Two new books of poetry by Michael L. Newell

July 9th, 2021





…..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 (, 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.


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.


…..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


…..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.




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



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


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


…..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.


…..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



…..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.



…..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







Two poems by Michael L. Newell


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




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)

The Sunday Poem

Miles Davis "'Round About Midnight" (1957/Columbia Records)
“You Never Forget Your First” – by Brian Kates

Click here to read previous editions of The Sunday Poem


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.


The Marvelettes/via Wikimedia Commons
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.

Calling All Poets!

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

Short Fiction
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


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?”


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


Excerpts from David Rife’s Jazz Fiction: Take Two – (Vol. 1)...A substantial number of novels and stories with jazz music as a component of the story have been published over the years, and the scholar David J. Rife has written short essay/reviews of them.  In this initial edition featuring his story essays/reviews, Rife writes about three novels that explore challenges of the mother/daughter relationship.

Trading Fours with Douglas Cole

The cover of Wayne Shorter's 2018 Blue Note album "Emanon"
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

Hans Bernhard (Schnobby), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
“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

Book excerpt from Jazz with a Beat: Small Group Swing 1940 – 1960, by Tad Richards

Click here to read more book excerpts published on Jerry Jazz Musician


painting by Vaino Kunnas
Jazz…in eight poems...A myriad of styles and experiences displayed in eight thoughtful, provocative poems…

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.”

Who is the pianist he is describing?


photo via
.“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…

Contributing Writers

Click the image to view the writers, poets and artists whose work has been published on Jerry Jazz Musician, and find links to their work

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

Eubie Blake
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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