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Four Poems of Nikita Gill (2020)

for solo mezzo-soprano(s), piano | 00:12:00

by Melissa Dunphy | text by Nikita Gill

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Text by poet Nikita Gill. Song cycle originally commissioned by Dr. Carol Lines through a Juliet Hardtner Endowed Professorship, McNeese State University.

This song cycle is intended to be expanded. Consider commissioning more songs for this collection by contacting the composer.

I. Sorcery
for Lindsey Bower

Every day, I magic myself alive again
from the near death experience of trauma.
I swallow my heart back from
the lump it has become in my throat.
I taste my own memories
without the flavour of blood but as poetry.
I learn how to whisper my name
without it sounding like a curse.
I murmur spells to the parts of me
others have found too dangerous to love.
And after this morning ritual
I finally smile at the woman in my mirror.
Tell me again,
how healing is not a magical thing.
Tell me again,
how I am not made of sorcery.

II. From The Ashes She Became
for Lara Connally

Before she became fire, she was water.
Quenching the thirst of every dying creature.
She gave and she gave
until she turned from sea to desert.
But instead of dying of the heat,
the sadness, the heartache,
she took all of her pain
and from her own ashes became fire.

III. You Have Become a Forest
for Emily Lancon

One day when you wake up, you will find that you have become a forest. You have grown roots and found strength in them that no one thought you had. You have become stronger and more beautiful, full of life giving qualities. You have learned to take all the negativity around you and turn it into oxygen for easy breathing. A host of wild creatures live inside you and you call them stories. A variety of beautiful birds rest inside your mind and you call them memories. You have become an incredible self sustaining thing of epic proportions. And you should be so proud of yourself, of how far you have come from the seeds of who you used to be.

IV. Me Too

This is our riot act,
our manifesto,
our revolution:
because the ones
who did this know
we are talking about
their monstrous actions.
It’s time for them
to have the nightmares,
for them to suffer
for what happened,
for them to fear being
named by the same
voices they silenced.
I hope they are
forever haunted
by these two words:
“Me too”

Artwork by Abby Markov


  • 10 Sep, 2023: Kathryn Leemhuis at Warner Concert Hall, Oberlin College and Conservatory, Oberlin, OH
  • 07 May, 2023: Kathryn Leemhuis at The Mercantile Library, Cincinnati, OH
  • 22 Apr, 2023: Annali Fuller at Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Center Recital Hall, Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA
  • 27 Apr, 2022: Akosua Adwini-Poku at Clayton State University, Spivey Hall, Morrow, GA
  • 19 Apr, 2022: Akosua Adwini-Poku at Clayton State University, Spivey Hall, Morrow, GA
  • 11 Mar, 2022: Wear Yellow Proudly at Academy of Vocal Arts, Philadelphia, PA