such as Dave Etter Well You Needn't: The Thelonious Monk Poems ( 1975) and Art Lange The Monk Poems ( 1977). John Sinclair Thelonious: A Book of Monk
has yet to be published, but one selection appeared in We Just Change the Beat:
Selected Poems ( 1988).
Unfortunately, Perkins misspells "Navarro" as "narvaro"; when the poem
reappeared in Midnight Blues in the Afternoon ( 1992, second edition), it was misspelled as "navaro." Although this may seem petty, one of the sad commentaries
about jazz poetry in general has to do with the sloppy scholarship -- errors in names
and dates that undermine the tributes. Just glancing at the elegies for this chapter,
I have noticed numerous misspellings of names (particularly "Thelonious"). Lillian Morrison's
tribute "For Billie Holiday" refers to her birth and death dates (19151959) but incorrectly lists her death date as 1958; the dates for Clayton Eshleman "Bud Powell (1925-1966)" should more accurately be 1924-1966; and so on.
Not all poems about Bessie Smith concentrate on the tragedy of her death,
including two poems from 1962:
John Berryman "Dream Song 68" ( The Dream
Songs) and Robert Hayden "Homage to the Empress of the Blues" ( A Ballad
of Remembrance). Berryman invokes Smith's voice for setting the buoyant atmosphere of the poem; Hayden presents Smithin her elaborate costumes, her flamboyant presentation a welcomed relief from the tensions of the unadorned world.
"Emmett Till's body," explain the editors to Voices of Freedom, "was discovered in the Tallahatchie River. A cotton gin fan was tied to his neck with
barbed wire" (Hampton and Fayer, 5). The first chapter to that book offers a
detailed account of the murder as told by witnesses and relatives.
This poem originally appeared in Hades in Manganese ( 1981) as The American Sublime. Eshleman changed the title to Un Poco Loco, a composition by Powell, when the poem was reprinted in The Name Encanyoned River ( 1986).
There have been some major exceptions to this statement, including the
deaths of bassist Jaco Pastorius ( 1951-1987), guitarist Emily Remler ( 1957-1991),
and trumpeter Woody Shaw ( 1944-1989), among others. Art Pepper ( 1925-1982)
survived extraordinary substance abuse (his accounts in Straight Life make it one
of the most haunting jazz autobiographies ever written), but there have been surprisingly few jazz poems in his honor or about his life -- with some significant
exceptions, including David Meltzer "18:VI:82" from The Name: Selected Poetry
1973-1983 ( 1984) and Edward Hirsch "Art Pepper" from Earthly Measures
Ai. Greed. New York: Norton, 1993.
Albee Edward. The Zoo Story; The Death of Bessie Smith; The Sandbox: Three
Plays. New York: Coward-McCann, 1960.
Albertson Chris. Bessie. New York: Scarborough, 1972.
Aubert Alvin. Against the Blues. Detroit: Broadside, 1972.
Baker Houston A., Jr. Blues Journeys Home. Detroit: Lotus, 1985.
Balliett Whitney. Letter to the author. 13 February 1988.
Berryman John. The Dream Songs. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1969.
Cortez Jayne. Pissstained Stairs and the Monkey Man's Wares. New York: Phase