Brian Laidlaw, featured in the Poetry Spoken Here special program on poetry and music, is a poet and songwriter currently living in Minneapolis who began setting his songs to his music while an undergraduate at Stanford. After working seasonal jobs and touring for several years as a solo folksinger, he moved to Minneapolis for an MFA at the University of Minnesota. He received a Songwriting Consultant credit on the Grammy Award-Winning album Can You Canoe? By the Okee Dokee Brothers.
There are a lot of poets who incorporate music when performing their poems. However, Laidlaw has an unusual approach to putting poetry and music together. Rather than presenting a poem with supportive musical accompaniment, he alters the original poem to make it more effective as a song lyric. Often, when altering the poems he looks for ways to increase repetition of key ideas in order to give listeners a better opportunity to keep up with the flow of information being presented.
Brian knows that it takes conscious effort to reach excellence as both a poet and songwriter and so he keeps pushing his skills in both arenas. The product of that effort, The Stuntman, a book of poems from Milkweed Editions, comes with a companion album. Click here to listen to a sampling of music that goes with The Stuntman. Additional songs are posted on his website. To hear him talk about his strategies, as a poet, for writing songs check out the Music and Poetry episode of the podcast.