4-5 violins or violas
spoken word

"Underwater" - MFA Grad Recital - 4/25/17

Description: I find that whenever I am at an extreme low point, my urge to blurt out emotionally unbridled writing runs at an all-time high. I also know that this is when I often produce objectively the worst work, or at least the work I am most embarrassed by. Thus, I avoid doing this at all costs. But I went against my rule in November, right before my mid-residency recital. I was at a low point, wrote this piece in a couple hours, locked it away, and opened it back up recently to reassess. I’m sharing it with you today partially as an experiment, a way of coming into myself and my instincts, practicing letting go of control.


This piece does not technically have a master score. Rather, the rough audio reference, script, and discussion constitute the "score." Underwater was originally conceived as a recorded work with all string and spoken parts performed by myself, but it has grown into something I'd like to perform live more with other players. I consider this to be more of an orally/aurally-passed/learned piece, with instincts, improvisation, current emotion, and textual context being of large importance. Below are the working rudimentary score and script that my performers read at my recital on 4/25/17.

View/Download working recital score
View/Download script

Full text:

i have a rule: never write poems underwater when you’re submerged, you can’t see the sun words are all...sentimental

today’s another gray day,
fourth in a row it takes all my strength to put 2 feet on the floor
but it’s sunday, so i drag my work to bed and stay there all morning
sitting on top of my gray comforter
gray blanket covering cold legs
gray cat curled on blanket
we form a gray nucleus of aspiring warmth

the clocks turned back last night. i miss the sun.

i’m disobeying my rule
never write poems when you’re in the thick of it
the words are so...dramatic, overblown
like that teen fiction i always borrowed from school and hid from my parents
that stuff was so unhinged...expressive

i’ve run into a wall.
not a proverbial one
i have a bruise on my forehead the size of a snail shell impeccable timing
i just finished reading the sympathizer, in which a man’s bullet hole is described as his third eye
bloody hole in the middle of his forehead
cavern of secrets

i doubt my purple third eye holds wisdom.

at noon, i force myself through motions. get out of bed
i microwave
i eat

i write
i check my bank account

ponder ordering a thing on amazon
ponder writing about wanting to order a thing on amazon
ponder the inclusion of the word ”amazon" in this piece to begin with,
as i’m effectively sabotaging its longevity
but no matter
my nihilistic side has a way of taking over.

wow i’m going so against my rule
writing this now / reading it raw / letting you listen
never write when you’re underwater
you need time
i need space
i need time to edit my malaise
this is my brain on full malaise, and i’m very sorry about it (deep breath)

what’s going on? why this, why now?

I've been in therapy long enough to know it’s not that simple
but i’ve been in life long enough to know most people demand reasons (for feelings):

why do you feel this way? what is the source? what, specifically, happened?
was it me? or am i exonerated from blame?
was it a big bad thing? i need to make sure it doesn’t happen to me.

i don’t want to be afflicted with what you have please tell me something horrible happened so i can feel some distance.

trust me, i get it, i don’t want this either. and i don’t want you to have it.

but here you are, listening to me speak underwater and i’m glad you have an oxygen mask
...you’re still here, so maybe i haven’t scared you away maybe you don’t mind listening

maybe these things only scare me
you’re dipping beneath the waves to bear witness thank you for being my witness.