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Four Poems of Nikita Gill (2018)

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

by Melissa Dunphy | text by Nikita Gill

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Text by poet Nikita Gill. Song cycle 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”

Four Poems of Nikita Gill, Melissa Dunphy from Jennifer Lien on Vimeo.

Artwork by Abby Markov


  • 18 Nov, 2023: Trio Eos at First & Central Presbyterian, Wilmington, DE
  • 17 Nov, 2023: Trio Eos at Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, PA
  • 17 Sep, 2023: Jennifer Piazza-Pick at Kathryn Greenhoot Recital Hall, Queens University of Charlotte, Charlotte, NC
  • 20 May, 2023: Jessica Lennick at Moorestown Library, Moorestown, NJ
  • 29 Apr, 2023: Leila Koch at RiverCenter for the Performing Arts, Legacy Hall, Columbus State University, Columbus, GA
  • 28 Apr, 2023: Erica Harvey at Penn State School of Music Recital Hall, State College, PA
  • 29 Nov, 2022: Lisa Willson DeNolfo at Rock Hall Auditorium, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
  • 06 Oct, 2022: DePauw University at Thompson Recital Hall: Green Center for the Performing Arts, Greencastle, IN
  • 18 Sep, 2022: Lisa Neher, soprano at Lincoln Hall Studio Theater, Portland, OR
  • 23 Jun, 2022: Felicia Zangari, soprano, Virginia Douglas, soprano, Sarah Stevenson, mezzo-soprano, Cris Frisco, piano at Helen Filene Ladd Concert Hall, Saratoga Springs, NY
  • 12 Jun, 2022: Jessica Zamek, Danielle Hager & Lauren Mian at Church of the Highlands, White Plains, NY
  • 12 May, 2022: Cailin Smith, Shea Brown, Dagny von Mering Crowley at Longy School of Music, Room N1, Cambridge, MA
  • 13 Feb, 2022: Erica Harvey, Rachel Flicker at Penn State Recital Hall, Music Building, State College, PA
  • 08 Dec, 2021: Rhiannon Vaughn at Gildenhorn Recital Hall, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
  • 01 Nov, 2021: Jennifer Piazza-Pick at Georgia College and State University, Milledgeville, GA
  • 29 Oct, 2021: Jennifer Piazza-Pick at Mercer University Macon, GA
  • 25 Sep, 2021: Polly Taylor, Lydia Bak at University of Delaware Gore Recital Hall, Newark, DE
  • 29 Apr, 2021: Maddy Battista, Narmina Efendiyeva at Faculty of Music's Walter Hall, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • 23 Apr, 2021: Chloe Agostino at Collins Recital Hall, University Of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
  • 01 Mar, 2021: Priscilla Menezes, Benjamin Kersey at Benefit Concerts Series, University of Toronto (virtual)
  • 29 Feb, 2020: Jennifer Piazza-Pick at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
  • 21 Jul, 2019: Veronica Chapman-Smith at Ethical Society of Philadelphia, PA
  • 01 Jun, 2019: IAMIAMIAM at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, NY
  • 15 May, 2019: Akilah Etienne at Brooklyn College, NY
  • 26 Feb, 2019: Corrine Byrne at Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, PA
  • 13 Nov, 2018: Corrine Byrne at Randolph College, Lynchburg, VA
  • 11 Oct, 2018: Acalanes Bella Voce at Lafayette Presbyterian Church, Lafayette, CA
  • 20 Apr, 2018: Lindsey Bower, Lara Connally, Emily Lancon, Mark Henry at First United Methodist Church, Lake Charles, LA