Poetry reflecting the era of COVID, Black Lives Matter, and a heated political season — Vol. 1

June 18th, 2020

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I recently extended an invitation to poets to submit work that reflects this time of COVID, Black Lives Matter, and a heated political season.  

What follows are some of those submitted.  More will appear in the future.

-Joe Maita/Editor and Publisher

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“Mood Indigo,” by Matthew Hinds (May, 2020)

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The Medieval Times

 

It is darker than I have ever known,
No light in street, window, or home.
All hopes for peace lie in ruins.
It is darker than I have ever known.
Grendel looms and not alone
His teeth munch on bloody bones.
It is darker than I have ever known,
No light in street, window, or home.

……………………….First published in .Rattle, Summer 2003

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By Michael L. Newell

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Rust Belt
……………for Bruce Weigl

My appendix burst in a car
like a paper bag and I saw Jesus in 1966
outside of Wheeling
I ate cereal and water by the side of the road
there was no milk
but a war
and the country was dying
like a drunk in Las Vegas
not even looking as it pissed all over
its shoes
Ornette was on a cassette tape
you remember those
that’s who I was thinking of today
and Charlie
when the virus came on little cat feet

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By John Stupp

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Listening To Brad Mehldau Under Quarantine

he makes me forget about the week
from hell
reminding me that
art can be
an oasis in a storm
he takes  anarchy like radiohead
and turns it into an
olive branch
he shows me
we can live together as
brothers
he bends over the keyboard
in a  bill evans
pose
and turns turbulence into
a thing of beauty

he is a magician with black and
white keys
creating brotherhood…

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By Erren Kelly, 6’2’20

 

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Alleged Choke Hold..NYC.2014
……………………………………(I can’t breathe)

that’s what they called it
the news caster said it
he said the police called it that
it was an alleged Choke Hold

my lying eyes saw the video
and I heard the guy
say
“I can’t breathe”       “I can’t breathe”
“I can’t breathe”
………3 times………… he said it 3 times

that’s what they called it
the news caster said it
he said the police called it that
it was an alleged choke hold

but he was BLACK     he was BIG
so therefore  . etc……
they didn’t. couldn’t. hear him when he said .“I can’t breathe”
they were applying an alleged choke hold

that’s what they called it
the news caster said it
he said the police called it that

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By Oliver Lake

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No Curfews On Words

When there are so many empty streets that you are loath to roam alone,
and so many populated homes whose doors are closed,
shunning friends, colleagues and dogs,
you do not need to feel empty or forlorn.
If you are afraid that your own voice will betray you
with its emotional turmoil,
then do not call.
You can write without invoking the Muse,
who is probably wearing a mask and gloves too.

There are no curfews on words.
They are immune to every type of virus and germ.
They need no armor in their combats with foes.
They defeat woes.

When you have run out of ink, use your keyboard.
Your message in an instant can navigate the world,
creating bridges, with no portcullises or moats,
between you and the human globe.

Do not let words in your brain boil,
initiating a fever that your thermometer misconstrues.
Air your views.
The coolness would seep into your nerves like a zephyr
blown from the mouth of Aeolus.

Words can placate the anger of a child
who no longer has access to his playground or favorite lawn,
a few tales from Hans Christian Andersen’s lore,
but if you would rather not quote,
write your own shorts.

With words, you can commune with saints and gods,
with spirits across the threshold,
with the Celtic twilight that Yeats extolled,
with ancestral souls,
with sons and daughters.

