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RHYTHM: Setting Jazz Poetry in Motion

May 3, 2023 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EDT

Jazz Poetry 2023 welcomes the master of rhythm, James Brandon Lewis, back to City of Asylum to kick off this festival of life. Accompanying James and his quartet in this overture are poets Terrance Hayes, George Abraham, and Cynthia Dewi Oka. Jazz is often defined by its rhythm, the thing that gets everything in motion and sets the stage for all elements of performance. Rhythm is what lifts music off paper and transforms it into bobbing heads, snapping fingers, and tapping toes. Rhythm is also the poet’s tool, used to mold the pattern and pace of each phrase and lay the foundation for its impact. 

About the Musician:

James Brandon Lewis (he/him) is a critically-acclaimed composer, saxophonist, and writer. He has received accolades from NPR, ASCAP Foundation, Macdowell, and The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. He has released several critically-acclaimed albums, most recently highly touted 2021’s Jesup Wagon and is a member and co-founder of the American Book Award-winning ensemble Heroes Are Gang Leaders. James was recently voted Rising Star Tenor Saxophonist by DownBeat magazine’s 2020s International Critics poll. He was also named Top Tenor Saxophonist for 2021 by JazzTimes magazine, and awarded a fellowship to pursue aPhD in Creativity at the University of the Arts. His new album, Eye of I, was released February 4th, 2023.

Featured Musicians:

James Brandon Lewis: tenor sax 

Chad Taylor: drums 

Josh Werner: electric bass

Kirk Knuffke: cornet 

About the Poets:

Terrance Hayes is the author of seven poetry collections: So to Speak; American Sonnets for My Past And Future Assassin, a finalist for the National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, and TS Eliot Prize; How to Be Drawn; Lighthead, winner of the 2010 National Book Award for poetry; Muscular Music, recipient of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award; Hip Logic, winner of the 2001 National Poetry Series, and Wind in a Box. His prose collection, To Float In The Space Between: Drawings and Essays in Conversation with Etheridge Knight, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and winner of the Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism. Terrance has received fellowships from the MacArthur Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation, and Whiting Foundation, and he is a professor of English at New York University.

George Abraham (they/them/he/him) is a Palestinian American poet. Their debut poetry collection, Birthright, (Button Poetry, 2020) won the Arab American Book Award and was a Lambda Literary Award finalist. They are a board member for the Radius of Arab American Writers and a recipient of fellowships from Kundiman, The Arab American National Museum, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, National Performance Network, and more. They are currently co-editing a Palestinian global anglophone poetry anthology with Noor Hindi (Haymarket Books, 2024) and are a Litowitz MFA+MA student at Northwestern University. They are touring with their book Birthright, which was released in April 2020.

Cynthia Dewi Oka (she/her) is originally from Bali, Indonesia. She is the author of four books of poems, most recently A Tinderbox in Three Acts (BOA Editions, 2022) and Fire Is Not a Country (Northwestern University Press, 2021). A recipient of the Amy Clampitt Residency, Tupelo Quarterly Poetry Prize, and the Leeway Transformation Award, her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Oprah Daily, POETRY, Academy of American Poets, Poetry Society of America, Hyperallergic, and elsewhere. An alumnus of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers, she has taught creative writing at Bryn Mawr College, New Mexico State University, UCLA Extension, Blue Stoop, and Voices of Our Nations (VONA). In 2022, she served as co-faculty with Alexis Pauline Gumbs for the inaugural Witches and Warriors Retreat offered by Brew and Forge. Based in Los Angeles, she currently serves as Editor-in-Chief of Adi Magazine

About Your Visit: 

Remember you can dine at the in-house restaurant 40 North before, during, or after the show. Please visit Open Table or call 412-435-1111 to make a reservation.

There will be a “Jazzy Hour” at the in-house bar from 6-7pm.

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May 3, 2023
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EDT
Program Category:


Alphabet City
40 W. North Avenue
Pittsburgh,PA15212United States
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