Mark Liebenow Recommends...

“Lately I’ve been going to the symphony for inspiration. I don’t know classical music well, so most of what happens surprises me. The long segments of developing sounds break me out of my tight verbal boxes of thought. I listen for the emotions, rhythms, and phrasing, and think about how to do this with words. Occasionally a work leaves me stunned, like Arvo Pärt’s "Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten." A single chime repeats throughout and silence is written in, reminding me to let my writing breathe. When the string sections intersect and descend through dissonance, I am carried from the announcement of death through grief to acceptance. When the last bell rings, there is clarity, as when the sky suddenly clears after a storm, and I rush home and begin to write.”
Mark Liebenow, author of Mountains of Light: Seasons of Reflection in Yosemite (University of Nebraska Press, 2012)


Words & Music

Dear Mr. Liebenow,


I just joined the blog on this site in order to seek out new poets. I am a radio broadcaster on WMNR FIne Arts Radio ( and my weekly program includes a segment called "Words & Music", in which I read a piece of poetry follwed by a piece of music which, to me, reflects the soul of the poem. So, it is remarkable that I came across your post

I have always sensed a mystical connection between poetry and music. Thank you for your sensitive thoughts along these lines.



Words on music

Dear Mark Liebenow--You may be interested in my book “For the Love of Music,” a collection of essays  written from a personal point of view (I’m not a trained musician, either), attempting (among other things) to understand how music moves us, how it shapes our emotions, our memories, and our expectations.  I’m reluctant to engage in self-promotion as I recommend my own book, but since it’s meant to help readers get more deeply into music, I want to call it to your attention. I envy you the adventures ahead as you expand your listening.—Best wishes, Larry Rothe