ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes

   

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Her voice is celebrated for its political, surrealistic, dynamic innovations in lyricism,

and visceral sound. Cortez has presented her work and ideas at universities, museums,

and festivals around the world. Her poems have been translated into many languages

and widely published in anthologies, journals, and magazines.

 

 

Books and CDs by Jayne Cortez

Jazz Fan Looks Back  / Find Your Own Voice Poetry and Music 1982-2003  / Borders of Disorderly Time

Taking the Blues Back Home / Poetry & Music On the Imperial Highway

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Jayne Cortez on YouTube

Artists On The Cutting Edge: Jayne Cortez / I Am New York City  / There It Is

 

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Taking the Blues Back Home

                                             By Jayne Cortez

The blues that came to me
from the slave dungeons
the blues that came to me
from the death trails
the blues that came to me
from my ancestors
the blues that came to me
in a spell that tells me
through birth that I'm the owner
of the blues
from a long time ago

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Jayne Cortez (born May 10, 1936 Fort Huachuca, Arizona) is an American poet, and performance artist. She grew up in California. She is the author of ten books of poems and performer of her poetry with music on nine recordings. Her voice is celebrated for its political, surrealistic, dynamic innovations in lyricism, and visceral sound. Cortez has presented her work and ideas at universities, museums, and festivals in Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, the Caribbean and the United States. Her poems have been translated into many languages and widely published in anthologies, journals, and magazines.

She was organizer of "Slave Routes the Long Memory" and "Yari Yari Pamberi: Black Women Writer Dissecting Globalization," both conferences were held at New York University. She is president of the Organization of Women Writers of Africa, and appears on screen in the films "Women In Jazz" and "Poetry In Motion." She married Ornette Coleman in 1954 and divorced him in 1964. She is the mother of jazz drummer Denardo Coleman. She lives in New York City, and Dakar, Senegal.Wikipedia


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Poetry

     By Jayne Cortez

In fact
poetry
will not
strike
lightning
through
any
convoy of chickens

Today poems are like flags
flying on liquor store roof
poems are like baboons
waiting to be fed by tourists

& does it matter
how many metaphors
reach out to you
when the sun
goes down like
a stuffed bird in
tropical forest
of your solitude

In fact
poetry
will not
sing jazz
through
constricted mouth
of an anteater
no matter how many
symbols survive
to see the moon
dying in saw dust
of your toenail

posted 21 August 2005

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Artists On The Cutting Edge: Jayne Cortez

 

New York poet Jayne Cortez reads a selection of her award-winning work, which vividly reflects the energy, passions, rhythms and tensions of modern urban life from an African-American feminist perspective. Series: "Artists on the Cutting Edge" [5/1997]

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There It Is

                          By Jayne Cortez

My friend

They don’t care

If you’re an individualist

A leftist a rightist

A shithead or a snake

They will try to exploit you

Absorb you confine you

Disconnect you isolate you

Or kill you

 

And you will disappear into your own rage

Into your own insanity

Into you own poverty

Into a word a phrase a slogan a cartoon

And then ashes

 

The ruling class will tell you that

There is no ruling class

As they organize their liberal supporters into

White supremacist lynch mobs

Organize their children into

Ku Klux Klan gangs

Organize their children into

Killer cops

Organize their propaganda into

A device to ossify us with angel dust

Pre-occupy us with western symbols in

African hair styles

Inoculate us with hate

Institutionalize us with ignorance

Hypnotize us with a monotonous sound designed

To make us evade reality and stomp our lives away

And we are programmed to self destruct

To fragment

To get buried under covert intelligence operations of

Unintelligent committees impulsed toward death

And there it is

The enemies polishing their penises between

Oil wells at the pentagon

The bulldozers leaping into demolition dances

The old folks dying of starvation

The informers wearing out shoes looking for crumbs

The life blood of the earth almost dead in

The greedy mouth of imperialism

 

And my friend

They don’t care

If you’re an individualist

A leftist a rightist

A shithead or a snake

 

They will spray you with

A virus of legionnaires disease

Fill your nostrils with

The swine flu of their arrogance

Stuff your body into a tampon of

Toxic shock syndrome

Try to pump all the resources of the world

Into their own veins

And fly off into the wild blue yonder to

Pollute another planet

 

And if we don’t fight

If we don’t resist

If we don’t organize and unify and

Get the power to control our own lives

Then we will wear

The exaggerated look of captivity

The stylized look of submission

The bizarre look of suicide

The dehumanized look of fear

And the decomposed look of repression

Forever and ever and ever

And there it is.

