Tsitsi Jaji, the Mary I. Bunting Institute Fellow at Radcliffe, is fascinated by what songs can teach literary specialists about how to read poetry. She calls art songs — vocal compositions typically arranged for one voice with piano accompaniment — “the perfect texts to explore the dynamic relationship between music and poetry in my new Radcliffe project.”That project, titled “Classic Black: Art Songs and Poetry in the Black Atlantic,” examines the work of 19th- and 20th-century composers of African descent from Britain, Nigeria, South Africa, and the United States who set poetry to music, and how things like harmony, cadence, tempo, and rhythm alter the meaning of the words.Jaji will sing the art songs she analyzes as poetic commentaries during a presentation today at 4 p.m. in the Radcliffe Gymnasium. For the classically trained pianist, singing instead of sitting at the keyboard helped her learn not only how hard the songs are to sing but also to “pay attention to the vowels … it’s a different perspective on the actual substance and sound and diction of language.” (Cansu Çolakoğlu ’16, one of Jaji’s two Radcliffe researchers, will accompany her on the piano. Her second assistant, Adela Kim ’16, helped her transcribe the music she worked with into Sibelius, the computer musical notation program.)Soundbytes: Tsitsi Jaji | A Corn Song Tsitsi Jaji, a 2012-13 Radcliffe Institute Fellow, performs “A Corn Song” by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.In addition to performing musical works by Ignatius Sancho, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, and Shirley Graham Du Bois, whose compositions she found next door to her office in Radcliffe’s Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Jaji set her own work to a poem titled “Jonah” by Lucille Clifton, the former poet laureate of Maryland. Jaji, now an assistant professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, called Clifton “an amazing master of packing immense punch into a handful of lines.”The biblical reference in “Jonah” evokes “a body of oral culture, including spirituals and black vernacular preaching styles,” said Jaji, who used the melody from one of her own favorite spirituals, “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child,” in the piano part of her composition to evoke something much darker.“The use of that melody allows me to show that I see the reference to Jonah’s whale as actually referring to the belly of a slave ship,” she said, “rather than the biblical leviathan.”Jaji added: “The last few lines of the song are quiet, as if the warning to the brothers is delivered in hushed tones, and then there is a sudden crescendo on the final word ‘ocean.’ I can only imagine the terror that kidnapped men, women, and children from the interior in West Africa must have felt when the saw and heard the ocean for the first time on the eve of their transport in the Middle Passage … and how, retrospectively, that terror must have grown even more acute.”While Jaji said she could have chosen to set a work by Walt Whitman to music, like she has done in the past, using the words of the African-American Clifton allowed her to claim an artistic lineage that has become vital to her.“That for me is a pan-African move, because I could just claim relationship to my Shona identity from Zimbabwe, but as a person who has lived in the United States now for 20 years, I am a black American and this is part of that larger black Atlantic tradition that I see myself very much needing, and celebrating my connection to.”Jaji said another fellow at Radcliffe, visual artist Zoe Beloff, who tries to make “esoteric knowledge available to everyone,” influenced her work.To Jaji, “Performing these songs is kind of the same thing. … If you have access to privilege, which surely at Harvard we do, what can you do to open up that privilege to a wider sector of your world?”Born in Zimbabwe, Jaji left Africa to attend Oberlin, where she studied both comparative literature and piano performance. After college she considered an advanced degree in music, but her interest in comparative literature (and a better financial package) prompted her to pursue a Ph.D. in that subject at Cornell University.In upstate New York, she merged both worlds, studying literature, but also keeping up with her music. Her dissertation blended the two, examining the influence of black American music on the expressive cultures of Ghana, South Africa, and Senegal.She wrote about “music in literature and film, and the way that black American experience was … articulating resistance to white supremacy.”Her research became the basis for her forthcoming book from Oxford University Press, “Africa in Stereo: Music, Modernism and pan-African Solidarity,” which she finished at Radcliffe earlier this year. Her work on the book led her to her current project. It included a look at the influence of music on the first Pan-African national conference in 1900 in London. There, as part of the program, Afro-British composer Coleridge-Taylor set a poem to music — “A Corn Song” by African-American poet and Ohio native Paul Laurence Dunbar.“Coleridge-Taylor’s harmonic and rhythmic choices shifted the way that Dunbar’s poetry registered meaning, affect, and imagery for me,” Jaji wrote in April. “Here was a composer teaching me to read differently.”
