Monday, June 20, 2011

Jazz and Rhetoric: Notes on John Coltrane

Guest Blogger Earl Brooks is a 2010 graduate of the University of Kansas. Currently, he is a graduate student of English and Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Much of his current research involves musical performance and theory along with historical and literary studies. 

There are few jazz artists that have been written about as much as John Coltrane. On one hand, there are his many musical accomplishments that changed jazz forever. Born September 23, 1926 in Hamlet, North Carolina, Coltrane went from a side-man in Philadelphia based blues bands to performing with legends of jazz such as Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie, to leading an illustrious solo career with his own quartet. Along with an infamous victory over drug and alcohol abuse, Coltrane was able to remain on the cutting edge of jazz’s evolution right up until his death in 1967 from liver disease. Coltrane is most well-known for his album A Love Supreme and the album itself is heralded as a jazz classic. Although Coltrane and this album in particular have been approached from many other academic disciplines, there is however only a small amount in terms of rhetorical analysis and criticism. The album is structured as a suite split into four parts; “Acknowledgement,” “Resolution,” “Pursuance,” and “Psalm.” The album is a mixture of hard bop and free jazz with “Psalm” and the beginning of “Acknowledgement” being free jazz.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Poetry of Tupac Shakur

Celebrating the birthday and literary legacy of Tupac Shakur, the HBW has selected a few of his poems to present to our viewing audience. His poems reveal the influences—ranging from his mother’s involvement with the Black Panther Party and his boyhood/teenage friendship with actress Jada Pinkett-Smith—that weighed heavily on his life and creative vices. Tupac’s poetry stands as a testament revealing the literary connections to hip-hop and black poetics.

Also, review the compilation of music videos and interviews by the late rapper.

The Coverage of... Tupac Shakur and the Celebration of his Birthday

June 16 marks the birthday of legendary rapper and street poet Tupac Shakur. Today, he would have been 40 years old. The songs and interviews recorded by Tupac during his lifetime provide audiences with a wealth of information to better understand the personality (or, personalities) of the late rapper. We are able to gain a better sense as to what diverse influences—namely those of the Black Power and Black Arts Movement—motivated the rapper and contributed to complex oral and literary legacy.  The HBW has compiled a collection of his music videos and interviews to celebrate his life and legacy.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Provocative Fictions

Jerry W. Ward, Jr., Professor of English at Dillard University, is the author of The Katrina Papers: A Journal of Trauma and Recovery (UNO Press, 2008). Professor Ward has been a faithful guest blogger for the HBW 

QUESTION: When you read the title “YOU A BaddDDD SISTAH” in the table of contents for James E. Cherry’s Honoring the Ancestors (Third World Press, 2008), what enables you to know the poem is about Sonia Sanchez?

ANSWER: Cultural literacy and ability to read visual allusions.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Literary Vantage Points: Kevin Reeves Book Launch and Interview

In our fifth installment of Literary Vantage Points, the HBW staff has covered the book launch of Kevin Reeves. Reeves is the author of s.m.i.l.e., his debut novel—a love story painted against a Chicago cityscape.

In this brief interview, Reeves discusses the specific authors that have influenced him as a writer and literary scholar.  He also discusses what he hopes his novel will contribute to the African American literary cannon.

Reeves has also been a guest blogger for the HBW discussing the role of hip-hop in literature.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Death and Life of Gil Scott-Heron (1949-2011) Death takes you to an unfamiliar place, to narrative knowing and the science of the human.

Jerry W. Ward, Jr., Professor of English at Dillard University, is the author of The Katrina Papers: A Journal of Trauma and Recovery (UNO Press, 2008). Professor Ward has been a faithful guest blogger for the HBW

A man’s death is an algorithm for inquiry.  Is it an accident that James Cherry sent you his most recent book, Still A Man and Other Stories, from Jackson, TN?  Gil Scott-Heron sang “I need to go home and slow down in Jackson, Tennessee” on the cut “New York Is Killing Me (I’m New Here: Gil Scott-Herron).  Howard Rambsy, who is from Jackson, TN, wrote a blurb for Cherry’s second collection of poems, Honoring the Ancestors (2008) which includes “Homecoming (for Gil Scott-Heron)  and a history-informed blog “Gil Scott’s Role in Untelevised Revolution” at SIUE Blog.

Scott-Heron honored his musical ancestor Robert Johnson with a dark remake of Johnson’s “Me and the Devil” just as Esther Phillip, out of the authority of her own tragedies, paid tribute to Scott-Heron with her cover of “Home is where the hatred is.”  With the exception of Johnson, any of these people might have been influenced by Langston Hughes’s Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz (1961). Nanoseconds of death and life are not exactly accidents.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Coverage Of...The "Live" Performances of Gil Scott-Heron

[Compiled by Kenton Rambsy]

Honoring the legacy of Gil Scott-Heron, the HBW has compiled videos of Heron’s live performances. These videos display Heron’s versatility as a musician and lyrical poet. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Coverage Of...GIl Scott Heron's Video Interviews

[Compiled By Kenton Rambsy]

Over the past eight years, Gil Scott-Heron has given interviews ranging on a variety of subjects from his musical inspirations to his boyhood experiences in the South. The HBW has compiled a list of video interviews by Gil Scott-Heron over the last ten years to honor his legacy. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Coverage Of...The Passing of Gil Scott-Heron

[Compiled by Kenton Rambsy] 

To honor the legacy of Gil Scott-Heron and track the extensive online coverage of his life and work, the HBW has compiled a list of the most popular websites which feature information on the late poet/musician/scholar.