Bassist John Gallagher will perform as part of an evening of poetry and jazz at the Jesup library on Thursday, July 26, at 7 p.m. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE JESUP

Poetry, jazz night planned

BAR HARBOR — Maine’s Poet Laureate and two jazz musicians present an evening of poetry and jazz at the Jesup Memorial Library on Thursday, July 26, at 7 p.m.

The performance will combine poetry readings by Kestenbaum with original music by composer and pianist Scott Cleveland as a response to each poem.

Cleveland will be accompanied by bassist John Gallagher.

The idea first came about when the Kestenbaum and Cleveland exchanged works and decided to plan a concert. Kestenbaum chose pieces of work to read and Cleveland composed music either as a companion to the tone of the poem or as a rebuttal. Cleveland says, “Perhaps the best definition of our approach to poetry and jazz is to articulate what it is not: it is not a jazz concert with poetry interpolations, nor is it a poetry reading with incidental jazz; it is an attempt to fully integrate the two into a new kind of counterpoint, each ‘voice’ dependent on the other.”

Kestenbaum was appointed poet laureate of Maine in 2016. He is the author of four collections of poems, “Pilgrimage,” “House of Thanksgiving,” “Prayers and Run-on Sentences” and “Only Now,” and a collection of essays, “The View From Here.” He has written and spoken widely on craft-making and creativity, and his poems and writing have appeared in numerous small press publications and magazines.

“Stuart Kestenbaum writes the kind of poems I love to read, heartfelt responses to the privilege of having been given a life,” former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser wrote. “No hidden agendas here, no theories to espouse, nothing but life, pure life, set down with craft and love.”

Kestenbaum is also an honorary fellow of the American Craft Council and a recipient of the Distinguished Educators Award from the James Renwick Alliance.

Cleveland is a composer, singer, pianist, music educator and church musician. He graduated from Berklee College of Music and UMass-Lowell and has a master’s degree in divinity from Boston University. He has written and produced five independent solo albums and performs original and reinterpreted jazz, R&B and blues as a solo pianist and singer and in numerous duos, trios and quartets.

Gallagher has been a fixture on the eastern Maine jazz scene for several decades. In 1986, having acquired one of his uncle’s basses, he began playing bass seriously. He is a founding member of the A Train Quintet, which has performed for more than 25 years in a variety of local and regional venues. He performs in area venues with several groups.

Copies of Kestenbaum’s work will be on sale that night courtesy of co-sponsor Sherman’s Books. The evening is being co-sponsored by Bar Harbor Bank & Trust.

Contact the Jesup at 288-4245 or [email protected] for more information.

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