August 7, 2022

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You are the benchmark
against which the Universe
measures its progress


- © Jenny Bienemann

THERE'S MORE TO THIS EMAIL - KEEP READING!

Haiku your own Milieu!

Each week, we feature a Haiku from the Haiku Milieu community. 
Look around! Write a Haiku!
Submit it here!

T H I S   W E E K ' S   G U E S T   H A I K U: 

With time and patience
Gravity will do the work.
There's no need to strain.

- Jorge A. Remedios

CLICK HERE for previous Sunday Haiku Milieu Emails!

Robin and I were both home sick and working remotely this week. 

Tristan, who usually presses his lanky frame flush against my husband’s leg all day while he works, had chosen instead to cast himself down upon the cool hardwood floor at maximum extension.
 
Because Tristan is getting older, he is on a variety of medications that seem to do a reasonable job of getting him to think that he is not every inch of the fifteen years he actually is, or at least, hopefully, keeping him feeling well and in high enough spirits to jump on the table and toss back the delicious gourmet cat food that Robin orders for him.
 
But in the heat, with both of us home during weekdays, it became clear that Tristan needed a little extra something.  A little extra company to drink his water.
 
Typically, I'm the first one up, and Tristan joins me in the kitchen. As usual, I pour a big glass of water.  Tristan started looking at me like, “are you going to drink that all by yourself?” 
 
Once I realized he was thirsty, I poured him his own glass of water, put it by his food, and walked away.  Later, I was bemused that it looked like the water hadn’t been touched.  This happened a few times.
 
One day, the ritual was mid-repetition: I rose. Went downstairs. Got the water.  Felt the feline eyes upon me. Instead of getting him his own glass, I filled mine up, pretended to drink from it, crouched down beside him, and put my glass on the floor in front of him.
 
And he drank it. 
 
Next day, we tried it again.  This time, I just set the water down on the floor and went about my business.  Guess what.
 
He didn’t drink it.
 
Next day, I stayed down with him…and again, he drank the water.  

So company for breakfast, as Winnie the Pooh would put it, turns out to be the key to getting Tristan to drink his water!  "I don't blame you Tristan," I said, “I like a little company with my breakfast too.”
 
Sometimes, a little company is all we need. 
 
Especially after this week, I am grateful for all forms of company.  Though we saw no one in person, the loving check-ins of our friends and family definitely speeded the healing process.
 
Here is a poem inspired by that experience.
 
COMPANY
by Jenny Bienemann
 
not the kind for whom
you will need to clean the house
before they come in
 
also not the kind
that you will worry about
worrying too much
 
and especially
not the kind that lives to help
not right now, at least
 
only those who speak
the language of your silence
keep your company
 
those who need nothing
who only want you to know
you are not alone
 
who’d take off their shoes
and tiptoe over to you
squeeze your hand, then leave

shut the door tight and
switch on the porch light in case
you need anything

and who will return
to the fullness of their lives
trusting your process

that’s good company
the kind that makes you better
when you don't feel well

Haiku Milieu books, t-shirts, audiobooks, soundtracks, and more at haikumilieu.com.  
Jenny Bienemann music, Collaboration Blog, Jenny & Robin gigs and more at jennybienemann.com
Subscribe to the Haiku Milieu YouTube channel, here.
Follow Jenny Bienemann on Spotify, here.
Want to treat Jenny to a cup of coffee? Thanks! Go here


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July 31, 2022

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Imagination
driving the streets of my mind
chasing after you


- © Jenny Bienemann

THERE'S MORE TO THIS EMAIL - KEEP READING!

Haiku your own Milieu!

Each week, we feature a Haiku from the Haiku Milieu community. 
Look around! Write a Haiku!
Submit it here!

T H I S   W E E K ' S   G U E S T   H A I K U: 

“Would you care to write
me a haiku for today?”
“My pleasure, Jenny.”

- Robin Bienemann

CLICK HERE for previous Sunday Haiku Milieu Emails!

Photos by me, Sue Fink, Kimmie Murray, Nikki O'Neil


It was EPIC!

Thursday night's Haiku Milieu at Twilight was one for the record books. 

For the first time ever, the songwriters were supported by a rhythm section of some of the most in-demand players in Chicago, John Abbey and Dan Leali on bass and drums respectively.

