COLUMN NINETY-TWO, JUNE 1, 2003
(Copyright © 2003 The Blacklisted Journalist)
REMEMBERING TED JOANS
FROM LEFT, TED JOANS, JAN KEROUAC, AL ARONOWITZ AND PAUL BLAKE III ON NEW YORK CITY'S WEST BROADWAY AFTER MAY 20TH READING IN 1994.
FROM GERRY NICOSIA
Subject: RE: NEED ID OF GUY ON RIGHT WITH BASEBALL CAP
Date: Mon, 26 May 2003 15:42:35 -0700
From: "Gerald Nicosia" firstname.lastname@example.org
To: "'al aronowitz'" email@example.com
That is Paul Blake III, son of Paul Blake Jr., who will whip the Sampases' ass in a few months in court. Jan had paid Paul III's way to NYC for the Beat conference by selling her mother's arrest warrant for Jack for
$1200---the only way she could afford to do it. Sampas later made a big deal of her selling things like he did, but she only sold that one thing to help her cousin's son. I am attaching my memorial poem for Ted Joans---please post it to your site. Steve Dalachinsky is putting on a memorial for Ted in NYC, at St. Mark's I
think, at the end of June---June 29. You should get in on it. If you don't know Steve, call him. He's a great man, a great Jewish poet of New York. I love him (platonically) because he is such a fine human being. Steve's no. is
212-925-5256. Poem attached in WORD.
From: al aronowitz [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, May 26, 2003 2:17 PM
To: Nicosia, Gerald
Subject: NEED ID OF GUY ON RIGHT WITH BASEBALL CAP
GERRY: This pic was taken on my birthday the day we had a reading in nyc with jan--i think in the basement of dean and deluca. Cant remember who the guy is in the white baseball cap. Do you remember? need pix to
commemorate death of Ted Joans on the left. Can you help? What year was it? Think NYU Beat conference, was same day. --Al
Poet's Grocery List
for Ted Joans
Okapi, funky, cowries"
these are words Ted Joans taught
me and my mind
wanders to him as a wild deer in Marin
almost African ancestral speed
beating Ford's gas guzzlers by a mile
and I think how
Ted Joans had that
same ancestral African speed
as he bounded past all of us
on his romps through Beat, surrealist,
bebop jazz, and a
thousand other worlds
having the best damn time
of any writer in America
and if there was a dark side
and there was a dark side
keeping it as hidden as
some African tribal healer's darkest
for only the privileged few
Ted hands me a grocery receipt
because he needs to give me
and it's all he has in his pocket
to write on
but I wonder now if he
really wanted me to see
what he was living on
as I write the poem about
him he probably
knew I'd write
after he died
ALBERTSONS BONUS BUY PROGRAM
a lonely one-room apartment
S & W BEANS
what kind of poet's feast is this?
YOU SAVED .59 ON BONUS BUYS
a poor man's feast, I think
I wonder if he even paid
with food stamps
this VIP, self-dubbed,
a Very Impecunious Poet
I wish I'd taken him out
for a steak dinner
that night after his reading
at City Lights
when he tottered on frail,
but his eyes still flashed with
he was living on beggar's food
eating what the homeless eat
wondering how long it would go on,
losing patience with people's
ignorance and folly
why only a handful knew what
a great poet
he really was
he was Ted Joans, master
trickster, master con man, master clown
master human being
his head was a museum of
African lore straight from Harlem
and Harlem jive re-bongo-ized
by 30 winters in Timbuktu
Ted's beating heart
taught me all I needed to learn
and about love
and about the poet's insatiable appetite
that can be fed for pennies
YOUR SAVINGS TODAY!
BONUS BUY SAVINGS
a friendly smile
THANK YOU FOR SHOPPING
WE?RE DIMMING OUR LIGHTS FOR YOU!
-- Gerald Nicosia 5/12/03 ##
* * *
FROM ALLAN WINANS
Subject: Did you know that Ted Joans died on April 25th?
