Danielle Buonaiuto | Markham, Ontario

Danielle Buonaiuto believes in community, compassion, and access, whether she is singing or running the show. A co-founder of ChamberQUEER, she is also the Executive Director of Musica Viva NY, one-half of experimental vocal duo REXDuo, and an active self-producer and freelancer. Her album “Marfa Songs” is out on Starkland. A dog lover, kombucha brewer, and kitchen experimentalist, she feels at home in Brooklyn.

A Small Handful

A Small Handful is a musical film, taking as its basis the song cycle “A Small Handful”, written by Gilda Lyons for solo voice, with poetry by Anne Sexton. The cycle engages with themes of isolation, agency, feminism and gender politics, as well as the far-reaching effects of inherited trauma and mental illness, specifically within families.

Anne Sexton was one of the poets who ushered the era of confessional poetry into the American mainstream. Anne suffered from severe bipolar disorder, which was inadequately treated her whole life, as well as from a grave misalignment of societal expectation (she spent her life in bourgeois Boston society) and her own sense of self. She was bisexual and sexually liberated, deeply devoted to her work, and fiercely independent; she found herself married with children at a young age, fighting to carve out space for herself amid domestic responsibilities she did not resonate with, to work, spend time with fellow poets, and explore her identity. It did not help that her bipolar disorder created manic episodes that exacerbated her family’s experience of her independent streaks and unreliability as a wife and mother. She was institutionalized against her will on several occasions, and she eventually died by suicide, at the age of 45.

The work uses Gilda’s signature folk-inflected style to deliver the three texts from early, middle, and late periods of Anne’s output, tracing a journey from wishful imagination, into stark reality, and back inward, to a moment of reckoning with deep despair, and a choice, made over and over again, to continue to strive.

[For me, this program meant] finding myself - my views and my work- in context: in a quickly-changing industry where there is room for growth; amongst peers and mentors, who are making change in a variety of ways; and also reflected back - where there is room for my own growth and change.

Danielle Buonaiuto

See more of Danielle Buonaiuto's work here.

Instagram: @goodhelpdanielle

Danielle Buonaiuto's residency was generously supported by the Ruby Mercer Endowment.