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Distinguished writer discusses the role jazz takes in history and literature

Distinguished writer discusses the role jazz takes in history and literature

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“[Jazz] was just there [during my childhood], so it was like breathing: inhaling and exhaling,” Wesley Brown explained in the most recent addition of Brilliant Corners.

In the journal’s featured interview conducted by Sascha Feinstein, Ph.D., Robert L. and Charlene Shangraw Professor of English at Lycoming College and editor of Brilliant Corners, Brown discussed the spontaneous creativity involved in jazz music, the role of jazz in American history, and the incorporation of jazz into Brown’s fiction. Feinstein conducted the interview on December 9, 2018, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

“Jazz has always been a source of substantial, spiritual nourishment for me,” Brown explained. “It’s an embodiment of what it means to be human in its expression of emotions that are enormously complicated, quarrelsome, jubilant, contradictory, and that ultimately say something profound about us as imperfect human beings.”

After leading a life of political advocacy, specifically in protest of the Vietnam War, Brown delved into his writing and the world of academia. The author of three novels, four plays, and a short story collection, Brown uses realistic fiction to explore the role of prominent musicians in the jazz world and their possible interactions. He is professor emeritus in English at Rutgers University, where he taught from 1979 until 2005, and has been teaching at Bard College since 2007.

In addition to Brown, the Summer 2019 issue of Brilliant Corners features a variety of well-known poets and fiction writers such as Bruce Bond, regents professor of English at the University of North Texas and author of twenty-three books; David Clewell, professor of English and director of creative writing at Webster University in St. Louis; Robert Gibbs, the recipient of the 2016 poetry prize, the 2017 Sandeen Poetry Prize, and a Pushcart Prize; and many more.

Brilliant Corners is a biannual journal that highlights an exceptional collection of literature and art pertaining to jazz. Founded in 1996, the journal bears strong ties to Lycoming College, with contributors such as Feinstein, who serves as the managing editor, and Gary R. Hafer, Ph.D., John P. Graham Teaching Professor of English at Lycoming College, who serves as the production design editor. Brilliant Corners is funded in part by the College, the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts, and private endowments.

A subscription costs $12 per year ($18 for international orders), and checks or money can be sent to Brilliant Corners, Lycoming College, 700 College Place, Williamsport, PA 17701. More information can be found at or on Brilliant Corners’ Facebook page.

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