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Jazz and Poetry

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									Jazz and Poetry

 Cross-Fertilization
             Langston Hughes
 Born in Kansas, 1902
      Similar time frame to Ellington, Louis Armstrong
      High School in Cleveland
      Studied Carl Sandburg and Walt Whitman
          Influenced by Sandburg’s Jazz Fantasies, (1919)
      Fused poetry and the music of black “Americans as the prime
       source and expression of their cultural truths”
          (Rampersand, Rossel, Collected Langston Hughes)
      First collection of poetry: The Weary Blues
      Thought poetry is a source of social expression and
       pragmatism
Jazz Fantasia
 (Carl Sandburg -1919)

          Drum on your drums, batter on your banjoes,
          sob on the long cool winding saxophones.
          Go to it, O jazzmen.

          Sling your knuckles on the bottoms of the happy
          tin pans, let your trombones ooze, and go husha-
          husha-hush with the slippery sand-paper.

          Moan like an autumn wind high in the lonesome treetops,
          moan soft like you wanted somebody terrible, cry like a
          racing car slipping away from a motorcycle cop, bang-bang!
          you jazzmen, bang altogether drums, traps, banjoes, horns,
          tin cans -- make two people fight on the top of a stairway
          and scratch each other's eyes in a clinch tumbling down
          the stairs.

          Can the rough stuff . . . now a Mississippi steamboat pushes
          up the night river with a hoo-hoo-hoo-oo . . . and the green
          lanterns calling to the high soft stars . . . a red moon rides
          on the humps of the low river hills . . . go to it, O jazzmen
   My People (Hughes)

The night is beautiful,
So the faces of my people.

The stars are beautiful,
So the eyes of my people.

Beautiful, also, is the sun.
Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people.
The White Ones (Hughes)
I do not hate you,
For your faces are beautiful, too.
I do not hate you,
Your faces are whirling lights of loveliness and splendor too.
Yet, why do you torture me,
O, white strong ones,
Why do you torture me?
                Jazzonia (Hughes)
Oh, silver tree!                     Oh, Shining tree!
Oh, shining rivers of the soul!      Oh, silver rivers of the soul!

In a Harlem cabaret                  In a whirling cabaret
Six long-headed jazzers play.        Six long-headed jazzers play.
A dancing girl whose eyes are bold
Lifts high a dress of silken gold.

Oh singing tree!
Oh, shining rivers of the soul!

Were Eve’s eyes
In the first garden
Just a bit too bold??
Was Cleopatra gorgeous
In a Gown of gold?
Jam Session (Hughes)
    Letting midnight
    out on bail
            pop-a-da
    having been
    detained in jail
            oop-pop-a-da
    for sprinkling salt
    on a dreamer’s tail
            pop-a-da
Harlem [2] (Hughes)
What happens to a dream deferred?

      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
      Or fester like a sore -
      And then run?
      Does it stink like rotten meat?
      Or crust and sugar over -
      like a syrupy sweet?

      Maybe it just sags
      like a heavy load

      Or does it explode?
Sonny Greer (Howard Hart)
I remember nights you carried
the whole Duke Ellington orchestra
on your back
        across Jim Crow swamps
I was amazed
        a kid unable to believe
That your right hand could handle
        all those drums those cymbals
While your left picked flowers out of the horns
        of Ben Webster Rabbit Harry Carney
And each time Duke played
        you put a ring on each finger
                                           of his hand
                                           and a bell on his toe.
Blues for John Cotrane, Dead
 at 41 (William Matthews)
   Although my house floats on a lawn
   as plush as a starlet’s body
   and my sons sleep easily,
   I think of death’s salmon breath
   leaping back up the saxophone
   with its wet kiss.

   Hearing him dead,
   I feel it in my feet
   as if the house were rocked
   by waves from a soundless speedboat
   planing by, full throttle.

								
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