Ask Me Now

Ask Me Now

Conversations on Jazz and Literature
Edited by Sascha Feinstein
Distribution: World
Publication date: 8/28/2007
Format: paper 472 pages, 20 b&w illus.
6.125 x 9.25
ISBN: 978-0-253-21876-6
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Ask Me Now explores the relationship between the language of music and the music of language with 20 conversations on jazz and literature. Writer, editor, and saxophonist Sascha Feinstein gathers a variety of artists, poets, musicians, fiction writers, essayists, playwrights, and record producers for discussions on the elusive but engaging relationships between jazz and literature.

Featured artists include central figures of the Black Arts Movement such as Amiri Baraka, Jayne Cortez, Haki R. Madhubuti, and Sonia Sanchez as well as distinguished music critics Gary Giddins, Dan Morgenstern, and Eugene B. Redmond. Winners of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry Yusef Komunyakaa and Philip Levine, outstanding jazz musicians Bill Crow and Fred Hersch, and several writers who cross literary genres: Hayden Carruth, Cornelius Eady, David Jauss, William Matthews, Lee Meitzen Grue, John Sinclair, and Al Young all contribute their thoughts to the book.

Author Bio

Sascha Feinstein is Professor of English at Lycoming College, where he co-directs the Creative Writing Program and edits Brilliant Corners: A Journal of Jazz & Literature. He is author of Jazz Poetry: From the 1920s to the Present (IUP, 1991) and has won the Hayden Carruth Award for his poetry collection, Misterioso. He lives in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.


"In Ask Me Now: Conversations on Jazz & Literature. . . , saxophonist and English professor Sascha Feinstein gathers a stunning variety of musicians, poets, and novelists to discuss the engaging interactions between jazz and literature." —ForeWord

"In looking at the relationship between jazz and literature, these interviews take up, among other things, the nature of jazz and its frequent neglect in the US. . . . [T]he book offers many original revelations from creative individuals who have had long experience in the field—musicians, critics, scholars, and record producers—and provides an abundance of information about poets inspired by specific musical pieces and musicians being inspired by works of poetry. The conversations with jazz critic Gary Giddins and his mentor Dan Morgenstern alone make this book worthwhile . . . Recommended." —Choice

". . . convey[s] the power of language within a framework of artistic expression that is both scholarly relevant and readily accessible to readers. . . ." —Metro Spirit

"No matter how much one might know about jazz and the ways contemporary writers make use of the music, this book is a find and a pleasure to read." —American Book Review

"This is the most interesting, in—depth, valuable, and various account of the connection between jazz and literature ever put into print." —Ed Pavlic, author of Labors Lost Left Unfinished

"The interviewees cover a wide range from jazz-aware poets to literature-aware jazzers...many of the litterateurs not only have genuine enthusiasm for the music but seem to know an awful lot about it...Feinstein’s agenda is all about proving that poets have a right to draw on jazz for inspiration." —Brian Priestley, Jazzwise , August 2008

"Ask Me Now is an excellent and engaging collection. I would recommend this book to anyone who wanted to learn more about jazz, about writing, and about the connections between writing and music." —
Popular Music and Society

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Table of Contents


1. Better You Say It First / Amiri Baraka
2. Those Upward Leaps / Hayden Carruth
3. Returning to Go Someplace Else / Jayne Cortez
4. Just a Matter of Time / Bill Crow
5. Did Your Mama Hear Those Poems? / Cornelius Eady
6. Legwork / Gary Giddins
7. The House as Open Ground / Lee Meitzen Grue
8. Respiration and Inspiration / Fred Hersch
9. Stolen Moments / David Jauss
10. Survival Masks / Yusef Komunyakaa
11. Detroit Jazz in the Late Forties and Early Fifties / Philip Levine
12. Where the Call Needs to Be Heard / Haki R. Madhubuti
13. Mingus at the Showplace / William Matthews
14. Consideration / Dan Morgenstern
15. The Greatest Equalizer in the World / Hank O'Neal
16. Levels of the Blues / Eugene B. Redmond
17. Cante Jondo / Sonia Sanchez
18. Ask Me Now / John Sinclair
19. Makes Me Feel Like I Got Some Money / Al Young
20. Something to Believe In / Paul Zimmer