Saturday, February 28, 2015

Carpe Diem Sparkling Stars #19, James A. Emanuel (1921-2013) "jazz-haiku"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It's time again for our bi-weekly feature "Sparkling Stars" in which I share haiku (or tanka) composed by classical and non-classical haiku-poets and today I have chosen for a haiku written by a modern American haiku-poet (the founder of "jazz-haiku") James A. Emanuel who has passed away in 2013. I love to honor him with this episode of Sparkling Stars.

James A. Emanuel was born June 15, 1921, in Alliance, Nebraska. He earned a B.A. from Howard University, an M.A. from Northwestern University, and a Ph.D. from Columbia University. Among his books of poetry are Jazz from the Haiku King (1999), De la rage au coeur, (Thaon, 1992, translated by Jean Migrenne and Amiot Lenganey), Whole Grain: Collected Poems, 1958-1989 (1990), The Quagmire Effect (1988), Deadly James and Other Poems (1987), The Broken Bowl: New and Uncollected Poems (1983), Black Man Abroad: The Toulouse Poems (1978), and At Bay (1969). He is also the author of Langston Hughes (1967) and the editor, with Theodore L. Gross, of Dark Symphony: Negro Literature in America (1968). Emanuel's essays and other writings have been included in many anthologies and periodicals. Among his honors are a John Hay Whitney Award, a Saxton Memorial Fellowship, and a Special Distinction Award from the Black American Literature Forum. James Emanuel has been a professor of English at the University of Grenoble and the University of Toulouse, among other universities. He lived in Paris at the time of his passing (September 28, 2013). (Biography from the Academy of American Poets website.)
James A. Emauel (1921-2013)
From: Whole Grain : Collected Poems, 1958-1989; Lotus Press, Detroit, 1991; with translations by Jean Migrenne.[…] In 1992 in “Le Barry,” the country home of the Plassard family in southwest France, where I have now and then composed poetry for over twenty-five years, I planned an apparently new literary genre, the “jazz haiku”. My “breakaway haiku” in Deadly James and Other Poems (1987) had begun my experiments with the Japanese 3-line form, adhering to its 5-7-5 syllabic pattern, but widening its sensory impact beyond the capacity of the usual single impression. My haiku added the toughness of poverty and racial injustice, the declarative emphasis made possible by narrative style, and the technical challenge of time. […] © James A. Emanuel. 
Here are a few haiku written by
James A. Emanuel, this series of four (4) haiku is about Mahalia Jackson.

« I sing the LORD'S songs »
(psalms once tough to stay alive,
alarm clock on five).

Cinnamon cheeks, Lord,
cornbread smile.     SONGS     feed your ribs
when you're hungry, chile.

Washboard certainties,
soldierly grace, text and style
in her brimming face.

Your hand on your heart,
her voice in your ear:     pilgrim,
rest easy.     Sit here.

This is a wonderful modern American haiku-poet who passed away in 2013 leaving a rich oeuvre of poetry behind which you can find on several websites. I love to share this haiku with you all as a kind of tribute to James A. Emanuel, the founder of “Jazz-haiku”.

The Fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) (Dutch website)
after the fall of the wall
visiting East Berlin with my love
and all that jazz

© Chèvrefeuille

I remember visiting a Jazzkeller in East Berlin short after the fall of the Berlin Wall ... it was a great experience and it felt great to be there ... The artist than I recall played a piece of Jazz-music which I knew from Duke Ellington. A video of that piece of music you can see here after.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until next Saturday March 7th at noon (CET). Have fun!


  1. Oh, very cool! Thank you for introducing Mr Emanuel to us! A very interesting style - quite different! As if merging the haiku of Richard Wright with the prose visions of Kerouac. This will be fun :)

  2. Love your haiku KP. So envious of you being there for the fall of the wall....will always regret I missed this event!

  3. This for this prompt, it was a learning experience, a very pleasant one.