Rachel Nelson    BardLive Music and Productions   bardlive@gmail.com   651.353.3370









School & Library Programs



Frame Drum Classes

Press Pak



Bardlive Poetry

I write poetry for the page, and often for the stage.  The poems below were written to be shared out loud, delivered directly to the ear.  All poems copyright Rachel Nelson.  

I also enjoy teaching a workshop in performing poetry and story:  Spoken Word Explorations.  Find that workshop description beneath these 3 poems:


This first poem comes from the theatrical show After Leaving Eden: Living the Questions


The Swampy Cree, north of Lake Winnipeg, say that the bone of a snow goose

killed by a lynx is a wishing bone.  Hold it, make a wish, and it happens.


The Wishing Bone

I hold the fine white bone in my left palm,

feel it thrumming with current

from somewhere I cannot see.

I close my fingers around it.


It pulls me with a strong tug,

and we are walking.

The bone has taken me by the hand.

It is leading me now, down the hill

through the tangle of grasses and dense brush,

heedless of snags and thistles, dragging me along,

down and down,

until we reach a small creek where purple

wildflowers bend over the water

on delicate stems.

We stop.


I know that now is the time to wish it:  that which I most desire—

time to speak my creation into being.

I know the white bone gives me this power.

The hot sun bores into the back of my neck.

A fly buzzes, lands on the knuckle

of a finger gripping bone.


This is now:

no more excuses

no more journeys to the wise one.

Now I am she.


copyright Rachel Nelson


For the second poem, here's a shout out to those on Jett Sophia's Tenacity Notes list! 


Free Fall

I stand at the edge

looking down.

A pebble, boot-knocked,


makes no sound

seems to fall forever

sweet release.


My place is here on the edge,

and my stance has as clear a trajectory

as that pebble’s fall.

One step back—

or forward—

would be so much easier than this

falling, standing still.


    copyright Rachel Nelson



“The purpose of art is to crack the frozen sea within us.” – Franz Kafka



Never underestimate the power of sound.

I have sung into the iceberg of my heart and felt it crack—

in the pale northern sun,

melting a  bit

so that drops lurk in the spaces between ice,

the surface tension of each tiny globe resisting

the  slow slip

into the submerged.

Each drop

slowly licking its way into the heart of the matter,

moving, perhaps

only a fraction of an inch per day—

this slow melting,

imperceptible to the eye,

I can feel.


My throat, creaky from disuse

cracking a bit itself, harbors

visions of shattering wineglasses and high C’s

(being, after all, dramatic

even though long submerged).

The dream of the delicate bowl exploding

on its arching stem

pales before the real drama

being played out:

this hunk of ice skulking

beneath the surface,

its mammoth and unknown bulk

trembling a little.


    copyright Rachel Nelson

SPOKEN WORD EXPLORATIONS - A Performance Workshop with Rachel Nelson

Storyteller, theater artist, songwriter, and spoken word poet Rachel Nelson writes for live performance.  She brings over 20 years of experience connecting with live audiences to her hands-on workshops.  She has taught her Spoken Word Explorations workshop at Great River School, Young Authors events, the North Dakota Reading Association Conference, and the Northlands Storytelling Midwest Conference.

Rachel’s hands-on workshop stresses both the heart and the art of performance.  After discussing ways to find and connect with a poem they love, she uses the language of music to coach students in effectively connecting with audiences by using rhythmic, dynamic, and tonal contrast in their spoken word delivery.   Students practice both sides of the performance conversation, alternating between the role of listener and performer.  They learn as much from watching their peers as they do from performing for them.  Workshop includes modeling, pair work, group discussion, and performance work.

Nelson is on the COMPAS and WAITS artist rosters and the MN State Arts Board teaching roster.  She has received grants from the MN State Arts Board and the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council for her teaching work; creation of theater work that incorporates story, spoken word, and song; and for making audio and video recordings of her work.  She has published two CDs:  Change is a Thousand Hearts, original songs; and “I’m Awesome!” said the Possum, songs & stories for young listeners.  Her theater creations include After Leaving Eden: Living the Questions and the upcoming The Urban Hermit.



08/28/2012                         Copyright  BardLive Music     2012