Poetry to Share: The Fantastic Names of Jazz


I first read this poem with my sister during a long-ago poetry month. I’d never read anything so unconventional and I’m not a jazz listener, so I was very confused and very fascinated by this poem.  It’s stuck with me all these years. Hope you enjoy!

The Fantastic Names of Jazz

Zoot Sims, Joshua Redman,
Billie Holiday, Pete Fountain,
Fate Marable, Ivie Anderson,
Meade Lux Lewis, Mezz Mezzrow,
Manzie Johnson, Marcus Roberts,
Omer Simeon, Miff Mole, Sister
Rosetta Tharpe, Freddie Slack,
Thelonious Monk, Charlie Teagarden,
Max Roach, Paul Celestin, Muggsy
Spanier, Boomie Richman, Panama
Francis, Abdullah Ibrahim, Piano
Red, Champion Jack Dupree,
Cow Cow Davenport, Shirley Horn,
Cedar Walton, Sweets Edison,
Jaki Byard, John Heard, Joy Harjo,
Pinetop Smith, Tricky Sam
Nanton, Major Holley, Stuff Smith,
Bix Beiderbecke, Bunny Berigan,
Mr. Cleanhead Vinson, Ruby Braff,
Cootie Williams, Cab Calloway,
Lockjaw Davis, Chippie Hill,
And of course Jelly Roll Morton.

–Hayden Carruth

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One thought on “Poetry to Share: The Fantastic Names of Jazz

  1. How neat. I knew fourteen of the musicians — thanks in good part to my jazz fan father. He liked Dixieland the most, although we both liked some of the more modern stuff, like Dave Brubeck and Stephane Grapelli. If you don’t know Django Reinhardt and Grappelli, give their “Minor Swing” a listen. If you already know it, listen anyhow — it’s such great music!

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