Class Notes: Reimagining Bunting – Belfast’s Lost Sounds

  • Visit to special collections
  • Music of 1600s, 1700s
  • Reading/recital
  • Lecture/concert Wednesday @ 1
  • Turlough O’Carolan
  • Assimilation of other folk collections under Irish folk umbrella
  • Archive March 7
  • Story of how the Bunting Archive came to Queen’s
  • Earliest Irish publication of Irish music
Class Notes: Reimagining Bunting – Belfast’s Lost Sounds

Millie McKoy & Christine McKoy Recall Meeting Blind Tom, 1877 by Tyehimba Jess


*The McKoy Sisters (1851-1912), were conjoined twins. They met autistic pianist Blind Tom (1849-1908) in 1877.

Source: Brooklyn Magazine

Millie McKoy & Christine McKoy Recall Meeting Blind Tom, 1877 by Tyehimba Jess

Mark Twain v. Blind Tom by Tyehimba Jess

Some archangel,
cast out of upper Heaven
like another Satan,
inhabits this coarse casket;
and he comforts himself
and makes his prison
beautiful with
thoughts and
dreams and
memories of
another time
and another existence
that fire
this dull clod
with impulses and inspirations
it no more comprehends
than does the stupid worm
the stirring of the spirit within
of the
gorgeous captive
whose wings she
whose flight she stays

I’m sent from above-
like rain on blue prayers.
blessed with Gabriel’s lost notes, I
can see up to God’s throne, yes,
while he plays this soul
of flesh free- makes me
the music of piano, the
breath and
burn in the
stormcloud’s roar from
when sound called up,
first made me whole.
sounds like love.
weighted in my chest
-it finds freedom after
hurt. I hear Earth’s tremble harsher
-better than the soil itself. When
land and tree sing to me, I hear
blooming inside- a spirit
shadows across my face,
breaking free
unloosed.  I play the wind
in my blood.

**  Left side is original quote from Mark Twain’s Special Letters to the San Francisco Alta  California August 1, 1869

*Blind Tom was a highly popular autistic and blind pianist who performed throughout the US from 1860’s until his death in 1908

This is a stunning form – I’d love to experiment with something similar!

Mark Twain v. Blind Tom by Tyehimba Jess

General James Bethune and John Bethune Introduce Blind Tom by Tyehimba Jess


Source: Oxford American | A Magazine of the South

Blind Tom (Thomas Wiggins) was an African American pianist and musical prodigy in the 19th century. He published a great number of original compositions as well as having a long, successful career as a performer across the United States, becoming one of the best-known American pianists. While autism was not a known condition during his lifetime, he is now described as an autistic savant.

More information is available at blind

General James Bethune and John Bethune Introduce Blind Tom by Tyehimba Jess

Class Notes: Week 4

  • Research Seminar March 8th
  • Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Readings on YouTube
  • 80% reduction principle
  • Brooks set in 1945 – why?
    – Important to read these texts in the context of 1945
  • Part of modernism is people who are making a dam and then documenting the making of the dam
  • Damian Smyth – Market Street
  • Rukeyser, William Carlos Williams (Patterson)
  • Agony over people living in poverty
    – Who is being grieved in this moment?
  • Dorothea Lange asked to talk to white people
    – How is race factoring into this?
    – Complicated moments of racial context
  • Informed consent
  • Agee article – commissioned to write this
  • These issues don’t arise with Street in Bronzeville
  • Voices of people affected by the war
  • Brooks – Kitchenette Building
    – Charts degrees of race
    – Crisis of the war in terms of race relations in America
    – Harlem renaissance
    — Race + class + gaze
    — Writing a poem at a certain place at a time and what is there & then
  • Ballad of Pearl May Lee
  • This week’s assignment – poem for a building (e.g. Kitchenette Building) or person (more examples in Brooks collection)
  • Gwendolyn Brooks did groundbreaking work within her own community
  • Ballads, sonnets, open form poems – feels like walking down a street
    – Content against the form
  • What happened to the people who were photographed?
  • Communism, art for the common man…
Class Notes: Week 4