Janis Joplin covered the song in 1969, a year before she died. Nancy Wilson, Sam Cooke, Diana Ross, Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, and many others covered the song. And now, in verse, Sequoia Maner presents Little Girl Blue.
Maner offers three takes -- a prelude, interlude, and coda -- with poems entitled "Little Girl Blue."
She takes a road less traveled by many contemporary poets in that she works extensively with rhyme. At one point, writing directly to Little Girl Blue, she goes, "You asked, where we gon' / get clean? The lake or the stream? In the break / or the dream? Or somewhere, someplace, in between?"
So much captured my interest here. For one, I started running through my internal catalog of literary works and trying to recall the last time I encountered a poet communicating directly to a little blue girl like in this poem. (My memory's still buffering). Maner is speaking to this lil blue girl, but she's also retelling what was said by her, so the poem at the same time amounts to speaking of the subject.
Little girl blue, we learn from Maner's retelling, wanted to know how we'd refresh ourselves or get ready. Would we go to a calm settled place (i.e. a lake), or would we find the answer amid movement (i.e. a stream)? Maybe we'd get there near some space of disruption and change (the break), or perhaps in a subconscious state (the dream).
Along the way, in those lines, there's sonic connectivity with "clean," "stream," "dream," and "in between."
The metaphors and rhyme that section, of the whole poem in fact, are literary, intellectual treats for a reader. But, of course, this idea of a "blue girl" and "girl blue" run counter to a simply delightful take, right? Too, listening to some of the takes on "Little Girl Blue" by singers already socialized us to a solemn consideration of the subject.
So Maner demonstrates the possibility of work and play in her poem, in her series of poems, and she joins Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, Janis Joplin, and many others by covering "Little Girl Blue."