【Lecture】Between Juke Joints and Cabarets: A brief history of blues and jazz inspired African American poetry and haiku

Lecturer Jorrell Watkins  (2022-23 Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown Poetry Fellow)
  Jorrell Watkins is a writer, martial artist and educator from Richmond, VA. He is a 2022-23 Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown Poetry Fellow, an alum of Hampshire College and the University of Iowa, Writers’ Workshop. He has received fellowships from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, Smithsonian Institution, and US Fulbright Program. His disability inclusive play, Meet us at the Horizon, was produced by Combined Efforts Co. for its 2019 world premiere. His chapbook, If Only the Sharks Would Bite, was selected as the winner of the inaugural Desert Pavilion Chapbook Series in Poetry. He is the coauthor of Studies in Brotherly Love (Prompt Press, 2021), a poetry chapbook based on Malcolm Corley’s paintings, with Claretta Holsey, DJ Savarese, and Lateef McLeod. His full-length collection, Play|House was shortlisted for the 2020 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry, 2021 X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize and 2022 CAAPP Poetry Prize.
Date 22 June 2023,  15:25-17:05
Venue Room 921, 9F Central Library , Sophia University Yotsuya Campus
*Visitors from outside the university are kindly asked to register at the library entrance.
  No registration necessary, In-person only
Language English
Abstract Throughout the African American Literary/Oral Tradition, African American poets have composed poetry inspired by the history and aesthetics of Black music. Most notably, jazz and the blues have found their way into the American literary canon in styles such as “Beat Poetry,” and the 12-bar blues poetry form. African American writers such as Langston Hughes, Alexander Grant and Sterling Brown were among the first poets to write the blues as poetry during the Harlem Renaissance. Their work began a tradition of not only Black music influenced American poetry but also of Black music inspired haiku derived from Japanese literature and poetics. Through a literary analysis of several poems written by African American writers working in this tradition we will see how music inflected poetry delves into African American history and expands the American literary canon.
In this presentation participants will learn about the history of blues and jazz in African American poetry starting from the Harlem Renaissance, then the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and will conclude with blues/jazz poems and haiku of present day African American writers. Some of the poets that may be discussed are: Langston Hughes, Sterling Brown, Alexander Grant, Sonia Sanchez, Etheridge Knight, Richard Wright, Amiri Baraka, Evie Shockley, and Lenard D. Moore. At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be invited to compose their own blues poems inspired by their personal experiences, histories and/or inquiries of interest.
African American, Black history, Harlem Renaissance, Black Arts Movement, blues, jazz, haiku, tanka, Japanese poetics, literature, black music, poetry.