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…………………….originally published in New English Review (June 2020)

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By Susie Gharib

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Elegy For George Floyd

It’s strange that a man should be arrested and then killed merely on suspicion that he’s using a $20 counterfeit bill. Forget that apparently a black man’s life isn’t worth more than $20.00 in the eyes of America! The world is filled with counterfeits that serve as currency toward more profitable ends. Eastern Colleges that banked on black labor to enhance its coffers and those of its student body. Southern states who used counterfeit currency in the form of slaves to serve the welfare of plantation owners; or the cheap labor amassed through the African workforce in the South, even after the Emancipation Proclamation; counterfeit education in minority enclaves and the rest of the disenfranchised concentrated in under served cities so the rest of us can cash in on racial inequities; the blank check accorded our black fighting men who risked their lives so we could live freely.  The counterfeit gold medal that the great Muhammad Ali got from the Olympics that couldn’t barter a seat in an all-white restaurant. The counterfeit court trials allotted white serial killers accorded a jury of their peers that merit them a lifetime of prison food, while black men get a summary sentence of death handed down by policemen for selling cigarettes on the street. The counterfeit sympathy of otherwise clueless people like me and many in my generation who bewailed the violence going on in the South in the 50’s and marched only to the newspaper stand to read about it.  The world is filled with counterfeit. What it needs is empathy and men of character with real currency who can finance change with political acumen.

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By Frank de Canio

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Not Tonight, In Memory Of Laquan Mc Donald

See me and Charley was smoking weed
drinking, you know that cheap shit you get
at Sam’s LIQ, we was talking bullshit,
took a hit on the pipe, time to go, getting
late, but my stomach talking to me
maybe grab myself a burger except I ain’t
making no sense, I pull out my knife, cause
I’m fucked up, don’t know what I’m doing
Pretty lady behind the counter say
she gonna call the police unless I get
the hell out of there, I’m out
I hear ‘em coming, whole bunch of
em just for me, hollering shouting
I see guns, I just want to get the fuck home
I know Mama got something on the stove
Down the middle of the street, staggering
still got that damn knife in my hand
HALT!, no, I’m going home, no jail
tonight, not for me
STOP NIGGER! Put your knife down
Glued to my hand, can’t let go
CRACK, CRACK, CRACK, CRACK
RAT-TAT, TA- TAT
16 hot pops to my back
I’m not going home, not tonight
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By Aurora M. Lewis

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Singing In The Shower

Sometimes I recognize that you will forget me,
that we will forget all of this, and that all of this
will forget us, that we ever inhabited this space.

But these days, I find that when I’m not thinking
about the present or the past, I’m often thinking,
“Don’t think that—just please don’t think that.”

I slice open my middle finger while chopping up
vegetables for dinner. Maybe it was an accident.
Maybe I wanted some outward display of what’s
inside me. Maybe it’s a little “fuck you” to myself.

It just feels like I’ve been so damn malleable lately.

I call up my mother to let her know I’m not “dead
on the side of the road,” as she seems to like to say.
She tries to comfort me by saying she thinks we’ve
avoided something worse, something like a civil war.
She means well, but it’s not much of a comfort to me.

But I think about D.H. Lawrence, how he said that we
have “to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.”
I put on John Coltrane records until I’ve run through
all my John Coltrane records, then start back at the top.
And that seems to do some damage. It seems to tame
the beast a little. I think I’m good to step outside and
confront the world. I’m getting ready and I’m singing.

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By Scott Silsbe

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We Have Been Briefed
…………………………….(found poetry)

They have very little people
that take this drug for malaria.
You know, you go to major hospitals,
sometimes they have two ventilators.
Some of these people who are dying—
they’re gonna die.
Maybe that’s correct, maybe it’s false.

You know, we just had another sock rocket—
you saw that, right? We have a thing
called the Constitution, which I cherish.
I could cause panic much better than even you.
Did you know I was number one on Facebook?

I’m a cheerleader for this country;
the president of the United States calls the shots.
Did I hold a rally? I’m sorry. I hold a rally.
Did I hold a rally?
I don’t take responsibility at all.

Supposing you brought the light inside the body.
And then I see the disinfectant…something
like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning.
You’re going to have to use medical doctors.
Maybe you can, maybe you can’t;
I hope people enjoy the sun.

When you test, you find something is wrong with people.
If we didn’t do any testing,
we would have very few cases.
Are you ready? Are you ready? Are you ready?
I’m just here to present talent;
people don’t want money.

