Al Young title

Archive for December, 2012

JAYNE CORTEZ (May 10, 1934–December 28, 2012) | In Memoriam

Friday, December 28th, 2012

JAYNE CORTEZ OBITUARY | Poet whose incantatory performances could be militant, lyrical and surreal | Margaret Busby, UK Guardian | January 4, 2013
“Jayne” (the melody) | The Ornette Coleman Quintet


 Ray Black

“I say things to myself
in a bitch of a syllable …
completely savage to the passing of silence.”

—Jayne Cortez

( from “Phraseology,” a classic Cortez poem;
cited with appreciation in Karen Ford’s portion of “On Cortez’s Poetry,” an omnibus critique at Modern American Poetry)


JAYNE CORTEZ | Voices from the Gaps | University of Minnestota


© Marcia Wilson

Jayne Cortez (Sallie Jayne Richardson) was born May 10, 1934 in Fort Huachuca, Arizona, and grew up in Southern California. She was the author of ten books of poems and performed her poetry with music on nine recordings. Cortez presented her work and ideas at universities, museums, and festivals in Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, the Caribbean and the United States.

Her poems have been translated into many languages and widely published in anthologies, journals and magazines, including Postmodern American Poetry, Daughters of Africa, Poems for the Millennium, Mother Jones, and The Jazz Poetry Anthology.

She was organizer of “Slave Routes the Long Memory” and “Yari Yari Pamberi: Black Women Writers Dissecting Globalization,” both conferences held at New York University. In 1991, with Ghanaian writer Ama Ata Aidoo, she founded the Organization of Women Writers of Africa (OWWA). She is president of this literary organization. She appeared on screen in the films Women In Jazz and Poetry in Motion.

She married Ornette Coleman in 1954 and divorced him in 1964. She was the mother of jazz drummer Denardo Coleman.

In 1976 she married sculptor Melvin Edwards. She lived in Dakar, Senegal, and New York City, where she died.

© Wikipedia [tweaked by A.Y.]



Under the edge of February
in hawk of a throat
hidden by ravines of sweet oil
by temples of switch blades
beautiful in its sound of fertility
beautiful in its turban of funeral crepe
beautiful in its camouflage of grief
in its solitude of bruises
in its arson of alert
Who will enter its beautiful calligraphy of blood

Its beautiful mask of fish net
mask of hubcaps mask of ice picks mask
of watermelon rinds mask of umbilical cords
changing into a mask of rubber bands
Who will enter this beautiful beautiful mask of
punctured bladders moving with a mask of chapsticks

Compound of Hearts Compound of Hearts

Where is the lucky number for this shy love
this top heavy beauty bathed with charcoal water
self conscious against a mosaic of broken bottles
broken locks broken pipes broken
bloods of broken spirits broken through like
broken promises

Landlords Junkies Thieves
enthroning themselves in you
they burn up couches they burn down houses
and infuse themselves against memory
every thought a pavement of old belts
every performance a ceremonial pick up
how many more orphans how many neglected shrines
how many more stolen feet stolen guns
stolen watch bands of death
in you how many times

hidden by ravines of sweet oil
by temples of switch blades
beautiful in your sound of fertility
beautiful in your turban of funeral crepe
beautiful in your camouflage of grief
in your solitude of bruises in
your arson of alert

© Jayne Cortez


Biography and Bibliography



  © Ray Black | clickable image

L-R: Poets Camille Dungy, Robert Chrisman, Jayne Cortez, Al Young, Melba Joyce Boyd, Conyus, Arthur Sheridan, and (seated) Adam David Miller — following a 40th anniversary celebration reading for The Black Scholar Journal at the University of California, Berkeley ~ November 2009


viewer discretion advised


Open to Whatever Happens: The Cultural Operations of Jayne Cortez at the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art | May 16, 1997 | UCTV’s ‘Artists on the Cutting Edge’ series


  Jayne Cortez Dot Com
clickable images


Jayne Cortez is the author of eleven books of poetry and performer of her poems with music on nine recordings. Her voice is celebrated for its political, surrealistic, dynamic innovations in lyricism, and visceral sound. Cortez has presented her work and ideas at universities, museums, and festivals around the world. Her poems have been translated into many languages and widely published in anthologies, journals, and magazines. She is a recipient of several awards including: Arts International, the National Endowment for the Arts, the International African Festival Award. The Langston Hughes Medal, The American Book Award, and the Thelma McAndless Distinguished Professorship Award.

