Signing on a crew

Hi everyone,

I’m happy to report that Boyds Mills Press, my publisher of PIRATES, has reached an agreement with Cynthia Gonzales, associate professor of music theory at Texas State University, that will allow her to set “Signing on a Crew” as lyrics for a men’s choir piece. I’ve already seen the first few pages of the score. At one time in my youth I was assistant choir director for Grace Methodist Church in Springfield (got married there too) but these days it’s a stretch for me to read sheet music and hear all the sounds in my head.

Dr. Gonzales has earned three degrees in Music Theory: the Ph.D and A.M. from Harvard University and the M.M. from the University of North Texas. She has been a professional singer for over 20 years, company manager for four seasons with the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, and has performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.

If you aren’t familiar with the book (brilliantly illustrated by Dan Burr) or the poem, you can go to, click on the cover, and scroll to “Signing on a Crew.” Cynthia found it on the Poetry Foundation website:

In 2013 PIRATES was selected by Missouri Center for the Book to represent Missouri at the National Book Fair in Washington, DC. Other recognitions include Kansas State Reading Circle List, 2009; NCTE Notable Poetry Books, 2008; nominated for Cybils Award; VOYA’s Nonfiction Honor List, 2009; Texas Bluebonnet Master Reading List, 2010-2011; and Indiana Young Hoosier Book Award Master Reading List, 2011-2012. I’m delighted to see a poem from the book transformed into song, sung like no pirates could ever hope to match!

24 comments on “Signing on a crew

    • Hi, Michelle. I’ve asked Cynthia to let me hear the results. Don’t know how long it will take her to complete her composition.

    • Thank you, Jane. I can’t wait to see what she does with it. I can almost hear the fun she’ll have with individual voices followed by the full chorus shouting, “You’ll do!” Argh!

    • Good morning, Linda, and thank you. I’ve had other poems set to music but none from Pirates. I love her choice of “Signing on a Crew.”

  1. When you’ve got a pirate crew
    Yelling “argh” just won’t do!
    Set those lines to beat and notes
    Make some music from our throats!

  2. How utterly cool, David! I’m a musician too (jsinger/piano/former music librarian- The Boston Conservatory) so I can appreciate how thrilled you must be! Congratulations!

    • Thanks, Bj! I’m so eager to hear what come from this. I’m also grateful to The Poetry Foundation for posting my poem on their site.

  3. Wonderful news! Congratulations. I’m happy to have a signed copy of Pirates and can imagine a whole Pirates musical with all the pieces set to music.

    • Doing a jig here around the capstan. I’ve had chorals, songs, ballets, plays, a movie made from my books and poems and it is ALWAYS a high. If you can, I hope you can get to the performance. If not, listening on a cd is fun too! HUGE congratulations for finalizing this.

      • Thanks very much. I’ve been thinking about Cynthia lately and intending to see where she stands on her project. I’ll let you know what she says. Naturally I’m eager to hear the work performed!

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