John and Dan deepened the intimacy and vulnerability that characterizes Haiku Milieu shows with their sometimes gentle, sometimes insistent, always expansive accompaniment on 14 brand new songs inspired by a Haiku Milieu photo and haiku.

Close to the end of the night, I read from the introduction to my tiny book, RECKONING. 

Just as I finished the final haiku of the poem, one of the amps started to feedback, as if the Gods of Creativity themselves wanted to share a sexy song with the crowd! It was a visceral reminder of the sheer power of creativity flowing through all of us, at all times.

It was an incredible night of sexy Haiku Milieu songwriters bringing the songwriting HEAT to Montrose Saloon!  We can't wait to do it again at Haiku After Dark on Friday, September 2 at FitzGerald's.  If you're in town - JOIN US!

Meanwhile, enjoy this poem.

Introduction to the tiny book, 
RECKONING 
by Jenny Bienemann

One line just this long
another no more than this
a final one here


one line at a time
sometimes thick and sometimes thin
sometimes a circle

it is not magic
and everyone can do it
let life move the pen


beware of the doubt
it will say you are no good
and you can’t do it


then your poor ego
still hurt from past endeavors
will tell you to stop


those who know you best
may say that you do not know
what is best for you


those who you love best
afraid of their own shadows
may turn from your light


just this much is true
there is a light inside you
that wants to come out

Haiku Milieu books, t-shirts, audiobooks, soundtracks, and more at haikumilieu.com.  
Jenny Bienemann music, Collaboration Blog, Jenny & Robin gigs and more at jennybienemann.com
Subscribe to the Haiku Milieu YouTube channel, here.
Follow Jenny Bienemann on Spotify, here.
Want to treat Jenny to a cup of coffee? Thanks! Go here


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July 24, 2022

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You’re the kind of friend
everyone wishes they had
i’m glad you are mine


- © Jenny Bienemann

THERE'S MORE TO THIS EMAIL - KEEP READING!

Haiku your own Milieu!

Each week, we feature a Haiku from the Haiku Milieu community. 
Look around! Write a Haiku!
Submit it here!

T H I S   W E E K ' S   G U E S T   H A I K U: 

I choose you today
And for all remaining days
Always, I choose you

- Jenny Heim and
John Wendlund 

Happy Wedding you two! 

Here's how this haiku came to be:  

"We were trying to figure out something to capture the essence of the ceremony. Jenny came up with the idea of a haiku (what’s is it with Jennys and haikus?) and the first and third lines sitting at a traffic light. She sent it to me and asked if I had an idea for the second line and I had it and sent it back within 30 seconds."

CLICK HERE for previous Sunday Haiku Milieu Email!

This coming Thursday, July 28 at Montrose Saloon is the first-ever Haiku Milieu at Twilight!


Two Haiku Milieu regulars, Andon Davis and Chris Neville came running up to me after a show, saying "Hear us out!  Don't say no!" and pitched the idea of Haiku Milieu After Dark, a sort of sexy haiku songs concept. 

Most things in life can be bought if you have the money. But the things that make your life worth living?  No money, no bargain, no trades will do the trick.  You literally cannot purchase things like enthusiasm with anything than your own willingness to have and to hold it. 

This is what Andon and Chris were sharing with me, wrapped in what was actually a pretty good idea.  And so "Haiku Milieu After Dark" was born.

When we had to reschedule the show, it split into two:
Haiku at Twilight, happening from 7-9 pm at Montrose Saloon, and Haiku After Dark, happening 9-11 pm at FitzGerald's, to give ourselves the best shot at accommodating all the artists who'd been saving the date for May.  

For the first time ever, these new songs will be brought to life with a band, John Abbey and Dan Leali in July and Steve Doyle, Steve Hashimoto, and Lance Helgeson in August!

It seemed like it would be reasonably simple to swap one show into two.  I mean, what could go wrong?!?

But now there were two backing bands to secure.  Swaps in and out of two artist rosters.  A new video team to secure for two concerts (the
Haiku Milieu YouTube channel the songs inspired by Haiku Milieu.)  And lest we forget - the public demanded a Haiku After Dark t-shirt!

So it happened a few days ago that I was working on something that I was mad at myself for putting off.  I knew I would feel better if I just got it done...but I couldn't get myself to do it.  (Spoiler alert: it got done.)  As I was trying to get myself going on it, I wrote this poem, and it made me feel better, as any bit of creative activity usually does.  I hope you enjoy it. 

