Are You Hep to the Jive? Jazz and Literature in the Harlem Renaissance is a dual talk and concert. The talk will focus on historical fiction novel Jazz Moon by Joe Okonkwo, and select Harlem Renaissance songs will be performed by pianist Hila Kulik. Guest vocalist Candice Hoyes will perform jazz standards.
Filtering by Tag: #HarlemRenaissance
Lambda Literary has reviewed Jazz Moon. Here's a sample of what they said:
"In Jazz Moon, Okonkwo skillfully manages to encapsulate the essence of what it was to exist during that period in history when black artistic and musical culture rose to prominence in Harlem and Paris. The novel satisfies the imagination of all of us who wishes we had been a poet, musician, writer, artist, immersed in the spirit of creativity and love during the Harlem Renaissance."
Read It Forward has included JAZZ MOON on its list of important books for Pride Month, alongside works by E.M. Forster, Nella Larsen, Carson McCullers, Jeffrey Eugenides, and Gertrude Stein. I am very, very honored.
Stride through the African metropolis
Teeming on the margin of America.
That sepia mayhem that sweats
To the dirge of spirituals
And struts with a horn in its heels.
Stride the toiling days and fervent nights,
Through the cacophony of
Savory tans and virile browns,
Through the majestic strivers
And the have-nots,
All dreaming amongst the asphalt
And flying on the lips of poems.
Stride. — from JAZZ MOON
Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle were the original co-creators of Shuffle Along, a landmark 1921 black Broadway musical. This 1923 sound film clip shows them performing some songs—four years before Al Jolson's The Jazz Singer. Blake is on piano. Sissle sings.
I've recently fallen in love with Harlem Renaissance artist Malvin Gray Johnson.
Johnson was among the youngest Harlem Renaissance artists. His work was influenced by French Impressionism, Cubism, and African sculpture. One of the first black artists to paint in the Cubist style, Johnson's work is often linked with the Symbolic Abstractionist movement. His artistic preference leaned toward portraiture.
Here is a self-portrait completed in 1934, the year he died.
I'm happy to report that Jazz Moon's first review is simply GRAND. Here's part of what Library Journal has to say about my debut novel:
"Okonkwo’s sweeping debut novel combines the rich history of jazz’s golden age with the emotional turmoil of an African American male coming to terms with his sexuality."
Library Journal reviews Jazz Moon alongside well-known authors Eric Jerome Dickey and Zane.
I'm so pleased that Jazz Moon has earned yet another prestigious endorsement. This just came in from Mary Monroe, prolific author of God Don't Like Ugly, The Upper Room, and many, many others. Here's what she says about Jazz Moon:
"Joe Okonkwo is an incredibly unique new voice and a very familiar one at the same time. His haunting style is reminiscent of Richard Wright, James Baldwin, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Jazz Moon is an elegantly written gift and a stunning literary debut. The characters are so vibrant and precise! The delicate plot about race, jazz, betrayal, and sex in early Harlem and Paris snatched me and held me hostage until the very last sentence."
I love this painting. It' called Big Wind in Georgia. It's by Hale Aspacio Woodruff (1900-1980), one of great painters of the Harlem Renaissance era. Woodruff was influenced by post-impressionism, cubism, and Diego Rivera.
Big Wind in Georgia was completed in 1933.
I'm privileged to have earned the endorsement of Felice Picano, author of Nights at Rizzoli, Like People in History and many, many, many other books. Mr. Picano is also a poet, publisher, and critic, and one of the Grand Fathers of contemporary gay literature. Here's what he says about Jazz Moon:
"Jazz Moon is an unexpected and original grand romance: sweeping, evocative, and colorful. Okonkwo is an author to enjoy now and watch in the future."
...I'm posting this. It's by Richard Bruce Nugent. He was one of the bad boys of the Harlem Renaissance and this painting tells you why. Nugent is well-known for his 1926 homoerotic, interracial prose poem "Smoke, Lillies, and Jade."
Richard Bruce Nugent lived from 1906 to 1987. This painting is called Lucifer. Nugent completed it in 1930.
Today I finished the final proofing of Jazz Moon and sent my corrections to my publisher. Jazz Moon began as a short story in the summer of 2004.
It's done. This is it. No more writing, editing, or correcting. I feel sad and triumphant. Jazz Moon will be PUBLISHED by Kensington Books on May 31, 2016. This is how I celebrated:
Just saw this wonderful movie about Empress of the Blues, Bessie Smith. I highly recommend it.