Ishmael Reed: SF Jazz poetry award laureate

Writer Ishmael Reed will be the first laureate of a poetry award by SF JAZZ, the leading non profit jazz organization on the US West Coast. The poetry award is being established to promote the role of poetry and spoken word in jazz.

“Among American writers, Ishmael Reed is probably the one whose sensibility is closest to jazz. His tone is colloquial; his ideas are improvisational yet rooted in down-home wisdom,” The New York Times declared.

This writer is known in the US for criticizing the political circles for their inferior attitude towards culture. He wrote over more than 20 novels, among whom Mambo Jumbo. He also writes poetry, assays and screenplays.

Two of his books have been nominated for National Book Awards, and a book of poetry, Conjure, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

He won, among others, the prestigious McArthur Fellowship (genius award), and was inducted into Chicago State University’s National Literary Hall of Fame of Writers of African Descent. He is a retired professor from the famous Berkley College after 35 years of teaching.

Ishmael Reed’s texts and lyrics have been performed or set to music by David Murray, Lester Bowie, Carla Bley, Steve Swallow, Ravi Coltrane, Eddie Harris, Omar Sosa, Cassandra Wilson and many more.

SF JAZZ was founded in 1983, today it is the largest promoter of jazz in Western United States with more than 100 concerts a year. Within it’s numerous activities it’s aim is to cultivate new jazz audiences and to give new musicians the chance to develop and grow through innovative, interactive and informative program. At the moment, a SF JAZZ Center is being built, a facility completely dedicated to jazz and arts.

Listen to a song written by David Murray and Ishmael Reed, performed by Cassandra Wilson. It was released on the album Sacred Ground in 2007.

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