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Posted by : cj on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 01:55 PM
Chicago Poetry Reviews: Click Headlines .
Erzulie Freda
An Audio Chapbook on CD
by Larry Winfield
12.23 Press
Reviewed by C. J. Laity

Chicago-native / LA-transplant saloon poet Larry Winfield has a ton of experience performing his ambient, sexy poetry to various jazz styles, from the many versions of his poetry band Brass Orchid, to way back when, when he shared Chicago stages with other big names with the ensemble Brothers in Verse. His voice has matured over the years and this fine audio CD is a prime example of how putting poetry to music and burning it onto a disk can work. Winfield's commanding, hypnotic verse pops like an opiate seed, casting a trance and then prompting giddiness. His wit and sense of suspense burns like a dancing flame, intense in its timing and delivery. With the pronunciation of a real professional, Winfield's words ride the waves, poetic and highly lingual. There are 21 poems in this project and each one has been studio worked to perfection, making this one of the finest audio collections I have ever heard. It is a book that you don't have to read. You can plop it into your computer and enjoy it.

While listening to Erzulie Freda at times I had to laugh out loud. But this was not due to some Shappiesque stand up comedy bit, but the result of Winfield's masterful use of tone. A moan or an extended bout of Barry White worked so well with the content, and relaxed enunciation combined with images as disturbing as three nipples, hit the stomach in its funny spot. Yet there is such experience shared, that an earnest sympathy for the humanity expressed in this work can't help being felt. It is poetry to fall in love to, so laid back it kicks you without moving. It touches upon the complexities of knowing someone, the consequences other lives have on the self.

To really get a taste of what Larry Winfield can do to a poem once he hits the stage, first read his poem "'i don't fall in love'":

"i don't fall in love," she said,
"i fly into and out of ecstacy."
she dances naked in the living room,
a candle dances on her coffee table.
my voyeur's caresses take in every real imperfect inch -
hovering over the rounded belly,
the dark hairs beneath touched by early gray,
her small mouthfuls ripe and still sweet.
"falling in and out of love is too much like
falling through life
with only a deathbed to catch you;
fly often enough and you get used to crashes.
sometimes you even repeat yourself
just to feel your legs turn to jelly...."
she circled the flame, flirting with memory,
recalling every pair of eyes,
all the love-soaked loins,
each pair of hands fumbling or assured
that ever drank deeply of her unbroken curves
and undamaged essence.
she told a life story truncated by habit
for new-found lovers;
i discarded clothes, eager to mix colors
into her shadow ballet,
swallowed in clouds.

and also Winfield's poem "'drink the wine'":

i drink the wine that flows from your mouth
and you purr -
a smoky caress of heat that covers me,
fills me.
we become silhouettes
as the light fades into deep shadows.
i can't see your smiles, but
my fingers absorb them
as i trace your name across the contours of your chest,
gliding over the sweat we've created. and shared.
vowels tangle in your aureoles
and you bubble over in contralto sighs
and giggles;
your nails strafe me, lightly, slowly,
drawing liquid sparks.
and we begin, again.

Now, listen to the poetry!

HERE is a Media Player stream of the opening poem "'i don't fall in love'".

And HERE is a stream of track 8, "'drink the wine'".

Freakin' sweet, huh?

Don't be misled, though. The music that accompanies these two particular tracks are very similar, but the CD actually broadens the jazz forms and experimental ambience and offers a variety of mood. This CD is cool, crisp, and fresh. It's a great trophie of the Chicago saloon poetry scene that began in the late 80s. Winfield has lost none of his erotic good taste.

--C. J. Laity

For information about ordering this audio CD, contact the author at

back to the posse

**We hope you found the information on this page useful. needs your help. We are holding a fundraising drive in order to stay online. There are two ways that you can help:
Click here to offer a financial gift or click here to order the new book by Press.

Note: Here is a review of Larry Winfield's audio CD Erzulie Freda.

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