GOD SAYS
Jenny Bienemann

God says
"What are you doing, making yourself feel bad...
Look at this day!"

"Tell you what I'll do," says God.
"How about I throw in a nice breeze.
A little sunshine through the leaves - look at that! 
See the shadows the leaves make
when I blow through them? 
Here, I'll do it again." 

"Now how about this," announces God,
"Because you're you and I'm Me,
I'm gonna have the sound of the expressway
land in your ears like rushing water
careening joyfully to the sea.
Can you hear it now?
I can turn it up if you want," says God.

"This next one, though," says God,
shaking His head,
"you have to give me your permission for this but
if you do, I can tune your heart
so the gentle rumble of airplanes overhead
makes you feel connected to all those who
have found a way to go from where they were
to where they want to be.
Kinda helps with that lonely feeling.
Totally up to you," says God.
"I'd love to...
but it's totally up to you."

I let the cardinal
perched in the nearby tree
sing the answer on my behalf
and just at that moment
I saw my work through his eyes
and what do you know
just before he flew off
I got started

Haiku Milieu books, t-shirts, audiobooks, soundtracks, and more at haikumilieu.com.  
Jenny Bienemann music, Collaboration Blog, Jenny & Robin gigs and more at jennybienemann.com
Subscribe to the Haiku Milieu YouTube channel, here.
Follow Jenny Bienemann on Spotify, here.
Want to treat Jenny to a cup of coffee? Thanks! Go here


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July 17, 2022

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When you give yourself
you gain everything, because 
you get what you give


- © Jenny Bienemann

Haiku your own Milieu!

Each week, we feature a Haiku from the Haiku Milieu community. 
Look around! Write a Haiku!
Submit it here!

T H I S   W E E K ' S   G U E S T   H A I K U: 

Little things, again
are starting to annoy me,
so I eat ice cream.

- Judy Race

CLICK HERE for previous Sunday Haiku Milieu Email!

We have not one, but TWO Haiku Milieu shows coming up!

Both shows feature brand new songs written to a Haiku Milieu image and haiku.

Haiku Milieu at Twilight
Montrose Saloon on Thursday, July 28, 7-9 pm, and

Haiku Milieu After Dark
FitzGerald's on Friday, September 2, 9-11 pm. 

BY FRIDAY, JULY 22 - PLACE YOUR T-SHIRT ORDER!  This is an extremely limited run of t-shirts, so when they are gone, they're gone.  Be part of the magic!

There's a uni cut and a women's cut, which you'll be able to find here.  I hope you'll join us for both shows, and help spread the good word about our creative community by picking up a t-shirt (or book or CD!) today. 

As a subscriber, you get 10% off everything!  just be sure to enter the code "subscriber" when you check out.

Haiku Milieu books, audiobooks, soundtracks, and more at haikumilieu.com.  
Jenny Bienemann music, Collaboration Blog, Jenny & Robin gigs and more at jennybienemann.com
Subscribe to the Haiku Milieu YouTube channel, here.
Follow Jenny Bienemann on Spotify, here.
Want to treat Jenny to a cup of coffee? Thanks! Go here


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July 10, 2022

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if you are quiet
and if you listen deeply
the answers find you


- © Jenny Bienemann

Haiku your own Milieu!

Each week, we feature a Haiku from the Haiku Milieu community. 
Look around! Write a Haiku!
Submit it here!

T H I S   W E E K ' S   G U E S T   H A I K U: 

That nice sensation
when the bright sun disappears
behind a warm cloud

- Joseph Coastie Price

CLICK HERE for Last Week's Sunday Haiku Milieu Email!

The world is a crazy place.  

Maybe we’ve always known that.  Maybe we’ve all always been trying to ignore life like you'd ignore the crazy uncle who says inappropriate things at the family dinner table.  

We are coming out of a really rough week in the Chicagoland area.  Between the shootings in Highland Park and the threats of violence at Brookfield Zoo, we can no longer ignore the fact that we are living in a crazy world. 

Life, like your uncle, is NOT GOING TO CHANGE.  WE are going to be the one who have to change. 

