Brent Hayes Edwards and Adam Shatz lead a discussion about Blank Forms Editions and After: Still’s republication of Joseph Jarman’s Black Case Volume I & II: Return From Exile.
A founding member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Joseph Jarman was responsible for the pioneering theatrical and multimedia elements of the avant-garde jazz group’s shamanistic performances, which often also featured the recitation of Jarman’s poetry. In 1977, Art Ensemble of Chicago Publishing Co. published Black Case Volume I & II: Return From Exile, a collection composed mainly of his flowing, fiery free verse. Jarman writes with compassionate urgency of the struggles of growing up on Chicago’s South Side and of the responsibility he feels as a creative artist to nurture beauty and community through the heliocentric music that he considers the healing force of the universe. While some of the poems contained within Black Case have been immortalized on classic records, the text’s republication in print form breathes new life into a forgotten document of the Black Arts Movement. The present edition features a facsimile of the 1977 Black Case publication, accompanied by two new introductory notes—a Foreword by Thulani Davis and an Introduction by Brent Hayes Edwards.
Brent Hayes Edwards is the Peng Family Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature and the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University as well as a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow. His books include Epistrophies: Jazz and the Literary Imagination, The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism, a scholarly edition of Claude McKay’s lost novel Amiable with Big Teeth, and the translation of Michael Leiris’ 1934 surrealist ethnography Phantom Africa.
Adam Shatz is a contributing editor at The London Review of Books whose writing on music and culture regularly appears in The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, and other publications. His obituary for Joseph Jarman can be read here.