Unquenchable Fire


This composition of structured improvisations is based on excerpts from the novel of the same name, written by Rachel Pollack. Winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for speculative fiction, and described as "Dense, supple and endlessly imaginative, this remarkable novel looks into the near future to find an America that is feminist and funny, transcendent and terrifying. A mysterious revolution in the laws of the universe and political revolt on the part of the mostly female founders have transformed the country. When the future comes to Poughkeepsie, New York, politicians and movie stars take a back seat to storytellers; ritual and magic prevade everyday life; and the miraculous is not only common place but expected.'

The time is now, and it seems the future has come nearer and sooner than expected. Having grown up in the real Poughkeepsie, New York, Rachel's story takes place in a world that I know, at times on the street where I live.

On Sunday November 27, 1983, I saw in the sky to west of Poughkeepsie,, a huge something; I don't know what, drift silently from north to south. I thought I was watching a large airplane about to crash, so I stopped and waited for the impending horror. Instead, the something moved slowly, silently southward, a ring of green lights around the middle all turning red together in a single instant. I went home vowing never to reveal what I had seen, lest Ibe snatched away, never to be seen again. The next morning, the papers and the radio were full of reports of the sighting by credible observers, including a report of radar contact of an unidentified flying object, by Stewart Air Force Base, in Newburgh, New York.

The incident was dismissed by skeptics as ultra-light aircraft flying in formation as a prank. Yeah! Ever heard of ultra-lights flying silently?

Myth, legend, omen or message you decide.

Commissioned by Deep Listening Band with support from die Mary Flagler Gary Trust


Pauline Oliveros, accordion

Stuart Dempster, trombone, didjeridu

David Gamper, keyboard, flutes, electronics


Joe McPhee, soprano sax, alto clarinet, Casio digital horn

Joe Giardullo, flutes, bass clarinet

Monica Wilson, cello

Karen Jurgens, drums

l. INTRO(4:54)

2. 1ST MOVEMENT (26:14)

3. 2ND MOVEMENT (9:49)

4. 3RD MOVEMENT (11:28)

5. 4TH MOVEMENT (15:10)

Publishing: Joe McPhee, ASCAP Text read by Rachel Pollack

This composition is based on the novel UNQUENCHABLE FIRE

by award-winning novelist Rachel Pollack and published by Overlook Press