Her most recent books include THE BEAUTIFUL BOOK (Bola Press) and JAZZ FAN LOOKS BACK (Hanging Loose Press). Her latest CDs with the Firespitter Band are FIND YOUR OWN VOICE, BORDERS OF DISORDERLY TIME (Bola Press), TAKING THE BLUES BACK HOME, produced by Harmolodic and by Verve Records. Cortez is organizer of the international symposium: “Slave Routes: Resistance, Abolition & Creative Progress” (NYU), and director of the film Yari Yari Pamberi: Black Women Writers Dissecting Globalization. She is co-founder and president of the Organization of Women Writers of Africa, Inc., and can be seen on screen in the films Women In Jazz and Poetry In Motion.

The #1 Site for African American Literature


  Ray Black

“You, Jayne, remembered Jayne, winging your way back to how honored I felt to chauffeur you one soft-chilled night in 2009 to dine at Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen, Berkeley, polar north to your solar south in our California flowering, where, scaling your vast vinyl collection, you taught young saxophonist Ornette and trumpeter Don Cherry the what-was, the what-is and what’s-next of jazz in 20th century Los Angeles, a city founded in 1781 by pobladores, 11 mostly Black families, who — formally, lovingly — named her El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles de Porciúncula (Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of Porciúncula) — through your voice I still hear and will always feel the measureless heartbeat and deepening drumbeat of Cuba’s and bebop’s unplunderable treasure: Chano Pozo
—Al Young


Jayne Cortez — poet, activist, muse of the avant garde — dies, age 78

By Howard Mandel
December 30, 2012


<<< An activist in the Civil Rights movement, organizer of Watts writing and drama workshops, founder of the Watts Repertory Theater, Bola Press and co-founder of the Organization of Women Writers of Africa, Ms. Cortez was also taught at Rutgers, Howard, Wesleyan and Eastern Michigan universities, Dartmouth and Queens colleges and was a muse to the avant garde. Her husband sculptor Melvin Edwards is well known for his series “Lynch Fragments” and “Rockers.” When Ms. Cortez was a teenager in California, musicians including Don Cherry hung out at her family’s home because she had (as Cherry said) “the best record collection,” and through them she met Ornette Coleman, to whom she was married from 1954 to ’64 and with whom she kept in contact. Members of the Firespitters such as guitarist Bern Nix and bassist Jamaaldeen Tacuma, besides Denardo, played in Ornette’s electrically amplified band Prime Time. >>>

© 2012 Howard Mandel

Read all of Howard Mandel’s affectionate tribute to Jayne Cortez at Jazz Beyond Jazz



Sunday, December 23rd, 2012
NY Daily News Update
Florida conspiracy professor suggests Sandy Hook
massacre didn’t occur, was cooked up by Obama to promote gun control

Read more


 Regina Zen Zangha
“Loneliness is the ill-being of our time. … Even when we’re surrounded by many people we can feel very lonely. We are lonely together. There’s a vacuum inside us. It makes us feel uncomfortable, so we try to fill it up by connecting with other people. We believe that if we’re able to connect, the feeling of loneliness will disappear. Technology supplies us with many devices to help us stay connected. We’re always staying connected, yet we continue to feel lonely. Several times a day we check email, send email, and post messages to social media sites. We want to share and to receive. We might spend our whole day connecting, but it doesn’t help reduce the loneliness we feel. This is the state of things at this moment in our modern civilization.”
Thich Nhat Hanh

“Loneliness Is the Ill Being of Our Time”


You know, I used to play soccer on the school field outside the room where you died, when I was the age of the children you killed.