In my own life, when I ignore, pretend, or tolerate what no longer works, it generally happens that I lose any chance to have a say in how and when the change happens.  So while I grieve for our ongoing, collective loss of innocence and seemingly continual re-intrenchment in our positions, I am trying to take it as an invitation to change NOW, while I have at least some choices, rather than later, when the choices may be dictated to me and will certainly be fewer.

As a start, I am looking at ways to become better at talking about things I never wanted to learn how to talk about, and figuring out how to get into situations where I can connect with people who don't share my views.  Pete Seeger said it, and it has never seemed more crucial: "it's a very important thing to learn to talk to people you disagree with."  I want to learn how to do this.  I think our lives depend on it.


Meanwhile, I wanted to share these particular photos, taken the day before the Highland Park shooting, to remind myself that the fact that life is not going to stop is a GOOD THING too, despite how it felt at times this week.  There is love, good humor, and kind people who put mustaches over the opening of your coffee cup so your coffee stays warm. 

Love, humor, kindness...these things are ALSO part of life, and will never change. 

Remember when there was going to be a Haiku After Dark concert on May 27?  And then Robin was a Kerrville songwriting finalist, and I needed to reschedule? Ah yes!

Well, that concert was rescheduled into TWO concerts:  

Haiku Milieu at Twilight
Montrose Saloon on Thursday, July 28, 7-9 pm, and

Haiku Milieu After Dark
FitzGerald's on Friday, September 2, 9-11 pm. 

The show at Montrose Saloon is Haiku Milieu at Twilight, and the show at FitzGeralds is Haiku Milieu After Dark because, well, that's the time they're happening! 

Both shows feature brand new songs written to a Haiku Milieu image and haiku, with new-to-the-Milieu artists, backed by a band for the first time ever. 

I'm reaaaaalllyyyy excited about these two shows! 

So excited in fact...we're making t-shirts! 

There's a uni cut and a women's cut, which you'll be able to find here.  I hope you'll join us for both shows, and help spread the good word about our creative community by picking up a t-shirt (or book or CD!) today. 

As a subscriber, you get 10% off everything!  just be sure to enter the code "subscriber" when you check out.

Haiku Milieu books, audiobooks, soundtracks, and more at haikumilieu.com.  
Jenny Bienemann music, Collaboration Blog, Jenny & Robin gigs and more at jennybienemann.com
Subscribe to the Haiku Milieu YouTube channel, here.
Follow Jenny Bienemann on Spotify, here.
Want to treat Jenny to a cup of coffee? Thanks! Go here


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July 3, 2022

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Once you have found them
the ones who make your heart sing
never let them go



- © Jenny Bienemann

Haiku your own Milieu!

Each week, we feature a Haiku from the Haiku Milieu community. 
Look around! Write a Haiku!
Submit it here!

T H I S   W E E K ' S   G U E S T   H A I K U: 

Eaglet trying to
disable the camera by
chewing on the cord

- Naomi Ashley

CLICK HERE for Last Week's Sunday Haiku Milieu Email!

Continuing our Texas theme for the final blog of June 2022, I wanted to share a piece of writing by our dear friend Kira Small. 

We met years ago at a music conference, see each other rarely, and keep in touch via the Social Medias.  When she announced, "Kerrville, I'm home!" I "loved" it on FB and hoped our paths would cross - and they did!  Our time together was hilarious, heartfelt, and altogether too short.  It reminded me that I have been wanting to share her writing with you for some time.


Kira has the chops to sing jazz and soul and has lived enough life to sing the blues. She is an in-demand session singer with such icons as Willie Nelson, Garth Brooks, and Wynonna Judd, and a featured singer with Martina McBride, Radney Foster and Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman). She has been welcomed onto the sacred stage of the Grand Ole Opry, and as a self-proclaimed "Singer Nerd," knows whereof she speaks when it comes to singing. 

On top of that, she and her husband own and operate 
Sid Gold's Request Room, the only bar in Nashville that does *not* center the guitar!  Oh, and did I mention she does all this WHILE fostering kittens in her home?  SHE DOES.

Reading a blog from Kira is just like having a conversation with her.  The tangents!  The vernacular!  And most of all, the ideas! 

While this article is a rebuttal to the idea that singers aren't "real" musicians, my favorite part of this blog when she says "...whether or not someone reads music doesn’t determine their “real musician” status." 

