Anyway, where threads go. It all goes well.

I’m a huge fan of John Ashbery’s poetry so when I discovered what seemed to be his Twitter account I was happy to be signing up for a daily dose of his strange and enigmatic poetry. The tweets were so good that I was also inclined to set one of them to music. On February 4, 2017 at 11:27am @AshberyEbooks sent out the tweet, “Anyway, where threads go. It all goes well”. I felt this text was beautifully ambiguous in its potential meaning. The text was also a perfect metaphor for my creative process which usually involves freely weaving together different kinds of musical “threads”.  Often I find that these musical threads truly can go in any direction and it all does seem to go well (assuming the piece gets finished). As I was finishing up the composition I began to grow suspicious of the Ashbery account. It seemed to send out tweets every hour or so, even late into the night. I did a little further research. As it turns out @AshberyEbooks is not John Ashbery. The account is not even a living person. It is, in reality, a Twitter bot. This means some clever computer programmer designed an algorithm to spit out text in the style of the beloved poet. Rather than being horrified by this discovery I was delighted by this fact. I also welcome all the various implications one can draw from the situation of non-humans writing poetry for living humans to ponder. And pondering is encouraged in my piece. The text is also set to music in a reflective and meditative way. The words themselves are deconstructed into their constituent parts. The small bits of language playfully melt into the piano’s sounds and there is sometimes a sense of a new language emerging. Perhaps it is fitting that a robot poet spurred such an entropic mutation to take place. I just hope that Mr. Ashbery also feels that the all has gone well.

Scott Wollschleger
2017

This performance:
Lucy Dhegrae, voice
Nathaniel LaNasa, piano
World Premiere
May 25, 2017
Church of the Intercession