Joans, Ted

(1928–2003)
   Author of more than 30 verse collections culminating in Teducation: Selected Poems 1949-1999, performance poet, surrealist, troubadour, vintage jazz aficionado: Afro-America has known few more engaging Beat presences than Ted Joans. Not all of his career can be designated Beat. Other key aspects of his creativity connect into lifelong surrealist and music interests (“Surrealism is my point of view” and “Jazz is my religion” were to become his mantras) and the frequent itinerant venturings into Europe and Africa. But throughout the late 1950s and 1960s and their aftermath, Beat serves as an unmistakable energy within his poetry.
   Alongside LeRoi Jones/amiri baraka, bob kaufman, A. B. Spellman and Archie Shepp, he also gave meaning to the notion of black Beat, the firsthand-lived seams of black art and history in a movement customarily thought of as forming around the axis of allen ginsberg, jack kerouac, William S. Burroughs, gregory corso, and lawrence ferlinghetti and in which black often enough became more metaphor than actual life. Echoing Ginsberg’s “howl,” Joans would write in an autobiographical essay of 1996, “I too have known some of the best Beat minds of that generation.” Indeed he had. He was also himself one of those minds.
   His July 4, 1928, birth to parents who were Mississippi riverboat entertainers was auspicious in a number of ways. He found his own independence in Greenwich Village; began his writing career in Ted Joans, San Francisco, 1996. Photographer Lisa Keenan: “I am a fan of Ted Joan’s work. I was telling him how much I liked his small, powerful, painting of Charlie Parker that was in the Whitney Museum’s Beat Culture exhibit at the de Young Museum.”
   Beat Poems (1957), Jazz Poems (1959) and two early signature collections, Black Pow-Wow: Jazz Poems (1969) and Afrodisia: Old and New Poems (1969); became a Village presence for his birthday spectaculars and studio and other gatherings; and took part in Fred McDarrah’s Rent-a-Beatnik circuit, where “beatniks” were rented to suburban parties. He has long acknowledged Ginsberg as having got him into café- and public-reading mode. Manhattan, besides Harlem, also meant art galleries such as the Guggenheim and MOMA as well as friendships with Frank O’Hara and Jackson Pollock. Paris gave him access to André Breton and French surrealism. Africa meant, above all, Mali’s Timbuku, along with the Tangier of paul bowles and Jane Bowles and Burroughs, the sub-Sahara of Dahomey and Cameroon, and a host of cities to include Marrakesh to Accra. Mexico drew him on account of the mural and canvas work of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, and Cuba, too, drew him in the person of the surrealist painter Wilfredo Lam. Through to his last years in Seattle and Vancouver where he died in 2003, his poetry continued to reflect this inspired blend of jazz, Europe, Africa, and Beat. A Joans reading, whether blueslike, his own kind of rap, or one of his incantations, was always “spoken,” easeful, and yet at the same time full of sharpest irony and wit.
   The hallmarks of the verse were observable from the beginning. It could be the sexual wordplay of a surrealist love poem such as “Sanctified Rhino” (the rhino became his favored icon). It could be the weave of inside allusion and temper in his jazz tribute to Charlie Parker, with whom he once roomed, in “Him the Bird.” It could be the vivid, panoramic Africa lore of “Afrique Accidentale.” It could be the smack at racist ill-temper or bias in such satiric shorter pieces as “Uh Huh” or “Two Words.” As to Joans’s Beat focus, “The Wild Spirit of Kicks” gives witness to his friendship with Kerouac (“Old Angel Midnight singing Mexico City Blues”) and “The sermon” to the working desiderata of Beat life (“you must have a copy of Jack (on the road) Kerouac”). If one can now speak of Afro-Beat as indispensable to any true reckoning of the Beat movement overall, it could not be more engagingly embodied than in the life and poetry of Ted Joans.
 Bibliography
■ Fox, Robert Elliot. “Ted Joans and the (B)reach of the African American Canon.” MELUS 29, nos. 3–4 (Fall–Winter 2004): 41–58.
■ Lee, A. Robert. “Black Beat: Performing Ted Joans” In Reconstructing The Beats, edited by Jennie Skerl, 117–132. New York: Palgrave, 2004.
   A. Robert Lee

Encyclopedia of Beat Literature. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ted Joans — Theodore Ted Joans (July 4, 1928 April 25, 2003) was an American trumpeter, jazz poet and painter. Joans was born in Cairo, Illinois, but not on a riverboat as had been claimed.[1] He earned a degree in fine arts from Indiana Univer …   Wikipedia

  • Joans — Ted Joans (* 4. Juli 1928 in Cairo, Illinois; † 25. April 2003 in Vancouver, Kanada) war ein US amerikanischer Trompeter, Jazz Poet und Maler. In den 1960er Jahren besaß Joans ein Haus in Timbuktu. Er behauptete trotz der unterschiedlichen… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ted Joans — Ted Joans, eigentlich Theodore Jones (* 4. Juli 1928 in Cairo, Illinois; † 25. April 2003 in Vancouver, Kanada) war ein US amerikanischer Trompeter, Jazz Poet und Maler. In den 1960er Jahren besaß Joans ein Haus in Timbuktu. Er behauptete ein… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ted Joans — Theodore Ted Joans (4 juillet 1928 25 avril 2003) était un trompettiste free jazz, poète et peintre américain. Il fut l un dès rares poète musiciens afro américains associé à la Beat Generation, ami de Jack Kerouac, Allen… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Graffiti-Writing — Die Neutralität dieses Artikels oder Abschnitts ist umstritten. Eine Begründung steht auf der Diskussionsseite. Graffiti am Wiener Donaukanal …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Graffitiforschung — Die Neutralität dieses Artikels oder Abschnitts ist umstritten. Eine Begründung steht auf der Diskussionsseite. Graffiti am Wiener Donaukanal …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Graffitiwriting — Die Neutralität dieses Artikels oder Abschnitts ist umstritten. Eine Begründung steht auf der Diskussionsseite. Graffiti am Wiener Donaukanal …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Liste der Biografien/Jo–Jog — Biografien: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Piece (Graffiti) — Die Neutralität dieses Artikels oder Abschnitts ist umstritten. Eine Begründung steht auf der Diskussionsseite. Graffiti am Wiener Donaukanal …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Sprayer — Die Neutralität dieses Artikels oder Abschnitts ist umstritten. Eine Begründung steht auf der Diskussionsseite. Graffiti am Wiener Donaukanal …   Deutsch Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.