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Jazz Poetry and Making Visible the Black American Experience

Marks, Shannon
My project is a written thesis on jazz poetry, specifically exploring selected poetry of Langston Hughes, Bob Kaufman, and Amiri Baraka. In this study, I contribute to the conversation about these poets by first, agreeing with research that claims politics and racial pride to be driving forces behind the poetry of these three men. I then expand upon this research by expressing that the poems and poets I have selected for this thesis supports the conceptual metaphor of CREATING IS MAKING VISIBLE in that jazz is what is being created, and what is being made visible is the African American experience as innumerable African Americans made the shift from post-emancipation America to finding a function in society, in the setting of the Black Arts Movement, active during the 1960s. Jazz is the only way through which African Americans are given a voice because it is the only vocation they could fill in white society, while still embracing their ancestry. Today, it remains a well-embraced artistic form of giving a voice to those who have been previously silenced. I began this project because jazz and poetry as separate entities are both really important to me and have become large influences in my life. African American Literature and Linguistics continue to hold my interest as I probe deeper into both lines of study, unlocking the idea that communication is the key to success. Jazz poetry is the ground on which my interests intersect, and spiral into profound illustration of deeper meaning.
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University of Wyoming. Libraries