Date: Sat, 10 May 2003 09:11:44 -0700
From: allan winans email@example.com
Had been in failing health due to diabetes. ##
* * *
FROM AMIRI BARAKA
Subject: Fwd: ted Joans
Date: Sat, 10 May 2003 20:36:54 EDT
Subject: ted Joans
Date: Sat, 10 May 2003 14:16:58 -0400
From: Patricia Parker <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Amirib <Amirib@aol.com>, archie shepp <email@example.com>
Steve was trying to reach you. Just to inform you of the passing of our good friend the poet Ted Joans
about a week ago.
You can call Steve if you want more information - 212 925 5256
* * *
FROM HAMMOND GUTHRIE
Subject: FW: Ted Joans...
Date: 11 May 2003 15:05:30 -0700
From: "hammond guthrie" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Al" <email@example.com>
Please pass this along: - Tx! Hammond
Denise Enck is making a tribute webpage for Ted Joans which will be posted on the http://www.EmptyMirrorBooks.com website. Please send your memories of Ted Joans, and any thoughts about him, to firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion on the webpage. Photos would be appreciated as well.
At the time of his death Denise was in the process of making a website for Ted & Laura. You can see it at
http://www.emptymirrorbooks.com/laurated if you like.
There was an obituary in the SF Chronicle
Ted Joans -- Beat Generation poet and artist
Chuck Squatriglia, Chronicle Staff Writer Saturday, May 10, 2003
Beat Generation poet Ted Joans, who melded the rhythm of jazz, the humor of Surrealism and the oral tradition of African American storytelling to create a voice entirely his own, has died.
Mr. Joans, whose health had been failing due to diabetes, died April 25 in his apartment in Vancouver. He was 74.
Although a contemporary of, and close friends with, San Francisco Beat icons Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, Mr. Joans never achieved their level of fame during a career that spanned more than 40 years. Yet
Mr. Joans remains a pioneering writer held in the highest esteem by his peers, who called him a gifted poet whose vast body of work will remain influential for generations to come.
"Ted was a one-of-a kind," said poet Diane di Prima of San Francisco, a friend of Mr. Joans' for 40 years. "He was both an artist and a poet. His view of the world was completely unique, and his work is going to become more and more important as time goes on."
Mr. Joans' career was enjoying a renaissance with the recent publication of the anthology Teducation and Our Thang, a collection of his poems and paintings by his friend Laura Corsiglia.
He also was awarded the Columbus Foundation's American Book Award for Lifetime Achievement two years ago.
Mr. Joans was born July 4, 1928, in Cairo, Ill. His father was a musician who worked aboard the riverboats of the Mississippi River, and he instilled in his young son a strong work ethic and love of jazz.
"The story goes that he gave Ted a trumpet when he was 12 years old and dropped him in Memphis with the words, 'OK, son, go make a living,' " recalled Gerald Nicosia of Corte Madera, a friend of Mr. Joans' for 40
Mr. Joans decided he lacked the talent to be a great musician and so took up painting. He graduated from Indiana University in 1951 with a degree in fine arts and moved to Greenwich Village, where he soon fell in
with the Beat Generation writers.
Poet Langston Hughes read some of Mr. Joans' early work and encouraged him to pursue poetry.
His work was noteworthy for using jazz rhythms that gave it a musical lilt when read, as in Passed on Blues: Homage to a Poet, a poem about Hughes.
". . . the sonata of Harlem, the concerto to shoulder
bones, pinto beans,
ham hocks in the dark. The slow, good bouncing grooves.
That was the world
of Langston Hughes."
Mr. Joans also was heavily influenced by Surrealist painters and writers---his daughter Daline Jones is named for painter Salvador Dali---and often drew on the humor common in such works. It was that sense of humor that prompted him to change the spelling of his last name from Jones to Joans in the 1960s to set himself apart from others with so common a name, friends said.
