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Poems for New Orleans


Poems for New Orleans


Editorial Reviews


Each of us who lived through Katrina has a story. There are a million possible narratives of personal loss, anger, and grief. It seems ironic, then, that Ed Sanders, the beat poet from New York City, author of Tales Of Beatnick Glory and co-founder of The Fugs, who was not personally affected by the storm, would be the one to produce the epic spoken word CD, Poems For New Orleans. These poems, read in Sander's melliflous voice and accompanied by Mark Bingham's musical score, lack what almost every other narrative of the city's decimation has had: an "I." The first person pronoun enters these poems only when Sanders assumes the voice of another, or of the city itself. But perhaps it's because Sanders has no personal Katrina experience to relate that he can tell the story as a tragedy of history, a tragedy of a city, a nation, and a people. The first poem and the longest piece tells the story of the Battle of New Orleans focusing on Lemoine LeBage, a haitian emigre' schooled in the ideals of the French Revolution who joined Andrew Jackson's motley crew of militias for the battle. He was wounded and, according to the poem, treated on the battlefield by Marie Laveau. The poem fast forwards to Grace LeBage, "his great-great-great-great grandaughter" and her frustrated attempt to save the family home. Her struggle with the now familiar roadblocks and governmental callousness becomes the symbol of all our struggles to bounce back from the storm. Sander's tragedy has a classic tinge. He refers to the Greek tragedian Aeschylus, and the flood becomes the Waters of Poseidon. The redneck trucker who, on a whim, drives to Hope, Arkansas and liberates a load of FEMA trailers from bureaucratic gridlock, has a Bull of Minos ( the minotaur ) on the grill of his truck. Post-storm violence and rape invokes the myth of Ajax and Cassandra. These allusions lend the story a timelessness that reveals the tragedy in it's true scope, so much larger than any individual's place in it. Still, the crowning achievement of the work may be Mark Bingham's score. Spoken word often features musical accompaniment, but Bingham's work on Poems For New Orleans surely sets a new standard for the hybrid genre. The composition seamlessly weaves in Dixieland, jazz, brass, and even a Stravinsky-like orchestral theme that depicts the approach of the storm. Sander's work, in the tradition of the Beats, eschews regular meter and rhyme, but Bingham finds it's irregular music at every turn, creating a fabric of New Orleanian musical motifs that seem, sometimes filtered through a watery distortion. It's as if the city, on confronting the possibility of it's end, sees it's history pass by in a surreal pastiche. It's too bad that no New Orleans writer has produced a Katrina-related work of the scope of Poems For New Orleans. But, after the political and financial betrayal by the rest of the nation, it is gratifying to recieve this homage from a poet of Sander's talent and stature. Poems For New Orleans is as heartfelt and ambitious a project as has come out of the storm, and perhaps those of us who have our own stories to tell can learn something from a poet who records, with empathy and sensitivity, the story of a city and a culture, rather than an individual. --Bill Lavendar / Offbeat Magazine

In this year's best poetry CD, Sanders, still hammering the dulcimer of the efficacy and sweetness of the Beats, utilizes his Investigative Poetry techniques and aesthetic to give the full backstory to the unbearable tragedy still in progress(!) in New Orleans. From NOLA'S founding in 1718, through the Battle of New Orleans, the rise of Creole culture and Voodoo, all the way to Katrina, here is a poem series via CD that by itself contextualizes the whole of this most amazing perfect American city. The music by Mark Bingham is copiously on point, a full aural landscape. Hats off to Michael Minzer, CEO of Paris Records and producer ( with Bingham ) of this urgent masterpiece in bayou time. --Bob Holman /

Poems for New Orleans

Rosslyn Chapel was founded in 1446 by Sir William St Clair. The beauty of its setting, in rural Midlothian, and the mysterious symbolism of its ornate stonework have inspired, attracted and intrigued writers, artists and visitors ever since. Now open daily – and you can also enjoy the special atmosphere of the Chapel during InterReflections Please book visits in advance through this website.

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Essential Information

Situated just 7 miles south of Edinburgh city centre and close to the Scottish Borders, Rosslyn Chapel is open throughout the year. With visitor capacity restricted, this is a great time to visit without the usual numbers. We look forward to welcoming you soon!

Now open daily

Find out more about what to expect from your visit to The Chapel.

Major programme of restoration and repair proposed for Rosslyn Castle

10th September 2021

A major programme of restoration and repair at one of Midlothian’s most historic sites is being proposed. Applications for planning, listed building and scheduled monument consent for work at Rosslyn […]

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William the Chapel Cat

26th August 2021

We are all very sad to announce that William the Chapel Cat passed away very peacefully yesterday afternoon, in the care of ICR vets in Loanhead, and with two of […]

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The Official Rosslyn Chapel Website