(Unfortunate Coincidence is an early work – I wrote it when I was 22 years old and studying at the Juilliard School)
Dorothy Parker’s often ironic poetry is a reflection of her existence: she often expressed a penchant for death, attempting suicide multiple times, and yet she lived to the age of 74. Much of her poetry, especially the poems in this set, suggest the social oppression of women and yet she herself was a prominent member of the literary circles of a 1920s New York City, as a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table, an elite literary discussion group that congregated at the Algonquin Hotel. Known for her exceptional wit, Parker poked fun at the traditional poetic styles and gestures, shaping something, for instance, in nature-referencing, grandly-phrased rhyming couplets, only to simultaneously cause the poem to make light of those devices.
Parker’s poetry sets itself. Each poem is its own wild ride, embedded with twists and turns that are so bold that they can be effortlessly supported by the music. These poems were selected from throughout her collection and ordered to follow a loose narrative of a woman down on her luck with love. But the often cantankerous Parker takes her fate standing up – though at moments, her vulnerability shows through her thorny exterior, she is ultimately the quintessential “tough cookie”.
Unfortunate Coincidence was the recipient of a 2007 Morton Gould Young Composer Award from ASCAP.
All texts are by Dorothy Parker
This piece was premiered on April 15, 2005 at Morse Recital Hall at the Juilliard School in New York City.