Ishmael Reed, SFJAZZ Poet Laureate
The SFJAZZ Poet Laureate chair was created to celebrate the connection between poetry, jazz and spoken word, and to inspire young poets and musicians to further their craft and contribute to the global conversation of art.
Ishmael Reed, the acclaimed poet, playwright and novelist known for his satirical and polemical works about American political culture and social oppression - as well as for the jazz like rhythms of his language - is SFJAZZ's first Poet Laureate. A retired UC Berkeley professor, Reed has published dozens of books, including the novels Mumbo-Jumbo, Reckless Eyeballing
, and Juice!
, the poetry collection New and Collected Poems, 1964-2007, and the 2010 essay collection Barack Obama and the Jim Crow Media: The Return of the Nigger Breakers
. He also wrote the non-fiction book Oakland Rhapsody, The Secret Soul of An American Downtown
, with photographs by Richard Nagler. He currently lives in Oakland.
Ishmael Reed curated the first ever Annual Poetry Festival in June, 2013, presenting many of California's great poets in Joe Henderson Lab. Reed continues this dialogue between word and sound at the 2nd Annual Poetry Festival, April 3-6, 2014, as part of the SFJAZZ Center's Season 2.
Reed's poem "When I Die I Will Go To Jazz" is installed on the north gate of Raise Up Off Me Alley (named to honor jazz legend Hampton Hawes) on Linden Street at the SFJAZZ Center.
> Read "When I Die I Will Go To Jazz" by Ishmael Reed