Dear Adam,

Let me start by saying that I wish for you to find peace. It would be easy just to call you a monster and condemn you for evermore, but I don’t think that would help either of us. Given what you have done, I realize that peace may not be easy to find. In a fit of rage, delusion and fear—yes, above all else, I think, fear—you thought that killing was a way out. It was clearly a powerful emotion that drove you from your mother’s dead body to massacre children and staff of Sandy Hook School and to turn the gun in the end on yourself. You decided that the game was over.

But the game is not over, though you are dead. You didn’t find a way out of your anger and loneliness. You live on in other forms, in the torn families and their despair, in the violation of their trust, in the gaping wound in a community, and in the countless articles and news reports spilling across the country and the world—yes, you live on even in me. I was also a young boy who grew up in Newtown. Now I am a Zen Buddhist monk. I see you quite clearly in me now, continued in the legacy of your actions, and I see that in death you have not become free.

You know, I used to play soccer on the school field outside the room where you died, when I was the age of the children you killed. Our team was the Eagles, and we won our division that year. My mom still keeps the trophy stashed in a box. To be honest, I was and am not much of a soccer player. I’ve known winning, but I’ve also known losing, and being picked last for a spot on the team. I think you’ve known this too—the pain of rejection, isolation and loneliness. Loneliness too strong to bear.

You are not alone in feeling this. When loneliness comes up it is so easy to seek refuge in a virtual world of computers and films, but do these really help or only increase our isolation? In our drive to be more connected, have we lost our true connection?

I want to know what you did with your loneliness. Did you ever, like me, cope by walking in the forests that cover our town? I know well the slope that cuts from that school to the stream, shrouded by beech and white pine. It makes up the landscape of my mind. I remember well the thrill of heading out alone on a path winding its way—to Treadwell Park! At that time it felt like a magical path, one of many secrets I discovered throughout those forests, some still hidden. Did you ever lean your face on the rough furrows of an oak’s bark, feeling its solid heartwood and tranquil vibrancy? Did you ever play in the course of a stream, making pools with the stones as if of this stretch you were king? Did you ever experience the healing, connection and peace that comes with such moments, like I often did?

Or did your loneliness know only screens, with dancing figures of light at the bid of your will? How many false lives have you lived, how many shots fired, bombs exploded and lives lost in video games and movies?

By killing yourself at the age of 20, you never gave yourself the chance to grow up and experience a sense of how life’s wonders can bring happiness. I know at your age I hadn’t yet seen how to do this.
I am 37 now, about the age my teacher, the Buddha, realized there was a way out of suffering. I am not enlightened. This morning, when I heard the news, and read the words of my shocked classmates, within minutes a wave of sorrow arose, and I wept. Then I walked a bit further, into the woods skirting our monastery, and in the wet, winter cold of France, beside the laurel, I cried again. I cried for the children, for the teachers, for their families. But I also cried for you, Adam, because I think that I know you, though I know we have never met. I think that I know the landscape of your mind, because it is the landscape of my mind.

I don’t think you hated those children, or that you even hated your mother. I think you hated your loneliness.

I cried because I have failed you. I have failed to show you how to cry. I have failed to sit and listen to you without judging or reacting. Like many of my peers, I left Newtown at seventeen, brimming with confidence and purpose, with the congratulations of friends and the approbation of my elders. I was one of the many young people who left, and in leaving we left others, including you, just born, behind. In that sense I am a part of the culture that failed you. I didn’t know yet what a community was, or that I was a part of one, until I no longer had it, and so desperately needed it.

I have failed to be one of the ones who could have been there to sit and listen to you. I was not there to help you to breathe and become aware of your strong emotions, to help you to see that you are more than just an emotion.

But I am also certain that others in the community cared for you, loved you. Did you know it?