Mention the word “ascot” and you probably think about a silky, men’s tie most likely worn by the upper crust of European society. Then there is the Royal Ascot horse race, where the word is associated with royalty and high society. Today, however, I want you to associate the word with ‘Ascot Rainbow,’ an evergreen, perennial euphorbia that is capturing the imagination of the gardening world.Botanically speaking, ‘Ascot Rainbow’ is known as “Euphorbia x martinii.” It is native to Australia, where the name “Ascot” is associated with an old, wealthy suburb of Brisbane. In truth, it is known as a spurge, which we most often associate with a host of terrible weeds. ‘Ascot Rainbow,’ however, is worthy of garden royalty.First, know that the plants are perennial in zones 5 to 9, which means much of the country can enjoy the incredible texture this plant offers the landscape border. They reach 20 inches tall, with an equal spread. I am plant-lusting them now in mixed containers where they have been partnered with other cool-season flowers like pansies, violas, kale and snapdragons. There is just something about the plant that holds my attention.The foliage is deep green, with golden margins in the cool season. This drop in temperature also fires them up with shades of red, pink and even orange. In spring and summer, the bloom is among the most unique as it features a cup of lime-colored bracts with red centers.The ‘Ascot Rainbow’ is drought tolerant, and boasts another trait that will thrill gardeners everywhere – they are rabbit and deer resistant. As you would probably think, a drought-tolerant euphorbia from Australia needs good drainage and thrives in full to partial sun.In a way, I think of them as evergreen perennials, but it helps in design if you consider them more as dwarf shrubs. Plant them in a cluster of three with ornamental grasses and perennials like purple coneflowers, rudbeckias and blue salvias. They fit this type of border, perfectly adding a great deal of interest from both leaf texture and bloom.If you are the lucky gardener with rocks or a slope, then let ‘Ascot Rainbow’ dazzle all of your visitors as you combine it with other drought-tolerant, tough-as-nails flowers. But as I have stated, you will treasure them as the thriller plant in cool-season mixed containers. They naturally form a rounded ball, and with a layer of pansies, including some trailing in front, they are most picturesque. If your container is large enough, then your options are limitless as you can use them with tall snapdragons, and dianthus and blue-leafed kale, which contrasts with the golden variegation of ‘Ascot Rainbows.’ You are the artist and simply using it will make your neighbors think, “Look who took a special gardening class!”Maintenance is easy. Remove old bloom stalks all the way to the ground in late summer or fall. Like other spurges, we grow this one not to be eaten, but to be enjoyed for the beauty and texture it offers your garden.Follow me on Twitter: @CGBGgardenguru. Learn more about the University of Georgia’s Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm at www.coastalgeorgiabg.org/.
The Big Ten released a statement July 9 stating that the conference will adjust their fall sports schedule to “conference only” for all fall sports during the 2020-21 academic year.This announcement means all fall sports — including men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball — will only play teams in the Big Ten conference, eliminating all games against non-conference opponents.The decision was based on medical precautions as the conference wants to limit travel and give scheduling flexibility amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.UW student-athletes ask athletic department to confront racial inqualities, support students of colorCurrent and former student-athletes at the University of Wisconsin wrote letters to UW Athletics asking to make the institution a Read…According to the Big Ten’s statement, shortening the schedule to conference-only gives the conference “the greatest flexibility to adjust its own operations throughout the season and make quick decisions in real-time based on the most current evolving medical advice and the fluid nature of the pandemic.”The Big Ten is the first of the Power Five conferences to announce their universal schedule change. With so much uncertainty surrounding safety and travel, it will be interesting to see if other conferences follow in the Big Ten’s footsteps.It seems as though other Power Five conferences are soon to follow. The Pac-12 is expected to announce their decision to move to conference-only in the coming days, according to CBS Sports. The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman announced that the ACC is considering making the change as well. The Big 12 and SEC haven’t commented on their plans as of the publication of this article.Football: Reloading, not rebuilding: Hallman’s commitment adds to Badgers’ talented 2021 classThe University of Wisconsin football team added another asset to their 2021 recruiting class, grabbing three-star cornerback Ricardo Hallman with Read…The decision has a huge impact on Wisconsin athletics, particularly the football team. Before the announcement, the Badgers were locked in for a non-conference showdown October 3 against Notre Dame at Lambeau Field. Since the Irish aren’t in the Big Ten, it looks like the Badgers will lose the opportunity to cement an early-season statement win.Without resume-boosting wins, the question is whether the decision will affect Wisconsin and other national contenders in the Big Ten’s chances of reaching the College Football Playoff. The Big Ten hasn’t won a game in the CFP since Ohio State won the inaugural championship in 2014.
Coach David Duncan will be formally introduced to the media and the general public at Kotoko’s secretariat in Kumasi on Thursday at 9:30am.Duncan, who arrived in Kumasi on Wednesday is expected to meet management before Thursday’s event. Kotoko and Coach Duncan have agreed on a two-year contract.Coach Duncan was in Algeria, where Kotoko drew 0-0 with MC El Eulma last Saturday.Although Duncan was in the North African country only to “observe” proceedings ahead of the second leg game, he ended up on the bench, teaming up with deputy coach, Michael Osei to secure what many have termed as a “desirable” away result.