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A night of music and spoken word

Music Department and Creative Writing Program combine mediums for night of performance.

Jasmine Lee, Senior Photographer

Alyxandra Sego, Reporter

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Though poetry and music are often said to have similar qualities, Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs, Kelly Krebs and the Hamline University Poetry Slam team still surprised audiences with their Mar. 3 performances.

Krebs’ composition, “Not Waving, But Drowning” began as a series of five poems by British poet Stevie Smith.

After a year and a half, it was adapted to music and performed by music faculty Janet Greene on clarinet, Kathy Thomsen on piano and Deborah Carbaugh singing soprano.

Following Krebs, four members of Slam Poetry got up on stage to present their own personal poetry for the audience. Included among the poets were Adrienne Novy, Izak Kelsey-Friedemann, Ashley Arsenault and Blythe Baird.

Blythe Baird is a junior and coach of the HU Poetry Slam Team. In April, she and her team will be competing in Chicago at the National Poetry Slam Competition. This was one of their first performances before the big event, and according to Baird, the experience was really wonderful.

“Seeing the team that I am coaching taking notes, and exhibiting in their performances, making the small edits that affect their performances positively, and seeing them pleased with themselves after is really cool and powerful,” Baird said.

From an audience perspective, the spoken poetry seemed to mainly focus on themes of personal struggle and identity.

“They are so passionate and really moving,” Krebs said. “It is such a different kind of writing from what our MFA students are doing because it combines performance and writing at the same time.”   

As for the musical adaption, Krebs’ composition seemed to be a pleasant surprise among the Hamline community.

“I was excited to see the team have a practice run,” Baird said, “and to see what Kelly was doing, because I know Kelly does a million things, and I vaguely knew he does music, but didn’t know the extent, so throughout the whole thing I was just really excited.”

Krebs started composing after taking singing lessons for the past two years. 

“I don’t think a lot of people know I do music,” Krebs said. “As an undergraduate I was a music major and did voice and composition, but then I took a number of years off.”

The reason behind this composition was because of a four credit class he had been taking, and needed to produce something for it.

“On my first semester I had these songs that I had started years ago and I thought I would pull those out, and rework those,” Krebs said. “As I started to do that, I just fell in love with this poet and what was happening and saw this  as a larger set. These poems seemed somehow to connect with each other in some ways.”

From the finished composition of these songs, people seemed to really enjoy what it turned out to be.

“I loved seeing the adaption of these poems to music,” Baird said. “I had never really seen anything like that before, and I thought it was really creative.”

From a composer’s perspective, Krebs described watching his creation with much satisfaction.

“Just being able to sit back and hear the songs all together, and how they all flow from another was really cool,” Krebs said. 

Being a lifetime clarinetist and professional musician for a number of years, Janet Greene shared her feelings about Kreb’s work with very high praise. She is also the chair of Hamline’s Music Department.

“This music feels very special,” Greene said. “We just loved what he was doing.  Kelly’s music is very emotional, full of character and has
wonderful synergy.”

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A night of music and spoken word