Live has a new fearless leader in Kristy Edmunds.

It’s been a long hiring process and a short whirlwind of activity as we geared up to announce her appointment this week. We’re thrilled with the selection and are looking forward to the burst of energy and ideas that Kristy is sure to bring our organization.

She’s in Australia for the time being so we as a staff  got to meet her Monday afternoon via  Skype session. Hooray for technology. And yes, that is Christopher Waterman, dean of UCLA’s School of the Arts and Architecture doing tech for us over there in the right-hand corner 🙂

Staff Skype Session with our new boss

By all accounts Kristy is smart, creative, engaged and she is clearly totally intrigued and invigorated by Los Angeles and the role contemporary performing arts plays in this crazy, infuriating and delightful city.

Kristy has an amazing background as an arts curator but also as an artist in her own right–she’s directed plays, choreographed dance, made independent films, created visual art and even had a stint as a singer in a band.

She’s up to some cool stuff in New York for a while, she’ll be consulting with the Park Avenue Armory for the first year or so she is with UCLA Live.

We’re very much looking forward to what’s in store for us with Kristy at the helm and we’ll be rolling out ways for arts lovers and UCLA Live patrons to interact with her over the next few months.

Stay tuned.

Maya Angelou: Professional Hopemonger

Dr. Maya Angelou graced us with her presence last night.

And I do mean grace. The woman seems to be carved out of it. Every gesture, every sentence, even a few self-deprecating asides, she delivered with quintessential grace.

Angelou alluded to the fact her appearance here at UCLA Live was originally scheduled for a month earlier.

“I was halfway here when I got the news that I was to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom….Understandably, I turned around,” she said, and was greeted with appreciative laughter. (Angelou does not fly and travels to her engagements via a large and very slick, decked-out tour bus.)

“I thought the least I could do was to not only come, but bring the medal,” she said, gleefully brandishing it as the audience cheered.

Thoughts of people from Africa, bound and shipped as slaves to America, thoughts of every race of immigrants in this country were with her as she accepted the honor, Angelou said.

“I thought of every one of us, wherever we are, whatever we are, whether Budda or Pest,” she said. “Human beings are more alike than we are unalike. I know that. At my best and at my worst, I represent you. And at your best and at your worst, you represent me.”

If you remember that in everything you do, even in saying hello to a stranger, she said, “you can lift up the whole human race.”

The woman is a walking poem and last night, she admonished us to think of poetry as a glue that can help bind us together.

She embodies that idea, beginning and ending her speech by singing a humble and raw rendition of a folk spiritual I Shall Not Be Moved, one that her beloved Grandmother often sang.

Affectionate stories about and remembrances of living with her Gradmother (called “Momma”) were peppered throughout Angelou’s appearance. She deftly swung from smilingly recalling poignant details of childhood inspirations and adventures, to recounting the sad memory of being raped at a young age and the subsequent trauma that rendered her mute for several years, refusing to speak to anyone except her brother Bailey.

Angelou said she found solace in poetry, reading and memorizing everything from Poe to Shakespeare during those silent years.

“When I started reading Shakespeare, I thought he must have been a black girl, living in the south, who had been molested,” she said. “How else could he know what I know?”

As she spoke, her memories flowed seamlessly into a graceful recitation of Shakespeare’s Sonnet XXIX

When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

“I knew that that sweet love was my grandmother’s love,” Angelou said reflectively.
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Angelou offered a something to every fan in that audience, from acknowledging her affinity for country music (“When it’s right, it’s very right”) to reciting from her most celebrated work I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, to a humorous anecdote about getting caught smoking in a health food restaurant, which led to a mischievous recounting of this lighthearted piece from her oeuvre.

