The Happenings at the Estate
By Jaya Rao-Herel & Amanda Ekery
This is an interactive reading/listening experience. Listen to the accompanying audio with headphones and read at your pace.
Muted music that no one else could hear danced in and out of their ears The lights were blown out Droplets broke as they hit the cement it rained every night and the concrete was always damp Leaving behind a musty scent Their long faces stretched around their bulged eyes Their reflections scared one another, satisfied The young couple made two fried eggs to celebrate their engagement The hypochondriac cured her constructed illness shopping for seeds The magician tried to disappear behind her raincoat The boy wished to never return home But then the wind picked up A yellow cab sped around the roundabout The tires crushed the seeds into damp cement The smell of breakfast hung in the air The reflection absorbed the smooth smoke And a puddle of yellow lay cloaked on gravel A jubilant soundtrack played soundlessly Forgetfulness confused his direction That week’s iteration of happiness beginning Saggy, loose, strained and heavy
We started with a poem draft Jaya wrote after listening to “In a Black Out” by Hamilton Leithauser. We then highlighted passages that we liked and developed those lines into full stanzas. After completing the poem, we each recorded short sounds around our homes on our phones and compiled them in Garageband. Some sounds included running water, a ratchet tool, a clock ticking, and a distant train. We organized the sounds to match the poem and edited everything using reverb, panning, effects, and volume automation. The overall goal was to create a chaotic snapshot of a community and immerse the reader visually and aurally.
Jaya Rao-Herel, from Brooklyn NY, is a senior in high school. She is a writer and musician, blending her love of storytelling and music through songwriting and composition. Her work is driven by her biracial heritage, observations of nature and daily life and her pieces are poetic reflections on the world around her.
Multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and composer Amanda Ekery has earned support from New Music USA, Chamber Music America, and the Jerome Foundation, and has been featured at the Portland Jazz Festival, Panama Jazz Festival, and The Kennedy Center. Amanda’s original albums “Keys With No Purpose,” and “Some (more) Short Songs” were praised in Downbeat Magazine saying “her compositions are great” and “full of moments of amazingness.” She earned the 2022 Jazz Hero Award from the Jazz Journalist Association for her gender equity work with El Paso Jazz Girls and beyond.