In a world with so many boxes to check and so many hoops of legitimacy to clear EVEN JUST IN MY OWN MIND as an artist, I hope you will find this, as I do, a refreshing reminder to let all that go, and just focus on "nailing it to the wall."

With no further ado, Kira Small:

"Have you ever heard someone refer to singers as “not real musicians”? ”

Yeah me too. Grrr. While it’s possible that particular someone was a an a*s, it’s also possible they were simply ill-informed.

So in the interest of diplomacy, let me ‘splain a little bit about the aspects of music mastery that make a professional singer. It ain’t just shaking a tambourine and oo-ing.

Tangent right out of the gate: tambourine is much easier to play badly than it is to play well, which is why “NO YOU CAN’T” is the answer to your drunk a*s in the audience when you ask if you can play mine. But let’s get back to oo-ing.

I could write a whole blog about that vowel alone and just about make my point. Is your oo a pure, rounded shape or more closed and country styled? Does your vowel sound match the lead vocalist’s or other background singers’? Are we talking breathy atmospheric oo’s or Millie Kirkham’s signature soprano on Blue Christmas oo’s? Straight tone or vibrato? THAT’S ONLY ONE VOWEL. Let’s continue, shall we? *puts down tambourine. 

In addition to making my own records, I’ve been working in Nashville as a pro singer for 15 years – from live and studio work with major label artists to demos for songwriters to choral sessions with 16 of us tracking (and reading) all in one room where if one person screws up everyone has to punch in. (That’s kind of my favorite sport. I’m also kind of a dork.) This town is full of some seriously bad ass mofosingers you’ve most likely heard, but never heard of.

Some of those mofos read notes, some do stuff by ear with numbers, some just do stuff by ear with their own system or no system at all. They may not know if they’re singing a 4, a G or an M&M, but if they consistently nail it to the wall they’re gonna get the gig. Whether or not someone reads music doesn’t determine their “real musician” status.

I happen to be a reading nerd so I love when things are arranged and scored, which they still are sometimes. But most singers use numbers here, and I can nerd out on that just as easily. In this context, numbers represent scale degrees, just like (moveable do) solfege. (In key of C: C-D-E = do-re-mi = 1-2-3, etc.)

When I have to demo a song for a writer or learn a bunch of back-up parts for a live gig, a lot of times I’m working from a rough version that’s not in the same key I’m going to sing it in. Making a chart using notes would be a pain in the a*s. But if I know I start on the 3 it doesn’t matter what key the song ends up in – my chart will be right. Same thing for the players, which is why 
The Nashville Number System is what’s used on 95% of sessions here. It has nothing to do with whether or not players or singers can read music. (See end of previous paragraph.)

When you show up on a session and all you get is a lyric sheet with no parts written, you’ve gotta come up with them, sometimes as a group. (Yup – we have to be arrangers too.) Those are called “head chart” sessions here. (I guess cuzwe’re doing stuff off the top of our heads? I don’t know – I wasn’t around when they named sh*t.) On these we use numbers to help us navigate parts. If you want to see that happen in real time go to the Opry and watch the background singers. Carol Lee used to throw so many hand signals - numbers, oo vs. ah, which direction to resolve a chord – she looked like a baseball manager or a gang member. She’s retired now but someone else is probably doing it. It’ll bend your brain.

Ponder this for a sec: whether we’re reading notes or numbers, singers actually HAVE to hear stuff first – cuz we don’t have frets or keys we can place fingers on. (When I taught sight reading at Berklee I called it reverse ear training.) Some of us have to do all of that in heels, false eyelashes and spanx. While doing choreography. And smiling while your drunk a*s in the audience tries to grab the fricking tambourine. (OK I might have an issue there. Sorry. But seriously. Stop that.)

Then there’s the lyrical component too. We might get hired to sing something we have zero emotional connection to (or that flat out SUCKS – often referred to as “putting lipstick on a pig”, “polishing a turd”…), but if whoever hired us gets even a whiff of that we sure won’t get hired again. Flip side is singing something we have a little TOO much of an emotional connection to. 

“Fun experiment: next time you find yourself trying not to cry, start singing something that will absolutely make you cry. Now stay in tune. Now put on some false eyelashes….”

