Jazz Poetry Month 2023
International Jazz Poetry Month 2023, May 3-31, features 50+ artists, new and returning, making their way to our stage from near and far. Jazz Poetry Month is a tradition that traces back to the very heart of City of Asylum. At its core, it is a celebration of experimentation, collaboration, and connection between art forms and between artist and audience. All performances can be viewed live, in person or online on our streaming platform.
See below for a full list of the 2023 programs and links to reserve in-person or livestream tickets.
PAST PROGRAMS 2023
Wednesday, May 3, 7:00 PM ET | RHYTHM: Setting Jazz Poetry in Motion
Jazz Poetry Month 2023 welcomes master of rhythm, James Brandon Lewis, back to City of Asylum. Accompanying James in this overture to jazz poetry are acclaimed and innovative poets Terrance Hayes, George Abraham, and Cynthia Dewi Oka.
Sunday, May 7, 7:00 PM ET | CADENCE: The Tonal & Tactile Flow of Verse
City of Asylum welcomes critically acclaimed Swiss-Albanian singer Elina Duni. Elina presents her range of exquisite vocals, performing unique blends of jazz and folk music, inspired by her roots in Balkan folk music. The singer shares the stage with ASL Poet Laureate of Allegheny County, Mj Shahen, Cincinnati and Mercantile Library Poet Laureate, Yalie Saweda Kamara, and City of Asylum writer-in-residence Oleksandr Frazé-Frazénko.
Monday, May 8, 7:00 PM ET | REFRAIN: Expanding the Ballad
We welcome back critically acclaimed Swiss-Albanian singer Elina Duni for her second night of Jazz Poetry Month. She is joined for this performance by Booker Prize winner Ben Okri and City of Asylum writer-in-residence Jorge Olivera Castillo.
Sunday, May 14, 7:00 PM ET | SYNCOPATION: Performance Off the Beaten Path
The fourth night of Jazz Poetry Month presents a refreshing and lively collection of performances. Brazilian-American singer-songwriter Alexia Bomtempo brings her trademark confidently feminine and sultry Brazilian sound to the Alphabet City stage. Alexia is joined by literary trailblazer Eileen Myles, groundbreaking poet Hiromi Itō, Chicana poet and activist Rachelle Escamilla, and City of Asylum writer-in-residence, Olena Boryshpolets.
Sunday, May 21, 7:00 PM ET | RIFF: Playing with Liberation
All the way from Hungary, City of Asylum welcomes renowned saxophonist Mihály Borbély. He is joined by Cave Canem award-winner Ariana Benson, up-and-coming poet Gaia Rajan, and City of Asylum writer-in-residence Rania Mamoun.
Wednesday, May 24, 7:00 PM ET | RESPONSE: Notes of Discourse
Renowned Hungarian saxophonist Mihály Borbély returns for a saxophone-focused night of jazz. For this performance, he shares the stage with advocate and activist poets Cameron Awkward-Rich, Tabassam Shah, and City of Asylum writer-in-residence Anouar Rahmani.
Sunday, May 28, 7:00 PM ET | BREATH: A Steadying Exhalation
The final week of Jazz Poetry Month begins with a deep breath, a respite ushered in by the Dyer Rosenbloom Kitamura trio. The trio presents original improvised works that reveal a deep connection and expansive dialogue between three skilled musicians. They share the stage with acclaimed poets Sumita Chakraborty, Rosebud Ben-Oni, and Allegheny County Poet Laureate, Doralee Brooks.
Tuesday, May 30, 7:00 PM ET | PULSE: Setting the Pace
Violist Melanie Dyer returns for her second night of Jazz Poetry Month, this time amid the ranks of WeFreeStrings. WeFreeStrings is an Afro-Modernist string sextet that performs creative, improvised music. They are joined by National Book Award finalist Desiree C. Bailey, Kente Cloth recipient Orlando Watson, and National Endowment for the Arts grant recipient Roy G. Guzmán.
Wednesday, May 31, 7:00 PM ET | CODA: The Future of Jazz Poetry
For our Jazz Poetry Month finale we welcome artists who bring the spirit of this festival into the future. The Hip Hop Orchestra—a music instruction and performance program providing teaching artists, mentors, and youth with a means of learning, creating, performing, and sharing current original music works—share the stage with our 2023 Youth Poet Laureates and Ambassadors, Rho Bloom-Wang, Aja Lynn, Jade Davis, and Audrey Alling.
Thank you to the sponsors of Jazz Poetry Month 2023:
Jazz Poetry Month is made possible by the generous support from the Allegheny Regional Asset District, National Endowment for the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and Trust for Mutual Understanding. Media sponsorship courtesy of WZUM.