Jayne Cortez

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Jayne Cortez (born May 10, 1934 in Fort Huachuca , Arizona as Sallie Jayne Richardson , † December 28, 2012 ) was an American writer and vocal improviser .

Live and act

Cortez grew up in Los Angeles in the Watts neighborhood from the age of 7 . She was interested in art, but initially did not know in which direction to develop her creative streak, music, visual arts or poetry. So she also played the double bass. Between 1964 and 1970 she was involved in the management of the Watts Repertory Theater Company . From 1954 to 1964 she was married to Ornette Coleman . In 1967, the poet moved to New York City , despite her activity in Watts , so that their son Denardo Coleman could live near his father. Since 1975 she was married to the sculptor Melvin Edwards .

In 1969 she published her first collection of poems and has increasingly developed a presentation of her works in jazz and poetry events. Her first books contain surrealistic poems about politics and music. In 1974 she recorded her first record, accompanied by the double bass player Richard Davis . Since 1980 she has been supported in her readings by her band The Firespitters , led by their son Denardo Coleman. Although she as a political poet is primarily concerned with content, her recitation style had a captivating musical rhythm, is - similar to rap - percussive and sometimes overcomes the limits of vocal improvisation. The musical structure that arises when performing her poems suits the fact that she sometimes works with an aphoristic refrain.

The poet is the author of ten volumes of poetry. She has presented poems and thoughts internationally (in Africa, Asia, North and South America, the Caribbean, Europe) in concerts and readings. Her work, some of which has been translated into other languages, has been published worldwide in anthologies, magazines and on nine audio carriers.

Cortez received two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships . In 1980 she received the American Book Award . In 1987 she received the Poetry Award from the New York Foundation for the Arts . It was included in the anthology Daughters of Africa , edited in 1992 by Margaret Busby in London and New York. In 2001 she was honored with the Langston Hughes Medal .


  • On the Imperial Highway: New and Selected Poems . Hanging Loose Press, 2008, ISBN 978-1-931236-99-7 .
  • The Beautiful Book . Bola Press, 2007, ISBN 9780960806287 .
  • Jazz fan looks back . Hanging Loose Press, 2002, ISBN 978-1-931236-10-2 .
  • Somewhere in Advance of Nowhere . Serpent's Tail / High Risk Books, 1997, ISBN 1852424222 .
  • Fragments: Sculpture and Drawings from the "Lynch Fragment" Series by Melvin Edwards, with the Poetry of Jayne Cortez . Bola Press, 1994, ISBN 1852424222 .
  • Poetic Magnetic: Poems from Everywhere Drums & Maintain Control . Bola Press, 1991, ISBN 978-0-9608062-6-3 .
  • Coagulations: New and Selected Poems . Pluto, 1984, ISBN 978-0-7453-0078-8 .
  • Firespitter , Bola Press (1982)
  • Mouth on Paper , Bola Press (1977)
  • Scarifications , Bola Press (1973)
  • Festivals and Funerals , Bola Press (1971)
  • Pissstained Stairs and the Monkey Man's Wares , Phrase Text (1969)


  • As If You Knew (Bola Press, 2011)
  • Find Your Own Voice: Poetry and Music, 1982-2003 (Bola Press, 2004)
  • Borders of Disorderly Time (Bola Press, 2002)
  • Taking the Blues Back Home (Harmolodic / Verve , 1996, with Talib Kibwe , Frank Lowe , Billy Branch, Nakayo Suso, Salieu Suso, Sarjo Kuyateh, Bern Nix , Carl Weathersby, Al MacDowell , Abdoulaye Epizo Bangoura, Denardo Coleman)
  • Cheerful & Optimistic (Bola Press, 1994)
  • Poetry & Music: Women in (E) Motion Festival (Tradition & Modern, 1992)
  • Everywhere Drums (Bola Press, 1990)
  • Maintain Control (Bola Press, 1986)
  • There It Is (Bola Press, 1982)
  • Life Is a Killer (Giorno Poetry Systems, 1982)
  • Poets Read their Contemporary Poetry: Before Columbus Foundation ( Smithsonian Folkways , 1980)
  • Unsubmissive Blues (Bola Press, 1979)
  • Celebrations & Solitudes ( Strata-East , 1974)


  • Femmes du Jazz / Women in Jazz (2000)
  • Yari Yari: Black Women Writers and the Future (1999)
  • Ornette: Made in America (1985)
  • Poetry in Motion (1982)


  • Kimberly N. Brown Return to the Flesh: The Revolutionary Ideology behind the Poetry of Jayne Cortez. Writing the Black Revolutionary Diva: Women's Subjectivity and the Decolonizing Text . Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Obituary at Poetry Foundation ( memento of the original from January 5, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.poetryfoundation.org
  2. List of the award winners
  3. Taking the Blues Back Home on Allmusic (English)
  4. ^ Femmes du Jazz / Women in Jazz (2000), FMP.  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link / www.fmp-online.de