The Health-Food Diner
No sprouted wheat and Soya shoots
and Brussels in a cake,
carrot straw and spinach raw,
today I need a steak.
Not thick brown rice and rice pilaf
or mushrooms creamed on toast,
turnips mashed and parsnips hashed,
I’m dreaming of a roast.
Health food folks around the world
are thinned by anxious zeal,
they look for help in seafood kelp
I count on breaded veal.
No smoking signs, raw mustard greens,
and zucchini by the ton,
uncooked kale and bodies’ frail
are sure to make me run.
Loins of pork and chicken thighs
and standing rib, so prime,
pork chops brown and fresh ground round
I crave them all the time.
Irish stews and boiled corned beef
and hot dogs by the scores,
or any place that saves a space
for carnivores. smoking

It was a remarkable evening from a remarkable woman and I think we all left feeling just a little bit better about, well, everything.

This is one of my favorite quotes about Dr. Angelou, from London’s Guardian newspaper:

“She is like the Desiderata in human form – issuing a litany of imperatives and exhortations to be fabulous, conscious, passionate and compassionate. A professional hopemonger…”

I think the world could use a few more hopemongers like Maya Angelou in it and a few less mongers of other sorts.

Thanks to all who were there with us. It was truly a special night.

 

Calling all Poets

Ever felt the urge to put your innermost thoughts in iambic pentameter? Did a love gone wrong inspire some free verse? Have some pithy Haiku scribbled down somewhere?

We want to read it.

Really.

April is National Poetry Month and on April 23 we are proud to host two of the finest American poets writing today, Billy Collins and Kay Ryan, both former U.S. Poets Laureate.

We’re holding a poetry writing competition in honor of this event and National Poetry Month. The winner will receive a pair of tickets to see Billy Collins and Kay Ryan speak.

Billy and Kay will be judging entries from selected finalists and will read the winner’s poem on stage at Royce Hall the night of the event.

First Prize also gets a $100 gift certificate to Book Soup, (one of the best examples of a sadly fading entity– the independent bookstore).

Second Prize and Third Prize winners will be acknowledged from the stage and receive a $75 and $50 Book Soup gift certificate respectively.

So, don’t be shy, dust off some of those old musings you have lying around, or use this as an opportunity to flex your creative muscle and write something new. Even better yet, perhaps use this as an impetus write something for the first time.

Only unpublished poetry may be submitted. Work that has appeared online, or has been accepted for publication in any form is considered to have been previously published and should not be submitted. One entry per person.

Submit entries at www.uclalive.org/artinaction

Submission Deadline: Midnight: April 8, 2011

I’ll get you started with one of my poetic endeavors. (I am decidedly not a poet and I bow to my betters, so if I can put it out there, so can YOU!)

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

if
A house is not a home.
and
Home is where the heart is.
then
The heart is not a house.
but
I confess…
It’s where I live
and
I’m glad…
mine’s always open for guests
though
I admit…
Some have come in and trashed the place.

Photo courtesy studentofrhythm via Flickr</em>

Knee Deep in Waters

John Waters is here. Er, well he will BE here in a few short hours and he WAS here already for a bit last night. But really, he’s everywhere, including popping up in this hilarious SNL digital short a few weeks ago.

The boundary-slaughtering director was gracious enough to agree to do a very small private appearance on campus last night with a hundred or so students and fans from the UCLA community as part of a free event put on by the Student Committee for the Arts in conjunction with his near-sold-out appearance at UCLA Live tonight.

John Waters

For the first time since he made the film in 2004 he said, Waters sat down and watched and provided a live commentary toA Dirty Shame, which stars Tracey Ullman, Johnny Knoxville and a cast of oddly amazing and comically genius characters in a plot centered around victims of sex addiction (via accidental concussion) and the results of their wanton “sexing” on their perturbed neighbors. It’s a very funny movie, by the way, primarily due to the chops and complete abandon of Ullman as a Baltimore hausfrau-turned-sexaholic and a surprisingly good Knoxville as a charismatic sexual Messiah.

