Teaching Poems by Jayne Cortez and Lucille Clifton

3 min readMar 3, 2023

Cortez and Clifton’s teaching poems combine the power of pronounced rhythms, jazz-infused; pyrotechnic imagery; African-pan-American fusions; and political statements. They are enhanced by powerful drawings by the artist Mel Edwards.

Cortez adheres to the tenets of the Black Arts movement, exploring race, gender, sexuality, and oppression in her jolting, plain language that often evokes the motifs of blues music. Cortez is also known for her spoken-word performances and recordings of her poetry with her band, the Firespitters.

Symbolism is a literary technique where an image, object, or idea represents something other than its literal meaning. It is common for authors to emphasize a theme or make a point about the nature of their work.

Often, symbols engage readers emotionally and convey large and complex ideas. They can be found in literature, poetry, and even speeches.

For example, Annie Proulx uses a symbolic item in Brokeback Mountain, where one of the characters finds an old shirt that belonged to their lover. It has no characteristics in common with the lover, but it represents him because of the association.

Similarly, in Cortez’s teaching poems, she employs symbols that simulate the sounds of blues music, and a collage effect affects the blues musical matrix. These elements combine with her use of language and sound to achieve a sense of magic.

Cortez often uses imagery in her poems to convey a sense of time and place. She employs colors, sounds, and odors. Her poetry is also influenced by travel and by African languages.

She was born in Fort Huachuca, Arizona, but moved with her family to the Watts section of Los Angeles when she was seven. She was attracted to jazz and married avant-garde saxophonist Ornette Coleman.

After her marriage, Cortez taught drama and began participating in writers’ workshops. She published her first volume, Pissstained Stairs and the Monkey Man’s Wares, in 1969.

Her writing has been characterized as a kind of “surrealist” poetry. Her imagery is startling and imagistic. She contrasts the sublime with the ugly, the beautiful with the disgusting.

Rhythm is one of the most crucial parts of any piece of music. It helps to create a framework for all the other elements of the theme, such as time, accent, and meter.

Despite its complexity, it is still relatively easy to understand rhythm. Whether you are playing with a band or orchestra or creating harmonies with your ukelele-kazoo duo, understanding the basics of rhythm will help you to create a powerful sound.

As you learn about the theory of rhythm, you will begin to see how it is used in various ways within a piece of music. This can include time signatures, meters, simple and compound time, and syncopation.

Rhythm is a critical element in all kinds of music, from pop to classical. A solid sense of rhythm will allow you to connect with your audience and help you get the most out of a piece of music.

Language can be an essential tool for learning. It provides learners with a means to access content and communicate their ideas, and it can also be used as a means of learning through an additional language.

Jayne Cortez is an acclaimed Black poet who has spoken her language about various issues, including race, poverty, drugs, and violence. She has a strong interest in music and frequently performs her poetry set to jazz.

Her interest in music and poetry grew from her childhood experiences living in a musical environment. She was exposed to various musical styles and artists, from classical to jazz.

Her lyrical verse is informed by the range of African American musical traditions, from the blues to experimental jazz. She abruptly changes line lengths and frequently repeats words and lines, establishing rhythms that draw from the whole range of these traditions.




The poetry of saginthesunforever is honest and passionate, delving into such issues as love, loss, identity, and injustice.