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By Diane Elayne Dees

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Statues Of Limitations

The miniature statue
Of St. Francis
Holds court over the small garden
He is patron saint of

Arm raised in praise and blessing
For all the flowers
And creatures
He embraces with Peace

Meanwhile, in Boston
Christopher Columbus has lost his head
And, in Richmond
He has been tossed into the river

While the fate
Of Robert E. Lee
Is a bone of contention
In the renewed Civil War

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By Jim Mello, 6/11/20

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Soliloquy And Song At The Bathroom Mirror     

Don’t mind what is coming for a moment—
maybe the end of days, the end of you, a cold
gray dawn, the lawn all soaked with morning dew
while distant cities named for saints, and others too,
are burning, one by one and two by two as you peer
into the steam upon the glass, and marvel at the ass
you have become, the sum of things you’ve learned
minus those you’ve failed to grasp. There’s not much
left once that’s subtracted. But in your defense, half
the words have been redacted, so just for a moment,
don’t mind what is coming as you serenade the misty
looking-glass so softly with a little folk tune that you
have never even cared much for,The Foggy Dew.

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By Joel Glickman, 6/11/2020

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St. John’s Church Lafayette Park June 1, 2020  

Staring stunned motionless
I gape at the televised universes
both within and outside of me,

I contemplate the sting of
Anguish that tear gas delivers
to children’s children gathered

and since nature abhors vacuum
the emptied space draws the vacuous
perpetrator the toothless old dictator

this poseur hoisting someone else’s decalogue
nevertheless somehow he correctly identifies it
as “a bible” which prop to him suffices

after all he is performing once again
on television holding a sacred book before a
hallowed church in a lately teeming place

here emptied by him who dominates any
untamed spaces in the manner which disgraces
his own senseless carcass and his failing nation.

Yes certainly we will be unleashed from
the fatted golden calf
by death our own or from his leaving the world
while children our own and his are begging us

for food in forms of gentleness and meaning
when home where the heart is said to be may for all be
missing as our nation fails its singular mission.

Home and hearth, quaint concepts where
lessons once learned have been forgotten
where the only legacy easily  may be
the one decreed in idiocy.

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By Ed Coletti

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A Swedish Midsummer 2020

Geography the usual;
The place on planet just the same;
The night light full till after midnight,
Daylight’s dawn at one or two
With so few hours in between.

This year then,
A little different.
Last year when
A crowd would meet
To dance and sing and drink and eat
On park or lawn or balconies,
Families and friends to hoopla til a dark
Which almost never comes
Makes the ending for them.

This a deviating year;
Debating and departing from
The customary dancing, prancing,
History may chronicle as Distancing,
Fiascos, blunders, six-feet-unders.
Romance from six feet of space

This midsummer in the North
Coming forth with likenesses
Has, by the laws of nature
Put the  emphasis on differences
Which we, survivors as a race
Will surely neutralize and chase away
One future day.

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By Arlene Corwin, 6/15/2020

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On One Day At A Time

in these troubled times

and false spring

after seventy

but also before

those older years

try and find

on one day at a time

find something in each day

you will enjoy doing

something good and interesting

you absolutely love to do

on every

single

day

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By Alan Yount

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Postscript:  written on June 6, 2020
seventy third birthday,
with hope of strength and peace
in these times.

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The artist Matthew Hinds comments about his work during this time:
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“To be a jazz artist in America is a risk to begin with and then came Covid 19. The pandemic has not only put the future of live jazz into question, but  has claimed the lives of so many musicians so far, Ellis Marsalis,  Wallace Roney, Henry Grimes, Guissepe Logan and Lee Konitz. The disproportionate  number of African-Americans who have died from the virus, moreover, speaks of the structural racism of the country that Black Lives Matter is seeking to redress. On a more personal note, my sorrow only grew after the stark contrast of the joy I experienced from being lucky enough to attend the William Parker and Marshall Allen’s Sun Ra Arkestra concert at Town Hall, the last great jazz show in NYC before the walls came tumbling down, what now feels like a century ago.”

