Jackson will read from Scattered Clouds: New & Selected Poems, a volume of meditations on love, loss, and longing, published in 2019 by Alan Squire Publishing. Then he will lead participants in a writing prompt inspired by the title of a composition by Charles Mingus entitled “Myself When I Am Real.”
Reuben Jackson is a music critic of national reputation. A former archivist and curator of the Smithsonian’s Duke Ellington Collection, he makes frequent appearances on WPFW, Washington DC’s publicly-supported radio station devoted to jazz and justice. Jackson’s first volume of poetry, fingering the keys, was selected by Joseph Brodsky for the Columbia Book Award. From 2013 until 2018, he was host of Friday Night Jazz on Vermont Public Radio. He currently serves as an archivist with the University of the District of Columbia’s Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives.
for duke ellington
music is your mistress;
demanding constant love
and international settings.
as always, you stroll beside her.
again, grumpy orchestra
springs into elegance at the drop
of your hand.
even so, there are casualties.
the years pass.
You bury rabbit and swee’pea,
run your fingers across the black keys,
dip the color into your hair.
rush toward a harrowing cadenza,
pen kisses paper,
in no particular hurry,
the music reveals itself
a negligee black note at a time
–Reuben Jackson, from Scattered Clouds: New & Selected Poems, published in 2019 by Alan Squire Publishing