Waters shared anecdotes about scenes and cast members and dialogue, sharing tidbits of stories he’d read and actual events that happened to people he knew that helped inspire the plot and lines from the flick. (Most are too racy to share here, but trust me, it was awesome). He repeatedly and gleefully pointed out social oddities about his beloved hometown of Baltimore where this, and all of his movies are based. He especially relished mentioning moments of dialogue or scenery or cast costuming that alarmed the normal folks in the neighborhood where he was filming.

“My films basically have given me an outlet for all my social deviance,” Waters joked. “I’ve often said if I didn’t become a director I would probably be in jail.”

The self-proclaimed trash master stuck around to good-naturedly answer questions from the thoroughly engaged audience admitting his pride at the fact he’s been able to poke fun at himself and his own career. He also pointed out that he’s given people like Patricia Hearst, Traci Lords, and Johnny Depp chances to take on tropes that defined them—kidnap victim, porn star, teen idol—and push the boundaries by taking on those pop-culture identities and skewering them.

Waters is not only a prolific filmmaker, but also a prolific author whose fifth book Role Models came out last year. He said he’s always writing something.

“I guess I’m really a writer more than anything,” he said. “I couldn’t direct something I hadn’t written. I don’t even think I’d know how.”

Waters will be here very soon. We’re looking forward to his one-show and hope you are too. And bring along those copies of any of his books or DVDs because he is generously signing autographs here afterward.

But, no matter what Waters might say….leave the cigarettes at home. Our Royce Hall ushers are plenty busy, thanks!

Litany and a Young Poetry Lover

Ah it’s Valentine’s Day season. What better time to peruse sappy love poems and read them aloud to your significant other.

Or perhaps, even better, how about a not-so-sappy and yet oh-so-endearing love poem from Billy Collins. And even better yet, how about having this adorable 3-year-old poetry lover recite it for you.

Seriously, this is the cutest thing ever. Guys, play this for your girlfriends. Coos guaranteed. (You can read along with the poem text below.)

Litany
by Billy Collins

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general’s head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman’s tea cup.
But don’t worry, I’m not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and–somehow–the wine.

Meanwhile, here’s Collins himself taking on the same poem. Compare and contrast.

Oh and don’t miss Collins here at UCLA Live April 23 with fellow former U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan.

Photo courtesy erix! via Flickr

UCLA Live in the Community

UCLA Live’s K-12 arts education program Design for Sharing (DFS), is continuing its partnership with UCLA Community School, one of six new pilot schools operating as part of the LAUSD Robert Kennedy Community Schools complex in the mid-Wilshire district of Los Angeles. Teaching artists from Design for Sharing and L.A.-based dance company CONTRA-TIEMPO have been working with 4th, 5th and 6th grade students using dance, theatre, movement and creative writing to explore the theme of “Homeland,” or “Patria.” The residency spans a 22-week period during which students interact with professional artists, make their own art and attend special DFS performances at Royce Hall.

Community School Kids

Here are some samples of the creative writing work already coming out of the program so far this year. We’re looking forward to more!

This Land Is…Esta Tierra es

This land is kids studying in school,
Tall Buildings,
Perfume, ice cream, soda, tacos,
Sour and Sweet.
This land is tamales y panes,
Tacos y burritos,
A BIG BOWL OF WONDERS!
This land is hot, rainy and fresh,
Kids walking to school,
The smell of fresh flowers blooming in the spring,
Flores y árboles.
Pizza!
Video games!
Koreatown, Los Angeles,
Kids screaming, cars driving fast,
Children laughing,
COLORFUL!
Mountains, flowers, animals,
Buildings in the city…
Where I belong.
This is our land.
Group Poem: Ms. Kim’s Class

It Matters That…

It matters that we have friends to cherish
someone to love, we are all safe,
that we have cupcakes and sweets.
It matter that we live in justice
that we get a free education
that we have a safe harbor.
It matters that everyone is accepted and that we accept others.
It matters that I have shelves of books, books and more books
that I can let my imagination roam free…
It Matters
It Matters
It Matters
That I write this poem.
Irene: Ms Lee’s Class

Thoughts from the staff of CAP UCLA