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Matthew Fallon Hinds received his PhD. at the London School of Economics in the field of International History. He has worked as a lecturer and academic in the US and Europe. His most recent written work can be found in the newly released edited Volume, Geopolitical Amnesia: The Rise of. the. Right and the Crisis of Liberal Memory,  published by McGill University Press. He lives with his wife and two children,  a stone’s throw away from the Williamsburg Bridge where Sonny Rollins honed his craft all those years ago.

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Michael L. Newell’s newest books are Wandering and Each Step a Discovery.  They can be found online at Amazon, cyberwit.com, and Barnes and Noble.  Newell lives on the Florida coast.

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John Stupp’s third poetry collection Pawleys Island was published in 2017. His manuscript Summer Job won the 2017 Cathy Smith Bowers Poetry Prize and was published in August 2018. A chapbook entitled When Billy Conn Fought Fritzie Zivic was published by Red Flag Poetry in January, 2020. (From 1975-1985 he worked professionally as a mediocre jazz guitarist). He lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and can be reached via email at JStupp2@gmail.com.

 

 

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Erren Kelly is a two-time Pushcart nominated poet from Boston whose work has appeared in 300 publications (print and online), including Hiram Poetry Review, Mudfish, Poetry Magazine, Ceremony, Cacti Fur, Bitterzoet, Cactus Heart, Similar Peaks, Gloom Cupboard, .and .Poetry Salzburg.

 

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photo by Charles Martin

photo by Charles Martin

Oliver Lake is a saxophonist, composer, arranger, and bandleader who in 1977 founded the World Saxophone Quartet.  He has performed on more than 80 albums.  In addition to his musical endeavors, Oliver is also an accomplished poet, painter and performance artist. He has published two books of poetry, and has exhibited and sold his artwork internationally. 

Click here to visit his website 

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Susie Gharib is a graduate of the University of Strathclyde with a Ph.D. in English on the work of D.H. Lawrence. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in Adelaide Literary Magazine, the Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Mad Swirl, Down in the Dirt, The Ink Pantry, Impspired Magazine, A New Ulster, Westward Quarterly, Miller’s Pond Poetry Magazine, The Opiate, Penwood review, Crossways, Amethyst Review, Synchronized Chaos, Pinyon Review, Leaves of Ink, Peacock Journal, The Blotter, and many others.

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Born and bred in New Jersey, Frank De Canio works in New York. He enjoys music from Bach to Amy Winehouse, World Music, Latin, Opera. Shakespeare is his consolation, writing his hobby. He likes Dylan Thomas, Keats, Wallace Stevens, Frost , Ginsberg, and Sylvia Plath as poets.

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Aurora M. Lewis.is a retiree having worked in finance for 40 years. In her fifties, she received a Certificate in Creative Writing-General Studies, with Honors from UCLA. Aurora’s recent poems, short stories, and nonfiction have been accepted by The Literary Hatchet, Jerry Jazz Musician, The Blue Nib, Trembling in Fear, Jitter Press, Scary Snippets, Copperfield Review to name only a few.

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Scott Silsbe was born in Detroit. He now lives in Pittsburgh. His poems
have appeared in numerous periodicals and have been collected in the
three books: .Unattended Fire, .The River Underneath the City, and
Muskrat Friday Dinner. He is also an assistant editor at Low Ghost Press.

 

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Diane Elayne Dees’s poetry has been published in many journals and anthologies. Diane, who lives in Covington, Louisiana, has two poetry chapbooks forthcoming. Her author site is Diane Elayne Dees: Poet and Writer-at-Large, and she also publishes Women Who Serve, a blog that delivers news and commentary on women’s professional tennis throughout the world.

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photo by Alice Mello

 

Jim Mello is a counselor and clinical supervisor in the substance use disorder field. He’s also a part time clergy person, and has taught in the University of Maine system as an adjunct professor. Besides People, .his passion is music and he.became a poet by default. He has three books published, two by Moon Pie Press, and one self-published. 

