Meet the Author: Silvestri releases “A Silver Thread”

Twenty years of lyric poetry.

The Ichabod Shop will be hosting history professor, composer and lyricist Tony Silvestri for Meet the Author from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 3. Silvestri’s new book, “A Silver Thread,” with cover art by Washburn student John Burns, is a collection of his lyric poetry written in the last 20 years for composers and the choral community. Some of the poems in the book, however, have not yet been released and will be provided to the public for the first time within the book.

“I have been doing this for long enough that I have gathered a corpus of work that I didn’t know was quite this big,” said Silvestri. “I put it into a word document and it was over 200 pages. I thought ‘oh my gosh.’ The book exists as a collection of my work and a place where composers can go to find poems that are written specifically to be set to music.”

Lyric poetry is a unique art form that combines the construction of words into deeper messages and the technical needs possessed by writing lyrics to be sung by choirs.

“It’s a different craft,” said Silvestri. “Poetry is intentional, exquisite use of words to express truth. Lyric poetry is doing that, but specifically with an ear to having it be sung. Not every poem lends itself to being sung.”

Part of Silvestri’s craft includes meeting the composers who request his lyric poetry for their music to get a feel for their intention with the music. While writing, his own perspectives bleed into the words.

“I’m kind of a chameleon,” said Silvestri. “I create the voice that the composer needs for that particular type of commission so I have multiple points of view and voices. I have an interview process with the composer where I get their ideas and take down a whole bunch of notes about their emotional state when they’re talking about the piece. It gives me a lot of golden stuff to use. Then it filters through [me] like water through limestone caves. It filters through my own education and experiences, the way that I handle words, the kind of images and metaphors floating around in my head, the poetry I read and so on.”

Silvestri’s hopes for “A Silver Thread” are to make his poetry available to composers in search of lyrics and the poetry community. The book was first made available to the choir community through GIA Publishing. In September, the book will be released to the public, however, the book will be available for purchase in the Ichabod Shop and may be signed by Silvestri during the event.

“What I want to do [at the event] is talk a little about my process and read some poems, and maybe talk about the genesis of those poems,” said Silvestri. “For about a half an hour I’ll talk and read, then I plan to open it up for discussion. I want to keep it casual and organic.”

Silvestri is grateful to the Ichabod Shop and Washburn for the opportunity to share his book with the campus and community.