Finally: yes, it’s true, we don’t have amps or drum kits we have to haul around and set up. Instead, we schlep our stash of tea, honey, ginger, lemons, throat spray, six kinds of lozenges, and enough water to drown a rhino. We don’t have to carry heavy gear. But we also don’t have the luxury of putting our instrument in a case to protect it, because we inhabit it. Context: singing with a cold is like trying to play guitar after someone poured syrup all over the fretboard. It’s gross and it sounds weird.

I could probably go on, but I’m borderline ranting already. Plus I just drank a drowned rhino’s share of water and really have to pee. I’ll leave you with this request: next time you see a singer at work, give them a nod of respect. And don’t you dare reach for that tambourine." - Kira Small   


You can pick up Kira's guide to the Nashville Number System here.

Haiku Milieu books, audiobooks, soundtracks, and more at haikumilieu.com.  
Jenny Bienemann music, Collaboration Blog, Jenny & Robin gigs and more at jennybienemann.com
Subscribe to the Haiku Milieu YouTube channel, here.
Follow Jenny Bienemann on Spotify, here.
Want to treat Jenny to a cup of coffee? Thanks! Go here


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You change the whole world
without even knowing it
just by being you



- © Jenny Bienemann

Haiku your own Milieu!

Each week, we feature a Haiku from the Haiku Milieu community. 
Look around! Write a Haiku!
Submit it here!

T H I S   W E E K ' S   G U E S T   H A I K U: 
day by day We grow
The days turn to years
A lifetime unfolds

- Don Barry


 
CLICK HERE for Last Week's Sunday Haiku Milieu Email!

Haiku Milieu books, audiobooks, soundtracks, and more at haikumilieu.com.  
Jenny Bienemann music, Collaboration Blog, Jenny & Robin gigs and more at jennybienemann.com
Subscribe to the Haiku Milieu YouTube channel, here.
Follow Jenny Bienemann on Spotify, here.
Want to treat Jenny to a cup of coffee? Thanks! Go here


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Wherever you go
whatever you think you'll be
you already are



- © Jenny Bienemann

Haiku your own Milieu!

Each week, we feature a Haiku from the Haiku Milieu community. 
Look around! Write a Haiku!
Submit it here!

T H I S   W E E K ' S   G U E S T   H A I K U: 

We spend our whole lives
searching for one time we catch
lightning in a jar

- Tom Schmitt

CLICK HERE for Last Week's Sunday Haiku Milieu Email!

I am so proud of Annie Capps.  

She is an incredible friend, gifted artist (multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, producer) and an inveterate supporter of other artists.  She’s about to say some very nice things about me (and to be honest it goes on a bit...(blush)) but the truth is we do have a a love affair of a kind.

Annie, in addition to being brilliant, has a special gift of bringing people together in a way that makes everybody feel like they’ve always been together, even if they have only been in each others company for a few moments before she walks in.   

As Director of the Folk Alliance Midwest Region conference, as a solo performer, and with her husband Rod, she has a gift for bringing people together that I admire, emulate, and am thrilled to share with you.  If after reading, you are so moved to support this collection of songs that are especially relevant in this world we find ourselves in, please join me and Robin in doing so.  With no further ado, Annie Capps.

“Let me start by saying, Jenny Bienemann is one of those other-worldly spirits who lights up a room and has the power to make you feel as if you’re the most special person on the planet to her and that means a lot. She’s a beautiful human, inside and out AND an outstandingly creative multi-talented artist. I am a fan.

So when she asked Rod and I to be part of her Haiku Milieu songwriting showcase, I naturally could not say no. That’s not to say I wasn’t worried about how I was going to write a song that was worthy of the standard she set. 

 

Fortunately for me, this was during a pandemic and despite every awful thing that transpired because of it, I found myself welcoming the quiet and the opportunity for reflection. I belong to a couple of songwriting groups that keep me on my toes and combined with a few virtual songwriting workshops, I was flexing those deliberate writing muscles a bit more than I had been of late. It felt good.

Jenny’s ‘assignment’ was to write a song inspired by one of her beautiful Haiku and it came along when I had just started writing a completely different song. I love that about songwriting. If you get out of the way, it can take you places you never expected to go.

 

Jenny shared her 3 Haiku books. 2 were big and beautifully artistic and colorfully presented. Coffee table worthy! And 1 was a tiny black and white book called “reckoning”. Anyone who knows me won’t be surprised when I say that’s the one I was drawn to. 

 

From the beginning ..