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Joel Glickman taught music including jazz history and the jazz band at Northland College, Ashland Wisconsin, from 1974 until retirement in 2017, where he has resumed teaching about jazz again, part time. He has written and published poetry over a wide range of subjects. Primarily a classical clarinetist and folk singer-song writer and banjo player, his jazz and saxophone skills lag behind these. He resides in Ashland with wife Susan and their Bichon, Madeline.

He can be reached via email at JGlickman@northland.edu

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Ed Coletti is a poet widely published internationally and he curates the popular blog “No Money In Poetry.”  His most recent book Appollo Blue’s Harp and the Gods of Song is available at amazon.com or from the author at edjcolettiATgmail.comAdditionally, Ed is a painter. middling chess player, and harmonica player. He lives with his wife Joyce in Santa Rosa, California.

 

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Arlene Corwin…Brooklyn born. Age 85. Harpist, pianist, singer. High School of Music & Art. Hofstra Univ. BA. 2 films (lead in one, composer in the other — see IMDb) original lead in “The Nervous Set, introducing “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most”. 19 published poetry books, yogin since the age of 20-something. Lives in Sweden. Jazz musician forever. Mother owned jazz club, The Turf with Slim Gaillard in the 50’s, Hempstead, Long Island. (See.Arlene Corwin. Poetry.com .for longer version.). See Youtube for Arlene and some good tunes.

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Alan Yount, 73, has published poetry for over 50 years. His poems have appeared in WestWard Quarterly (featured poet for summer, 2018). Big Scream, Spring: the Journal of the E.E. Cummings Society, and Waterways.

He has been in three anthologies: Passionate Hearts, Sunflowers.and Locomotives: Songs for Allen Ginsburg. Alan was one of 31 poets, along with Gary Snyder and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Also Chrysalis Reader.

Alan plays trumpet and has led his own dance band.

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Click here to read Volume 2 of “Poetry reflecting the era of COVID, Black Lives Matter, and a heated political season”

Click here to read “A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Spring, 2020 edition 

Click here for information about how to submit work for consideration

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In This Issue

Painting of Clifford Brown by Warren Goodson
The 43 poets who contribute to the Summer Collection of jazz poetry communicate their heartfelt passion for the artistry and inspiration found in jazz music, and help readers, in the words of Art Blakey, “wash away the dust of everyday life” – a special gift to share during this restless summer of discontent…and hope.

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photo courtesy John Bolger Collection
Philip Clark, author of Dave Brubeck: A Life in Time, discusses the enigmatic and extraordinary pianist, composer, and band leader, whose most notable achievements came during a time of major societal and cultural change, and often in the face of critics who at times found his music too technical and bombastic.

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photo by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
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photo of James Baldwin by Allan Warren
In our interview with Nicholas Buccola, author of The Fire is Upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Debate over Race in America, the author tells the story of the historic 1965 Cambridge Union debate between Baldwin, the leading literary voice of the civil rights movement, and Buckley, a staunch opponent of the movement and founder in 1955 of the leading conservative publication, National Review. The evening’s debate topic? “The American dream is at the expense of the American Negro.”

Poetry

Mood Indigo by Matthew Hinds
An invitation was extended recently for poets to submit work that reflects this time of COVID, Black Lives Matter, and a heated political season. 14 poets contribute to the first volume of collected poetry.

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photo by Russell duPont
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Short Fiction

photo FDR Presidential Library & Museum
Short Fiction Contest-winning story #54 — “A Failed Artist’s Paradise” by Nathaniel Neil Whelan

Features

Red Meditation by James Brewer
Creative artists and citizens of note respond to the question, "During this time of social distancing and isolation at home, what are examples of the music you are listening to, the books you are reading, and/or the television or films you are viewing?”

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Ornette Coleman 1966/photo courtesy Mosaic Images
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Photography

photo by Veryl Oakland
In this edition of photographs and stories from Veryl Oakland’s book Jazz in Available Light, Dexter Gordon, Art Farmer and Johnny Griffin are featured

Poetry

Frits De Jong / CC0
“Nocturne in a Whirling Fan” — a poem by Joel Glickman

Humor

painting of Louis Armstrong by Vakseen
In Dig Wayne's "Iconolast," Louis Armstrong is responsible for saving the lives of every man, woman and child on the ball bearing line at the Radio Flyer wagon factory...

