George Roberts’ “improvised writing”

George Roberts – poet, visual artist (for example, the cover of Ananke), paper maker, hand typesetter, educator/mentor, co-owner/founder of Homewood Studios in North Minneapolis, and, in the best sense of the description, community advocate* – was unaware of free jazz/improvised music when we first officially met in 2003. (An overview of that encounter from both our perspectives can be found here.)

*(I purposefully use the word “advocate” rather than “activist” as he and his wife Bev, the other co-owner/founder, are extremely well-networked/knowledgable concerning the inner workings of our shared Minneapolis community; the unjustly vilified and tragically neglected Northside. But rather than use their connections for personal positioning/gain, they instead primarily work behind the scenes to empower/embolden residents in all manner of endeavor from the arts to politics to business.)

In addition to granting me the space to facilitate “Improvised Music At Homewood Studios”; a series which, as noted, lasted 10 years and was only curtailed due to my being able to establish my home-based Studio Toile d’Angles in 2013, George also manned the door for most of those concerts (!); no doubt at least in part due to his innate curiosity concerning the, for wont of a better phrase, artistic process in general, and, this new, for him, genre specifically.

In posting the concert dates/personnel on the Homewood Studios website, he would often employ pithy/amusing or poetic entreaties in an (essentially futile [smile]) attempt to encourage people to attend.

5 years into the series, on March 8, 2008, he started to write down impressions of the music (and ancillary observations) as it was happening. As with the music itself, there was no forethought nor editing. The resultant observations/ruminations were insightful, striking, poignant and, perhaps above all, poetic.

Along with his “formal” poetry, this “improvised writing” served as a catalyst for me to convene a sounds/words grouping which presented its work in a number of concerts at Studio Toile d’Angles and one at Homewood Studios just prior to the pandemic taking hold.

The entirety of George’s “improvised writing” can be found on the Homewood Studios Events Archive page. He didn’t always indulge, but when he did, it was not necessarily for the full 2 hours of music. As he always included a “time stamp” for each section, and all the music has been archived, I would ideally have liked to provide the music with the words, but that is far beyond my meagre technical abilities. In any case, the words speak eloquently for/as themselves.

Unfortunately, the aforementioned Archive page is not all that user friendly when it comes to locating the details of a specific event, i.e.; where one can find George’s writing. One can scroll down from the Archive listings page to find it chronologically. (Note, the listings start with the most recent archived Homewood event/2021, so it takes a bit of scrolling to get to 2013-2008.) Or, one can click on the link in the Events list, but in doing so, be advised that going “back” from the details of that event results in returning to the previous page on one’s device rather than the Archive page. In that case, one has re-access the Archive page and go from there. However, once one has clicked on to a specific event, others can be located via scrolling.

In any case, if one has a bit of spare time, it is worth the effort. Following are the Improvised Music at Homewood Studios concert dates featuring George’s “improvised writing”:

March 10
May 12
July 14
September 8
November 10

January 12
March 9
May 11
July 13
September 14
November 9

January 11
March 8
August 22
November 8

March 14
April 10

April 22
April 29
May 14
July 9
November 12

January 14
March 11
May 13
July 8
September 9

3 thoughts on “George Roberts’ “improvised writing””

  1. Thank you Milo,for giving space on your blog for my introduction to improvisational writing. Being introduced to and invited into a whole new sphere of artistic musical expression has been nothing short of joyous. I’ve learned a great deal from you and your cohort of musicians about deep listening, about the sensual quality of the pause, and most of all about the courage it takes to pursue self discovery honestly.
    I anticipate walking out of the hospital one day soon and continuing our long collaborations in one form or another.

  2. Your sentiments are deeply appreciated, George; particularly as you touch on something rarely if ever noted concerning the manner in which I attempt to comport myself. As I am wont to intone, barring life’s vagaries, I too look forward to our further collaborative work!

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