Jazz Poetry Month


Celebrate the 15th Annual
International Jazz Poetry Month


City of Asylum’s 15th-annual Jazz Poetry Month will present free concerts featuring all-star collaborations between over twenty jazz and literary artists from thirteen different countries throughout September. Mixing languages, music, and live performance, these are unique rehearsed collaborations by some of the world’s most extraordinary talents.

The first Jazz Poetry Concert began in 2005 as a one-time celebration of poetry and music, and as a way to introduce the organization’s exiled writers-in-residence to the community. From this first one-night concert, Jazz Poetry has grown into a month-long festival known around the world.

Want to sponsor Jazz Poetry Month 2019? Click here!


See below for a full list of events and ticketing links.

A complete calendar can be downloaded here and
a full catalog of events can be downloaded here.

Freedom to Create Concert & Conversation: Mahsa Vahdat & Sholeh Wolpé

Mahsa Vahdat

Our annual forum on freedom of expression features two distinguished artists: Iranian singer and human rights advocate Mahsa Vahdat and Iranian-American poet and playwright Sholeh Wolpé.

Vahdat will perform, exhibiting her astonishing range that spans from acclaimed collaborations with the experimental contemporary Kronos Quartet to a capella settings of the poems of Rumi in a classical Persian style. Following Vahdat’s performance, Wolpé will read her writing and the two artists will discuss the importance of creative free expression globally. FREE RSVP HERE.


Mara Rosenbloom & Flyways ft. Natalie Scenters-Zapico, Roy Guzmán, & Toi Derricotte

Mara Rosenblum

Rosenbloom’s newest ensemble, Flyways, sets the text of one of Adrienne Rich’s 21 Love Poems to melody, and extends it into a set length work, balancing composed narrative within a dynamic level of improvisation. Flyways features 2019 Van Lier Fellowship winner Anaïs Maviel (voice & surdo drum) and acclaimed bassist Sean Conly.  The evening includes exciting lyrical collaborations with acclaimed poets Roy Guzmán, Natalie Scenters-Zapico, Corrine Jasmin, and Toi Derricotte. SOLD OUT!


Sara Serpa & Emmanuel Iduma’s “Intimate Strangers”

Emmanuel Iduma

A partnership between Portuguese vocalist-composer Sara Serpa and Nigerian writer Emmanuel Iduma, this performance will bring a unique blend of travelogue, musings, and poetry. In a combination of music, text, image, and field recordings collected by Iduma during his travels throughout Nigeria, Intimate Strangers explores themes of movement, home, grief, absence, and desire in what Iduma calls “an atlas of a borderless world.” FREE TICKETS HERE.



Myra Melford & Nicole Mitchell ft. Alison C. Rollins

Myra Medford

Pianist and keyboardist Myra Melford performs with longtime collaborator Nicole Mitchell, incoming chair of the Jazz Studies Department at the University of Pittsburgh. The evening marks Mitchell’s first performance in Pittsburgh! This exciting premiere will include live collaborations with powerhouse poets Alison C. Rollins, Cameron Barnett, Ellen McGrath Smith, and Celeste Gainey. SOLD OUT!



Oliver Lake OGJB Quartet ft. Alicia Ostriker & Osama Alomar

Alicia Ostriker

No Jazz Poetry festival would be complete without an offering from saxophonist, composer, painter, and poet Oliver Lake. A founding artist of City of Asylum’s Jazz Poetry festival, Lake’s half-century-long career is unparalleled. His storied presence at the festival starts at the beginning when, in 2005, he collaborated with City of Asylum’s inaugural writer-in-residence, Huang Xang. Joining him during this performance is poet, activist, and critic, Alicia Ostriker. Ostriker has received fellowships and awards from the NEA and the Guggenheim. In 2015, she was elected as Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Acclaimed Arabic poet and City of Asylum Exiled Writer-In-Residence, Osama Alomar, will also perform.  FREE TICKETS HERE.

Oliver Lake OGJB Quartet ft. Justin Phillip Reed & Tuhin Das

Justin Phillip Reed

Oliver Lake and OGJB graces the Alphabet City stage for the second time, with a whole new set of music. The will be joined by poet Justin Phillip Reed. Reed’s full-length collection, Indecency (Coffee House Press, 2018), was the winner of the National Book Award. Poets from the renowned University of Iowa International Writing program will also perform, along with City of Asylum Exiled Writer-In-Residence Tuhin Das, making for an evening of artistic excellence not to be missed.  FREE TICKETS HERE.


The Possible 4 ft. Vievee Francis

Jure Pukl

From Slovenia, Serbia, and just outside of Chicago, The Possible 4 is a never-before-seen collaboration between internationally acclaimed jazz artists Jure Pukl (saxophone), Vladimir Kostadinovic (drums), Marko Črnčec (piano), and Harish Raghavan (bass). Don’t miss your chance to witness these heavyweight talents tear up the Alphabet City stage, with different combinations of musicians and poets each night! For their first performance, The Possible 4 will be joined by Vievee Francis, poet and associate editor of Callaloo. Poets Ruth Awad, S. Brook Corfman, and Lisa Summe will perform as well. FREE TICKETS HERE.

Two Out of Four: The Possible 4 ft. Margaret Ross

Margaret Ross

The celebration with The Possible 4 continues on September 27, with a whole new set of music and different combinations of musicians performing as duos and trio. The jazz musicians join poet and Wallace Stegner Fellow Margaret Ross for their second Jazz Poetry Month performance. In addition to Ross, Pittsburgh-based poets Christine Stroud and Kim Sousa will also take the stage. FREE TICKETS HERE.




Sum of Its Parts: The Possible 4 ft. Ilya Kaminsky, Tarfia Faizullah, Franny Choi, & Bewketu Seyoum

Ilya Kaminsky

The 15th Annual Jazz Poetry Month Festival closes out with a third performance from the multinational jazz quartet, The Possible 4, playing a third set of all new compositions. The musicians will perform alongside award-winning poets Ilya Kaminsky, Tarfia Faizullah, Franny Choi, and City of Asylum Exiled Writer-In-Residence Bewketu Seyoum. FREE TICKETS HERE. 





Jazz Poetry Month is made possible thanks to generous support from City of Asylum’s sponsor, 

Want to learn more about how you can help make Jazz Poetry happen?

You can help us celebrate Jazz Poetry month with a staff, artist or concert sponsorship. Starting at just $50, all sponsorships come with preferred seating at a concert of your choice and on-screen recognition all month long.


Click Here to Become a Jazz Poetry Sponsor!



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WZUM is Pittsburgh’s essential jazz station and proud partner of Jazz Poetry.
Tune in at 88.1 FM and learn more at www.wzum.org


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