Poetry

photo by John Vachon/Library of Congress
“Climate Change” — Ten poems in sequence by John Stupp

Book Excerpt

In the introduction to Dave Brubeck: A Life in Time – the author Philip Clark writes about the origins of the book, and his interest in shining a light on how Brubeck, “thoughtful and sensitive as he was, had been changed as a musician and as a man by the troubled times through which he lived and during which he produced such optimistic, life-enhancing art.”

Interview

NBC Radio-photo by Ray Lee Jackson / Public domain
In a Jerry Jazz Musician interview, acclaimed biographer James Kaplan (Frank: The Voice and Sinatra: The Chairman) talks about his book, Irving Berlin: New York Genius, and Berlin's unparalleled musical career and business success, his intense sense of family and patriotism during a complex and evolving time, and the artist's permanent cultural significance.

Book Excerpt

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Art

Art by Charles Ingham
"Charles Ingham's Jazz Narratives" connect time, place, and subject in a way that ultimately allows the viewer a unique way of experiencing jazz history. This edition's narratives are "Nat King Cole: The Shadow of the Word," "Slain in Cold Blood" and "Local 767: The Black Musicians’ Union"

Interview

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Jazz History Quiz #140

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Although he had success as a bandleader in the 1930’s, he is best known for being manager of Harlem’s Minton’s Playhouse (where Thelonious Monk was the pianist) during the birth of bebop. Who was he?

Interview

photo unattributed/ Public domain
In a Jerry Jazz Musician interview with The Letters of Cole Porter co-author Dominic McHugh, he explains that “several of the big biographical tropes that we associate with Porter are either modified or contested by the letters,” and that “when you put together these letters, and add our quite extensive commentary between the letters, it creates a different picture of him.” Mr. McHugh discusses his book, and what the letters reveal about the life – in-and-out of music – of Cole Porter.

Interview

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Bob Hecht and Grover Sales host a previously unpublished 1985 interview with the late, great jazz saxophonist Lee Konitz, who talks about Miles, Kenton, Ornette, Tristano, and the art of improvisation...

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A&M Records/photo by Carol Friedman
In this edition, producer John Snyder recalls Sun Ra, and his 1990 Purple Night recording session

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photo by Bouna Ndaiye
Interview with Gerald Horne, author of Jazz and Justice: Racism and the Political Economy of the Music

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The winter collection of poetry offers readers a look at the culture of jazz music through the imaginative writings of its 32 contributors. Within these 41 poems, writers express their deep connection to the music – and those who play it – in their own inventive and often philosophical language that communicates much, but especially love, sentiment, struggle, loss, and joy.

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Interviews with three outstanding, acclaimed writers and scholars who discuss their books on Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, and Cole Porter, and their subjects’ lives in and out of music. These interviews – which each include photos and several full-length songs – provide readers easy access to an entertaining and enlightening learning experience about these three giants of American popular music.

In an Earlier Issue

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“The Jazz Photography Issue” features an interview with today’s most eminent jazz portrait photographer Carol Friedman, news from Michael Cuscuna about newly released Francis Wolff photos, as well as archived interviews with William Gottlieb, Herman Leonard, Lee Tanner, a piece on Milt Hinton, a new edition of photos from Veryl Oakland, and much more…

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The historian and most eminent jazz writer of his generation Dan Morgenstern joins pianist Christian Sands -- the Creative Ambassador of the Erroll Garner Jazz Project -- in a conversation about Garner's historic legacy. Also…an autumn collection of poetry; Will Friedwald, author of Straighten Up and Fly Right: The Life and Music of Nat King Cole is interviewed about the legendary pianist and vocalist; a new Jazz History Quiz; short fiction, poetry, and lots more in the works...

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