Title

Poetic Improvisation in Réda’s “Four Letters of Coleman Hawkins”

Subject Area

French and Francophone Studies

Abstract

Jacques Réda’s monumental series of poems, “Four Letters of Coleman Hawkins,” blends his ear for jazz into his spatial poetics. Inspired by the improvisations of tenor saxophone great Coleman Hawkins, Réda improvises poetically to create a cadence that echoes the rhythms of this jazz icon. The intermusical synergy between jazz and poetry merges with intertextual improvisation through images of the sea and soaring that echo expressions of freedom and open space developed by poetic precursors such as Rimbaud, Mallarmé, and Valéry.

This paper examines how Réda pays homage to the improvisations of jazz musician Coleman Hawkins through his own poetic improvisations. Drawing from music, poetry, dance and sculpture, as well as mythology and Biblical echoes, Réda voices the poetic subject through the musician, as first convoking primordial forces of creation and then conducting them into new musical forms. In this portrait of the artist as young musician, Réda portrays Hawkins through four magisterial poems that arc through key moments of a lifetime of musical innovation.

Because these poems draw on a vast scope of intertextual and intermusical references, this paper focuses on key examples of Réda’s improvisational virtuosity: first as he portrays the genesis of the jazz musician’s creative force through poetic resources such as assonance, alliteration and transformational imagery, then as he develops a unique poetic meter to echo Hawkins’ innovative cadence; and finally as the poet blends echoes of the jazz great’s music into a final vision of enduring musical achievement.

Brief Bio Note

Lynn Anderson received her Ph.D. in French from Princeton University and is Associate Professor of French at the University of West Georgia. Her articles have appeared in Romanic Review, Romance Quarterly, Dalhousie French Studies, and L’Érudit franco-espagnol. She is a specialist in French poetry and teaches courses on the poetry of city spaces, 19th and 20th century French literature, and film studies. Her research interests include the relation between poetry and space, the visual arts and literature, and film studies.

Keywords

Poetry, Jazz, Improvisation, Intertextuality, Poetic meter

Location

Room 221

Presentation Year

2015

Start Date

3-26-2015 10:30 AM

End Date

3-26-2015 11:45 AM

Embargo

5-23-2017

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Mar 26th, 10:30 AM Mar 26th, 11:45 AM

Poetic Improvisation in Réda’s “Four Letters of Coleman Hawkins”

Room 221

Jacques Réda’s monumental series of poems, “Four Letters of Coleman Hawkins,” blends his ear for jazz into his spatial poetics. Inspired by the improvisations of tenor saxophone great Coleman Hawkins, Réda improvises poetically to create a cadence that echoes the rhythms of this jazz icon. The intermusical synergy between jazz and poetry merges with intertextual improvisation through images of the sea and soaring that echo expressions of freedom and open space developed by poetic precursors such as Rimbaud, Mallarmé, and Valéry.

This paper examines how Réda pays homage to the improvisations of jazz musician Coleman Hawkins through his own poetic improvisations. Drawing from music, poetry, dance and sculpture, as well as mythology and Biblical echoes, Réda voices the poetic subject through the musician, as first convoking primordial forces of creation and then conducting them into new musical forms. In this portrait of the artist as young musician, Réda portrays Hawkins through four magisterial poems that arc through key moments of a lifetime of musical innovation.

Because these poems draw on a vast scope of intertextual and intermusical references, this paper focuses on key examples of Réda’s improvisational virtuosity: first as he portrays the genesis of the jazz musician’s creative force through poetic resources such as assonance, alliteration and transformational imagery, then as he develops a unique poetic meter to echo Hawkins’ innovative cadence; and finally as the poet blends echoes of the jazz great’s music into a final vision of enduring musical achievement.