Thursday, November 24, 2016

Bryn Fortey Enters Both Contests

Recently jazz poet Bryn Fortey sent me poems for both of my winter/spring contests: poems about not driving and poems inspired by jazz musicians born in the 1930s.  I'm always pleased to meet another non-driver, and I hope to meet a few more by January.


DRIVE by James Sallis
Is permanently in my top ten novels
Sparse, pared back, no padding
I admire the writing
Even though the title is not  
Part of my personal vocabulary 


When other teens were
Working on worn out old bangers
Head stuck under a rusting hood
Happily covered in oil and muck
I was
Having a smoke
A glass of beer
Trying to chat up
The new girl on the block

I have never had any interest in cars
Or any wish to drive one

I took lessons once
At an employer’s insistence
But they just showed me firsthand
How many idiots drove cars
And confirmed what I knew
That it wasn’t for me

There have been times in my life when
A license might have been handy
But I’ve made it
Got by
All the way to old age
Without one

With one
My level of incompetence
Might have seen me dead years ago

Swings and roundabouts my friend
Any chance of a lift?

Bryn Fortey

Bryn has also found Joanne Brackeen, a jazz pianist born in the 1930s.  He has promised a few other discoveries...or rediscoveries for us.

(Born Ventura, California, July 26, 1938)

Largely self-taught
Though with some formal training
Her involvement with popular piano styles was shattered
The moment she first heard Charlie Parker and bebop became
Her musical language of choice

New York soon beckoned
And her eloquent yet dynamic playing
Saw her mix in good company
A spell with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers
Was followed by employment with saxophonists
Joe Henderson and Stan Getz

Leading a series of trios and performing solo
To great critical acclaim
She combined the bringing up of her four children
With the precarious career of a jazz musician

Influenced by such piano luminaries as
Bill Evans and Chick Corea
She nevertheless developed a personal style
Recognized and admired
For both her playing and composition
Also known as an educator
Being a professor at two colleges

In spite of passing years
Brackeen has remained an important innovator
A force to be reckoned with
In the history of the piano in jazz

Bryn Fortey

Here is Joanne Brackeen, playing her original composition "Haiti B":

She and Joe Henderson are performing "Relaxing at Camarillo":  This video is from 1986.

This is her "Manha de Carnaval," which sounds quite familiar:

I'll finish with a video of her playing in the Cologne subway as part of the Tony Iakatos Quartet:

If you would like to know more about the winter/spring contests, see this link:


  1. by Luis Pastor Villalobos

    100 years (1) (1)

    Rational: Months after riding the bus to work I realized that I was getting the type of workout that health spa members only dream of. I walk several minutes in the morning to reach my bus stop and repeat the process in the afternoon. As my poem attests I often have to run to catch the bus. There have been times when I caught the bus just in time, and other times I have seen the bus ride away. Some bus drivers have the heart to wait a few seconds and other drivers just drive away.
    100 years (1)

    Several times I have had to run
    A short distance to catch the bus.
    I am 54 but I run like 20.

    From a distance I can see or hear
    The bus approaching its stop
    Or I’m late and I have to run to catch the bus.

    Like a young kid, running like crazy
    I put myself in first and second gear
    Lugging my bags along.

    Gasping for air I board the bus
    And in several occasions
    I have told the bus driver,

    “If I live to be 100, I will owe it all to public transportation.”
    The drivers who don’t stop and might not see me running,
    Will never receive the pleasure of hearing these words
    And seeing an old man gasp for air.