Noah Preminger: After Life // Jazz Journal Review

Tenor saxophonist and composer Noah Preminger currently lives in Boston. I had the good fortune to come across him a couple of years ago when he was fronting Rob Garcia’s band at Smalls jazz club in New York. His performance was highly impressive, matching his work on Garcia’s albums – Passion Of Color and Finding Love In An Oligarchy On A Dying Planet.


Aside from Garcia, Preminger has also performed or recorded with Joe Lovano, Dave Holland, Fred Hersch, John Patitucci, Dave Douglas, Billy Hart, Cecil McBee, George Cables and Roscoe Mitchell amongst others.

After Life is his 13th album as leader. He’s joined in the project by longtime associate Jason Palmer on trumpet, regular bassist Kim Cass, drum giant Rudy Royston and rising-star guitarist Max Light. Preminger composed seven of the album’s eight songs. The other song is his arrangement of Handel’s Ombra Mai Fu. His intention is that each song reflects a world we may inhabit when we leave Earth.

Highlights of the album include Cass’s lissom bass playing and Royston’s deft percussion in World Of Twelve Faces, the interplay of Light’s jazz-rock guitar and Palmer’s trumpet in World Of Growth, Preminger’s spanning of registers in his soulful sax solo in Senseless World, the raga-like quality of Hovering World, and the intricate sax/trumpet duets in World Of Hunger and Nothing World – the latter being Preminger’s arrangement of Handel’s Ombra Mai Fu. Then there’s the all-hands-on-deck improvisation of World Of Illusion.

This music has spiritual depth with a contemporary edge. There’s the occasional sparse landscape as can often be the case with Preminger’s work but don’t be put off – whilst this may be a sonic contemplation of the afterlife, it’s not gloom jazz. Indeed, it’s uplifting and hauntingly beautiful at times. As if to underpin the paradox, a booklet of amusing poems by Ruth Lepson who was inspired by the music comes with the album.

Celebrating Robert Duncan

Michael Franco is hosting a day-long celebration of the life and work of poet Robert Duncan on April 13 at The Print Room in Somerville. Gratified to participate by talking about The Poet’s Mind, Duncan’s collected interviews. We’ll each read a poem by Duncan. Others will talk about his vowel-leading course, his correspondence with Denise Levertov, his flora and fauna, and so on. 2-9 PM.

For more information please click here to go to my “Readings” section.

Hilma af Klint & R.H. Quaytman at the Guggenheim

Don’t miss these exhibitions: Fri, Oct 12, 2018 – Tue, Apr 23, 2019

Mimi Gross

I had a wonderful and exciting visit with artist Mimi Gross at her studio today. She’s finally getting the credit she’s due for the collaborations she did with her then-husband Red Grooms back in the day, and she has a show of her early work now. Thank you Mimi!

Gerrit Lansing Panel 2019

Panel on Gerrit Lansing today at Poets House in NY. Well attended--poets of all stripes came--Anne Waldman, Pierre Joris, Geoffrey O'Brien, Kristin Prevallet, Mitch Highfill, Don Byrd, Kimberly Lyons, Mark Weiss, Star Black, Patrick Donnelly, Joe Elliot, etc. Simon Pettet flew in from SF just for this & then flew back! There will be other panels on Gerrit at Poets House and elsewhere in NY in the coming months, I hear. Thanks to Paolo at PH for having the panel & to Bob Podgurski for hosting it. Cd listen to Chuck Stein talk about Gerrit all day. Kate Tarlow Moragn talked about Gerrit & proprioception. I winged it. So many loved Gerrit....

My blurb for NY poet Andre Spears’ new book, Ship of State.

Beautiful is the book that can contain and yet mix and spill myriad and sometimes paradoxical sources and images: Margaret Yourcenar’s “between indefatigable/ hope and the wise/ absence of hope,” Foucault’s “…what we have to rediscover through/ the whiteness and/ inertia of death isn’t/ the lost shudder of life,/ it’s the meticulous/ deployment of truth,” Nietzsche’s “That for which we find/ words is something already/ dead in our hearts,” The Zohar’s “For there is a rose,/ and then there is a rose!”, Gertrude Stein’s “I like anything/ that a word can do,” Baudelaire’s “The poet is like…/ A rider of storms.” And a Zen koan, “Life is like getting/ in a boat that is about/ to sail out to sea/ and sink.”

The quotations run down the left-hand sides of the pages, the story of the voyage on the right, riffing on the Tarot card Death, intimating continuity between life and death, throwing overboard what is no longer of use. The ship sets sail in astral waters off the lost land of Mu (no thing, the gate to enlightenment). When the ship is marooned, captain and crew see they have resisted “joy, love and laughter,” so “[t]he hope is that by mapping/the Heavens, we will discover/the Guiding Sprit to enlighten us.”

Spears knows this is a caper, so he names his characters, for instance, Cowabunga and Tarzan, and juxtaposes ancient and mythical with the contemporary hashtag and psychosphere and the absurdities of the political.

This adventure without end, this section of his dazzling long poem, is enthralling. Here is a seafarer who not only assimilates what is valuable, but groks what to do with it: play.

Upcoming Panel Discussion 2019

Hello Everyone!

I am happy to announce that I’ll be on a panel on the life and work of poet Gerrit Lansing on March 16. It will be held at the Poets House, NYC. More details to come soon. If you have any questions, you can always contact me by clicking here and sending a note.

Update: *Other panelists are Chuck Stein, Kate Tarlow Morgan, and Robert Podgurski, who will introduce the panel.

