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Lisa Brimmer joins Lulu’s playground for the creation of a collaborative and unabashedly artsy work of music and spoken poetry.  This is new territory for all of us so we’re delighted/excited to see where the project takes us, and we’d like to invite our readers to follow along as it unfolds.  In fact, we’d VERY much appreciate if you’d post any/all ideas or critiques that you (the reader) have, even if you’re not musical/a poet yourself; if you love poetry and/or music, that makes you an expert audience member, which makes your opinions valid and interesting.  in my opinion.


Hello Folks! It is such an exciting privilege to be working with the talented ensemble Lulu’s Playground. I am a huge supporter of their work and collaborative measures hitherto and can’t wait to get in the ring with them!

About Lisa: I’ve been writing in St. Paul/ Minneapolis area for about 6 years now. Graduated from University of St. Thomas with a degrees in Sociology and English Literature. This past year I was a Nu Griots III ensemble member through the Givens Foundation for African American Literature. As a poet I think my poetry is about questioning/ incongruities/ conflict. I love language. I love music. And I really love this new project.

About Lisa +Lulu’s: You can check out some of the poetry we are framing here. How now then, shall we proceed is/ will be one of our first efforts. I’m also working on some newer stuff (yet to be released! You’ll have to check out a show!  I’m interested in looking at the constraints of our individual instruments and languages and the ways in which we can reconstruct images for our audiences and fellow artists. I think this can only make sense in our own work if we make sense of it together. Have a conversation about it from an experimental and creative perspective.

About shameless plugging: You can check out my blog at and follow me on twitter: @2speakease.

The readiness is all.

–Lisa Brimmer

The following are excerpts of ‘Q and A’ from an application that we recently submitted for a residency at the Tofte Lake Center’s Emerging Artists Program, which will be this August (2010).  If we’re selected we’ll spend an entire week doing nothing but creating, canoeing and collaborating (we also might go hiking and do other fun things that don’t start with the letter C).

Describe the project you plan to work on at TLC:

The piece we plan to compose will explore combinations of musical textures and spoken poetry. The basic form will be similar to ‘concerto grosso’ form, in which the intended focus alternates between the soloist (Lisa) and the larger ensemble, with a relatively unobtrusive musical accompaniment during solo sections. We plan to begin with an instrumental, structured ‘free improvisation’ (free of meter and key center, and only loosely notated).  This will set the stage for the solo section, where Lisa reads the first section of her poem while the quartet provides an accompaniment. The instrumental/musical aspect will develop in tandem with the text throughout the piece, in the form of textures and motifs, as well as relationship between poet and accompaniment.

• Where are you in your process at this time?
Here’s an excerpt of our first stab at collaborating with Lisa – this is representative of about an hour of group discussion and a couple days of individual contemplation/interpretation of Lisa’s poem: “how now then, shall we proceed.”  Before we began playing, we decided on a handful of specifics/restraints: no strict key center, but a ‘focal pitch’ of F; a non-metered rhythmic pulsing, reminiscent of Jon Adams.  Greg has drawn up a musical sketch of the texture and motives he wants the introduction section to utilize, drawing off of what we synthesized in the improvised recording.  We will not necessarily be working on this specific poem of Lisa’s during our residency, but this work is representative of the early stages of what we plan to do.

• What are your goals and desired outcomes for your week-long residency?

What we are trying to accomplish with Lisa is to create something that is unique, artistically enriching and fulfilling. As composers/musicians we will have a chance to experiment with different kinds of interactions between spoken poetry and music, as well as develop our understanding of the interplay between artistic integrity and entertainment value.


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