Jayne Cortez

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

from There It Is (1982)


All you wanna do

is pat your foot

sip a drink & pretend

with your head bobbin up & down

What do you care about acoustics

bad microphones or out of tune pianos

& noise

You the club owners & disc jockeys

made a deal didn’t you

a deal about Black Music

& you really don’t give a shit long as you take from How Long has Trane Been Gone (1969)


Jayne Cortez writes from the perspective of and about the lives of regular people. With fiercely vivid description. Backed up by a

jazz band. And a w ickedly sarcastic sense of humor. The ten books of poetry of Jayne Cortez has been translated into 28 languages. Her background in drama (she co-founded the Watts Repertory Theatre) and music (a trained musician, her first marriage was to Pulitzer Prize winning jazz musician Ornette Coleman) led to the release of ten CDs of performance pieces – dramatic poetry readings set to music. Cortez is also a keen businesswoman who established her own publishing company, Bola Press.  She has received many awards, worked as a teacher and writer in residence at Rutgers University and performed her poetry throughout much of the world.

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