Jazz Poetry

Poets have always shared an artistic bond with jazz musicians as artists meditating aloud and often on-stage, whether verbally and on-the-page or non-verbally and on-record. Both poets and jazz musicians share the same primary challenge: to craft a personal voice and artistic style, crafted of aesthetics and experience. In jazz, this is referred to as having one's own "sound" and in poetry as "voice." There are a surprising number of tributes by poets to jazz musicians for the quality of this "sound" and for the inspirational model of their non-verbal communication. Langston Hughes analyzes the aspect of jazz as communication in an essay of the same name.

Beat poet Gregory Corso praised Miles Davis’s achievement in "For Miles": “Your sound is faultless / pure & round / holy / almost profound/ Your sound is your sound / true & from within / a confession.” In “Art Pepper,” Edward Hirsch focused on the jazz musician’s symbolic action: “Playing solo means going on alone, improvising,” he writes at first, then inverts the riff: “It’s the fury of improvising, of going it alone.” Ted Joans, another Beat poet and also a jazz trumpeter, meditated upon artistic and cultural leadership in "LESTER YOUNG": “Sometimes he was cool like an eternal / blue flame,” but then again, sometimes he was “preachin’ in very cool / tones.”