Poetry Friday: Jazz

Louie, Louie, How You Play So Sweet

Louie, Louie, How You Play So Sweet?
What have you heard, down on Bourbon Street?

“I heard London
Turned it black and white
Heard Copenhagen
Played it my way, too
Heard a sad song
Swung it into joy
Heard a bad tune
Spanked it like a naughty boy.”

Louie, Louie, How You Play So Sweet?
What have you heard, down on Bourbon Street?

America’s Music

What did the word see?
What did the world hear?
Black men sweating in 4/4 time
Behind the beat, around the beat
Bending in-between
Strings crying like midnight windows
Horns tearing down Jericho walls
A clarinet sassing
its way through
a Sunday-night sermon
And the chorus calling out blues!
And ragtime!
And jazz!

From Mississippi to Harlem
While the folks across the ocean
were just saying


These selections are from Jazz by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Christopher Myers.   Jazz was one of  the finalists of the 2007 CYBILS Award for poetry. 

I bring these to you today for Poetry Friday in honor of Black History month.  Father and son have created a marvelous collection of poetry with a definite jazz vibe.  The line breaks, use of white space, and onomatopoeia make these poems fun to read aloud. Using black ink, acetate and acrylic in creating the illustrations, the mood for each poem is set.

I was in New Orleans almost twenty years ago. I witnessed a funeral procession down the streets of the French Quarter. Myer’s “Good-bye to Old Bob Johnson” took me back to that time. I really like how the poem begins somber and then takes an upbeat turn.

The book begins with a brief introduction about jazz.  A glossary of jazz terms and time-lines end the book. And in-between, you will be toe-tapping while reading each poem.  It will be a welcomed addition to any library.  This is especially true for middle school and high school.

So my book club will be meeting on Sunday to discuss The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs by Jack Gantos. It should be very interesting.  I plan to get started on my copy of The Thing About Georgie by Lisa Graff.  It arrived in the mail as one of the free ones given away last week.

Happy Reading,


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