Julia de Burgos‘ poem to her public self (Spanish text here). Leonard Bernstein conducts the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival Orchestra in a television performance of a work he composed, Songfest, which borrows texts from various American poets. Daisy Newman is the soprano. In a 1986 review of a Deutsche Grammophon recording, Music critic Edward Greenfield wrote,
If I had to choose one work of Bernstein’s for my Desert Island, it would certainly be Songfest, a cycle of 12 American poems which in its sharpness of imagination brings out Bernstein’s finest qualities. Rather like Britten in the Nocturne and the Serenade, he combines musical ingenuity with illuminatingly poetic response to each poem. The result is not just witty and brilliant, as you would expect, but often intensely beautiful and deeply moving, as in the haunting Whitman love poem and the radiant setting for women’s trio of Anne Bradstreet’s poem ”To my dear and loving husband”.
To watch the entire song cycle on YouTube, start here.
I’m not sure which translation they used for the subtitles (perhaps Bernstein’s own?) but a better one, by Jack Agüeros, may be read here.
I’ve been looking for videos of poems by the great 20th-century Puerto Rican poet and feminist Julia de Burgos in honor of the confinrmation hearings of Sonia Sotomayor, so I was happy to run across this installment from the generally wonderful Favorite Poem Project, featuring bilingual public school teacher Glaisma Perez-Silva.
Animation by Kwok Tung Shuen for the Poetry Foundation’s Poetry Everywhere series