LONG BRANCH, NJ — They meet, compete and commingle like the sand and the surf here in our seaside city…the words and the music; the sounds that compel our attention and the poetry that speaks to our heart. You’d expect nothing less from a place that’s produced Poets Laureate, novelists, wits and screenwriters — and where a young up-and-coming musician named Bruce Springsteen penned a handful of his most epic songs.
Singer, songwriter and recording artist Lisa Lowell is the special guest for the May 14 edition of the “iPoet” events at the Long Branch Free Public Library, as the backing vocalist for Bruce Springsteen and many others helps the Long Branch Arts Council celebrate the theme of “Poetry in Music.”
When The Boss goes out on the road, enters the studio or assembles an ambitious project like the Seeger Sessions Band, he often calls upon singer Lisa Lowell — possessor of a voice and a versatility that captures both the stadium-scale drama and the coffeehouse intimacy of his finest performances. On the afternoon of Saturday, May 14, Lisa Lowell visits the Long Branch Free Public Library at 328 Broadway, as the special guest for the latest celebration of new poetic voices known as iPoet.
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Scheduled from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. inside the library’s Community Room, and sponsored by the Long Branch Arts Council, the Long Branch Free Public Library and the Long Branch Historical Association (supported by Investors Savings Bank Charitable Foundation, Monmouth County Arts Council and the City of Long Branch), the event known as iPoet represents the next generation of a medium that’s powered not by the latest in personal tech gadgetry, but by the power of words. It’s a series that spotlights the words of area students — many of them sharing their poetry for the first time in public — alongside published professionals, veteran amateurs, notable “guest readers” and anyone who wishes to participate; at a friendly forum in which no one is graded by professors, criticized by workshop groups or hooted down by hecklers.
For the May presentation, subtitled “The Poetry of Music,” Lowell will be sharing some of the original prose and poetry works that inspired the creation of Beautiful Behavior, her first self-released collection of songs. The sought-after vocalist, who grew up in Long Branch and graduated from the city’s High School, has also collaborated with artists ranging from Southside Johnny, Stevie Wonder and BB King, to the B-52’s Fred Schneider, Buster Poindexter and even RuPaul. On May 14 she’ll join such “daylighting” musicians as Gee Guillen from regional favorites Xol Azul, and notable guest readers (including historians Beth Woolley and Helen Pike) who will recite lyrics by folk-rock hitmaker Melanie (who also attended LBHS) and George “Words and Music” Wirth.
Also joining in the act will be an acclaimed artist with a unique expertise in both words and music — returning host Rock Wilk, the Brooklyn-based singer/ writer/ producer/ performance poet whose arrangements and harmonies have been heard on sessions by Grammy-lauded music veterans — and who’s been known to incorporate the power of song into the intensely personal spoken pieces that make up his nationally celebrated, autobiographical one man show, “Broke Wide Open.”
At the heart of the Saturday afternoon event, of course, is a chance to see and hear the work of some talented and creative young writers, from area grade schools and colleges — and there’s still time for young poets from grades 6 through college level to get on board. To obtain a sign-up form or find out more about iPoet, contact Kate Angelo, director of Outreach and Adult Programming at Long Branch Free Public Library, at [email protected].
Admission to iPoet is free of charge, with participants invited to bring family and friends, and enjoy complimentary refreshments while meeting fellow poets and enthusiasts during a post-event reception.
The Long Branch Arts Council is a partnership dedicated to working with the city government, civic and business organizations and the arts community to re-establish the City of Long Branch as a thriving regional center for the arts. Our aim is to accomplish this goal by attracting artists and arts organizations, by coordinating fundraising and development efforts, by establishing arts education programs, and by presenting arts-oriented events that draw upon the natural resources, accessibility, historic assets and “people power” that are unique to our beloved city.