“For Keely Smith” — a poem by Diane Elayne Dees

January 24th, 2018

Keely Smith, 1928 – 2017



For Keely Smith


Godmother of the gypsy tramp
half-breed goddess, unparalleled queen
of less is more, effortless weaver
of that old black magic—
your strength lay in the space between
the screaming sax and the scatting singer.
If midnight blue velvet were sound,
it would be your voice. The minimalist genius
of your body, your black bob, your slowly shifting
eyes, made everyone—men, women, drunks, gamblers,
boys in the band—stop in their tracks.
It also made you fade among the garish colors
of Vegas and the lurid trappings of fame.
But for those who heard you sing and saw
you swing, you live forever, the ultimate icon of cool.







Diane Elayne Dees‘s poetry and fiction have been published in many journals and anthologies. She frequently writes about performers; her sonnet about Joni Mitchell recently appeared in the poeming pigeon‘s “Poems about Music” issue. Diane, a semi-retired psychotherapist, lives in Covington, Louisiana. She publishes Women Who Serve, a blog that covers women’s professional tennis throughout the world.






Keely Smith, 1958, singing “When Day is Done”


With husband Louis Prima, singing “Just a Gigolo”


Smith and Prima, singing “That Old Black Magic”

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In This Issue

This issue features an interview with Bing Crosby biographer Gary Giddins; a collection of poetry devoted to the World War II era; and a new edition of “Reminiscing in Tempo,” in which the question “What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz recordings of the 1940’s” is posed to Rickie Lee Jones, Chick Corea, Tom Piazza and others.


In this edition of Reminiscing in Tempo,, Chick Corea, Rickie Lee Jones, Tom Piazza, Gary Giddins, Randy Brecker, Michael Cuscuna, Terry Teachout and many others answer the question, “What are 3 or 4 of your favorite recordings of the 1940’s?”


Interview with Bing Crosby biographer Gary Giddins, author of the new book "Swinging on a Star: The War Years, 1940 - 1946"


Eight poets — John Stupp, Aurora Lewis, Michael L. Newell, Robert Nisbet, Alan Yount, Roger Singer, dan smith and Joan Donovan — write about the era of World War II

The Joys of Jazz

Award winning radio producer and host Bob Hecht shares his love of jazz through his podcasts on his site “The Joys of Jazz.” In this edition, he tells two stories; the history of the virtual anthem of World War II, “I’ll Be Seeing You,” and the friendship and musical rapport of Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong.

Short Fiction

Hannah Draper of Ottawa, Ontario is the winner of the 49th Jerry Jazz Musician New Short Fiction Award. Her story is titled "Will You Play For Me?"

Coming Soon

Three prominent scholars in a conversation about the lives of Billie Holiday, Ralph Ellison, and Langston Hughes (pictured)

Contributing writers

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