EUGENE, Ore.—“The Room Upstairs: Uncovering the Life and Poetry of Hazel Hall” will be told through music, dance, lecture, and readings in a special presentation on Thursday, February 28, from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Ragozzino Performance Hall on Lane Community College main campus, building 6, 4000 E. 30th Ave., Eugene.
The event is free and open to the public. An installation related to the project will be available for viewing in the lobby before and after the show.
The presentation reflects the research and compositions of Matt Svoboda, music instructor at Lane. A devotee of poetry who uses words to inspire his music, he hadn’t heard of Hazel Hall until he chanced upon one of her poems in a literary magazine several years ago. “I was immediately taken in by her musical voice, perceptive mind, and unpretentious style,” he says.
Hall was born in 1886 in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and moved with her family to Portland, Oregon as a small child. At age 12, she was paralyzed by scarlet fever or possibly a fall—historical accounts vary. She took in sewing and embroidery to help support her family. She started writing poetry in her 20s but didn’t receive recognition until her 30s. She published two volumes of poetry and a third was published posthumously.
“Hazel Hall was once a critically acclaimed poet with a fascinating story and admiring audience,” Svoboda says, “yet she is relatively unknown today.” Now he will revive her story in the presentation on February 28 and as part of Lane’s annual dance concert, “Collaborations,” from March 7-9.
Svoboda’s compositions follow Hall’s three books of poetry. “Curtains” (1921) addresses isolation, sewing and interior spaces and describe what Hall sees and knows such as doors and needlework, stairways and counterpanes. “In this movement, cello is featured because of its connection to sewing, how you move your hands back and forth,” and because of its plaintive nature, says Svoboda.
In “Walkers” (1923), Hall wrote to the people who walked up and down the street below her window. “Here the music picks up tempo and becomes more interactive, with themes being traded between instruments that also shift roles as the music unfolds.”
“Cry of Time” (1928) “is about transcendental themes, mortality, the limits of poetry, and the plight of women,” says Svoboda. “The music for this movement begins in anguish but progressively moves to resolution. The initial theme from ‘Curtains’ returns, but in a transformed state.”
After the performance, Svoboda will be joined on stage with the dancers and other collaborators to talk about the evolution of the project, including Portland visual artist Laura Glazer, LCC technical director James McConkey, DanceAbility choreographer Jana Meszaros, LCC choreographer Sarah Nemecek, and UO poet Geri Doran. The part of Hazel Hall will be danced by Karen Daly who has used a wheelchair after losing a leg to cancer at age 11.
For more information—
- “The Room Upstairs: Uncovering the Life and Poetry of Hazel Hall”
- Finding The Room Upstairs: A Visit to Hazel Hall’s Home
For accommodations to attend this event, contact the LCC Center for Accessible Resources at (541) 463-5150 (voice), 711 (relay), or -email AccessibleResources@lanecc.edu
For more information about Lane Community College:
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