Lyrics: Fresh Patterns, by Lori Laitman

Fresh Patterns                                                                                                        Lori Laitman (b. 1955)

                                                                                                    Text by Emily Dickinson & Annie Finch

In this duet, Lori Laitman takes a poem by Emily Dickenson, then a letter to Emily Dickinson by Annie Finch, and interweaves the two separate texts with her own musical ideas.  These ideas are then expressed and performed by two sopranos and a pianist, all women in the case of Soprani Compagni!  In this way, the lives, thoughts and talents of six women are intricately knit across generations and from around the globe into one synergetic work of art!  Originally commissioned by Steven Jordheim for his daughter and her teacher, Fresh Patterns became the inspiration for the “Portraits of Women” project.

It’s All I Have to Bring Today, by Emily Dickinson

It’s all I have to bring today –

This, and my heart beside –

This, and my heart, and all the fields –

And all the meadows wide –

Be sure to count – should I forget

Some one the sum could tell –

This, and my heart, and all the Bees

Which in the Clover dwell.


Letter for Emily Dickinson, by Annie Finch

When I cut words you never may have said

into fresh patterns, pierced in place with pins,

ready to hold them down with my own thread,

they change and twist sometimes, their color spins

loose, and your spider generosity

lends them from language that will never be

free of you after all.  My sampler reads,

“called back.” It says, “she scribbled out these screeds.”

It calls, “she left this trace, and now we start” –

in stitched directions that follow the leads

I take from you, as you take me apart.


You wrote some of your lines while baking bread,

propping a sheet of paper by the bins

of salt and flour, so if your kneading led

to words, you’d tether them as if in thin

black loops on paper.  When they sang to be free,

you captured those quick birds relentlessly

and kept a slow, sure mercy in your deeds,

leaving them room to peck and hunt their seeds

in the whilte cages your vast iron art

had made by moving books, and lives, and creeds.

I take from you as you take me apart.