“Into the Mystic”: Where Poetry Meets Music, An Interview with T.R. Hummer

In his essay “The Mechanical Muse,” T.R. Hummer writes, “[T]he poet is considered the musician of writers — which means that, however inexpressible the relation may be, the poet’s job is to reassemble what so often presents itself as a broken primal unity.” Music is an indelible through-line in Hummer’s poetry and prose, so it is no surprise that he ended up recording an actual album — under the project moniker “AmeriCamera” — with Billy Cioffi, a touring guitarist and musical director for rock legends like Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Del Shannon. I spoke with Hummer on the phone about the nexus of poetry and music as well as his personal musical history and the process and impulse behind AmeriCamera. As he writes in “The Mechanical Muse”: “Music and language are as distinct, and as linked, as the lobes of the brain. Talk about it for a while, and shortly you will begin to sound mystical.”