A poetry collection by internationally acclaimed poet Lenard D. Moore focusing on jazz music as an experience and an inspiration.
In The Geography of Jazz, Moore celebrates jazz music and jazz musicians. Some of the poems address specific events. Others honor individual artists. Many do both. While the poems may not initially signal the rhythms of jazz in their presentation on the page, they convey jazz rhythms through Moore’s deft handling of the poetic line and his use of formal techniques including but not limited to assonance, onomatopoeia, and repetition. This collection also includes a new poetic form, jazzku, an innovation that recalls Japanese haiku and tanka.
"In poem after poem, The Geography of Jazz inspired the reader through powerful images delivered with haiku-like precision. From his opening poem ‘Swing Cool,’ where drums, piano, and bass sound ‘steady as the spring moon / Inciting the indigo sky,’ Lenard Moore summons jazz sounds. Life itself becomes jazz, as ‘pigeons peck peanuts / Drum Beaks / On the sidewalk.’ This book is a truly rich harvest of jazz poetry." — William Ferris, author of Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues
“Internationally acclaimed for his mastery of Japanese poetic forms, Lenard D. Moore demonstrates sprezzatura (as defined by Baldassare Castiglione) in mapping The Geography of Jazz. His poems involve disciplined attentiveness to the sonic imperatives of jazz and sensitivity to the agony and ecstasy that characterizes jazz performances. His poems provide a micro-atlas of the vast territory of jazz, and they mask, with fine discrimination, the intense labor of conjoining music and poetry. Those who read Moore’s jazz poems/ maps accurately shall discover a rewarding world of spatial, temporal, and spiritual experiences.” —Jerry W. Ward, Jr., author of The Katrina Papers: A Journal of Trauma and Recovery
“Lenard D. Moore’s The Geography of Jazz retraces the terrain of this most American of musical art forms, with short poems and two longer lyric sequences that gain energy and pathos in their jazz-imbued rhythms. There are tributes here to renowned singers and instrumentalists familiar to most readers (Billie, Dizzy, Duke, Ella, Miles, Nina, Thelonious), as well as celebrations of artists more recently arrived on the scene (Eliane Elias, Nneena Freelon, Branford Marsalis, Esperanza Spalding), and poems in forms and freedoms that draw the vital connections between jazz and poetry. Though these poems harken to jazz as if, by exploring ‘chords / into progression,’ the poet could ‘step into another world,’ the gestures toward transcendence also open the way for the music’s ‘fallen / shadows [to] lead me slowly back into my childhood’ –a deep-rivered poet’s heritage indeed. Such dual progressions enhance and grace the rhythmic contours of this poetic geography.” — Carolyne Wright, author of Seasons of Mangoes & Brainfire