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‘Writing about jazz is like dancing about architecture,’ observed Thelonious Monk. It’s possibly one of the few times he was wrong. Jazz poetry is almost as old as jazz itself. Poets such as Thulani Davis, Langston Hughes and our own KeorapetseKgositsile and Mongane Wally Serote have long heard the patterns of the music and its makers and transformed and re-enacted those patterns in compelling words. Given South Africa’s venerable jazz tradition, it’s perhaps surprising it’s taken so long for more fundis to be tapped for their responses to our kind of jazz. But it takes a special brew of ingredients for this kind of book to come together. You need an inspired guiding spirit, such as editor and jazzwoman-in-words Myesha Jenkins, and you need a vat in which the ingredients can mix and bubble. That’s been provided by all those who’ve opened stages for the music to happen, and most recently by the Orbit under the direction of AymericPeguillan where Jazz & Poetry Nights brought words and music together, each a kind of yeast that helped the other to ferment and rise. You’ll find everything here in To Breathe into Another Voice: faithful and fantastical accounts of the jazz life and jazz people as well as reflections on the music as a metaphor for how we live – or, maybe more importantly, how we’d like to live. All you need to do now is open the covers, start reading, and dance joyously about the architecture.

—Gwen Ansel

Book information

ISBN: 978-1-928341-31-4

Trim size: 230 x 150mm

Binding: paperback

Page count: 144 pages

Cost: R220.00

Genre: Jazz Poetry




  1. Power in the Music


On being a flower – MakhosazanaXaba

For Bra Ntemi – KeorapetseKgositsile

Old Sof’town – AfzalMoolla

Dudu’s Groove – Aryan Kaganof

The Where I’m From – Selome ‘Flow’ Payne

Jazz Club – Myesha Jenkins

The Sounds of Exile – Barry Gilder


  1. This Thing Called Jazz


Untitled – Connie Fick

Noted – SedicaDavids

For Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers – KeorapetseKgositsile

Rainjazz on the Dune – Harry Owen

Applauding the New – Myesha Jenkins

Jazz – MakhosazanaXaba

A life in pieces – Ayanda Billie

Swing in D minor – Richard QuazRoodt

Jazznight/improvisations/urban vibes – Frank Meintjies

Genesis – KabeloMofokeng

Nostalgic Jazz – XithaMakgeta

My Grandmother’s Hymn – MthunzikaziMbugwana

Mercury/quicksilver – Bernadette Muthien

Self-Medication – Richard QuazRoodt


  1. They Make the Music


Brass – XabisoVili

The now generation – MoAfrika ‘a Mokgathi

Coming out of the closet – Connie Fick

arid – VangiGantsho

Presence of a Master – Myesha Jenkins

Them Jazz Cats – MoAfrika ‘a Mokgathi

hey music man – Natalia Molebatsi

Elegy for Jazz – PhillippaYaa De Villiers

For Gloria Bosman – KeorapetseKgositsile


  1. Some of Them were Special


bhekimseleku remembered – Eugene Skeef

Songbird Traveller – Lebo Mashile

Home Tones – MalikaNdlovu

A poem for Lesedi – Percy Mabandu

In Gentle Light and Heavy Tones – LeratoRatoKuzwayo

Acknowledgement – KeorapetseKgositsile

A Love Supreme – MphutlanaWaBofelo

Coltrane’s Lap – Steve KwenaMokwena

Playing to the Wall – John Forbis

This Blues Thing is Us – K Kgale Re TshwenyehaMphutlanaWaBofelo

Miles – John Forbis

So That Light Would Be There – Ayanda Billie

Portrait of a Cow – Percy Mabandu

MrFunkDaddy – LeratoRatoKuzwayo

Voice – Frank Meintjies

Abdullah’s Top To Bottom Dollar – Allan KolskiHorwitz

Memory of Dollar Brand/Abdullah Ibrahim – Connie Fick

Sikade – LeratoRatoKuzwayo

Tribute to ZimNgqawana – ZaheerKarolia

Is it jazz? – Roux Wessels

Kippies – Steve KwenaMokwena

Horn Screaming – Ayanda Billie

Zimasile – Frank Meintjies

Ways of being free

  1. Steve Newman
  2. AndileYenana
  3. YonelaMnana – PhillippaYaa De Villiers

your song – Natalia Molebatsi

Double shot – Richard QuazRoodt


  1. All About Living


Rhythm and blues – Noleen Morris

Sax seduction – Lamelle Shaw

Memories of Mannenberg– MakhosazanaXaba

@ Sam’s Tavern – Icebound Makhele

at the jazz club – Raphael D’Abdon

It’s all that Jazz – Mandy PoeticianNdaliso

Thirsty waters – LatiMatjeni

I wish I had known Bob Kaufman – Gary Cummisky

Song – KolekaPutuma

EkVerlangna Jazz

I Miss Jazz (English) – Diana Ferrus

I Am In A Jam – Derrick Newson

the day you left – VangiGantsho

Endless Highway – Myesha Jenkins

If only – SisaNkosi

A Lesson in Poetry Women and Jazz Men – Lebogang Nova Masango

That Tune – MoAfrika ‘a MokgathimZantsi

LeTSdANCE– Linda Ndlovu

There is a train – MakhosazanaXaba

Cassandra Wilson will Sing – KeoropetseKgositsile

Instrumental – Harry Owen

Giving in – Sarah Godsell




Edited by Myesha Jenkins

Myesha Jenkins was a pioneering poet and activist who was born in San Francisco, California and moved to South Africa in 1993.

Jenkins was an anti-apartheid activist for years before moving to South Africa. She was a founding member of the Feela Sistah! Spoken Word Collective, which she formed in 2003 alongside poets Napo Masheane, Lebogang Mashile and Ntsiki Mazqai. From 2011 to 2016, she produced the radio series Poetry in the Air and more recently curated a podcast series called Myesha’s Memoirs – Living with Jazz and Poetry.

Jenkins published two poetry collections, Breaking the Surface in 2005 and Dreams of Flight in 2011, and her work was anthologised in a number of other collections. In 2017, she edited the collection To Breathe into Another Voice: A South African Anthology of Jazz Poetry. In 2013, she received the Mbokodo Award for Women in the Arts in the Poetry category.

Myesha Jenkins died on 5 September 2020 at 72 years of age.