Poet Laureate


Friends of Chamber Music is happy to announce the reappointment of Margaret Chula as its Poet Laureate for the 2012-13 season. Ms. Chula has held this post since 2010, composing more than forty poems inspired by  concerts in the Classic Series as well the Not So Classic and Vocal Arts Series concerts.

Her poems capture the essence of the concert, encompassing a wide range of emotions and styles. They are posted on the Friends of Chamber Music website and Facebook page and have also appeared in print in program books throughout the seasons.

The idea to create a poet-in-residence position was inspired by Wimbledon’s appointment of an official poet in 2010. “I was intrigued by Wimbledon’s idea,” said Friends of Chamber Music Executive Director Pat Zagelow, “but immediately knew that poetry and music would make a much better match (forgive the pun). We think our audience will find that the rhythm of words is not unlike the rhythm of music and we hope to enhance the listener’s experience in a novel and interesting way by combining these two wonderful art forms.”

Margaret Chula, is having a far-reaching impact. The Czech Nonet has featured her poems in their “Music and Painting” series in Prague. In 2011, she read a selection of poems on All Classical radio in Portland, Oregon, streaming to a world-wide audience. Chicago-based composer James Falzone commented: “How cool is that!” to his 1,000+ Facebook friends after learning about our Poet Laureate and reading a poem inspired by one of his works performed by the vocal group Tapestry.

To read her poems written during the 2010-13 seasons, go to http://focm.org/about/poet-laureate/.



CALDER QUARTET                                                March 14, 2011

Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 33, No. 2 “The Joke” Franz Josef Haydn (1732-1809)



My heartbeats quicken as I lay hidden
in the hollow of a tree, crunched up
like a small toad, knees to chest.
Spider webs tickle my nose, sweat
trickles down my eyelids. Braids
stick to the back of my neck.

I watch the light change on the fields,
listen to birds sing their vespers. Feet
numb, hands tingling, I wait in vain
for All-ee, all-ee in- free!
It seems that I am the winner—
the one who was never found.

Quartet for Strings in E Flat Major

PACIFICA QUARTET October 16, 2012
Quartet No. 2 in F Major, Op. 92 Sergei Prokofiev


open mouth of a crow the sound

winter night no lights to distract from the owl’s call

behind the black chador the whimper of oppression

sumi ink amplifies the white space on a Japanese scroll

black box bobbing in the ocean passengers last cries

Quartet for Strings No.2 in F Major


CALDER QUARTET                                                March 14, 2011

Quartet No. 3 “There must be some way out of here”, Jacob Ter Veldhuis (b. 1951)

This poem was written a few days following the tsunami and nuclear disaster at Fukushima, Japan.



The earth hums, squeaks, groans. A young boy practices his violin, notes flat
and resigned. Preschoolers take out their blankets for a nap. A waitress dips
her hands in soapy water. Farmers work the soil before flooding their rice fields.
Two friends drink green tea and gossip. For some these are their last moments.

Another rumble. A factory siren. A dog howls, then lurches like a drunkard on
uneven ground. Asphalt cracks. Buildings sway. Dishes crash. Tractors tip.
Power lines tangle and rip. Computer screens go dark. Office girls scream.

Hokusai’s wave rushes towards them—swallowing boats, tiny fishermen, trucks,
houses—everything, everyone. There’s got to be some way out of here. But
there is no here left, nowhere to turn—no uphill exit from the gullet of the wave
grinding its teeth on timber and power lines. There’s no way out.




Las Presencias no. 6, “Jeromita Linares”            Carlos Guastavino (1912-2000)



Jeromita’s kitchen smells of cinnamon and fresh-cut apples.
Wiping her hands on a towel, she opens the screen door.
Chickens squawk and scatter.

The heat wilts the bougainvillea, mutes the squeak
of the garden gate. Lugubrious strumming
from an unseen guitar player.

The brown eggs she gives me are warm as skin.
They nest in my palm like comfort, like
the miracle of a newborn.



PACIFICA QUARTET                        January 11, 2011

Shostakovich Quartet No. 10 in A-flat Major, Op. 118



The housekeeper smuggles in food, tucked inside
her voluminous coat, to feed the composer’s family.
Loaves of bread lodge inside the sleeves, thin as
her emaciated arms. Potatoes bulge like tumors
in her pockets—turnips, beets, rutabagas in sackcloth
bags pinned to the coat’s lining.

The flat is cold. Ants scurry for warmth beneath
the threadbare carpet. Mice lie in wait for crumbs.
The family huddles around a stove lit by pages
of sheet music. Fear courses through their veins.
We will live.     We will live.       We will live.

Morning. A white fox sits in the snow outside
their window. The faint hum of his fur.
The dry aftertaste of last night’s dream.
The vodka bottle is empty.




“These are terrific. What a splendid idea. Thanks so much dear Friends of Chamber Music.”

“Thank you for sending that poem Mesto. Very resonant with sorrow and joy.”

Czech Nonet

“Margaret Chula’s quite good, isn’t she? At first I wondered how this would go, but I’ve really enjoyed her poetry even when I couldn’t make the concert.”

“Wow, this is really wonderful. Does Nonet have permission to use the poetry on their series in Prague? The series is called Music & Painting (each concert is conjoined with an art exhibit), but why not some poetry to go along with? I think American poetry is all the better…international flair.”

– Todd  Stanton, Manager Czech Nonet

“This is amazing! Her poetry so represents the program they put together. Thank you so much for having a Poet Laureate and for having one with such perception and insight. I will not only forward this to Tapestry but also to some of the composers whose music was presented. Reading this, they will want to write some more.”

– Shupp Artist Management for Tapestry