Jazz Poetry: From the 1920s to the Present

By Sascha Feinstein | Go to book overview
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an awareness both of the cost of Coltrane's music and of the spiritual act itself. Young writes parenthetically "(I know sound cures)" (20) and concludes, "In this long day of spirit / let song be night / & the showering of notes / stars in that beloved firmament" (21).
Discussing the actual history of Coltrane's composition, Harper wrote that Alabama was "a tune he'd composed after reading a eulogy of four Birmingham children blown up in church -- the eulogy by Martin Luther King, Jr. -- while riding from New York to Philadelphia to visit his mother. The melody was a blues-dirge celebration ending in the simulation of a human cry" ("Introducing the Blues," 19).
In that same collection, Brathwaite includes a poem titled "Trane" that refers to the musician still more directly, but the images sound rather trite and obvious: Coltrane leans against the bar / and pours his old unhappy longing in the saxophone (26).
Many of the poems seem to have no relationship to Coltrane except, perhaps, for a profoundly personal connection between the poet and the music. Taggart's introductory statement admits, There's the risk that a collection of poems which begin variously from the music of John Coltrane . . . may turn out to be a collection of aesthetic and sterile games. But I think it's a risk worth taking; you could even say it's demanded from this liberty to hear, to make what we can from it, as evidence that John Coltrane's music is still very much with us (i).
Cobo-Borda poem was translated by Evelyn Pagán and John Taggart, and Ferrán's poem was translated by Joan Howard and Walter R. Keller.
In 1967 Sinclair published a collection of his Coltrane poems titled Meditations: A Suite for John Coltrane.


Balliett Whitney. Ecstacy at the Onion: Thirty-one Pieces on Jazz. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merril, 1971.

Baraka Amiri. Selected Poetry of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones. New York: Morrow, 1979.

Benston Kimberly W. "Late Coltrane: A Re-membering of Orpheus." The Massachusetts Review (Winter 1977): 770-781.

Brathwaite Edward Kamau. Black & Blues. Cuba: Premio Casa de las Americas, 1976.

Chappell Fred. Sepia Photographs and Jazz Solos. New York Times Section 7 ( Oct. 13, 1985): 15.

Cole Bill. John Coltrane. New York: Schirmer, 1976.

Coltrane John. "A Love Supreme." A Love Supreme (Impulse 77): 1964.

Cook Mercer, and Stephen E. Henderson. The Militant Black Writer in Africa and the United States. Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1969.

Cortez Jayne. Pissstained Stairs and the Monkey Man's Wares. New York: Phrase Text, 1969.

Dent Tom. Blue Light and River Songs. Detroit: Lotus, 1982.

Ebon. Revolution: A Poem. Chicago: Third World, 1968.

Feinstein Sascha. "John Coltrane and Poetics: An Interview with Michael S. Harper." Indiana Review. 12 ( Spring 1989): 1-12.


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