Poetry. African American Studies. Music. UNCLE TOM, AMERICA'S FAVORITE NEGRO, IS DEAD. Championing the tenderest of homicidal tendencies, a penchant for mercy killings and redemptive rites of passage, A JAZZ FUNERAL FOR UNCLE TOM is exactly what it announces it is, a book as dynamic and eternal event wherein a feminine voice leads her band of improvisers in a procession of joyous interrogation and forgiveness. This ritual is simultaneously a purging of any cowardly impulses in the speaker and in the culture she addresses and speaks as, and a releasing or banishing of unfit archetypes, readying the landscape for fresh forces by torching the weakest links in the prevailing mythos. This book looks at the current state of the double and triple consciousness blackness in the West demands and situates its varied states and registers as chorus, as music, and call and response. In this way the book performs and reinvents a ritual, the Jazz Funeral, while offering a new perspective on letting go and rebirth cycles, a new path from bereavement to reprieve. Self-actualization is not only inevitable but fun in the context of A JAZZ FUNERAL FOR UNCLE TOM. We learn how he got over, how she got over, how a song of innocence turns into a mandate for the total renewal of the souls of black folk, and therefore of everyone--and we are given a songbook that assists in the releasing modes of existence we have outgrown, and lets us enjoy the process.
Harmony Holiday is a writer, dancer, archivist, director, and the author of A JAZZ FUNERAL FOR UNCLE TOM (Birds, LLC, 2019), THE BLACK SAINT AND THE SINNERMAN (Fonograf Editions, 2018) HOLLYWOOD FOREVER (Fence Books, 2017), GO FIND YOUR FATHER / A FAMOUS BLUES (Ricochet Editions, 2014) and NEGRO LEAGUE BASEBALL (Fence Books, 2011). She founded and runs Afrosonics, an archive of jazz and everyday diaspora poetics and Mythscience a publishing imprint that reissues and reprints work from the archive. She worked on the SOS, the selected poems of Amiri Baraka, transcribing all of his poetry recorded with jazz that had yet to be released in print and exists primarily on out-of-print records and she is now editing a collection of his plays. Harmony studied Rhetoric at UC Berkeley and taught for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. She received her MFA from Columbia University and has received the Motherwell Prize from Fence Books, a Ruth Lilly Fellowship and a NYFA fellowship. She is currently completing a book of poems called M a ... f a and an accompanying collection of essays and memoir, Love is War for Miles, both to be released this fall, as well as a biography of jazz singer Abbey Lincoln. Her work is deeply rooted by Black music, and collective improvisation with Black people, in the tradition of her father who was a Northern Soul singer and songwriter and introduced her to artists he worked with like Ray Charles, The Staples Singers, and Bobby Womack.