Cortez, Jayne, 1972 - 1987
Scope and Contents
Poet, activist, and spoken word performer Jayne Cortez delivered a dozen lectures at the University of Connecticut, spanning the years 1972 to 1987. Cortez was a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship winner and the spouse of sculptor, Melvin Edwards, also a frequent lecturer to the course.
Cortez spoke on 5/12/1972 (2015-0002/RR20), 11/28/1972 (2015-0002/RR74), 12/4/1973 (2015-0002/RR75), 2/18/1975 (2015-0002/RR76), 4/11/1978 (2015-0002/RR77), 2/19/1980 (2015-0002/RR78), 4/7/1981 (2015-0002/RR79), 3/30/1982 (2015-0002/RR80), 3/22/1983 (2015-0002/RR81), 2/7/1984 (2015-0002/RR19), 2/4/1986 (2015-0002/RR82), 2/24/1987 (2015-0002/RR83).
RR 19 Cortez reads from her 1982 publication "Firespitter." She told students about growing up in Los Angeles, originally wanting to be an actress and director, and traveling throughout Europe and Africa to perform at poetry festivals. Her presentation ended with a musicial performance that featured the accompaniment of drummer Abraham Adzenyah who also spoke to the Black Experience in the Arts course.
RR 20 Cortez reads over half dozen selections from her 1971 book "Festivals and Funerals." Poems included "Initation," "Lonely Woman," "Watching a Parade in Harlem," and "Screams." She dedicated her poem "I Am the Worker" to "all my sisters in the garment industry." Her piece, "Dinah's Back in Town" (written for the late blues singer Dinah Washington) generated a lively response from the student audience because of the poem's language and content. She concluded her lecture with a reading of her poem, "Solo."
RR 74 Cortez reads selections from some of her published work and some newer writings. Her reading began with "Festivals and Funerals."
- 1972 - 1987
- Cortez, Jayne (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Links to digitized content are included in the finding aid.
Biographical / Historical
Jayne Cortez was born Sallie Jayne Richardson on the Army base at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, on May 10, 1934. At the age of seven, she moved to Los Angeles, where she grew up in the Watts district. Young Jayne Richardson reveled in the jazz and Latin recordings that her parents collected. She studied art, music and drama in high school. Later she attended Compton Community College, but dropped out of her course work due to financial difficulties. She took the surname Cortez, the maiden name of her Filipino maternal grandmother, early in her artistic career.
In 1954, Cortez married jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman. Their son Denardo, born in 1956, began drumming with his father while still a child and devoted his adult life to collaborating with both parents in their respective careers. In 1964, Cortez divorced Coleman and founded the Watts Repertory Theater Company, of which she served as artistic director until 1970. Active in the struggle for Civil Rights, she collaborated with famous Civil Rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer and strongly advocated using art as a vehicle to push political causes, with her work being used to register black voters in Mississippi in the early 1960s. She traveled through Europe and Africa, and moved to New York City in 1967.
In 1969 her first collection, Pissstained Stairs and the Monkey Man's Wares, was published and Cortez went on to become the author of 11 other books of poems, and performed her poetry with music on nine recordings. Most of her work was issued under the auspices of Bola Press, a publishing company she founded in 1971. From 1977 to 1983, Cortez was an English professor at Rutgers University. She presented her work and ideas at universities, museums, and festivals in Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, the Caribbean and the United States. Her poems have been translated into 28 languages and widely published in anthologies, journals and magazines, including Postmodern American Poetry, Daughters of Africa, Poems for the Millennium, Mother Jones, and The Jazz Poetry Anthology.
In 1975 she married sculptor and printmaker Melvin Edwards, and they lived in Dakar, Senegal, and New York City. His work appeared in her publications as well as on some of her album covers. Cortez and Edwards maintained two residences, one in New York City and one in Dakar, Senegal, which Cortez said "really feels like home."
Cortez died in Manhattan, New York, on December 28, 2012, aged 78.
[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jayne_Cortez / https://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/04/arts/jayne-cortez-poet-and-performance-artist-dies-at-78.html
12 Reels (Magnetic tape audio recordings ) : RR 19 1 reel, 1:26:04; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester. RR 20 1 reel, 0:34:03; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester. RR 74 1 reel, 0:19:50; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester. RR 75 1 reel, 0:43;05; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester. RR 76 1 reel, 0:55:58; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester. RR 77 1 reel, 0:43:17; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester. RR 78 1 reel, 1:05:53; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester. RR 79 1 reel, 0:57:32; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester. RR 80 1 reel, 1:09:28; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester. RR 81 1 reel, 1:11:17; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester. RR 82 1 reel, 1:20:26; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester. RR 83 1 reel, 1:12:45; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester.
Language of Materials
From the Series: English
- African American authors Subject Source: Fast
- African American poets Subject Source: Fast
- African Americans Subject Source: Fast
- African Americans in popular culture Subject Source: Fast
- Black Experience in the Arts Course (University of Connecticut) -- Sound recordings Subject Source: Local sources
- Performance artists Subject Source: Fast
- Publishers and publishing Subject Source: Fast
- Sound recordings Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus