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The ‘Art’ of Poetry

Music Professor Jean Kreiling publishes second collection of verse

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After three decades as a professor of music at BSU, Dr. Jean L. Kreiling continues to earn recognition in another creative field, with her publication of a second book of poems.

Arts & Letters & Loveis a collection of poems by Dr. Kreiling about her response to well-known works of visual, musical, and literary art. Three sections are devoted, respectively, to poems about paintings, musical pieces, and literature itself, and a fourth to various works about love.

Dr. Kreiling, whose specialty is music history, describes the book as “a thank-you note to the painters, composers, and authors who have opened my mind and nudged my imagination.”

“The arts enrich all our lives, but our experiences with art are fleeting,” she said. “So writing a poem in response to a work of art is an attempt to preserve that experience and make a personal record of that moment. My hope is that my response to a work of art may ring true to others or stimulate them to explore these works of art.”

Dr. Kreiling whose previous collection, The Truth in Dissonance, appeared in 2014, has received several awards for her poetry, including the Able Muse Write Prize. She is also a six-time finalist for the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award.

Her new book reflects how poetry and music are natural complements, said Dr. Kreiling, who has been writing poetry seriously for 15 years.

“As a musicologist, my job is often to analyze or describe music as objectively as possible.” But that can be an incredibly frustrating endeavor, she added, because “music stirs us in ways that just can't be captured in technical vocabulary.”

Relating to music through the lens of poetry offers additional rewards, Dr. Kreiling said.

“Poetry offers a subjective way to respond to music that paradoxically often turns out to be a more precise response,”she said.

An overriding message of the book, Dr. Kreiling said, is that “We are free to interpret a work of art however we want,” a theme she overtly explores in the opening poem - about the Edward Hopper painting, “Rooms by the Sea.” The painting, featured on the book’s cover, “is really intriguing and I think it’s open to a number of interpretations.”

Dr. Kreiling, who has her BSU students read poems about music, said, “I’m very impressed with how they find in a work of poetic art something that helps them understand a musical work of art, how their minds can work in that inter-disciplinary way.”

“At a Performance of Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzes”

By Jean Kreiling

The whole world counts to three: the singers, hoping

that love resounds in every exhalation;

the agile-fingered pianists, gamely coping

with four-hand tangles, mimicking flirtation;

the silver-haired conductor, who has led

rehearsals every week, whose heart is full

of well-tuned Viennese élan, whose head

whirls with a thousand notes, and who must pull

old ballroom glory from these modern men

and women, and disperse it to the rows

of ears behind him, so that once again

a world of two-beat patterns - valves that close

and open, limbs in pairs, the choice to be

or not - can happily defer to three.

(Dr. Kreiling says was inspired to write this poem by hearing a 2015 performance of the Brahms Liebeslieder by the Bridgewater State University Chorale, Dr. Steven Young, director, and Professor James Hay and Dr. Sarah McQuarrie, accompanists).

Arts & Letters & Loveis available at Anyone interested in a signed copy at a discounted price can contact Dr. Kreiling at (Story by John Laidler for University News)

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