So many thanks to Vermont College of Fine Arts, the Department of Libraries, and Vermont Humanities.
Publishing during the pandemic can be a little anticlimactic. It’s been really wonderful to see this book so well received by the literary community. Looking forward to rocking out with the other nominees, Kerrin McCadden and Shanta Lee Gander, at the ceremony later this month.
Hey there, gang! Please check out a second video of poems from the new book, The Disintegration Loops! If you’re hoping to hear about a bunch of boys swiping their mothers’ lipstick, a mastodon speaking from the other side of death, or a poem about John Coltrane’s love of sweets, then you’re in luck! Interested? Order the book here:
Dearest poetry lover, I wanted to celebrate with you the publication of my most recent book of poetry, The Disintegration Loops. Woo! A few words about the project:
The circumstances of the title poem, though highly fictionalized, have their basis in fact. The history of the piece of music known as “The Disintegration Loops,” by composer William Basinski, bears repeating. Basinski’s creation, which was recorded on a series of audio tapes in the 1980s, was badly stored. When he rediscovered the tapes twenty years later, he went to digitize them, but as he did so they began to flake. In an inspired move, Basinski looped the tapes so that the listener would hear the same phrases over and over. But as the tapes continued to revolve, silence invaded them from the inside. By the final loop, the listener hears not the soaring music of the beginning, but an homage to loss and stillness.
The poem makes large leaps from there. The two figures in the poem, the young composer and the older composer, are purely fictional. They have nothing to do with Basinski or the actual circumstances of finding the music.
I was able to get some sweet blurbs from Julie Kane and Adrian Matejka, former poet laureates of Louisiana and Indiana. Here’s what they have to say:
Shakespeare took comfort in the immortality of art, but Stephen Cramer knows that is a fiction. Composer William Basinski’s decaying audio tapes allow silence to “eat its way / through the music / like moths into old silk.” Under the splendid paint of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling lies the artwork of an earlier, forgotten artist. In these poems, disintegration and loss are what make art and memory precious to us: given perfect teeth, could Coltrane have produced his “spiral of shattered notes”? It is a book of unconventional elegies: honest, dark, and very beautiful.
—Julie Kane, author of Mothers of Ireland, and former Poet Laureate of Louisiana
The poems in Stephen Cramer’s dexterous, melodic new book The Disintegration Loops are made from the music that comes from the unexpected. Coltrane’s teeth, misplaced loves, art painted on ceilings, a monk’s saffron robe: they all transform into harmonies we’ve never heard. If you didn’t know Cramer’s work before, you better sit up and listen: each of these poems is a music made out of words, a whole symphony happening from one page to the next.
—Adrian Matejka, author of Map to the Stars, and former Poet Laureate of Indiana
Hey, guys! I’m psyched to announce the publication of a new book:
The Hot Sauce Madness Love Burn Suite is a book of poems that revolves around the beloved and sometimes notorious culture of hot sauce and hot peppers. Its 814 rhyming couplets delve deeply into that rich and addicting world, whether they focus on peppers’ flavor, pain, linguistics, or history. Come take a bite out of these verses, and see if you can handle the heat.
Stephen Cramer‘s obsession with the intersection of poetry and music has long provided the thumping backbeat to his work. The award-winning Burlington poet and University of Vermont senior lecturer in the English department has penned six poetry books.
Most recently, Cramer is the editor of Turn It Up! Music in Poetry from Jazz to Hip-Hop, an ambitious collection of poems about music. He takes a few guest solos with his own verses inspired by Miles Davis, Public Enemy, Nirvana and others. But Cramer’s primary role here is bandleader, orchestrating lyrical works by the likes of Langston Hughes, James Baldwin and Joyce Carol Oates.
Each of the book’s three sections — jazz, rock and hip-hop — sings with syncopation and soul, from former U.S. poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Rita Dove’s ode to Lady Day, “Canary” to Vermont poet Major Jackson‘s “from Erie.” Turn It Up! is like a mixtape made by a friend with impeccable taste.