Listen Here is well underway. I am getting ready to listen to R.Murray Schafer’s 8th String Quartet, played by Quatuor Molinari,  as a prompt for free-fall writing leading to couplets, leading me to a new ghazal. I plan to write a ghazal for every quartet. Extensive research continues, as does listening. The first seven ghazals in the collection are complete, and I’ve written an introduction for the book including the other sections in the manuscript called “Dispatches from the pain room” and “The Jimmy Bang Blues Project” to crystallize my thinking and outline my work for the next three months.

R. Murray Schafer died in August 2021. He was 88. Here he is pictured with the Molinari Quintet and his spouse Eleanor James.


December 31,2020

I’m listening to Chris Potter’s version of “Body & Soul,” first given life on October 11th 1939, by Coleman Hawkins whose improvised solo comprised most of the 3:00 minute take, soon to be a hit. That’s right! The first jazz hit, still released on a 78rpm disk. Unheard of!

Two music books arrived yesterday including the fully transcribed Hawkins take, one with a history and then transcription of many of the “Body & Soul” solos since, including Potter’s at the last. Potter also wrote the introduction noting how important Hawkins’s solo was to  open things up to be-bop, and how it is still considered a standard measure of excellence
 all tenor sax players, worth their salt, must achieve.

I’m obsessing but that’s ok, as this is research for my Listen,Here collection in the works.
I’ve been thinking about how it might “fit” and then I realized the manuscript could be sequenced like many a Conservatory piano book, say like the one I had for three years until I passed the Grade six piano exam; a commitment I made to my parents so I could start playing trumpet. Thanks to some tutoring by Verna Wiebe (nee Heinrichs), a Klassen cousin, I squeeked by on my third try, including the theory test; the ear training test was a trial for all of us. I should have understood this did not bode well for a future jazz musician.

I’m thinking “Studies” for now, and these poems would be about some specific moments, techniques in music of the 20th century like dissonance, new intervals, delayed resolution, and syncopation for starters. I will find a “Body & Soul” link to add to my story.


December 28, 2020

Published today in Jerry Jazz Musician (Online, Portland Oregon)  in response to a quick call for a piece of music and some words about how it helped get us through 2020.

A new poem by Victor Enns

Time does not care whether it’s Covid-19
Or covert militias that kill, funerals
Now just a memory, hoping to see
Your grandmother through the glass
Before she breathes her last. Families
Are repulsed by the line-up of refrigerator
Trucks for racking the dead, the living left
With no place to take their viral remains
The cemeteries full to bursting,
Not deep enough to take all this mortality
And no hell hot enough for the unmasked
Needing beds to die in all the same.
Health care workers pay no mind
Whether you walk on the sunny or the dark
Side of the street with the shady National police
In rental vans for the still breathing
As if it was possible to take away reality
Captured on every phone rolling digital
Video, death Is no secret. We can see it all in slo-mo
All those guns, all those aerosols, all those bodies.

At home I do not pray, I live in another country
Afraid of all the violence; there is too much death
So close to where I live. I shelter in my apartment listen
Here to  jazz hymns, like Haden, like Peterson,
here Webb’s arrangement takes pain,
washing it in the water,  brings solace
To the river, the one we all will cross.

TOO MUCH DEATH a new poem by Victor Enns, read here by Victor Enns. I get comfortable half way through. Lots to learn lots to fix, but here it is for today. My poem for 2020.  So this is Take one.


My song for 2020 is “Washed by the Water” by Peter Gabriel, played by the Jodi Proznik Quartet.  The hymn-like arrangement by Tilden Webb is a tribute to Oscar Peterson and will soothe your soul. The track can be found on Foundations featuring Jodi Proznick on bass, Tilden Webb on piano, Jesse Cahill on drums and Steve Kaldestad on tenor saxophone.  

[The Jodi Proznick Quartet released their debut CD “Foundations” on Cellar Live on 2006 to critical acclaim. It was nominated for a Juno award and was awarded both Album and Acoustic Group of the Year at the National Jazz Awards in 2007. The repertoire is a mix of original compositions as we



I have completed acceptable first two draft ghazals inspired by String Quartets 1 & 2 by R.Murray Schafer cognizant of what I’m learning from Ravishing DisuUities and Hungry Listening. I enjoy composing in the modern ghazal forms, and have plenty to learn. The rhyme scheme is more comfortable with every outing, and the disunity between couplets is a strength in my work. The rhythm of line and couplet  is proving to be the hardest to learn. I took a week or two between ghazals to collect my uncollected poems  called Spontaneous Combustion, for now.

Hungry Listening,” is a beautiful book, the cover “Atsi,gathering songs to return to our families,” by Bracken Hanuse Corlett (Wuiknuxv/Klahoose/Kwakwaka’wakwo), Cover Design by Kristina Kachele Design. Reproduced here with permission from the publisher

My first reader reports are coming in (big thanks!) and I’m saving revisions for the “holidays,” focsiung again on the LISTEN HERE project. I’m hearing outdoor sounds from inside drawn to the train whistled which atill sounds like the ones I remember from Gretna, the town sirens calling the volunteer fire brigade (God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater.) The railway line is still active, as it serves the distillery making Royal Crown/Northern Crown whiskey.


October 20, 2020

This book, recommended by a FaceBook friend arrived today.

It will help me decide whether I will keep writing couplets or move to the more formal  ghazals. I understand how the Canadian “Stilt-Jack Ghazals” aren’t ghazals at all in any formal sense. So let’s call them something else. The sense of appropriation continues though as I work in a language without a long history of ghazal use, though coming close in a German connection. Falling back to my culture and German as my mother tongue was a feature of Correct in this Culture, particularly in the opening section and in performance. It is showing up again in the poems about death and dying I’m calling the “Mennonite Book of the Dead aka Dead Mennonites.”


I have started revising my first ghazal responding to Schafer’s String Quartet #1 following up on the sounds of a swarm of bees. I had started to convince myself the tones of the quartet were too low to put me in mind of bees as the quartet opens. Not terribly original perhaps, but connected to Joe Rosenblatt and his bee poems which I heard him read in Saskatchewan in the 80s. Amazing what you can find on the web, even the sounds of swarming bees, and to my reliefclose enough. So that’s the first line….


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