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Jayne Cortez Obituary at the New York Times
A little over a week ago we heard the sad news that poet Jayne Cortez had died, and we promised more news as it arrived. The New York Times has posted this obituary, noting that Cortez’s poetry was “known for its visceral power, its political outrage and above all its sheer, propulsive musicality…” The piece goes on to discuss Cortez’s remarkable career as an artist who worked comfortably across genres:
One of the central figures of the Black Arts Movement — the cultural branch of the black power movement that flourished in the 1960s and ’70s — Ms. Cortez remained active for decades afterward, publishing a dozen volumes of poetry and releasing almost as many recordings, on which her verse was seamlessly combined with avant-garde music.
She performed on prominent stages around the world, including, in New York, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Museum of Modern Art and Carnegie Hall.
Ms. Cortez’s work was beyond category by virtue of embodying so many categories simultaneously: written verse, African and African-American oral tradition, the discourse of political protest, and jazz and blues. Meant for the ear even more than for the eye, her words combine a hurtling immediacy with an incantatory orality.
She will be missed.