7 oct. 2008

Though I've written some myself, I'm not fond of poetry about jazz. I can't think of a poem about jazz I like--even one I've written myself. I hate that second hand quality it has, that kitschiness. In the poetry of the late Hayden Carruth, for example, I never recognized my jazz. It's funny, that proprietary interest. You want to get up and yell "No, you don't understand!" But of course that's wrong.

The closest I've come in certain poems of the Thelonious Monk Fake Book, like this one, published two issues ago in The Hat. :

We See

Miniscule royalties come due
whenever anyone thinks of you.

They accumulate in pools.
Gnomes come by at night and collect them,

apparently. They go to fund
municipal improvements.

But of course, it has nothing to do with jazz per se, aside from taking its title from a Monk tune. You can't borrow your jazziness from jazz.

5 comentarios:

z. barocas dijo...


Carruth's jazz ended around 1940; except, of course, for that which he played himself. Yr taste seems to pick up around then.

So it goes....

Jonathan dijo...

That's not quite it. I love earlier swing players. Lionel Hampton and Chu Berry, Teddy Wilson. Earl Hines. I think the problem is more a difference in attitude.

K. Silem Mohammad dijo...

Would you count something like "The Day Lady Died" as "poetry about jazz"?

And what do you think about things like Baraka's "AM/TRAK," or Nate Mackey's jazz-inflected work? Just curious.

Jonathan dijo...

I never thought of TDLD as "about" jazz. No more than his poems for James Dean or Lana Turner is about the movies. They are about a particular kind of "celebrity" and the libinidal investment we make in it.

As far as Mackey, I was just sent some review copies from New Directions and will be putting up some responses as part of the 9,000 book project.

Tom dijo...

I agree generally, no good poems about jazz. I do like Amiri Baraka's poems though. I heard him read a poem about Miles Davis after Miles died. I really liked it.

What's worse: all the terrible lyrics in jazz tunes over the past few decades.