In eighth grade I lived in terror of a classmate and his anger. It was the first time I knew aggression. No computer screen or television gave a way out, but my imagination and books. I dreamt myself a great wizard, blasting fireballs down the school corridor, so he would fear and respect me. Did you dream like this too?

The way out of being a victim is not to become the destroyer. No matter how great your loneliness, how heavy your despair, you, like each one of us, still have the capacity to be awake, to be free, to be happy, without being the cause of anyone’s sorrow. You didn’t know that, or couldn’t see that, and so you chose to destroy. We were not skillful enough to help you see a way out.

With this terrible act you have let us know. Now I am listening, we are all listening, to you crying out from the hell of your misunderstanding. You are not alone, and you are not gone. And you may not be at peace until we can stop all our busyness, our quest for power, money or sex, our lives of fear and worry, and really listen to you, Adam, to be a friend, a brother, to you. With a good friend like that your loneliness might not have overwhelmed you.

But we needed your help too, Adam. You needed to let us know that you were suffering, and that is not easy to do. It means overcoming pride, and that takes courage and humility. Because you were unable to do this, you have left a heavy legacy for generations to come. If we cannot learn how to connect with you and understand the loneliness, rage and despair you felt—which also lie deep and sometimes hidden within each one of us—not by connecting through Facebook or Twitter or email or telephone, but by really sitting with you and opening our hearts to you, your rage will manifest again in yet unforeseen forms.

Now we know you are there. You are not random, or an aberration. Let your action move us to find a path out of the loneliness within each one of us. I have learned to use awareness of my breath to recognize and transform these overwhelming emotions, but I hope that every man, woman or child does not need to go halfway across the world to become a monk to learn how to do this. As a community we need to sit down and learn how to cherish life, not with gun-checks and security, but by being fully present for one another, by being truly there for one another. For me, this is the way to restore harmony to our communion.

Douglas Bachman (Br. Phap Luu),
who grew up at 22 Lake Rd. in Newtown, CT., is a Buddhist monk and student of the Vietnamese Zen Master and monk Thich Nhat Hanh. As part of an international community, he teaches Applied Ethics and the art of mindful living to students and school teachers. He lives in Plum Village Monastery, in Thenac, France.

Forwarded to by poet Gary Gach


CANARY: A Literary Journal of the Environmental Crisis ~ Issue Number 19, Winter 2012-13

Friday, December 21st, 2012


© Carol White

A Literary Journal of the Environmental Crisis

Canary is a literary journal that explores one’s engagement with the natural world. It is based on the premise that the literary arts can provide an understanding that humans are part of an integrated system. Our theme is the environmental crisis and the losses of species and habitat as a result of this ongoing disaster. Our mission is to deepen awareness of the environment and enrich the well-being of the individual and in turn society as a whole.

Editor, Gail Entrekin

Published by Hip Pocket Press
Managing Editor, Charles Entrekin
Art Editor, Carol White

All work reprinted by permission of authors

We do not inherit the land from our Ancestors,
we borrow it from our children.

— Native American Proverb

Issue Number 19, Winter 2012-13

Archives: by Issue | by Author Name


Stay Connected



Thursday, December 20th, 2012


“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
— Arthur C. Clarke

“The internet, our greatest tool of emancipation, has been transformed into the most dangerous facilitator of totalitarianism we have ever seen. The internet is a threat to human civilization.”
— Julian Asange


“And free ourselves from us.”
— Al Young recommends


TOO MUCH MAGIC | Pulling the Plug on the Cult of Tech
Jason Benlevi


ALONE TOGETHER | Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other
Sherry Turkle


THE SHALLOWS |What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains
Nicholas Carr


CYPHERPUNKS | Freedom and the Future of the Internet
Julian Asange with Jacob Applebaum, Andy Müller-Maguhn and Jérémie Zimmerman




Wednesday, December 19th, 2012
Warm clickables


La Verne, California

March 11-15, 2013

‘Laureate speaks out for poetic truth’

