Amit Majmudar, author of the poetry collection 0º, 0º (TriQuarterly Books, 2009), and a novel, Partitions,(Macmillan 2011) is a diagnostic radiologist, and he’s here with us this week to talk about his Think Music.
“Earshot”: A Riff
I love music, but not when I’m writing. In fact, I write with gigantic earmuffs on, the kind those guys use on the tarmac when they’re waving at planes with glowing orange light sticks. Mine are made by Peltor, the highest decibel-masking level I could find. You can still hear the outside world, but it’s blunted enough your concentration can grow intense. I don’t use the electronic noise-cancellation ones because I want to be able to be disturbed in case my wife or kids nears me. I need the silence when I write. Proust built a soundproof room. The main relationship of music to my writing is that sometimes I listen to a composer and think to myself, What if that could be done in language? The answer is usually no. Just yesterday I thought that about a Baroque composer named Domenico Scarlatti. I am infatuated right now. (My tastes aren’t always so refined. Before Scarlatti, it was Amy Winehouse. Ah, post-post-modernity!) I don’t even like most of Baroque music. But this Scarlatti makes me wonder if a sustained meaningful poem could be written with each word belonging strictly to one of three rhyme sounds. Or if two verse lines might travel twinned across the page, parallel, identically assonant, each line of each couplet saying the opposite thing: counterpoint. Left hand, right hand. I daydream that I perform on this bluetooth keyboard a Scarlatti keyboard sonata. Then I start my ten-fingered clog dance, and all that comes out are words.