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One thing I’ve learned about writing, which, in turn, has reinforced what I’ve learned about life, is that you never know what might lead to what, what might happen next. In 2002, when I was introduced by a mutual friend to composer Marty Regan in Tokyo, I had not an inkling that a decade later I’d be commissioned by Houston Grand Opera to write the libretto for “The Memory Stone,” composed by Marty. Similarly, going further back, in 1990. when I wrote the poems that became “The Healing Notebooks,” I had no idea that over two decades later, composer Michael Djupstrom would set “In bed together,” one of these poems. The world premiere of “In bed together” took place on November 14, 2014, as part of the AIDS Quilt Songbook concert, Phoenix Concerts, at the Church of St. Matthew and St. Timothy in New York City. I’ll include the text below. Watch and listen:

 

 

In bed together watching the t.v. news,
flipping through the entertainment section

I notice Leontyne Price will be singing
somewhere outside the city. We better go,

you tell me, might be the last time we get
to see her. Are you saying this will be

her last appearance here? Or we may not
see her again together?

Or you at all. I don’t ask
but think: What is love without

plans? Without a future? How will those
high notes sound without you?

Life without Plans: World premiere of “In bed together”
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Kenny Fries is the author of The History of My Shoes and the Evolution of Darwin's Theory, which received the Outstanding Book Award from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights, and Body, Remember: A Memoir, as well as the editor of Staring Back: The Disability Experience from the Inside Out. His books of poems include Anesthesia and Desert Walking. In the Province of the Gods, for which he received the grant in innovative literature from Creative Capital, is forthcoming. He was commissioned by Houston Grand Opera to write the libretto for "The Memory Stone," which premiered at Asia Society Texas Center. He has been a Creative Arts Fellow of the Japan/US Friendship Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, a Fulbright Scholar to Japan, and has received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council. Stumbling over History, his current project, received a grant from the DAAD (German Academic Exchange).
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3 thoughts on “Life without Plans: World premiere of “In bed together”

  • February 10, 2015 at 1:38 pm
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    Elder, It depends. In both of these musical cases I was commissioned to write the libretto and asked if the composer could set the poem by the curator of the project. In other collaborations such as “In the Gardens of Japan,” it happened via conversation with a singer (in Japan) and on my own initiative with a calligrapher/designer for the tenugui that uses the same text. Earlier, I collaborated with visual artists, and sometimes that happened on their initiative, others on mine. Kenny.

  • February 7, 2015 at 2:25 pm
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    i envy your collaborative ability, Mr Fries. How does it unfold? Who makes the first move?
    –The Elder

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