Two new books of poetry by Michael L. Newell

July 9th, 2021

 

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…..Readers of Jerry Jazz Musician know that Michael L. Newell’s jazz poetry consistently reveals the spirit of the music and its most gifted and revered performers.  He writes with great passion about the music’s impact on our lives, and while doing so provides us with a window into his own inner world.

…..Michael has compiled two new books of poetry.  The first, Making My Peace (cyberwit.net), is now available on Amazon.  Its 156 pages cover a wide range of subject matter: experiences in Bolivia and Rwanda, poems set in coastal Oregon, poems that touch on theatre, jazz poems, poems focusing on classical music, music from America’s Southern Mountains, bluegrass, Celtic music, and Dixieland.

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Comments on Making My Peace

…..If delivered in verse, a good poet’s autobiography will be one of moments seized, memories refined, wisdom crystallized.  Making My Peace is such a book.  A prolific and gifted poet, Michael Newell makes his peace with time, age, the stage, friends, lovers, cities, landscapes, animals, even death.  The valedictory tone of this rich collection doesn’t exclude praise or the relishing of joy and beauty.  Newell has been an actor, a teacher, a traveler—always a writer, a jazz aficionado, always a sharp observer of people and landscapes.  In these well-made poems, readers will encounter a man who has led a full life and recorded his responses to it with estimable craft and a keen sensibility.

-Robert Wexelblatt, Author of Hsi-wei Tales, The Thirteenth Studebaker, etc.

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…..From whispered memory inside an empty theater’s dark, to a glimmering moon floating in a teacup, to a tree’s wild complaint moaning through a wind-lashed storm, Michael L. Newell’s poems in this volume carry the reader across the world and reach deeply into experiences of loss and life in its diverse and abundant iterations. As in other previous volumes of Newell’s poetry, the imagery and language in this volume is vivid and precise. Whether describing a violin bow’s cascading notes, or the Andes’ mountains sparkling above the immense darkness, the music of Newell’s lines evoke a world of beauty that abounds despite loss, despair and grief. 

…..Poems in Making My Peace  reach beyond the borders of the experiences of an individual life to touch the way all lives past and present, both human, and other than human—are all a part of each other. In “Self-Portrait,” Newell writes, “I am no one, / I am / everyone I have known: /all those voices coming on the wind.” To read these poems is to become more aware of how life and death are a complex and necessary part of each other, and as Newell states, though those we have known and what we have loved may have disappeared, “nothing is ever completely lost.” We may find ourselves traveling down miles of empty highways as life unspools, nevertheless, Newell’s poems will carry us with him, transforming worries and despair into song, dance, and life’s ongoing music “in all its bawdy raucous chaotic aching beauty.”

-Anna Citrino, author of A Space Between

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…..Michael L Newell’s poems have the dash, clarity and melody of mountain brooks. They teem with life, sometimes spill over their banks. I read him often for serenity and resolve. Crack the spine of Newell’s newest volume Making My Peace. You’ll find it like taking a good walk in bright air.

-Ed Ruzicka. author of My Life with Cars and Engines of Belief.

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Click here to be taken to the Amazon page for more information and ordering details on Making My Peace

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The second book, Diddley-Bop-She-Bop, features 60 pages of Newell’s jazz poetry.

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Comments on the book:

 

…..Michael Newell’s jazz poems reveal the poet’s deep appreciation for this most American of musical forms. The poems display an underlying musicality and a sharp insight into the artists and their myriad backgrounds. Whether he is describing the musicians, a smoky venue, bodies swaying, or a dance of dolphins, the reader can hear the music and feel the motion. Settle down in a comfortable chair, read these poems, and play some cool jazz. Even with the volume turned down low, you won’t be able to resist tapping your feet as you read or jumping up and dancing to Newell’s seductive beat.  

-Michael Minassian, author of Time is Not a River  and  Morning Calm

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…..If you know little about jazz or poetry, this book will be full of profit and delight. It will teach you about the history of the most American of music, its giants, feeling and craft. If you know about jazz and poetry, you’ll see at once how marvelously Michael Newell has matched his knowledge and love for the former with his gift for the latter.   Here are the heroes with their tragedies and talent.   Here are evocations of their sublimity and pain.   Newell does more than celebrate the improvisations, rhythms, and moods of the music; he reproduces them in lively, moving, and inspired verse.   These poems about jazz are jazz poems.

-Robert Wexelblatt, Author of Hsi-wei TalesGirl Asleep and Other Poems, etc.

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…..Whether riffing with rhythms or playing with tone while describing rain’s quiet drizzle or a voice shredded by cigarettes, Michael L. Newell’s jazz poems immerse readers in their expansive quality. Newell is deeply passionate about jazz and like good jazz, Newell’s poems embody a wide spectrum of emotions and moods. Imbued with a deep and humble awareness, these poems are able to carry readers to the boundary of what words can name before music extends their expression. Read them and be touched with a recognition of our common humanity.

-Anna Citrino, author of A Space Between

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…..Michael L. Newell’s jazz poems add to one’s appreciation for jazz.  He writes about both famous and less well-known jazz musicians, interacts with the music in a deeply personal way, and challenges a reader to embrace the music.   He invites readers to join him in a love of jazz in its many forms.   His poetry, like jazz, covers decades.   In recent years, his poems have frequently appeared in the pages of my magazine.

– Joe Maita, Editor/Publisher/Founder of Jerry Jazz Musician.

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…..Presently the book can be purchased via money order or check for fifteen dollars (plus three dollars for mailing costs).     Send payments along with your mailing address to:

Bellowing Ark
9521-45th Ave NE
Seattle WA 98115

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Two poems by Michael L. Newell

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Elegance Of Simplicity

the ripple of a midnight breeze
beneath warmth of a golden moon
the whisper of keys softly stroked
by Bill Evans or Duke Ellington
a kind mother comforting her child
life explored sotto voce
every gesture or hint of sound
a kind of prayer

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Redemption Comes In Many Forms

in my head I carry
a lifetime of images

Andean rock faces
dotted with occasional shrubbery

late afternoon sun spreading
a golden carpet across rippling Pacific

fishermen quietly at work in the middle
of a mountain lake as sun slowly rises

rolling green hills of Kigali beneath
evening lightning and rumbling thunder

a surfer poised seemingly forever on a wave
about to break upon a Santa Monica beach

deer floating through a Washington forest
before vanishing in dawn mist

an owl majestically lit by late afternoon
sun spilling through dappled branches and leaves

and the face of every woman man or child
who has been kind in my times of need

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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)

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Interview

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Interview

photo of Louis Jordan by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
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The cover of Wayne Shorter's 2018 Blue Note album "Emanon"
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Book Excerpt

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Poetry

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photo of Teddy Wilson by William Gottlieb
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“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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