Created by Kurtis Hough
CHRISTOPHER TIGNOR ON JOHN ASHBERY'S "A BOY":
The poem "A Boy" rang out to me while I was writing "Thunder Lay Down in the Heart". Titles usually come in response to the music and I often find myself looking through books of poetry to turn my mind on in that way. I studied poetry myself with John Ashbery many years ago while a student Bard College - indeed he was my advisor. I really responded to the inner psychic conflict of the protagonist against the visceral narrative tension of the storm - the sound, like thunder, of falling "from shelf to shelf of someone's rage", the rain at night against the box cars, the inevitable flood.
But to say I've completely understood the poem - on whatever terms - is to short change its mystery. I find something new in this poem every time I read it. It's precisely that kind of altruistic unfolding that I hoped to embody in my musical work with its own flooded lines, dry fields of lightning, and cabbage roses. One reviewer recently described the work as its own "vast electrical disturbance". Hard to disagree.