Jayne Cortez, poet, activist and author of ten books of poems and widely known for performing her poetry with music. Cortez’s innovative presentations of her works enabled her to travel the world challenging the ideologies of “isms”, and “phobias” to universities, museums, and festivals.
Her poems have been translated into many languages and widely published in anthologies, journals and magazines, including Postmodern American Poetry, Daughters of Africa, Poems for the Millennium, Mother Jones, and The Jazz Poetry Anthology.
Cortez also organized, “Slave Routes the Long Memory” and “Yari Yari Pamberi: Black Women Writers Dissecting Globalization”, conferences that were held at New York University. A collaboration with Ghanaian writer Ama Ata Aidoo resulted in the Organization of Women Writers of Africa (OWWA) forming in 1991. She was president of this literary organization and appeared in the films Women In Jazz and Poetry in Motion.
Cortez’s poems earned her numerous awards Arts International, National Endowment for the Arts, The International African Festival Award, Langston Hughes Medal, 1980 American Book Award.
She was married to Ornette Coleman from 1954 until she divorced him in 1964. They have a son together, jazz drummer Denardo Coleman. Cortez remarried in 1976 to sculptor Mel Edwards.
Jayne Cortez (May 10, 1936 – December 28, 2012)