The Sunday Poem: “Nina As In Nina Simone” by Arya F. Jenkins

April 2nd, 2023

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The Sunday Poem  is published weekly, and strives to include the poet reading their work.

Ms. Jenkins reads her poem at its conclusion.

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Painting of Nina Simone by Christel Roelandt

painting of Nina Simone by Christel Roelandt

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Nina As In Nina Simone

As a child Eunice crossed railroad tracks
To learn classical piano
Music being her language
Her access to other worlds
She became Nina Simone the performer
Aspiring to become a “rich black bitch”

Success came but with it
Depression, exhaustion and rage
She was pushed hard and beaten by her manager husband

But pain only serves the artist
To remind her of what is out there
That Nina was part of too–
The murders of four little black girls in Birmingham in ’63
Inspired her to become the first black, first female, first artist
To declare in song–
“Mississippi, goddamn!”

She joined the civil rights movement
Hoping to drive white people “insane” with her music
A matter of survival, she said
“How can you be an artist and not reflect the times?”

Staring down audiences like a mad woman
Nina demanded they bear witness to
Long-denied horrors

“They’re shooting us down one by one.
Don’t forget that because they are”

No matter the highs or lows
Music always flowed

Nina channeled the blues
Sometimes lulling
Sometimes pummeling people
Calling them out
In order to
Right history.

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……………This narrative poem is informed by quotes and stories in  What Happened, Miss Simone?  the 2015 Netflix biographical documentary about the singer/artist’s life and art

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Listen to Arya F. Jenkins read this poem

 

 

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photo by Theresa Patrick

Arya F. Jenkins  is a Colombian-American poet and writer whose poems have appeared in many journals and zines, most recently Hawaii Pacific Review, Jerry Jazz Musician, and OyeDrum Magazine. Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has been widely anthologized. She has also published poetry reviews in Cleaver Magazine, Cider Press Review, Rhino Poetry, The Poetry Cafe and Vol. 1 Brooklyn. In 2021, her poem “Ruin” was selected as a finalist for the Derick Burleson Poetry Prize by Choeofpleirn Press. She is the author of three poetry chapbooks, a short story collection,  Blue Songs in an Open Key (Fomite Press, 2018), and a novel,   Punk Disco Bohemian  (NineStar Press, 2021).

[Editors Note: Several of Arya’s short stories were written for publication on Jerry Jazz Musician, and can be accessed by clicking here]

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Christel Roelandt  is a Belgian painter from Ghent in Flanders. Her work focuses on the human form; faces and nudes, and she finds inspiration by all things beautiful and often by books, music and films.

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Watch a 1965 film of Nina Simone perform “Mississippi Goddam”

 

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Click here  to view previous editions of The Sunday Poem

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Click here  for information about how to submit your poetry

Click here  to subscribe to the (free)  Jerry Jazz Musician  quarterly newsletter

Click here  to help support the ongoing publication of  Jerry Jazz Musician  (thank you!)

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In This Issue

"Nina" by Marsha Hammel
A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Winter, 2024 Edition...One-third of the Winter, 2024 collection of jazz poetry is made up of poets who have only come to my attention since the publication of the Summer, 2023 collection. What this says about jazz music and jazz poetry – and this community – is that the connection between the two art forms is inspirational and enduring, and that poets are finding a place for their voice within the pages of this website. (Featuring the art of Marsha Hammel)

The Sunday Poem

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"23 Poets remember their father…"

This space on Sunday is generally reserved for a single poet to read one of their works, but this week’s issue -Father’s Day – features 23 poets who weigh in on the complexity of their relationship with their father, revealing love, warmth, regret, sorrow – and in many cases a strong connection to a common love of music.

Click here to read previous editions of The Sunday Poem

Poetry

Proceeding From Behind: A collection of poems grounded in the rhythmic, relating to the remarkable, by Terrance Underwood...A relaxed, familiar comfort emerges from the poet Terrance Underwood’s language of intellectual acuity, wit, and space – a feeling similar to one gets while listening to Monk, or Jamal, or Miles. I have long wanted to share his gifts as a poet on an expanded platform, and this 33-poem collection – woven among his audio readings, music he considers significant to his story, and brief personal comments – fulfills my desire to do so.

