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Joans, Ted and Frederick King, 1976 October 26

 Item — Multiple Containers

Scope and Contents

Ted Joans and Frederick King lectured together on 10/26/1976 (2015-0002/RR199). For more information on the lecturers, please see their individual profiles.

RR199 Hale Smith introduces an unexpected guest--poet Ted Joans who is a member of the "Beat Generation." Joans speaks breifly and then reads some of his poems.  [~1:03:30] Frederick King (Percussionist) is the scheduled speaker for the evening. Mr. King picks on up the rhythm of Joans' last poem to discuss rhythm and culture.


  • 1976 October 26

Conditions Governing Access

Links to digitized content are included in the finding aid.

Biographical / Historical

As a poet, Joans was a part of the Beat Generation and often combined elements of Jazz rhythm, Surrealism, and African American oral traditions into his poetry. His work is considered a precursor of slam poetry. After graduating from Indiana University with a degree in fine arts, Joans moved to New York City where he met Langston Hughes, who encouraged him to pursue poetry. Joans would go on to publish over 30 books of poetry, prose and collage the most well-known being Black Pow-Wow, Beat Funky Jazz Poems, Afrodisia, Jazz is Our Religion, Double Trouble, Wow, and Teducation.

In addition to being active in New York City, he also spent significant time in Paris and Timbuktu.

Joans was born in Cairo, Illinois, as Theodore Jones, on July 4, 1928. He played the trumpet and was an avid jazz aficionado, following Bop as it developed, and continued to espouse jazz of all styles and eras throughout his life. Growing up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Louisville, Kentucky, he earned a degree in fine arts from Indiana University, before moving in 1951 to New York City. In New York he painted in a style he dubbed Jazz Action and read his poetry, developing a personal style of oral delivery called Jazz Poetry. He was a participant in the Beat Generation in Greenwich Village. He was a contemporary and friend of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, Leroi Jones (later known as Amiri Baraka), Gregory Corso, Diane Di Prima, Bob Kaufman, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and others. Joans shared a room for a time with the great jazz musician Charlie Parker. Joans' bohemian costume balls and rent parties were photographed by Fred McDarrah and Weegee. Joans was also deeply involved in Surrealism, meeting Joseph Cornell; and at first becoming close to his childhood hero Salvador Dalí, then soon breaking with him. In Paris, he was welcomed into the circle of André Breton. Joans was an erudite africanist and traveled extensively throughout the continent, frequently on foot, over many decades between periods in Europe and North America. From the 1960s onward, Joans had a house in Tangier, Morocco, and then in Timbuktu, Mali.

While he ceased playing the trumpet he maintained a jazz sensibility in the reading of his poems and frequently collaborated with musicians. He continued to travel and maintained an active correspondence with a host of creative individuals, among them Langston Hughes, Michel Leiris, Aimé Césaire, Robert Creeley, Jayne Cortez, Stokely Carmichael, Ishmael Reed and Paul Bowles, Franklin and Penelope Rosemont; many of these letters are collected at the Bancroft Library of the University of California Berkeley. The University of Delaware houses his correspondence with Charles Henri Ford. Joans was also a close correspondent/participant of the Chicago Surrealist Group.

Joans' painting Bird Lives hangs in the De Young Museum in San Francisco. He was also the originator of the "Bird Lives" legend and graffiti in New York City after the death of Charlie Parker in March 1955. His visual art work spans collages, assemblage objects, paintings and drawings including many resulting from the collaborative surrealist game Cadavre Exquis. The rhinoceros is a frequent subject in his work in all media. He also created short Super 8 film works.

During the early 1980s Joans was a writer in residence in Berlin, Germany, under the auspices of the DAAD (Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst) program. He was a contributor of jazz essays and reviews to magazines such as Coda and Jazz Magazine. His autobiographical text "Je Me Vois" appeared in the Contemporary Authors Autobiographical Series, Volume 25. His work has been included in numerous anthologies.

In the late 1990s Joans relocated to Seattle and resided there and in Vancouver, between travels, until 2003. He was the recipient of the American Book Awards Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001, from the Before Columbus Foundation.

Ted Joans died in 2003.


Frederick L. King received his B.A. and M.A. in percussion and orchesteral conducting at the University of Iowa. He did post-graduate work at Juilliard School of Music, studying under New York Philharmonic timbanist, Saul Goodman. In 1969, King was a Ethnomusicology doctoral candidate at Columbia University and also worked and travelled internationally with with the New York Pro Musica (under Noah Greenberg). In addition, King was active in performaing and recording pop and jazz music. In August 1968, King invited to organize the department of percussion at the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music (1968-1975). While at the Conservatory, King traveled and performed throughout the Caribbean with Pablo Casals, the founder of the Conservatory. He continued to be a freelance percussionist in New York and continued to teach and perform with symphonic orchestras, chamber music groups and was affiliated with Max Roach's M'Boom.

[Information from recording and "Frederick King and the New Sound of Percussion," by Francis Schwartz, San Juan Star, 2 March 1969.]


1 Reels (Magnetic tape audio recording) : RR 199 1 reel, Side A-1:04:32, Side B-0:49:29; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester. The recordings were combined for ease of listening. The combined run time of the digital recording is 1:53:57.

Language of Materials

From the Series: English

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library Repository

University of Connecticut Library
405 Babbidge Road Unit 1205
Storrs Connecticut 06269-1205 USA US