Friday, February 26, 2010

Poetry Friday - Jazz

Last week I was singing the blues with Blues Journey. This week I am lifted up with Jazz, another poetry picture book by Walter Dean Myers. If last week I was taken on a journey, this week I’ve been on a ride! Walter Dean Myers expertly word paints jazz scenes through poems like spotlights on a stage, describing the elation felt by both performer and listener. The poetry mirrors jazz style, expressing improvisation and spontaneity. Instruments come alive with emotion as expressed in the opening poem “Jazz”: “A black man’s drum/ Speaks/ LOVE”. At times the poetry is upbeat and hopping. In other poems, the pace slows down, with references back to jazz roots in the blues as heard in “Session I”. “A lifetime of could-have-beens/ Sliding through a silver flute/ It’s our song”.

Along with Christopher Myers’ illustrations revealing the depth and intensity of this musical style, the poetry expresses jazz as a mind-body experience through words that get you feeling, thinking and moving all at once.

Like Blues Journey, Jazz begins with a two page introduction offering the historical background and development of the musical style. A “Glossary of Jazz Terms” and a “Jazz Time Line” follows the poetry.

Teachers of music or language arts programs might introduce Jazz after Blues Journey. Listening examples of “jazz greats” might include Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday or Miles Davis.

by Walter Dean Myers
illustrated bye Christopher Myers
Holiday House, 2006

This week the Poetry Friday Roundup is at Check It Out.


  1. Hi Sheri, I've read several reviews of JAZZ, and it's on my wish list. Thanks for reminding me that I need to get this book! : )

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Linda! Sylvia Vardell mentioned on her "Poetry for Children" blog that Jazz is also available in audiobook form. I'm excited to check this out.