Mr. Joans often satirized American middle-class values in poems such as Playmates:
"Let's play that we all work from 9 to 5 and we are trying
to pay for that
split level home in Westchester and the wall to wall
carpets and the never-
ending payments on the flashy car, color TV, hi-fi, wash'n
dry, deep freeze
and other keeping up with the Joans deals."
His work also explored the social issues of his time and often explored the experiences of black Americans in a white society.
Mr. Joans moved to Paris in the 1960s and remained there until the early 1990s, spending his summers in Europe and winters in Timbuktu in Mali. He traveled widely, often carrying garlic cloves in his pockets because, he once said, they were "powerful preventative medicine."
He lived briefly in Seattle before moving to Vancouver several years ago. Although he never lived in San Francisco, he visited the city frequently for readings.
Mr. Joans remained a prolific writer until his death. He was several hundred pages into his autobiography, and the last entry in his journal was dated April 25, the day he died, said his daughter, Daline Jones.
Mr. Joans is survived by 10 children: Daline Jones-Weber of San Leandro, Ted Jones of Santa Monica, Teresa Jordan of Whittier, JeanneMarie Jones of Rialto, Robert Jones of Long Beach, Lars Jones of Oslo, Norway, Thor Jones of Oslo, Norway, Russell Jones of Scotland, Sylvia Jones and Yvette Jones-Johnson.
At Mr. Joans' request, there will be no memorial service. ##
A few mistakes in it, but otherwise pretty good. Ted didn't die on April 25,
it was a few days ago.
Ted invented the phrase 'BIRD LIVES' and wrote it all over New York when Charlie Parker died. It has been suggested by Laura Corsiglia that everyone get chalk or charcoal and write "TED JOANS LIVES" on
walls, sidewalks...everywhere. It seems a fitting tribute to a great man.
Ted Joans tribute now in full swing (4 pgs. and soon to be 5):
* * *
FROM ROBERT CREELEY
The following was lifted from http://www.emptymirrorbooks.com/tedjoanslives/
Ted Joans, Primary Poet (1928-2003)
Sad news indeed that old friend and ally Ted Joans has died in Vancouver, British
Columbia, where he'd been living for the past few years. Apparently his health,
affected by diabetes, had not been good, and though there is as yet no clear report,
that seems at the root of what's happened.
What to say about this terrific, unbeatable and indefatigable person, wedder of bop
and rhyme-scope, endless inventor of securing vision and wonder, primary link
indeed to so much in this still phenomenal world, which is worth going to look at, and
to hold on to with your own heart, once witnessed -- what a wonderful story-teller, of
all stories, all streets, all places to sit down and eat, with the great legendary persons
of the past, the last he always knew, as Charlie Parker or Paul Eluard -- or how to get
to Timbuktoo, by yourself.
Here's some links will help you on the way:
He was up here in Buffalo for a reading at the Central Park Grill just a few years ago
and, to get the word out, inspired me as ever, as follows:
FIRST LINE FLIGHTS (Chicken Wing Expressed)
"Ah, did you once see Shelley plain..."
He's back at the CPG again!
"Blasted with sighs, and surrounded with tears..."
All he needs is a few more beers.
"Careful Observers may foretell the Hour..."
Nobody watches the clock around here.
"Do not go gentle into that good night..."
If you got to go, do it right.
"Flat on the bank I parted..."
Flat on my back I started.
"Give me my scallop-shell of quiet..."
Then we can start a riot.
"Glory be to God for dappled things..."
Hey, that's my coat!
"Go, for they call you, shepherd, from the hill..."
You old goat...
Anyhow you all come,
eat those chicken wings and have some fun,
when TED JOANS gets it on
at the CPG, Wednesday, May 4th, 1994 at 7:30.
He did, as ever --
and is still dancing somewhere.