 

“beware of the doubt 

it will say you are no good 

and you can’t do it” 

 

to the last …

 

“Don’t let them get you 

to step out of your own light 

when they can’t find theirs” 

 

And in between …

 

“Double negative

There’s no time your voice is not

Inside my head”

 

“I can’t find myself 

in anything that’s more real 

than this ache for you”

 

Every single 5-7-5 line spoke to me. ME. How do you pick just one? 

 

“How Can I Say This”, on the surface, may come across as a break up song and I generally resist telling people what a song is about, preferring to let them find their own meaning. 

 

But Jenny asked me to write about this song. I guess it IS a breakup song. I’m breaking up with all the voices in my head that are not necessarily my own. Those of my parents, a co-dependent relationship, society, and yes, my much younger self. All of the ones that creep in and tell me I’m not good enough. So when people ask me who this is “about”, it’s me. It’s always me. =) 

 

Allow me a little sidebar quote from RuPaul “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?” 

 

I try to love myself. I really do. Every flawed and ferocious edge, but there remain pieces of me that I’d give anything to destroy. The pieces that let what others think of me dictate how I feel about myself. Ultimately, the “you” in the song are those parts of me I wish I could shed. 

 

And yes, it is also about the many “You”s in my life who have, purposefully or not, given me reason to doubt myself, stifle my dreams and convince me I couldn’t be who or what I wanted to be. 

 

At 61, I’m able to look back on my life with some perspective and realize that I actually did a lot of those things I didn’t think I’d have the guts to do despite those voices. And though I made a LOT of foolish and painful choices along the way, I am who I am because of (or despite) those choices and what’s to be done but embrace it all. 

 

I couldn’t be more grateful to Jenny for inspiring me to write this song. Just in the writing, I have grown and learned more about myself. Even more than that, it became the catalyst forthis whole project that ultimately had no choice but to be named for the song “How Can I Say This?”” - Annie Capps

Haiku Milieu books, audiobooks, soundtracks, and more at haikumilieu.com.  
Jenny Bienemann music, Collaboration Blog, Jenny & Robin gigs and more at jennybienemann.com
Subscribe to the Haiku Milieu YouTube channel, here.
Follow Jenny Bienemann on Spotify, here.
Want to treat Jenny to a cup of coffee? Thanks! Go here


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The question is this:
of all that happens to you
what do you pass on?



- © Jenny Bienemann

Haiku your own Milieu!

Each week, we feature a Haiku from the Haiku Milieu community. 
Look around! Write a Haiku!
Submit it here!

T H I S   W E E K ' S   G U E S T   H A I K U: 

Clouds crowd and linger
But I know I am sheltered
in by the window

- Thomas Hurley

CLICK HERE for Last Week's Sunday Haiku Milieu Email!

This photo is me getting a taste of my own medicine from wonderful singer and songwriter Kirsten Maxwell

I had just taken entirely-too-close-up shots of the Kerrville finalists who were still around on Saturday night, and she insisted that it was my turn.  Turns out, either she's great at capturing the moment, or my medicine is delicious!  My money is on the former.

Still processing all that happened a week ago in Texas. 

I loved being there.  I attended as Robin's "plus one," and Kirsten (who had been a New Folk finalist previously) attended as another finalist's plus one.  Kirsten was an instigator in the best sense: the one starting to sing the show tunes and the obscure art songs that blossomed into glorious harmonies from the rest of the finalists. The one starting the laughter that rippled out only to regenerate and renew itself, over and over. 

And one of the most hilarious conversations I had the entire week was with Maggie, another plus one, a woman who has elevated the gentle art of driving from point a to point b into the highest of callings.  Driving behind a truck is not for her, she says, "unless that truck is an on-ramp to the sky."

Throughout my years as an arts administrator, I witnessed how perplexing it can be to go from nobody knowing who you are, to having people greeting you on the street as if you're picking up in the middle of a conversation you never even participated in.

It was a little like that at Kerrville.  If you are a New Folk Finalist, you are lavished with an uncommon love and appreciation. There are 3,000 attendees, and they talk about songwriters there like other people might talk about baseball players.

For the most part, the recognition was welcome and the conversations were delightful (at least from what I witnessed and heard about.)  But still, can anything really prepare you for being the apple of thousands of people's eye?  And even more significantly, what happens when you have a taste of that kind of recognition...and then have to return to the dailiness of daily life? 

