In this series of poems responding to Johann Sebastian Bach’s spectacular “Goldberg Variations,” New Hampshire State Poet Laureate Alice B. Fogel has paid homage to a 274-year-old masterpiece and, with the theme of spirit and embodiment that music—and life itself—evoke, has rendered from it a luminous new interpretation. Bach created the Goldbergs’ 32 sections using nearly all the styles of western European music at the time; Fogel responds in kind with a range of contemporary poetic styles, including narrative, lyric, and experimental, all confined within the 32-line structure she has borrowed from the composer’s 32-bar format. Interval mimics the “baroque” effects of overlapping melodies and harmonies by layering sound, syntax, and sense in multiple voices exploring self, identity, and being. In capturing the essence of this iconic masterpiece, through these poems Fogel has created her own music.
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