Jayne Cortez

Ivor Griffiths, Poet, Novelist & Short Story Writer

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Jayne Cortez (b. 1936) is an African American poet born in Fort Huachuca, Arizona. She grew up in the Watts ghetto of Los Angeles, but spent most of her adult life in the New York City area. Her first books combine politics, music, and surrealism, but the musical and performance elements increased during her marriage to jazz musician Ornette Coleman and after her directorship (1964-1970) of the Watts Repertory Theatre Company in Los Angeles. Her band, "The Firespitters" has accompanied her performances and powerful poetry recordings, which sometimes make use of an almost mesmerizing chanting style. Cortez currently lives in New York City.

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