Performance poet Jennie Orvino's CD, Make Love Not War, explores the body erotic and the body politic in collaboration with some of the San Francisco Bay Area's most accomplished musicians. These "poems of peace and passion" combine open-hearted sensuality and a challenge to the political status quo. Orvino's mission is to "transform tyranny by inviting tyranny to greater pleasure."
Erotic meditations, clandestine love notes, exquisite but impossible connections. Jazzy, bluesy, dancey sounds and music. Reporting of war-torn territories from the unblinking eye of the dove of peace. Listening to the staccato, the call and response of poem and saxophone, or poem and song, you fall into a new space of wonder.
***Link to an interview with Jennie Orvino.
***Link to a long review of "Make Love Not War."
National Book Award-winning poet Robert Bly wrote of Orvino's third book, Heart of the Peony: "These poems don't dance around at the edge of town, they head straight for the center." About one of her erotic vignettes, Christopher Saint observed, "Like a sock in the solar plexus, it took my breath clean away!"
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT THE CD: make love not war
Reading Jennie Orvino's poetry has become a fetish. Lyrical and probing, her poems take risks that would send other poems to medication and therapy. If you can read her erotic poems without touching yourself, check your pulse. If you can read her political poems without being deeply moved, check for a heart. The only death celebrated here is the little one followed by a cigarette or some jazz. Jennie never holds back her tongue, using lavish strokes to make the reader believe in kissing again.
--Brent Hagen, school teacher, writer
What strikes me is how fearless Jennie is in facing pain and pleasure head on. When she's off balance and near the precipice, she seems to embrace the impending freefall... whether she ultimately lands on a soft, safe feather bed, or on a pile of jagged rocks that rip her to shreds.
--G. Badano, account exec and musician
The artistry, the integrity of your voice, words and phrasing, your words mixed with just the right musicians...I've listened to Make Love Not War over and over again. Thank you for giving voice to what so many of us don't have words for.
--Stephanie Mendel, writer
The matter-of-factness of Jennie's delivery is in itself revolutionary. So much erotica is veiled in lush tones, or just the opposite, presented bar room tough by the latest "hot" poetesses. Her way is journalistic, particularly in this collection with so many actual wars and scenes of destruction to report. I also think this disc embodies the painful poignant reality we sensitive ones living on the edges of the fat cats' kingdoms experience.
--Todd Walton, author of Ruby and Spear, The Writers Path, and more
Jennie's not riding a wave, she's causing one, and it has a powerful cleansing action that the Maytag Man could only wet dream about.
--Jim Strand, artist and musician
Imagine the Love Child of Anais Nin and Molly Ivins. Orvino translates the wisdom centered in the body into compelling language that challenges our assumptions about how the world truly works. Who says down-and-dirty erotica can't illuminate 21st century politics?
--Bart Rawlinson, writer and teacher
It occurs to me that the culture is terribly polarized by puritanical and pornographic attitudes towards sexuality and I find Jennie's work refreshingly free of both.
--Harvey Taylor, poet/songwriter
REVIEW by Julia Gibson, novelist, film animator (Los Angeles)
In Jennie Orvino's "Make Love Not War," poetry and music combine into a rich, spicy musical-verbal stew, fulfilling as a good meaty meal. Orvino is heartfelt but never sappy, sultry and sexy without being vulgar, equally passionate about war and love. Her musical collaborations are in a range of styles, each piece distinctive. Orvino performs her poetry: acts it, scats it, bats it about like the kittenish tiger she is, tickling and teasing in a juicy purr.
Orvino is fearless as she steers from rooms of sexual ecstasy to lands of devastation. Salvation lies somewhere on the road between those two realms. She mourns the horrors of war, but in erotic passion there is hope for transcendence. Each informs the other: the consciousness of such horror brings intensity to love, and love is the only possible respite when bombs are devastating your home.
Eros is Orvino's ministry, healing and redemptive. She personalizes the besieged, becomes a warrior boy, wonders about those who were kissing for the last time before being buried in rubble. And in her poems, she loves as if each encounter might be the final collision of skin against skin.
I'm finding that "Make Love Not War" is a good thing to listen to while driving. In Los Angeles, at least, you see humanity at its lowest ebb while passing it by enclosed in your bubble. The driver who throws his lit cigarette out the window, then veers in front of another car. The sad-faced woman at the bus stop. The sullen young man with his rap bass so up it shakes the car next to him. But then you let Orvino and her musicians take you over. The toddler runs in her yellow dress in a yellow field. A war-blasted landscape re-greens and re-animates. People kneel at each other'sâ feet, rubbing one another, as she puts it, like "deer at a salt lick."
You smile. You might cry. At home, you'll reach for your lover. That kiss might well be your last. Make it sweet.
Jennie Orvino's work has been published at cleansheets.com, slowtrains.com., The Redwood Coast Review, Petaluma Poetry Walk 10-Year Anthology, Cloud View Poets, Poets Against War UK, Squaw Valley Writers Anthology, From Porn to Poetry, and Good Vibrations' Sex Toy Tales. She received the Don L. Emblen Literary Award (2000), and first prize for poetry in the 2001 edition of Copperfield's Books Literary Review, The Dickens.
Orvino says, "I've been writing poems since I got a diary with a lock and key at age 15," Indeed, reading her work is like peeking into the subsequent volumes of that diary where the themes of peace and justice, sexuality and relationships, self-actualization and creativity have been explored.
In addition to being a purveyor of the spoken word, Orvino has worked as a journalist, editor, graphic designer, print production manager and teacher. She's now working in marketing and development for a non-profit arts organization. Her performance credits range from theatrical stage and coffee house to intimate living room salons, and have included collaborations with drummers, actors, jazz singers and a variety of musicians.