Linda Chase Ensemble

I am pleased to announce that I recently worked with Linda Chase, and attended one of her classes last week to collaborate with her current NEC ensemble. Linda’s students, graduate and undergrad, collaborate with artists of other kinds. I read some poems & they improved to them and we did a few poetry exercises as well.

For more about Linda:

The Annual Boston Poetry Marathon 2018


We’re pleased to announce that it’s Boston Poetry Marathon time again!

This year's event takes place at Outpost 186 in Cambridge, MA on Friday, August 10, 7-10:30pm, Saturday, August 11 12:00-10:30pm and Sunday, August 12 12-6pm.

100+ poets read for 8 minutes a-piece, all weekend long. A wonderful time of year!

For  more information:

Reading this Saturday and more...

A quick reminder that I’m reading with the great Fanny Howe at Outpost in Inman Sq., Cambridge, at 4:00pm on Sat., Feb 3. I hope to see some of you.

I'm also happy to have poetry in the upcoming WoodCoin online magazine.

Lastly, I’ve be invited to read at Amherst College in mid-October in a new, exciting poetry series organized by some of the innovative poets of the Pioneer Valley, who are putting that part of Mass. on the poetry map.

Patrick Keppel's Introduction

The following is the introduction given by Patrick Keppel, Chair of Liberal Arts at NEC, from last week's reading with Timothy Ogene.

I’d like to welcome everyone to an evening celebrating the work of NEC’s poet-in-residence, Ruth Lepson.  Ruth is a great colleague, a real joy to work with—an extremely warm, talented, and engaging teaching artist.  Her Poetry Workshop and Contemporary Poetry electives are always extremely popular, as her emphasis on the pure music of language resonates with the kind of students NEC attracts.  In their evaluations, students often comment on how her classes give them insight into their lives in general and as musicians in particular.

One student wrote that Ruth helped him see that “Poetry is music, art, composition, and everything alike.”

Another wrote, “There were so many engaging moments in this class…The idea and teachings of this class have expanded my outlook on art, life, and music.”  

And still another:  “This course taught me to look into the deeper meaning of things and in other situations to just enjoy the experience.  Ruth Lepson is awesome!”

At our annual Poetry Reading, as well as at our Hear Here! publication event, Ruth’s students present their compelling original poetry and impressive musical settings.  As you watch them interact with Ruth, it’s clear just how much they treasure her. They feel deeply connected to Ruth personally, as both a professional mentor and friend.  Some even have collaborated with her artistically, in poetry and jazz, in recordings and in concerts in Boston and New York.  In fact, we will see and hear some examples of these collaborations tonight.

Ruth’s passion for extending herself as a multidimensional artist has earned her the respect of many wonderful local, national, and international poets—many of whom she has invited to her electives as guest artists, including her mentor Robert Creeley, Llyod Schwartz, Fanny Howe, Gerrit Lansing, Laurie Duggan, Geoffrey O’Brien, Tina Darragh, P. Inman, and Kate Greenstreet—as well as major composers/musician collaborators such as Steve Lacy, Alan Fletcher, Bob Cogan, Joe Maneri, and Frank Carlberg, who created a song from one of Ruth’s poems, which we will also hear performed tonight.

Ruth has published several volumes of poetry including Dreaming in Color, Poetry from Sojourner, Morphology, I Went Looking for You, and of course, her most recent book of poems, ask anyone, which is receiving significant critical acclaim. There are copies of the book for purchase in the back, and if you haven’t yet got a copy, I strongly urge you to, as it’s quite remarkable.

As the poet and editor Joyce Peseroff wrote in a recent review, “The gift of Lepson’s poetry lies in the degree of attention she pays the world. Like the painter in the poem ‘the painter’s turning his head,’ Lepson believes that ‘in talk   in art   two things going on//two languages   one of love and one of noticing//each a pleasure   they happen together.’ Ask anyone offers its pleasures the way a musician builds a chord, each line a distinct note that resonates in fresh and harmonious ways.”

Our special guest tonight, the poet Timothy Ogene, recently wrote what I consider a particularly insightful review of the delicate complexities of the language and structure of Ruth’s poems.

“In Lepson’s work,” he writes, “thought reveals itself in the choice and structural placement of words and, in other instances, a reluctance to carry an emotion to an expected end. The goal, it seems, is to create a binary that balances overt emotions with critical deliberations.

“Most important, however, is the fierce grasp on the function and limits of language, where the poet does not merely play and experiment with language for its own sake but for an intended subliminal effect. That subliminal effect is accentuated by the not-quiteness of her poems, how they leave the reader sandwiched between a climax and a joyous longing for more, practically making us ‘want to think and dance at the same time’ as Betsy Sholl says of Lepson’s poems.”

So, in short, we have a great night of thinking and dancing ahead of us.  Ruth will be reading from a variety of her volumes, including a poem based upon Fielding Dawson’s portrait of the artist Cy Twombly which she read at the ICA Black Mountain College show this winter and which she’ll be reading for an upcoming Cy Twombly show at the MFA.  She’ll also be reading poems with accompaniment, which she will describe. And of course we’ll also hear poems from our special guest, Timothy Ogene, whom Ruth will introduce.

But first please welcome to the stage, our terrific poet-in-residence, Ruth Lepson.


Upcoming events this week

I’ll be reading pages from Bill Berkson’s memoirs and from his emails to me, this Friday at the Grolier Poetry Book Shop, for the spoKe journal new issue reading, 7:00PM.
On Friday I will also be speaking about Robert Creeley to prospective students & their parents at The New England Conservatory of Music. The Day before I will be talking about George Oppen in one of my classes.

Good luck to me! A pleasure, really.