* * *
The following Was Lifted From http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0321/kelley.php
On May 7, Ted Joans, extraordinary poet and world citizen, joined the ancestors. If you didn't know Ted, then you couldn't really dig how the Village became hip in the 1950s. The truly "teducated" knew Mr. Joans as a tornado of a man, slight in stature, copper in tone with big dancing eyes, who spoke in up-tempo cadences, as if he swallowed a horn and had a rhythm section under his hat. Meeting Ted eight years ago, I learned to possess the power to pull the marvelous out of a pot or a champagne glass, a sliver of garlic or a tattered roll of paper, a memory, story, or song.
Born in Cairo, Illinois, Joans came into the world on July 4, 1928, but contrary to myth he was not born on a riverboat. He studied trumpet, sang bebop, and earned a B.A. in Fine Arts from Indiana University before moving to Greenwich Village in 1951 and becoming a true bohemian. He was one of the original Beat poets, though you wouldn't know it from most Beat anthologies. He was the author of over 30 books of poetry, prose, and collage, including Black Pow-Wow, Beat Funky Jazz Poems, Afrodisia, Jazz is Our Religion, Double Trouble, Wow, and Teducation. Joans was the granddaddy of bringing jazz and "spoken word" together on the bandstand. When his former roommate, the great saxophonist Charlie Parker, passed away in 1955, it was Joans who began scrawling "Bird Lives!" all over Lower Manhattan.
A well-known black expatriate, Joans initially bypassed Europe and went straight to the Motherland in the early 1960s. Timbuktu became his home base, but he traveled around much of the world?a boho hobo and proud of it?doing poetry readings, writing jazz criticism, creating "happenings" as such events came to be called. He exchanged ideas with the leading figures of surrealism, hung out with Jack Kerouac, met an admiring Malcolm X, broke bread with Afro-Cuban painter Wifredo Lam and African American painter Bob Thompson, swapped bread tales with singer and hustler "Babs" Gonzalez, and played invisible man when the invites came with no bread. In recent years, he lived and traveled with his companion/compatriot, artist Laura Corsiglia Joans.
Joans's mantra was "Jazz is my religion and surrealism is my point of view." While Andre Breton acknowledged Joans as the only African-American surrealist he ever met, Joans? main man was Langston Hughes. There are echoes of Hughes in Joans's poems and his performance style. In his best known poem, "The Truth," he warns us not to fear the poets among us, for they speak the truth; they are our seers, clairvoyants, and visionaries. Joans also knew that speaking truth is a dangerous thing?he called one series of poems "hand grenades" since they were intended to "explode on the enemy and the unhip." While his topics ranged from love, poverty, and Africa to the blues and rhinos, all of his writing, like his life, was a relentless revolt.
In 1968, Joans dispatched his nearly-forgotten "Black Flower" statement, a surrealist manifesto that envisioned a movement of black people in the U.S. bringing down American imperialism from within with the weapon of poetic imagery, "black flowers" sprouting all over the land. While some of the poems explode like a bomb, others only spring up like a toy snake from a can. His imagery is rich with humor, joy, and sensuality, all evident in works like the "Flying Rats of Paris" or the darkly humorous "Deadnik."
Joans died in his apartment in Vancouver, Canada. He and Laura had moved there after the acquittal of the officers who fatally shot Amadou Diallo; he vowed then not to reside in these United States ever again. When he left us, he had no money, suffered from diabetes, and was surviving by reading poetry and selling his personal papers to libraries. He had just completed his "Collaged Autobiography," a remarkable memoir waiting for the right publisher. Although one of his favorite lines to admirers who proffered invitations was "no bread, no Ted," money was never really his bag. He just wanted to get by so he could live life "surreally." He lindy-hopped on the "American Dream" and its attendant industrial work ethic and chose a life of play.
"So in my rather sorrowful impecunious state," he recently wrote, "I find myself filled to the beautiful brim with love and with this shared love I continue to live my poem-life." A few poets in the know have already left chalked salutes in the streets. Let the Village know: "Ted Lives!" ##
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ASSOCIATED PRESS OBITUARY
Ted Joans, 74, Jazzy Beat Poet Known for 'Bird Lives' Graffiti, Dies