6: Audio clip, Charming Hostess’s Hebrew-language musical interpretation of Dropkin’s poem “Adam,” 2004, along with a photograph of the band.
Charming Hostess, a band with roots in the 1990s avant-rock scene of Oakland, California, brings together women's vocal traditions (primarily from Eastern Europe and North Africa), and American folk musical forms. Identifying the genre of their album, Sarajevo Blues, as Klezmer-punk/Balkan-funk, Charming Hostess composed original scores for songs such as this one. This exercise invites students to consider music and performance as forms of poetic interpretation.
Suggested Activity: Play the audio clip or the entire song. Ask the students for their thoughts on this musical adaptation of Dropkin’s poem: is there anything unexpected about this interpretation? How would you characterize the tone and style of the music? What seems different to you between the poem and the song? Ask students what style of music they would set the poem to, if they were adapting it for a band. If there are Hebrew-speaking students in your class: what do they think of the translation of the poem’s words into Hebrew?
Invite students to create their own interpretation of “Adam” in a creative medium of their choice. They can make a drawing or painting based on the poem, they can write their own poem responding to “Adam,” or they can work in small groups to perform the poem, deciding which aspects of the poem to emphasize, which lines to accent with gesture and voice. When sharing these projects in class, have students consider how each creation conveys the artist’s particular interpretation of the poem.