I Saw My Life Go By in the Coyote’s Jaws

Sharon Harms, soprano; Camila Barrientos, clarinet;
Hassan Anderson, oboe; Yohanan Chendler, violin;
Serafim Smigelskiy, cello; Jeffrey Means, conductor.

Live Performance at Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University:


John Plotz and I were fellows at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in 2011-12. The next year, John held a conference on the broad concept of creativity and asked me to compose a short work to mark the occasion. I thought as a tribute to the topic, I would set a poem by one of the most wildly creative poets I knew, Dean Young.

Young’s poetry contrasts the mundane with the metaphysical in writing that can reveal epiphanies in the smallest quarters of life. Young’s ability to mold our temporal experience of a poem is inspiring. His play with words catches us up in dream time and then can playfully, or rudely, awaken us. Coyote is just the kind of colorful, playful and mystical poem I find worth trying to interpret in music.

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