The Lives of Jazz Fathers

Let’s resurrect the trumpet players;
           the saxophonists named for fauna gone 
extinct in the Congos and Barrios, 
           the worship and wail, the shadow song

of 40s Noir — black and white ailments
           of New York’s terminally cool.
There are no more quartets —
           only quartered ensemble split from 

cities coated to chin, faces blurred white
           in pedestrian winds and yellow cabs.
Now, the drummers search estate sales, rummage
           for swivel stools to post on Etsy. The bassists 

study Phlebotomy, read blood panels for Diabetes.
           The pianists work dental offices, drill tartars
to reveal the whites of cuspids. The saxophonists
           teach Tai Chi classes, sleep at the Chinatown Y. 

I mean to say I miss them: the notes who stroll
           October for pick up chess in parks
with coffees and fingerless gloves; the chop
           chords at brick-and-mortar steak houses; 

the soloists smile in the amber memory
           of nightclubs numb with intoxication.
They’re dead – the blue veranda is silent
           where they jammed, moon drift in palm
leaves and ivory; notes of copper and zinc.

by Jacob Anthony Ramírez

Listen to Jacob reading ‘The Lives of Jazz Fathers’

We’re delighted to share the second of two poems from new pamphlets published by our own ignitionpress. This week we feature work by Jacob Anthony Ramírez from his pamphlet Kitchen Boombox, that we’ll soon be launching alongside Finishing School by Michaela Coplen (which we featured last week). Join us online on Saturday 16 July or in person at our London launch on Tuesday 19 July to hear from these wonderful collections! We’re delighted to say that the London event, which will be taking place at the Horse Hospital in Bloomsbury, will also include readings from three other ignitionpress poets: Fathima Zahra, Katie Byford, and Joanna Ingham. Both the online and in-person events are free to attend, and we hope to see you there! You can read more about the two pamphlets, hear the poets discuss them, and buy copies on our website now.

‘The Lives of Jazz Fathers’ is copyright © Jacob Anthony Ramírez, 2022, and is reprinted here from Kitchen Boombox (ignitionpress, 2022).

In these vulnerable, revelatory poems, Jacob Anthony Ramírez conjures the voices of his past, the matriarchs, and the ghosts, to confess his longing for love and acceptance. Influenced by American Jazz and Mexican magic, Kitchen Boombox sings its blues of family, grief, and identity to celebrate a survival of tenderness. Where the kitchen meets the concert and the streets meet the church, Ramírez swerves from measured line to fractured form in this prismatic soundscape where dangers lurk and the sacred awaits. 

You can find out more about the pamphlet and buy a copy on our website.

Jacob Anthony Ramírez is a poet, educator, and visual artist from California. He is the recipient of Lancaster University’s Portfolio Prize where he earned his Creative Writing MA with distinction. He is the founding editor-in-chief of Cloverse – a literary magazine celebrating Sonoma County’s teen poetry in English, Spanish, and Spanglish.

His poetry appears in various publications, among them, Haymarket Books’ The Breakbeat Poets – LatiNEXT, 2021’s Latino Book Review MagazineThe Indianapolis Review, and The Santa Fe Writers Project. Jacob is pursuing his PhD in Creative Writing at Lancaster University. His poetry project, tentatively titled ‘The Men We Bury’, investigates heteronormative and machismo culture in Latinx diasporic communities through lenses of dual-identity, fatherhood, and American roots music. His first full-length collection is currently in progress. He teaches literature in California where he lives with his wife and two children.

You can follow Jacob on Twitter.

Established by Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre in 2017, ignitionpress is a poetry pamphlet press with an international outlook which publishes original, arresting poetry from emerging poets. Pamphlets published by the press have so far received four Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice selections (for A Hurry of EnglishHingeRipe, and Sargam / Swargam) and Hinge by Alycia Pirmohamed was also shortlisted for the Michael Marks Poetry Award, 2020. In 2021, the press won the Michael Marks Publishers’ Award. Read more about the press on our website.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.