Jazz Poems

Edited by Kevin Young
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Hardcover
$20.00 US
4.38"W x 6.47"H x 0.73"D  
On sale Apr 11, 2006 | 256 Pages | 978-1-4000-4251-7
| Grades 9-12 + AP/IB
Ever since its first flowering in the 1920s, jazz has had a powerful influence on American poetry, and this scintillating anthology offers a treasury of poems as varied and vital as the music that inspired them.

From the Harlem Renaissance to the Beat Movement, from the poets of the New York School to the contemporary poetry scene, the jazz aesthetic has been a compelling literary force—one that Jazz Poems makes palpable. We hear it in the poems of Langston Hughes, e. e. cummings, William Carlos Williams, Frank O'Hara, and Gwendolyn Brooks, and in those of Yusef Komunyakaa, Charles Simic, Rita Dove, Ntozake Shange, Mark Doty, and C. D. Wright. Here are poems that pay tribute to jazz's great voices, and also poems that themselves throb with the vivid rhythm and energy of the jazz tradition, ranging in tone from mournful elegy to sheer celebration.


"Lenox Avenue: Midnight" by Langston Hughes

The rhythm of life
Is a jazz rhythm,
Honey.
The gods are laughing at us.

The broken heart of love,
The weary, weary heart of pain,—
     Overtones,
     Undertones,
To the rumble of street cars,
To the swish of rain.

Lenox Avenue,
Honey.
Midnight,
And the gods are laughing at us.
Foreword

VAMPING (Early Jazz Poems)

LANGSTON HUGHES

Jazzonia
Jazz Band in a Parisian Cabaret
The Cat and the Saxophone (2 a.m.)
Trumpet Player

CARL SANDBURG
Jazz Fantasia

HELENE JOHNSON
Poem

VACHEL LINDSAY
The Jazz of This Hotel

E. E. CUMMINGS
“god pity me whom (god distinctly has)”

WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS
Ol’ Bunk’s Band

STERLING A. BROWN
Cabaret

MAXWELL BODENHEIM
Bringing Jazz

MURIEL RUKEYSER
Homage to Literature

FRANK MARSHALL DAVIS
Jazz Band

GWENDOLYN BROOKS
We Real Cool

SWINGING (Jazz Origins, New Orleans & Ellingtonia)

ROBERT SARGENT
Touching the Past

WILLIAM MATTHEWS
The Buddy Bolden Cylinder

LUCIEN QUINCY
In Praise of Buddy Bolden

ANDY RAZAF
Black and Blue (What Did I Do to Be So Black and Blue?)

ERNST MOERMAN
Louis Armstrong

A. B. SPELLMAN
“Jelly wrote”

HAYDEN CARRUTH
The Fantastic Names of Jazz

PHILIP LARKIN
For Sidney Bechet

DANA GIOIA
Bix Beiderbecke (1903–1931)

HAYDEN CARRUTH
“Sure,” said Benny Goodman

JAYNE CORTZ
Rose Solitude

BILLY STRAYHORN
Lush Life

ELIZABETH ALEXANDER
Billy Strayhorn Writes “Lush Life”
Four Bongos: Take a Train

CLARENCE MAJOR
The Syncopated Cakewalk

NTOZAKE SHANGE
Mood Indigo

BOP (Bird & Beyond)

BOB KAUFMAN
War Memoir
Walking Parker Home
Crootey Songo

STERLING D. PLUMPP
Eleven from Velvet Bebop Kente Cloth

WARING CUNEY
Charles Parker, 1920–1955

DAVID LEHMAN
May 12

OWEN DODSON
Yardbird’s Skull (for Charlie Parker)

