Poems by Ted Joans; Drawings by Laura Corsiglia
Place: Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Publisher: Ekstasis Editions
From the back cover:
Our Thang presents the extraordinary jazz-poems of the legendary poet-artist-trumpeter Ted Joans alongside the surrealistic drawings of Canadian artist, Laura Corsiglia.
One of the last of the Beat poets, a former jazz musician, friend of Kerouac and Ginsberg, Joans is the person who, upon hearing of the death of sax-man Charlie Parker, scrawled the famous graffitti ‘Bird Lives’ (perhaps his best-known poem).
Born on a riverboat in Cairo, Illinois, Ted Joans graduated in Fine Arts from Indiana University, and in 1951 joined ‘the Bohemia of America’ in Greenwich Village. He has lived in Harlem, New York; Bloomington, Indiana; Haarlem, the Netherlands; Paris and even Timbuktu.
His books include: Funky Jazz Poems, Beat Poems, All of T.J. and No More, The Hipsters (a book of collages), The Truth, Afrodisia, A Black Pow Wow of Jazz Poems, and Teducation. His work is characterized by black consciousness, strong rhythm, and a musical sensibility closely linked to the blues and avant-garde jazz. His style is associated with the oral tradition of African-American writing but also to the Beat Generation.
Laura Corsiglia is an artist, originally from Victoria, BC, and now living in Vancouver whose work has been exhibited all over the world, from Paris to London to New York to Seattle. She is Ted Joans’ partner.
Joseph Blake reviewed OUR THANG in the Victoria Times-Colonist:
[This] little book captures the restless, chaotic, yea-saying spirit of Beat poetry that has inspired a succession of youthful generations.
The current renewed popularity of poetry, particularly performance poetry and poetry slams, is the populist flowering of seeds the Beats planted 50 years ago.
Ted Joans is one of the last living Beat poets. A former jazz musician and friend of Kerouac and Ginsberg, Joans scrawled perhaps his most famous poem, Bird Lives!, on walls all over New York City the night jazz star Charlie Parker died. Now living in Vancouver (although he’s just as likely to be on the road from Paris to Timbuktu), Joans’s latest book of poems, Our Thang, is a collaboration with his artist-wife, Laura Corsiglia.
Corsiglia’s drawings capture the transformation and metamorphosis of Joans’s cut-and-splice wordplay. Flipping through the pages, mythic figures, mutant bear-eagle-heron-human-moon, dance like an exotic dream. They paint the dreamy background for Joans’s 18 poems when you begin to wrestle with the wordcraft the veteran poet calls “Teducation” in his introductory offering, Why Selected Poems As Autobiography?
Corsiglia’s fluid drawings dance and Joans’s rhythm-charged, blues-scorched words sing throughout this joyout, sensual collaboration. It’s like jazz sizzling on the page, like the warm rush from red wine and the sticky, sweet smells of gumbo slow-cooking on the back of the stove.
On the cover, beside a fractured line drawing of a mutating human-bird form, Joans writes:
Sweet potato pie gloves
to caress excited
board of vegetal
passports that are nearly
edible at planets in space
where her bears and his rhinos
sing Cecil Taylor Tunes
for you know who