The Rifftides discussion earlier this month about jazz and poetry brought this response from Angela J. Elliott in England.
Jazz poetry is not dead and it doesn’t smell funny either. Well, at least it seems that way in the USA. There appears to still be an interest in it beyond the hip hop and rap idiom. Over here in Blighty I play to jazz audiences who seem to think that the spoken word at a jazz venue means you can’t sing. Only at a literary bash can you expect an honest and fair reception.
I came across jazz poetry by way of Langston Hughes and Ken Nordine. I sit in on a lot of rehearsals with my partner, bassist Louis Cennamo, and as a published author I found that the only things I could write whilst listening were poems inspired and informed by the jazz I was hearing. I guess this is how Hughes did it. Anyway, from that small beginning I’m planning gigs with a fellow poet and have managed to pull together a six-man band including vibes and two horn players. Things are looking up!