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  April 2020
volume 17 number 1
Jack G. Bowman
Bill Cushing's Music Speaks
Carol Smallwood
Carol Mertz, author of Toward a Peeping Sunrise
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Jack G. Bowman April 2020


Bill Cushing's Music Speaks

    Music Speaks (© 2019 Bill Cushing) work is done in a free verse style, and is purposefully melodic in tone and style.
    Cushing's choice in music is diverse and images and language often relate to specific dynamics of that genre of music.
    There are only 23 pieces in this volume and this is within the chapbook guidelines, however it feels like there should be more an even more expansive version at some point.
    Music Speaks uses a type of glossy paper and photos reminiscent of CD inserts. This adds to the whole conceptual framework; that this is about music.
    Cushing begins with a Russian composer Mussorgsky and then goes through several other composers and performers: Dr. John, Leon Redbone, then especially jazz; Miles, Nina, Bird, Blake, and for then some reason, Dire Straits.
    Music moves Cushing, and he has some distinctive lines for each that jump out and express that poetry is his music:

    A juggernaut pulled by two thousand pounds, rolls between fields-grinding dirt, crushing stones,“ From "Bydlo".

    Even without knowing the piece of music, the heaviness, the weight of it, comes through clearly.
    Cushing's reverence for the jazz giants, “I stood on the edge of mount Olympus, looking up.” is evident and striking.
    His most emotional poem, he saves for Miles Davis.
    Others have worked this revolutionary into their work, Larry Jaffe, comes to mind, it is apparent that the way other musicians broke down barriers in blues, country, pop, dance music, rap and rock. Miles, and his friends, made jazz rules and limits bend and break, and this appears to connect emotionally and profoundly to the author and his own personal history:

…it was in the garden where you brought me back to music, I walked all the way home… "Miles".

    As with each hero, these selected pieces come forward; expressed, and merged into written words to create new memories in those that become inspired to seek out and find the music for themselves.

Music Speaks, © 2019 Bill Cushing, available for sale at, ISBN 978-0-359-82701-5, $ 25.00

copyright 2020 Jack G. Bowman


Jack G. Bowman

author's bio

    Jack was born to a workin' class family in southwestern Ohio, but soon moved to southern California where he lives today. Changes in subculture as well as the 'spirit of the times' affected his writing and philosophy. He graduated from California State Polytechnic University in Pomona in 1986 with a Bachelor of Arts in Behavioral Science. He graduated from Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena with a Master of Arts in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling in 1997.
His work in the mental health field since 1984, as well as his own bizarre life experiences, figure prominently in his poetry, art, songs and prose. Jack is a licensed Psychotherapist in the Los Angeles area.
    He has been a published poet since 1991. Approximately 500 of his poems have been displayed in small presses, anthologies, and on the internet. He has self-published 12 books of poetry.

Jack's website