Jazz Griots

Jazz Griots : Music as History in the 1960s African American Poem

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To the endless questions, theoretical statements, and hypotheses about how Black poets transcribe jazz into the poetic format, this book, while providing a different approach to reading jazz poetry, attempts to answer the question, why do Black poets revert to jazz for poetic material. This book's answer is because jazz is Black History ritualized and performed, and jazz performance is storytelling.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 240 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 20.32mm | 544.31g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739166735
  • 9780739166734

About Jean-Philippe Marcoux

Jean-Philippe Marcoux is a professor of American Literature at Universite Laval in Quebec, Canada. He specializes in African American Literature, Postmodernist fiction and poetry, and in Jazz Studies.
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Review quote

Marcoux's study of African American poetics in the 1960s is interesting and scrupulous in its scholarship. Marcoux (American literature, Universite Laval, Quebec, Canada) employs the vocabulary of current critical discourse starting with the introduction, "Intravernacular Dialogues, Jazz Performativity, and the Griot's Meta-Linguistic Praxes." It is amusing to see beneath this title a short epigraph: "The rhythm of life / is a jazz rhythm." Linguistic contrasts of this kind abound; whereas the subject is poetry rooted in folk tradition, the discussion is largely academic. The author discusses in depth exemplary figures central in the emergent revolutionary poetry of African Americans in the 1960s--Langston Hughes, Sonia Sanchez, Amiri Baraka, and David Henderson. He also considers Nikki Giovanni and Larry Neal along with "free jazz." ...Unique for its coverage of a single decade, this volume can be read in tandem with Meta DuEwa Jones's The Muse Is Music (CH, Dec'11, 49-1920) and Tyler Hoffman's American Poetry in Performance (CH, May'12, 49-4915). Marcoux's book is an important addition to this growing field. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. CHOICE While the role of the griot is often noted in studies of Black Arts poetry, no book has concentrated so intensively and persuasively on the importance of this role for African American poetry as Jazz Griots...If Marcoux's musicological and historical expertise in jazz studies makes this study of Hughes, Henderson, Sanchez, and Baraka so rewarding, the intergenerational dialogue that he accentuates is also suggestive for reconsidering the significance of jazz in African American-and African diasporic-literature beyond the 1960s. Twentieth-Century Literature Marcoux's book performs deft readings of works by Langston Hughes (whose formally experimental collection Ask Your Mama: Twelve Moods for Jazz is from 1961), David Henderson (the Umbra poet who collaborated with Sun Ra and Ornette Coleman), Sanchez (who, we are reminded, is the daughter of a drummer), and Baraka. American Literature It is fitting that Jean-Philippe Marcoux's own prose is nearly as lyrical as the poets he addresses in this thoughtful, penetrating and engaging study of the griots of the 1960s revolution. The movement, Marcoux suggests, was about vernacular sound as much as it was about words and intent, and he seems to have used that same approach himself to discuss the work of these important poets: he carefully unpacks the poetry of Hughes, Henderson, Sanchez, and Baraka in a voice that swings of its own accord. The result is a book that is both pleasurable and informative. Jazz Griots not only responds to the call of previous books about jazz and poetry, but will likely stand as a statement that must itself be responded to by poetry theorists of the future. -- Bertram D. Ashe, University of Richmond 'This is not a book about the Black Arts Movement.' How true! Knowing full well the ground that's been covered, Jean-Philipe Marcoux takes readers into uncharted territory. Langston Hughes, David Henderson, Sonia Sanchez, and Amiri Baraka are, Marcoux insists provocatively, jazz artists. Poetry is their instrument. Like modern-day griots, these 20th and 21st century 'prophets of the planet' sing to each other across pages, across time, to enact a vibrant and dissident black history. Fairly humming with passion and originality, Jazz Griots is the kind of book you talk to, marvel at and argue with. It will talk back. -- Daniel Kane, Reader in American Literature, School of English, University of Sussex
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Table of contents

Introduction: Intravernacular Dialogues, Jazz Performativity, and the Griot's Meta-linguistic Praxes Chapter 1: The Sound of Grammar: Blues and Jazz as Meta-languages of Storytelling in Langston Hughes's Ask Your Mama Chapter 2: Move On Up: Free Jazz and Rhythm and Blues Performativities as Creative Acts of Cultural Re-inscription in David Henderson's De Mayor of Harlem Chapter 3: Sister in the Struggle: Jazz Linguistics and the Feminized Quest for a Communicative 'Sound' in Sonia Sanchez's Home Coming and We A BaddDDD People Chapter 4: Birth of a Free Jazz Nation: Amiri Baraka's Jazz Historiography from Black Magic to Wise Why's Y's Coda
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