Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lip by Cathryn Cofell


Cathryn Cofell
Abella Audio Productions

In the early part of the 20th century poet Basil Bunting was among the first poets to drive home the point that poetry should be spoken, that like a musical score it was not intelligible until it was heard aloud. And so performance poetry began to take shape. Yet it took until the 70’s and the arrival of slam poetry for spoken word and performance poetry to really begin to find their zenith. Today, the marriage of poetry and music continues to expand into libraries, coffee houses, pubs, art galleries and sometimes spills its lyrical beauty in gardens or on street corners. Cathryn Cofell’s CD “Lip” (music by Obvious Dog) combines her love for the written word with her love for music and her talent for public speaking into a journey syncopated with words jazzed up with musical interludes.

Ms. Cofell’s list of credits runs long. In addition to “Lip,” she has published numerous books of poetry, won 40 plus awards, and was nominated not once, but twice, for a Pushcart. Her full-time gig is in the non-profit arena and this Wisconsin girl also finds time to support the Arts, as a self-proclaimed “sucker for a good cause.” While her credits also include speaking engagements and voice-over work, I have to say that this reviewer was somewhat disappointed in the delivery of the work on “Lip.” The poetry is intense, touching on women’s themes from the get-go. The first work deals with puberty, menses, coming of age, and the evolution through the phases of a woman’s moon – yet, the performance barely skims the surface of the emotional sworls and upheavals of women’s cycles of life.

With titles like “Ms. Conception” and “Covered in Hicky’s” we continue to follow Ms. Cofell’s emphasis on women’s themes, sexuality, and fertility or lack thereof. By half way through the CD I found myself humming the old tune, “I am Woman!” (hear me roar)

The musical interludes of Obvious Dog are sound enough in the beginning and the music is allowed further showcase as the CD progresses, but is never the breath of a soundtrack beneath the lyrical spoken words.

This is a CD that addresses the evolution of women; the writing and imagery is solid and I enjoyed listening to it multiple times in my car, even as I longed for a more evocative presentation of the spoken word.

*****Rene Schwiesow is a co-host of Poetry: The Art of Words in Plymouth, MA. She co-owns an online poetry forum (, has been published in various anthologies including “City Lights” and is a regular at open mic’s on the greater Boston poetry circuit.

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