Al Lectures@La Verne by Hunter Cole
Hunter Cole / (ULV) Campus Times

“Can Poetry Save Our Planet?” — Woodrow Wilson Visiting Lecturer Al Young asks and answers this question in his delivery of the Honors Lecture at the University of La Verne in Southern California.



scissors cut paper


Wingate, North Carolina

Glimpses of Al Young’s February 18-22, 2013 stay as a Visiting Woodrow Wilson Fellow

Wingate Redbrick Bronze
Founded 1896

Stegall Admin Bldg  © Wingate University

Stegall Administration Building by Stegall Pond, Wingate’s crown jewel | Wingate University

magnifying_glass_icon Click images to enlarge
 P1000867 Marisa Wheeling

Al with Wingate honors students, student leaders and faculty members at a gala Wednesday night dinner.

Photo: Kindness of Strangers

Marisa Wheeling, Director of Special Academic Programs, poses with Al at Holbrook Hall following the sumptuous honors dinner.

Monroe Middle School & Wingate Band
Courtesy Union County (NC) Public Schools |
Click on picture to read the story

Monroe Middle School musicians perform with the Wingate University Band.

Al@Wingate Starbucks Marisa Wheeling

Al in the writing teacher mode at Wingate University’s on-campus Starbucks.

Ethel K Smith Library © Wingate University

Ethel K. Smith Library | Wingate University

Marisa Wheeling

Another morning visit to Wingate’s sparkling Ethel K. Smith Library, where the writer-reader Al felt right at home.


Poetry at Night

Boadiba & Al @ Specs
© Martin/Poet News

Haitian poet Boadiba and Al Young relax at Spec’s in North Beach following their Thursday night reading at San Francisco’s Readers Café | 7 February 2013

Boadiba read-sings  Al Young

Boadiba read-sings a poem-song

January 12, 2010 a 7.0 earthquake hits Haiti

“For Boadiba”
(a poem by Tennessee Reed)


Jack Hirshfield introduces 7Feb13 Al Young

Jack Hirschman introduces poets Boadiba and Al Young to the Readers Café audience at Fort Mason, San Francisco


February 5, 2013

Photos: Persis Karim and Philip Lewenthal

magnifying_glass_icon Click on images to enlarge

Council Clock Lewenthal

Al Laughs 5Feb2013Persis Karim
Proclamation City of Berkeley

audio iconlogo-9d9b1d3c
Brian Edwards-Tiekert celebrates Al Young Day on KPFA’s ‘Up Front’

audio iconvoice of russia logo
WASHINGTON – The City of Berkeley has officially proclaimed Feb. 5 to be “Al Young Day” in honor of the state’s most well-known African American poet. Voice of Russia correspondent Kim Palchikoff spoke with Al Young, California’s poet laureate emeritus, about what makes a great poem, and what inspires him.

Al Young Day TV Monitor

Al Sings to Berkeley City Council Philip Lewenthal

Al Young sings the Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson blues lyric that serves as epigraph to the title poem for Offline Love, his new as yet unpublished book.

Al w: Tulips 5Feb13
Persis Karim

Author Tennessee Reed and ceramic artist Susan Duhan Felix cheer as Al Young acknowledges his Berkeley-bestowed honor.

 Mayor Tom Bates Al Young Day
Persis Karim

Mayor Tom Bates congratulates and presents the City Council proclamation to Berkeley’s Al Young.

 Al & Susan Felix 5Feb13
Persis Karim

Al Young and Berkeley arts ambassador Susan Duhan Felix


Al Young Day Proclamation

magnifying_glass_icon Click or double-click on the document above or the article below to enlarge for comfortable viewing

Musica Jazz Al Young 2

With his Al Young: Synthesis of Blues and Poetry,’ Luciano Federighi, a longtime translator of Young’s prose and poetry, celebrates Al Young Day in the February 2013 issue of Italy’s Música Jazz. |||Dear Al, to give my humble contribution to Berkeley’s Al Young Day, I send you this article just published on the February issue of Música Jazz. I’ve recently started again my old Tempo di Blues column for the magazine and I’ve felt like celebrating the blues side of your marvelous poetry.”