Interview

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Interview with Laura Flam and Emily Sieu Liebowitz, authors of But Will You Love Me Tomorrow?: An Oral History of the 60’s Girl Groups...Little is known of the lives and challenges many of the young Black women who made up the Girl Groups of the ‘60’s faced while performing during an era rife with racism, sexism, and music industry corruption. The authors discuss their book’s mission to provide the artists an opportunity to voice their experiences so crucial to the evolution of popular music.

Book Excerpt

An excerpt from Emily Jon Tobias’ MONARCH: Stories, and a reflection on our friendship

Art

photo of Archie Shepp by Giovanni Piesco
The Photographs of Giovanni Piesco: Archie Shepp...photos of the legendary saxophonist (and his rhythm section for the evening), taken at Amsterdam's Bimhuis on May 13, 2001.

Poetry

The cover to Joni Mitchell's 1976 album Hejira [Asylum]; photo by Norman Seeff
“Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada” – a poem (for Joni Mitchell) by Juan Mobili

Click here to read more poetry published in Jerry Jazz Musician

Calling All Poets!

News about a Jerry Jazz Musician printed jazz poetry anthology, and information about submitting your poetry for consideration

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pickpik.com
Short Fiction Contest-winning story #65 — “Ballad” by Lúcia Leão...The author’s award-winning story is about the power of connections – between father and child, music and art, and the past, present and future.

Click here to read more short fiction published on Jerry Jazz Musician

Interview

photo of Louis Jordan by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
Interview with Tad Richards, author of Jazz With a Beat: Small Group Swing, 1940 – 1960...Richards makes the case that small group swing players like Illinois Jacquet, Louis Jordan (pictured) and Big Jay McNeely played a legitimate jazz that was a more pleasing listening experience to the Black community than the bebop of Parker, Dizzy, and Monk. It is a fascinating era, filled with major figures and events, and centered on a rigorous debate that continues to this day – is small group swing “real jazz?”

Playlist

Sonny Rollins' 1957 pianoless trio recording "Way Out West"
“The Pianoless Tradition in Modern Jazz” – a playlist by Bob Hecht...an extensive playlist built around examples of prominent pianoless modern jazz.

Feature

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Trading Fours with Douglas Cole

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Trading Fours, with Douglas Cole, No. 20: “Notes on Genius...This edition of the writer’s poetic interpretations of jazz recordings and film is written in response to the music of Wayne Shorter.

Click here to read previous editions of Trading Fours with Douglas Cole

In Memoriam

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“Remembering Joe Pass: Versatile Jazz Guitar Virtuoso” – by Kenneth Parsons...On the 30th anniversary of the guitarist Joe Pass’ death, Kenneth Parsons reminds readers of his brilliant career

Book Excerpt

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Poetry

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Jazz History Quiz #172

photo of Teddy Wilson by William Gottlieb
Teddy Wilson once said this about a fellow jazz pianist:

“That man had the most phenomenal musical gifts I’ve ever heard. He was miraculous. It’s like someone hitting a home run every time he picks up a bat. We became such fast friends that I was allowed to interrupt him anytime he was playing at the house parties in Toledo we used to make every night. When I asked him, he would stop and replay a passage very slowly, showing me the fingering on some of those runs of his. You just couldn’t figure them out by ear at the tempo he played them.”

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.“Community Bookshelf, #2"...a twice-yearly space where writers who have been published on Jerry Jazz Musician can share news about their recently authored books. This edition includes information about books published within the last six months or so…

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Coming Soon

A new collection of jazz poetry; a collection of jazz haiku; a new Jazz History Quiz; short fiction; poetry; photography; interviews; playlists; and lots more in the works...

Interview Archive

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Click to view the complete 22 year archive of Jerry Jazz Musician interviews, including those recently published with Richard Carlin and Ken Bloom on Eubie Blake (pictured); Richard Brent Turner on jazz and Islam; Alyn Shipton on the art of jazz; Shawn Levy on the original queens of standup comedy; Travis Atria on the expatriate trumpeter Arthur Briggs; Kitt Shapiro on her life with her mother, Eartha Kitt; Will Friedwald on Nat King Cole; Wayne Enstice on the drummer Dottie Dodgion; the drummer Joe La Barbera on Bill Evans; Philip Clark on Dave Brubeck; Nicholas Buccola on James Baldwin and William F. Buckley; Ricky Riccardi on Louis Armstrong; Dan Morgenstern and Christian Sands on Erroll Garner; Maria Golia on Ornette Coleman.

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