02 April 2008

Happy National Poetry & Jazz Appreciation Month!

April, April....a very dreary beginning to the month yesterday morning here suddenly blossomed into a glorious and warm afternoon and evening. Considering all the flowering trees (..and my blooming sinuses) Spring (or something like it) has arrived.

In honor of the 12th National Poetry Month -- an excerpt from a poem by the great Jay Wright on this year's poster(viewed at right: download the pdf here) -- and also of the 8th Jazz Appreciation Month ([El]La Fitzgerald from the Verve Songbook series seen at left: pdf here), the librarian in me recommends:

Sascha Feinstein and Yusuf Komunyakaa's Jazz Poetry Anthology and The Second Set (The Jazz Poetry Anthology, Volume 2)

Sascha Feinstein's journal Brilliant Corners

Art Lange and Nathaniel Mackey's Moment's Notice: Jazz in Poetry and Prose

and the Kevin Young edited Jazz Poems

My own small contribution to the party and the joys of the month appears below, from 10 Tongues. Enjoy!

Dad on Tenor

Paint me a dream of the late
1950's: men in somber suits
and skinny ties. Everyone
wears hats. The South exploding
with the new thing -- "Civil Rights"
The North feeling bewildered,
superior again.

My father plays his horn 'Round
Midnight and beyond, dances notes
into Eisenhower's straightlaced sky
higher than a Sputnik, is the Negro
giving wet dreams to beatniks
across the tops of cities contemplating jazz...

The universe fits onto a 10" record,
and every blue note is a gem,
filled with epic rhythms
rolling louder than a drum.

Rock and Roll is Chuck Berry,
a painted Little Richard, white boys
stealing The Blues, imitating Louis Jordan
badly, a kid from Mississippi your mother
swears has some cullud in him somewhere

My mother's hands snake around him
sweet and sad as a bass line, her body
just as bowed with child. White girls wink
from the corners bright
high notes trilled from the piano.
The discords of the '60's wait to mug him
at the far end of the street. For now

the world is his, whispers like a lover
All the Things You Are into his ear
as he steps up to the mike, wets the reed,
wraps a smile around the mouthpiece.
Far off a voice calls out


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