 

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Poetry & Music

By Jayne Cortez

A visionary and socially conscious poetess with feminist leanings, Cortez is as wise a person as is out there. She was married to Ornette Coleman.—Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide

 

 

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Taking the Blues Back Home

Track Listings

  1. Taking the Blues Back Home
  2. Bumblebee, You Saw Big Mama
  3. Mojo 96
  4. Cultural Operations
  5. Guitars I Used to Know
  6. Talk to Me

7. I Have Been Searching

8.  Global Inequalities

9.  Blues Bop for Diz

10. You Can Be

11.  Endangered Species List Blues

12.  Nobody Knows a Thing

 

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On the Imperial Highway

 New and Selected Poems

By Jayne Cortez

Cortez has been and continues to be an explorer, probing the valleys and chasms of human existence. No ravine is too perilous, no abyss too threatening for Jayne Cortez."--Maya Angelou "If you haven't read Jayne Cortez, you're missing some of the best that life has to offer. A compellingly original voice of fire and freedom.—Franklyn Rosemont

Jayne Cortez's poems are filled with images that most of us are afraid to see.—Walter Mosley

 

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Jazz Fan Looks Back

By Jayne Cortez

Jayne Cortez is the author of eleven books of poetry and performer of her poems with music on nine recordings. Her voice is celebrated for its political, surrealistic, dynamic innovations in lyricism, and visceral sound. Cortez has presented her work and ideas at universities, museums, and festivals around the world. Her poems have been translated into many languages and widely published in anthologies, journals, and magazines. She is a recipient of several awards including: Arts International, the National Endowment for the Arts, the International African Festival Award.

Cortez has been and continues to be an explorer, probing the valleys and chasms of human existence. No ravine is too perilous, no abyss too threatening for Jayne Cortez."—Maya Angelou

The Langston Hughes Medal, The American Book Award, and the Thelma McAndless Distinguished Professorship Award. Her most recent books are THE BEAUTIFUL BOOK (Bola Press) and Jazz Fan Looks Back (Hanging Loose Press). Her latest CDs with the Firespitter Band are Find Your Own Voice Poetry and Music 1982-2003, Borders of Disorderly Time  (Bola Press), Taking the Blues Back Home, produced by Harmolodic and by Verve Records. Cortez is organizer of the international symposium "Slave Routes: Resistance, Abolition & Creative Progress" (NYU) and director of the film Yari Yari Pamberi: Black Women Writers Dissecting Globalization. She is co-founder and president of the Organization of Women Writers of Africa, Inc., and can be seen on screen in the films Women In Jazz and Poetry In Motion.—Publisher, Hanging Loose Press.

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Predator Nation

Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the Hijacking of America

By Charles H. Ferguson

If you’re smart and a hard worker, but your parents aren’t rich, you’re now better off being born in Munich, Germany or in Singapore than in Cleveland, Ohio or New York. This radical shift did not happen by accident.  Ferguson shows how, since the Reagan administration in the 1980s, both major political parties have become captives of the moneyed elite.  It was the Clinton administration that dismantled the regulatory controls that protected the average citizen from avaricious financiers.  It was the Bush team that destroyed the federal revenue base with its grotesquely skewed tax cuts for the rich. And it is the Obama White House that has allowed financial criminals to continue to operate unchecked, even after supposed “reforms” installed after the collapse of 2008. Predator Nation reveals how once-revered figures like Alan Greenspan and Larry Summers became mere courtiers to the elite.

Based on many newly released court filings, it details the extent of the crimes—there is no other word—committed in the frenzied chase for wealth that caused the financial crisis.  And, finally, it lays out a plan of action for how we might take back our country and the American dream.Read Chapter 1

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The Gardens of Democracy: A New American Story

of Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of Government

By Eric Liu and Nick Hanaper

American democracy is informed by the 18th century’s most cutting edge thinking on society, economics, and government. We’ve learned some things in the intervening 230 years about self interest, social behaviors, and how the world works. Now, authors Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer argue that some fundamental assumptions about citizenship, society, economics, and government need updating. For many years the dominant metaphor for understanding markets and government has been the machine. Liu and Hanauer view democracy not as a machine, but as a garden. A successful garden functions according to the inexorable tendencies of nature, but it also requires goals, regular tending, and an understanding of connected ecosystems. The latest ideas from science, social science, and economics—the cutting-edge ideas of today—generate these simple but revolutionary ideas: The economy is not an efficient machine.

It’s an effective garden that need tending. Freedom is responsibility. Government should be about the big what and the little how. True self interest is mutual interest. We’re all better off when we’re all better off. The model of citizenship depends on contagious behavior, hence positive behavior begets positive behavior.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 9 July 2012

 

 

 

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