we are jazz

by Sonya Kimble-Ellis

Version 2

Syncopation.
Innovation.
Celebration.
Brick city beats . . .
Jazz music blaring in my head.
Sitting stageside.
Mr. Wes, the Terrace Ballroom . . .
Places where the spirits of Sarah and other greats lived and rang true.
Shoo be doo be doo.
Singers & musicians making magic out of tragic pasts.
Enough to last
more than three lifetimes.
Playing sounds sweeter than ripened fruit on a vine.
Ivory keys inviting.
Hi-hats hissing.
Upright basses boasting . . .
We are jazz.
We are jazz.

Mr. Wes on Hill Street was one of countless nightspots to be found in Newark from the 1920s to the 1960s, when the city seemed to boast “a jazz club on every other corner.” A 2013 mural on Hawthorne Street pays tribute to this rich history.

Sonya Kimble-Ellis teaches art and writing and is an author of books for children and teens. “We Are Jazz” appears here for the first time.

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