On a Bed of Gardenias: Jane & Paul Bowles, Karren Alenier’s sixth collection of poetry, unfolds the exotic love story of Jane Auer and Paul Bowles, American expatriate writers considered to be the precursors of the American Beats. The poetic story begins after Jane’s death in 1973 as Paul and Jane’s Moroccan lover Cherifa sit smoking kif and revisit scenes from Jane and Paul’s lives. The insinuation is that Cherifa poisoned Jane. Paul says that Jane was his muse but did he bleed her pen dry?
This collection feeds Alenier’s libretto How Many Midnights, a multi-media opera-in-progress with her collaborator, composer John Supko. Alenier spent three weeks in 1982 in Tangier, Morocco, working on her poems about Gertrude Stein with Paul Bowles. In 2005, some of those poems about Stein premiered in Gertrude Stein Invents a Jump Early On, her first opera with composer William Banfield.