Ann Arbor poet Megan Levad collaborates with composer Tucker Fuller on “American Murderer”
Ann Arbor poet Megan Levad has collaborated with composer Tucker Fuller on "American Murderer," which borrows from Mississippi John Hurt's and Lloyd Price’s versions of the blues standard "Stack O’Lee," or "Stagger Lee," as it is also known. The poem was written for Murder, a ballad cycle described as "two girls go on a killing spree in an old Cadillac with a mix tape full of Johnny Cash, Schubert, Marlene Dietrich, and Jacques Brel. At the end of the night, one gets the bullet, one gets the noose."
In addition to blues and country, Murder incorporates elements of hymn and pre-1930s jazz standards, as well as some of American music's most popular songs (like "9 to 5" and "The St. James Infirmary"). It also alludes to William Wordsworth’s "The World Is Too Much With Us." Some other works that inspired Murder include: "The Green, Green Grass of Home," “Tom Dooley," "Falling in Love Again," "O Death," and "Holy Sonnet I" by John Donne.
"American Murderer" is included in Killer Verse: Poems of Murder and Mayhem (Everyman's Library, Knopf, 2011). Megan Levad's poems appear or are forthcoming in Tin House, Fence, Granta Online, Spinning Jenny, and textsound. She also writes text for composer Kristin Kuster. She and Tucker Fuller are currently at work on Labor, the final installment of a project that also includes the song cycles Murder and Love. She lives in Ann Arbor, where she runs the visiting writers series for the University of Michigan.