Directors: Kurt Hemmer and Tom Knoff
Length: 30 minutes
“Wow! Ted Joans Lives! is a visual and aural collage by Kurt Hemmer and Tom Knoff examining the life and works of the legendary, tri-continental poet Ted Joans, who was born in Cairo, Illinois on the fourth of July, 1928 and went on to become one of the significant poets of his generation, performing his work in the United States, Europe, and Africa.
Joans believed that surrealism helped him deal with the pains of racism. He started his artistic endeavors as a painter and collagist, and some rare examples of his work are presented here along with the poems he blew with the encouragement of Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Langston Hughes. Images of Joans’s heroes, like Charlie Parker and André Breton (who said that Joans was the only African-American surrealist he had ever met), are accompanied with the poems Joans dedicated to them. The film has the sound of jazz and the flavor of surrealism. As Ted Joans declared, “Jazz is my religion and Surrealism is my point of view.”
The film features Ted’s reading at Harper College, Palatine, Illinois in 2002.
WOW! Ted Joans lives isn’t commercially available, but you can watch it over on the PennSound website.
It’s been honored widely:
Official Selection of the 2013 Langston Hughes African-American Film Festival
Won an Honorable Mention at The Los Angeles International Underground Film Festival
Won the Grand Festival Arts Award at the 2010 Berkeley Film and Video Festival
Won the Platinum Best of Show Award at the 2011 Aurora Awards
Official Selection of The Rumschpringe International Short Film Festival