As they say, after the ecstasy, the laundry.  This is why it's good to have that plus one, the person who knows you, who represents "ordinary" life while you're having an extraordinary experience, who can help you stay grounded during the epic highs and the lows.

One of the little writing tricks I use myself and share in workshops is to put yourself in the place of someone having a very different experience than you. If you're a woman, write as if you're a man; if you're young, write as if you are older; or as in the case of the poem below, if you are a plus one, write from the perspective of a finalist.

I came upon a draft of this poem this week.  I wrote it long before Kerrville.  I believe I woke up out of deep sleep with the phrase, "the meager blanket of her praise has worn threadbare..." 

Having had the privilege of watching the 24 finalists rocket into outer space, then witness my own personal finalist come back into his own orbit, I edited the poem as follows.

THE TEAKETTLE WHISTLES

When through overuse
the blanket of her praise
has worn threadbare
I reach for it anyway
shivering in the icy breath
of my own indictments
 
Falling
into troubled sleep
anxious and worried
what if and why
And most of
all why not? 
When?
Ever?
 
The answer comes
as the inexorable dawn
swallows me whole
spits me out the other side
of darkness
her breath on my shoulder
mouth slack in sleep
brow troubled
as if through the night
all my burdens
had become hers
 
I kiss her gently
I wish it would make
her brow unfurrow
to say I am sorry and thank you
in the words
only a heart can hear
 
but she turns,
frowning slightly
I pull back the covers to get out of bed
then pull them back up
to keep her warm
and go make coffee
in our kitchen
 
the birds outside the kitchen window
know nothing of the spirit of a person
how quick to enthusiasm
then despair, then love;
again and again
and all through the prism
of a body and mind
so rarely in accord
so often fighting each other
circling the jaws of the rusty metal trap
the other laid for it
the earth hard and compacted
in a deep groove, yet oddly soft
from the endless dance of wariness
 
No, the birds know nothing of this
they are at one with life
spirit of the poet
brush of the painter
rush of the wings of inspiration
And I listen to them
Boiling water, lost in thought
 
Coming back to myself
I see her beside me
quiet as the dawn
she comes to me
in her bathrobe as tattered
as I felt last night, and
puts her arms around me
as the teakettle whistles 

I am always interested to know what all of this makes you think.  Drop me a line if you feel so moved!

Warmest, Jenny

Haiku Milieu books, audiobooks, soundtracks, and more at haikumilieu.com.  
Jenny Bienemann music, Collaboration Blog, Jenny & Robin gigs and more at jennybienemann.com
Subscribe to the Haiku Milieu YouTube channel, here.
Follow Jenny Bienemann on Spotify, here.
Want to treat Jenny to a cup of coffee? Thanks! Go here


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Know the reason why
everyone loves you so much?
Because you are YOU!



- © Jenny Bienemann

Haiku your own Milieu!

Each week, we feature a Haiku from the Haiku Milieu community. 
Look around! Write a Haiku!
Submit it here!

T H I S   W E E K ' S   G U E S T   H A I K U: 

Panic re-appears
Yet strength and wisdom prevail
Love thyself always

- Don Barry

CLICK HERE for Last Week's Sunday Haiku Milieu Email!

This week, we spent what felt like a glorious lifetime at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas.  Out of 750 applicants, my husband Robin was one of 24 finalists in the Grassy Hill New Folk Competition

While it was a genuine contest with 6 winners selected by 5 judges, the outpouring of love directed at the finalists (and their plus ones) made it feel more like a celebration of the art of songwriting, a lifting up of those who have made it part of their life's work to express our collective trials and tribulations through song, and a chance to step back from the press of daily responsibilities to let life reorganize itself more peacefully in you, and hopefully through you, to the rest of the world. 

You can see the entire second day of (remarkable) performances at the video below or by clicking here.  If you are short on time, Robin starts at 36:30 or so.

Held at Quiet Valley Ranch about an hour outside of San Antonio, Texas, "Kerrville" as it is affectionately called is an 18-day festival focused on nurturing and developing artistic expression, especially the art of songwriting. 

While there are concerts every night from the likes of Shawn Colvin, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and Susan Gibson, most people will tell you about walking from campsite to campsite in the mercifully cool Texas night air, hearing an