Music and the spoken word

Jazz at Holmes presents poet Eileen G’Sell and guitarist Bill Lenihan Feb. 22

Eileen G'Sell. (Photo: Joe Angeles/Washington University)

Music and poetry have danced together since time immemorial, swirling through ancient Greece and imperial Rome, pirouetting across Medieval France and Renaissance Italy, rousing the Beats and generations beyond.

At 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22, poet Eileen G’Sell and guitarist William Lenihan will join pianist Jay Oliver and drummer Steve Davis for an evening of music and spoken word as part of the Jazz at Holmes Series at Washington University in St. Louis.

William Lenihan. (Photo: Paolo Soriani)

“The concert is not one of poetry with an accompaniment of music,” said Lenihan, director of jazz studies in the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences. Instead, “it’s a real-time, interactive performance in which poet and musicians color the meanings of each other’s work.

“Eileen’s playfulness and poetic language make not for song lyrics,” Lenihan added, “but rather provides an almost filmic narrative — an image-forming setting for the improvisation of music.”

G’Sell, a lecturer in writing and in the Prison Education Project in Arts & Sciences, is author of the chapbooks “Portrait of My Ex With Giant Burritto” (2015) and “Euphoria Takes One for the Team” (2013). Her first full-length collection, “Life After Rugby,” was released in December.

“As a poet deeply invested in matters of sound, rhythm and advised disruption, it’s liberating to lift lines from the page and make them live music all their own,” G’Sell said.

“To improvise with master musicians is a rare treat.”

The performance is free and open to the public and takes place in Holmes Lounge, Ridgley Hall. For more information, call 314-862-0874; email; visit; or follow Jazz at Holmes on Facebook.

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