ROBERT CREELY
Chasing the Bird

CATHERINE BOWMAN
Charlie Parker Birthday Celebration, Tompkins Square Park

DIONISIO D. MARTINEZ
Charlie Parker: Almost Like Being in Love

KING PLEASURE (CLARENCE PETERS)
Parker’s Mood

ROBERT PINSKY
Victrola

LAWSON FUSAO INADA
Filling the Gap


HORN SECTION

FRANK LONDON

Jazz

TED JOANS
Jazz Is My Religion
Lester Young

TED BERRIGAN
String of Pearls

AMIRI BARAKA (LEROI JONES)
Pres Spoke in a Language

AL YOUNG
Prez in Paris, 1959

FRANK O'HARA
Personal Poem

GREGORY CORSO
For Miles

DARRELL BURTON
Blue in Green

PATRICIA SPEARS JONES
The Blues of This Day

KYLE DARGAN
Melody Forensic

MARK DOTY
Almost Blue

EDWARD HIRSCH
Art Pepper

QUINCY TROUPE
Snake-Back Solo

CHARLES WRIGHT
Body and Soul II

PAUL BLACKBURN
Listening to Sonny Rollins at the Five Spot

YUSEF KOMUNYAKAA
February in Sydney


SHEETS OF SOUND (Coltrane & Co.)

A. B. SPELLMAN

John Coltrane

MICHAEL S. HARPER
Dear John, Dear Coltrane
Here Where Coltrane Is
Reuben, Reuben

JEAN VALENTINE
Coltrane, Syeeda’s Song Flute

MATTHEW GRAHAM
After the War; When Coltrane Only Wanted to Play Dance Tunes

CORNELIUS EADY
Alabama, c. 1963: A Ballad by John Coltrane
William Carlos Williams

SEAN SINGER
Photo of John Coltrane, 1963

CALVIN HERNTON
Fall Down

ETHERIDGE KNIGHT
For Eric Dolphy

HAKI MADHUBUTI (DON LEE)
Don’t Cry, Scream

AMIRI BARKA (LEROI JONES)
Am/Trak

KAMAU BRATHWAITE
Trane

WILLIAM MATTHEWS
Blues for John Coltrane, Dead at 41

PHILIP LEVINE
Soloing

NATHANIEL MACKEY
“John Coltrane Arrived with an Egyptian Lady”

RHYTHM SECTION

ANGELA BALL
Jazz

WILLIAM MATTHEWS
Mingus at the Showplace
Bud Powell, Paris, 1959

PAUL ZIMMER
One O’Clock Jump

KEORAPETSE KGOSITSILE
For Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers

MARTÍN ESPADA
Shaking Hands with Mongo

YUSEF KOMUNYAKAA
Copacetic Mingus
Elegy for Thelonious

CHARLES SIMIC
Crepuscule with Nellie

BILLY COLLINS
Snow

WILLIAM CORBETT
Thelonious Sphere Monk

LAWSON FUSAO INADA
Listening Images

AL YOUNG
Ruby My Dear

FREE JAZZ

JOHN KEENE
Dark to Themselves

MAJOR JACKSON
Leaving Saturn

THULANI DAVIS
C.T.’s Variation

KENNETH REXROTH
from Written to Music

HARRYETTE MULLEN
Music for Homemade Instruments

N. H. PRITCHARD
Gyre’s Galax

AMIRI BARAKA (LEROI JONES)
Epistrophe

MUTING ( for Billie Holiday)

LANGSTON HUGHES
Song for Billie Holiday

LEWIS ALLEN
Strange Fruit

BILLIE HOLIDAY and ARTHUR HERZOG, JR.
God Bless the Child

KEVIN YOUNG
Stardust

C. D. WRIGHT
The Secret Life of Musical Instruments

TERRANCE HAYES
Lady Sings the Blues

TONY HOAGLAND
Poem in Which I Make the Mistake of Comparing Billie Holiday to a Cosmic Washerwoman

SONIA SANCHEZ
For Our Lady

JANET M. CHOI
What I’m Wild For

FRANK O'HARA
The Day Lady Died

RITA DOVE
Canary

LAWON FUSAO INADA
The Journey

List of Authors
Acknowledgments
  • WINNER
    New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age

About

Ever since its first flowering in the 1920s, jazz has had a powerful influence on American poetry, and this scintillating anthology offers a treasury of poems as varied and vital as the music that inspired them.

