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“I think we tend to extricate things from broader and larger contexts,” explains music and literature scholar Farah Jasmine Griffin. “If you’re talking about any musical form—whether it’s jazz or bebop, specifically, or hip hop—the music tends to be a part of the culture.”
Featured in the Winter 2020 issue of Brilliant Corners, this interview with Griffin focuses on her jazz-related criticism, with an emphasis on Billie Holiday. An endowed professor at Columbia University, her books include “If You Can’t Be Free, Be a Mystery: In Search of Billie Holiday,” “Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists & Progressive Politics During World War II,” and (with Salim Washington), “Clawing at the Limits of Cool: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and the Greatest Jazz Collaboration Ever.”
In addition to the Griffin interview, the Winter 2020 issue of Brilliant Corners features work by Yusef Komunyakaa, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry; Betsy Sholl, the former Poet Laureate of Maine; and George Kalamaras, the former Poet Laureate of Indiana. Mick Carlon provides a personal essay about traveling with celebrated photographer Jack Bradley; this is accompanied by James Demaria’s photos, who documented that experience. The cover art of Bessie Smith is by Charles White (1918 – 1979), a world-renowned painter, printmaker, and muralist.
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 Sascha Feinstein, Ph.D., Robert L. and Charlene Shangraw Professor of English at Lycoming College, 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. The publication 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, 1 College Place, Williamsport, PA 17701. More information can be found at www.lycoming.edu/BrilliantCorners or on Brilliant Corners’ Facebook page.