What people are saying about Jennie Orvino’s CD: Make Love Not War

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In Jennie Orvino’s “Make Love Not War,” poetry and music combine into a rich, spicy musical-verbal stew, fulfilling as a good 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 beseiged, 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 others‚ 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 voice — sure, incandescent, with barely controlled sexual heat — opens this remarkable CD with her short poem, “The General’s Dream.” Behind her, Pablo Rodriguez weaves a spiraling vocal obbligato. Without a break, she moves into “Worship Service,” a meditation on a blowjob. After that, to John Simon’s jazz, she purrs the down-and-dirty “Main Squeeze Blues:”Nobody’s key fits my lock the way yours does, baby. Nobody has that long, slow slide.”

 The music in Jennie’s CD shifts, chameleon-like, from track to track. One narration is backed by clear, almost classical guitar. Make Love Not War echoes Simon and Garfunkel’s “7 O’Clock News/Silent Night” with a jazzy riff flickering through it. At times the mood goes bluesy, at others it drifts into New Age soundscapes. And it all works — Orvino can be as raunchy as a hard fuck, as sensual as dreamy tantra, as original and unexpected as any erotic poetry I’ve ever heard… Always, the music is in service to the words.

–Bill Noble, poet

Oh, Jennie. MAKE LOVE NOT WAR: Poems of Peace and Passion makes me crazy. The whole presentation—your warming voice and performance, the caring fit of word to chord, especially evident in “Main Squeeze Blues”—heartens. How lucky the warrior whose peace may hang on the uplifting voice and lips of a poet-lover as warm and worshipful as you. Wow!

—Al Young, Poet Laureate of California 2005-2008

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, teacher, writer

Certainly does start with a bang, doesn’t it? Make Love Not War is thoughtful and full of heart and there’s a beautiful vibe in the supporting music. I think it’s great night music.

—Glenn Siegel, singer/songwriter, Wine Spectrum president   (Sonoma County, California)

Dear Jennie…I am awed by your poetry! Your wordplay and foreplay,  brilliant, searing images of pain pleasure…it’s heady stuff, but it goes right to the heart…you are so honest and alive!

—Carl Van Dyke   (Sonoma County, California)

Jennie Orvino is shameless. Regulars of the poetry scene in California’s North Bay Area already know her as a writer and performer who ventures willingly into taboo territory, guided by the compass of her curious heart. From flirtation to polyamory, masturbation to menopause, no topic is off limits. Often sensuous, sometimes funny or angry (or both) but always accurate, Jennie’s poems dance fearlessly on the hot buttons we’ve all been told not to push…

—review by Yosha Bourgea (cleansheets.com)

…thrilling erotic energy juxtaposed to war violence consciousness…Human and wholesome, tender and real. Look who we really are and look how great poetry is and what it can really do and say! For me on of the high moments in the CD was the end of “Worship Service” where you say you suck your lover not with your mouth but with your heart.

—Antler, author of Factory [City Lights], Last Words [Ballantine] and many others

 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…Eros is Orvino’s ministry, healing and redemptive…

—Julia Gibson, Novelist, Film Animator (Los Angeles, CA)

The blend of performance poetry and music has evolved into a lively art form, and Jennie Orvino pushes the genre into new territory on her CD “Make Love Not War” …Orvino’s voice can spit bullets or ooze drops of melodic honey. Detailed scenes of private bedroom acts and war crimes prick at social taboos, but never descend to porno gutter or gratuitous bloodbath…The music complements the poems’ moods and themes…and Orvino’s voice patterns rise and fall with the lovers’ dance.

—from a review in The Shepherd Express (Milwaukee, WI)

 I think it’s very provocative—in a good way—to mix the sex and war images. Surely sexual desire finds many forms of expression.Your poems feel brave and explorative, not judging or accepting common assumptions, but suggesting through implication and juxtaposition. It’s titillating on many levels.

—Daniel Cochnear, winner of 2000 Willa Cather Fiction Prize for Jobs and Other Preoccupations

On your CD I liked “Love in a Time of Tragedy” the best. The thought of your daughter walking out of that ash-covered day just gives me chills. Of the sexual poems, I think the way you allow the sacredness of sex a place in the poems is the most important thing about them.

—Lynn Trombetta, Poet and Teacher (Santa Rosa, California)

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 (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

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 (Kenwood, California)

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 (Forestville, California)

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.

—S.M., poet (Marin County, California)

 Both the poetry and the CD are magnificent, Jennie! Truly, in “Make Love Not War,” you have created a masterpiece of art, politics and sensuality in an exquisite weave of carnal and intellectual eroticism.  What a powerful and deeply satisfying experience.

—Jim Hill, Government Agency Director, woodworker, guitarist (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

This is the hottest stuff I have ever read…The intimacy you’ve written into the accounts makes them very real and poignant. It gives them a depth I haven’t seen much of in erotic writings.

R. Smith, web animator

I very much appreciate your art and enjoy your readings so much! You’re full of life without pretense. I love it.

—Jack Stuppin, Visual Artist (Sonoma County, California)

Sex exists in the world, not apart from it. It’s sweaty and smelly; it’s spiritual in the profoundest sense of the word; and using it for love can be just the beginning of passion, not its end. Jennie Orvino knows that in her bones.

—Bill Noble (excerpted from a review at cleansheets.com 05-08-02)

“It made me blush; it made my heart race.”

­—Gina Williams, Owner of The Sensuality Shoppe  (Sonoma County, California)


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