From the Harlem Renaissance to the Beat Movement, from the poets of the New York School to the contemporary poetry scene, the jazz aesthetic has been a compelling literary force—one that Jazz Poems makes palpable. We hear it in the poems of Langston Hughes, e. e. cummings, William Carlos Williams, Frank O'Hara, and Gwendolyn Brooks, and in those of Yusef Komunyakaa, Charles Simic, Rita Dove, Ntozake Shange, Mark Doty, and C. D. Wright. Here are poems that pay tribute to jazz's great voices, and also poems that themselves throb with the vivid rhythm and energy of the jazz tradition, ranging in tone from mournful elegy to sheer celebration.


"Lenox Avenue: Midnight" by Langston Hughes

The rhythm of life
Is a jazz rhythm,
Honey.
The gods are laughing at us.

The broken heart of love,
The weary, weary heart of pain,—
     Overtones,
     Undertones,
To the rumble of street cars,
To the swish of rain.

Lenox Avenue,
Honey.
Midnight,
And the gods are laughing at us.

Table of Contents

Foreword

VAMPING (Early Jazz Poems)

LANGSTON HUGHES

Jazzonia
Jazz Band in a Parisian Cabaret
The Cat and the Saxophone (2 a.m.)
Trumpet Player

CARL SANDBURG
Jazz Fantasia

HELENE JOHNSON
Poem

VACHEL LINDSAY
The Jazz of This Hotel

E. E. CUMMINGS
“god pity me whom (god distinctly has)”

WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS
Ol’ Bunk’s Band

STERLING A. BROWN
Cabaret

MAXWELL BODENHEIM
Bringing Jazz

MURIEL RUKEYSER
Homage to Literature

FRANK MARSHALL DAVIS
Jazz Band

GWENDOLYN BROOKS
We Real Cool

SWINGING (Jazz Origins, New Orleans & Ellingtonia)

ROBERT SARGENT
Touching the Past

WILLIAM MATTHEWS
The Buddy Bolden Cylinder

LUCIEN QUINCY
In Praise of Buddy Bolden

ANDY RAZAF
Black and Blue (What Did I Do to Be So Black and Blue?)

ERNST MOERMAN
Louis Armstrong

A. B. SPELLMAN
“Jelly wrote”

HAYDEN CARRUTH
The Fantastic Names of Jazz

PHILIP LARKIN
For Sidney Bechet

DANA GIOIA
Bix Beiderbecke (1903–1931)

HAYDEN CARRUTH
“Sure,” said Benny Goodman

JAYNE CORTZ
Rose Solitude

BILLY STRAYHORN
Lush Life

ELIZABETH ALEXANDER
Billy Strayhorn Writes “Lush Life”
Four Bongos: Take a Train

CLARENCE MAJOR
The Syncopated Cakewalk

NTOZAKE SHANGE
Mood Indigo

BOP (Bird & Beyond)

BOB KAUFMAN
War Memoir
Walking Parker Home
Crootey Songo

STERLING D. PLUMPP
Eleven from Velvet Bebop Kente Cloth

WARING CUNEY
Charles Parker, 1920–1955

DAVID LEHMAN
May 12

OWEN DODSON
Yardbird’s Skull (for Charlie Parker)

