Jayne Cortez was born in Arizona, grew up in Los Angeles, California, and currently lives in New York City. She is the author of ten books of poems and has performed her poetry with music on nine recordings. Her poetry is celebrated for its political, surrealistic, dynamic innovations in lyricism, and visceral sound.
Cortez has presented her works and ideas at universities, museums, and festivals including: the Museum of Modern Art New York, UNESCO. Paris, the Berlin Jazz Festival, Germany, 11 Perfil da Literatura, Sao Paulo, Brazil,. Fourth World Congress on Women, Beijing, China, the Arts Alive International Festival, Johannesburg, South Africa, Banlieues Bleues Festival, France, Tampere Happening, Finland and New York University.
Her poems have been translated into many languages and widely published in anthologies, journals, and magazines including: Post Modern American Poetry, Daughters of Africa, Poems for the Millennium, The Jazz Poetry Anthology, Surrealist Women, Sulfur, Black Scholar, Presence Africaine and Mother Jones. She is the recipient of several awards: Arts International, New York Foundation on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the International African Festival Award, the Langston Hughes Award, and the American Book Award.
Cortez appears in the Canadian film 'Poetry in Motion' and the music video "Nelson Mandela is Coming" produced by Globalvision. Her poem "I Am New York City" was used as the theme for "Honor" an episode of the Fox Television series "Tribeca. " She is also on screen in the film "Women In Jazz." Her most recent books are "Somewhere in Advance of Nowhere" published by Serpent's Tail/ High Risk Books, and soon to be released "Jazz Fan Looks Back" published by Hanging Loose Press.
Her work as activist and organizer is typified by her presidency of the Organization of Women Writers of Africa, her coordination of the Yari Yari International Conference of Women Writers of African Descent, NYU, the direction of the film Yari Yari, her organization of the 1999 international symposium "Slave Routes: The Long Memory," and her participation in the Round Table: Dialogue Among Civilizations at the United Nations Millennium Summit 2000.
"The Dictionary of Literary Biography" asserts that Cortez has distinguished herself as "a creative artist uniquely able to reach audiences for whom books of poetry have little appeal." And critic Barbara Christian notes, Cortez "has forged connections in her work that help us see how our histories are related. The result is a poetry as wide in its scope as it is compelling in its craft."
Poems - 10 in all
There It Is
In The Morning
I am New York City
Jazz Fan Looks Back
Under the Edge of February
PUSH BACK THE CATASTROPHES