audio icon Listen
To celebrate
AL YOUNG DAY in Berkeley February 5, 2013

KPFA logo

Cover to Cover with Jack Foley | February 6, 2013
February 5 was Al Young Day in Berkeley. Jack celebrates that wonderful event by interviewing Al and encouraging him to read some of his entirely terrific poetry. Al and Jack cover the waterfront about this brilliant Mississippi-born, Detroit-raised California poet laureate. Al reveals how he can’t get started—and clues us into the identity of the elusive O.O. Gabugah. Listen to Al as he uncovers “dreams so long deferred / that laser-lined Thought Police 100 years from now / still can’t decrypt the meaning of their blood; / their blues.”

Photo by Vû

Al Young and Jack Foley pose for Adelle Foley after taping a lengthy interview for Cover to Cover, Jack’s popular Wednesday afternoon KPFA radio show devoted to authors, books and literary cultures. | January 2013

Persis Karim

Tree Worship [13 photos]
“Inside the soul of a tree. It’s like two cells dividing.”

Persis Karim


A Woman’s Eye, Mixed Media, San Francisco Peace and Hope

magnifying_glass_icon Click image to enlarge
Al & Elizabth Hack 2Feb2013 Philip Lewewnthal

Al Young and painter Elizabeth Hack at the AWE Gallery opening for The Wave Series, her mixed media exhibit (February 3-24, 2013). The artist also founded and edits San Francisco Peace and Hope, a literary journal devoted to poetry and visual art.


January Wary

3300 Club neon  clickable
Marvin's Mona Lisa Al Young
magnifying_glass_icon Click to enlarge

button cam
With mic in hand, Marvin Hiemstra performs his just-published Mona Lisa poem. 

marvin & company
Marvin & Company

3300 Nancy Keane +Poetry Audience Saturday Al Young
magnifying_glass_icon Click to enlarge

Saturday afternoon poetry audience at San Francisco’s 3300 Club (Satisfied owner-poet Nancy Keane in red watches from behind the bar).  |  

Nancy Keane Video
Nancy Keane reads her poetry on John Rhodes & Clara Hsu’s Open Mic Poetry TV in a shared billing with Geri Digiorno, her sister

  Geri-Al-chez-3300-500x375  Bill Vartnaw

Poets Geri Digiorno and Al Young, smile pretty for Bill Vartnaw, publisher and editor of Taurean Horn Books, and Sonoma County’s current poet laureate.

Geri-Bill-Vartnaw-500x375 Al Young

Poets laureate Geri Digiorno and Bill Vartnaw enjoying one of emcee Jeanne Powell‘s slyly tendered back-stories.


Waiting for Barry Harris at the Village Vanguard

Barry Harris shows his master class how he plays the blues

Courtesy photos

Q | What do pianist Barry Harris, ethnomusicologist Mark Slobin, and psycholinguist Dan Slobin share?

A | All three Detroiters have been friends to Al Young since the 1950s. Dan and Mark emailed this snapshot of themselves while they waited for Barry to begin his opening Friday night set at New York’s Village Vanguard, January 18, 2013.


What December Remembers

Maria Syndicus

Holidays chez Prez 2012

Click image to enlarge  |  Photo: Takeema Hoffman

Running, Jumping, Standing Still, the MFA in Writing seminar, at the December close of California College of the Arts’ 2012 fall semester, San Francisco | (back row L-R) William Hughes, Chloé Veylit, Dahlia Baeshen, Sarah Bushman, Jill Tydor, Vernon Keeve III,  Erin Ginder-Shaw, Maggie Heaps; (front row L-R) Ariel Cohen, Kristin Adochio, Al Young

Photo: Al Young

Balcony perch, Key West, Florida | January 2005




Blue-pink, December sky blackens
into the giant Christmas Eve we crave
so much we lock it down,
pimp it out, and all but buy.
— Al Young