Thelogia: a lyric

This is a piece I wrote long ago – 1982. A couple things converged to bring it to mind. Yesterday in a ModPo forum, there was a link to an essay on poetry & lyrics
and a blog I follow talked about Thelonoius Monk. In the last weeks of ModPo I was really resistant to the idea of found poetry – but this is a found lyric- using the titles of Monk’s compositions.

O I still hear in reflection around midnight
still hear Monk’s dream, that stride rhyth-ma-ning
that stride rhyth-ma-ning
Brilliant corners of life, brilliant corners
off major and minor
O how he played
Something in blue, something of Monk’s mood

Thelonious, Thelonious , bye ya, Thelonious bye
Thelonious bye ya
Let’s cool one straight with no chaser. Bye ya

O I still hear, in reflections ’round midnight
still hear Monk’s dream, that stride rhyth-ma-ning
that stride rhyth-ma-ning
Lonely chord in my soul, mysterioso
Blue Monk still plays

When Monk died in 1982,I was working part-time at Essex County College in Newark and taking private lyric writing classes with Aaron Bell, the head of the music department. Dr. Bell composed a tribute to Monk and called it Thelogia. He told me to try writing a lyric. I didn’t know much about Monk, but my husband had an extensive record collection, so I pulled out all his Monk albums and copied down the titles and put them together to ‘write’ this lyric. It was performed some time later that year at St. Peter’s Church in NY by Dr. Bell and students from the Essex County College.

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