Hey everyone! I just briefly looked around online looking for a forum for the discussion of serious poetry and this looked like my best bet.
I'm a music composition major at Western Michigan University and I got a grant for this semester to write a song cycle (in the classical art song genre). My original intention (and grant proposal!) was to use a poem cycle being written specifically for me by a poet-friend in New York, but come this semester I've found that the project he undertook isn't even complete, much less revised and ready to be set to music. Unfortunately, that means I'm screwed, but I've already received the grant money and need to find a good poem cycle to set! I've asked a few English majors, but then it hit me that the obvious place to seek advice was with people who love and know a great deal about poetry. I would sincerely appreciate any suggestions for me.
What I'm looking for is ideally a cycle of 5-10 poems that were composed as a single work and linked somehow, preferably dramatically or structurally but thematically at least. The reason I'd prefer it be dramatically is that that kind of unification would make the large-scale structure of my music more cohesive (assuming that I do my job right). I would like to be able to do whatever it is I end up setting some justice, and so I'd prefer not to have to omit any poem or part of a poem because of length and time concerns.
The poetry should probably be early-twentieth-century at the latest, but something much more recent is certainly not out of the question.
A rhyme scheme is not necessary (though certainly possible) but more important is that rhythmic composition, since metric flow lends itself better to musical settings. Lyricism can really make it easy for a poem to sound good in a song setting and imagery can lend itself to rich musical elaboration.
Any subject matter is potentially acceptable (I wouldn't object to a cycle because it's about rape or murder, in other words), but I might prefer something on the darker side.
And one last thing: if at all possible, it would be most desirable if it's something that hasn't been set to music by anyone particularly famous. It's never fun to have your music compared directly to a master's...
Anyway, I know those criteria are pretty specific and I'll be amazed if anything fits all of them, but I will really, truly be grateful for each and every suggestion I get. Thank you all so much in advance!