ROBERT CREELY
Chasing the Bird

CATHERINE BOWMAN
Charlie Parker Birthday Celebration, Tompkins Square Park

DIONISIO D. MARTINEZ
Charlie Parker: Almost Like Being in Love

KING PLEASURE (CLARENCE PETERS)
Parker’s Mood

ROBERT PINSKY
Victrola

LAWSON FUSAO INADA
Filling the Gap


HORN SECTION

FRANK LONDON

Jazz

TED JOANS
Jazz Is My Religion
Lester Young

TED BERRIGAN
String of Pearls

AMIRI BARAKA (LEROI JONES)
Pres Spoke in a Language

AL YOUNG
Prez in Paris, 1959

FRANK O'HARA
Personal Poem

GREGORY CORSO
For Miles

DARRELL BURTON
Blue in Green

PATRICIA SPEARS JONES
The Blues of This Day

KYLE DARGAN
Melody Forensic

MARK DOTY
Almost Blue

EDWARD HIRSCH
Art Pepper

QUINCY TROUPE
Snake-Back Solo

CHARLES WRIGHT
Body and Soul II

PAUL BLACKBURN
Listening to Sonny Rollins at the Five Spot

YUSEF KOMUNYAKAA
February in Sydney


SHEETS OF SOUND (Coltrane & Co.)

A. B. SPELLMAN

John Coltrane

MICHAEL S. HARPER
Dear John, Dear Coltrane
Here Where Coltrane Is
Reuben, Reuben

JEAN VALENTINE
Coltrane, Syeeda’s Song Flute

MATTHEW GRAHAM
After the War; When Coltrane Only Wanted to Play Dance Tunes

CORNELIUS EADY
Alabama, c. 1963: A Ballad by John Coltrane
William Carlos Williams

SEAN SINGER
Photo of John Coltrane, 1963

CALVIN HERNTON
Fall Down

ETHERIDGE KNIGHT
For Eric Dolphy

HAKI MADHUBUTI (DON LEE)
Don’t Cry, Scream

AMIRI BARKA (LEROI JONES)
Am/Trak

KAMAU BRATHWAITE
Trane

WILLIAM MATTHEWS
Blues for John Coltrane, Dead at 41

PHILIP LEVINE
Soloing

NATHANIEL MACKEY
“John Coltrane Arrived with an Egyptian Lady”

RHYTHM SECTION

ANGELA BALL
Jazz

WILLIAM MATTHEWS
Mingus at the Showplace
Bud Powell, Paris, 1959

PAUL ZIMMER
One O’Clock Jump

KEORAPETSE KGOSITSILE
For Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers

MARTÍN ESPADA
Shaking Hands with Mongo

YUSEF KOMUNYAKAA
Copacetic Mingus
Elegy for Thelonious

CHARLES SIMIC
Crepuscule with Nellie

BILLY COLLINS
Snow

WILLIAM CORBETT
Thelonious Sphere Monk

LAWSON FUSAO INADA
Listening Images

AL YOUNG
Ruby My Dear

FREE JAZZ

JOHN KEENE
Dark to Themselves

MAJOR JACKSON
Leaving Saturn

THULANI DAVIS
C.T.’s Variation

KENNETH REXROTH
from Written to Music

HARRYETTE MULLEN
Music for Homemade Instruments

N. H. PRITCHARD
Gyre’s Galax

AMIRI BARAKA (LEROI JONES)
Epistrophe

MUTING ( for Billie Holiday)

LANGSTON HUGHES
Song for Billie Holiday

LEWIS ALLEN
Strange Fruit

BILLIE HOLIDAY and ARTHUR HERZOG, JR.
God Bless the Child

KEVIN YOUNG
Stardust

C. D. WRIGHT
The Secret Life of Musical Instruments

TERRANCE HAYES
Lady Sings the Blues

TONY HOAGLAND
Poem in Which I Make the Mistake of Comparing Billie Holiday to a Cosmic Washerwoman

SONIA SANCHEZ
For Our Lady

JANET M. CHOI
What I’m Wild For

FRANK O'HARA
The Day Lady Died

RITA DOVE
Canary

LAWON FUSAO INADA
The Journey

List of Authors
Acknowledgments

Awards

  • WINNER
    New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age

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