Feinstein, Sascha 1963-
FEINSTEIN, Sascha 1963-
PERSONAL: Born March 13, 1963, in New York, NY; son of Sam and Anita (Askild) Feinstein; married Marleni Rajakrishnan, June 3, 1989; children: Kiran, Divia. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: University of Rochester, B.A. (magna cum laude), 1985; Indiana University, M.F.A., 1990, Ph.D., 1993.
ADDRESSES: Offıce—Department of English, Lycoming College, Williamsport, PA 17701; fax: 570-321-4090. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Poet, educator, and essayist. Indiana University, Bloomington, assistant instructor, 1986-91, associate instructor, 1991-94, part-time instructor, 1994-95; Indiana University/Purdue University—Indianapolis, associate instructor, 1991-94; Lycoming College, Williamsport, PA, assistant professor, 1995-99, associate professor of English, 1999—, codirector of creative writing program, 1996—. Guest on media programs, including National Public Radio.
AWARDS, HONORS: Writer's Exchange Program award, 1995; Hayden Carruth Emerging Poets Award, 1999; Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellowship, 2002.
Summerhouse Piano (poetry chapbook), Matchbooks
Press (Unionville, IN), 1989.
(Editor, with Yusef Komunyakaa) The Jazz PoetryAnthology, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1991.
Christmas Eve (poetry chapbook), Bookcellar (Bloomington, IN), 1994.
(Editor, with Yusef Komunyakaa) The Second Set: TheJazz Poetry Anthology, Volume 2, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1996.
Blues Knowledge of Departure (poetry, chapbook), Bookcellar (Bloomington, IN), 1997.
Jazz Poetry: From the 1920s to the Present, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1997.
A Bibliographic Guide to Jazz Poetry, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1998.
Misterioso (poetry), Copper Canyon Press (Port Townsend, WA), 2000.
Contributor to books, including The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz and The Penguin Book of the Sonnet, Penguin (New York, NY). Contributor to literary journals, including American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Southern Review, Missouri Review, North American Review, and New England Review. Founding editor, Brilliant Corners, 1996—.
SIDELIGHTS: Poet and professor Sascha Feinstein, author of the collection Misterioso, attained prominence in the 1990s as the coeditor of anthologies and critical scholar of jazz-inspired verse. With poet Yusef Komunyakaa, he edited The Jazz Poetry Anthology, which contains 132 poems arranged in alphabetical order by poet's name. Some of the works included were inspired directly by specific jazz performances; in others poets adapt jazz techniques to language. The poets represented include Langston Hughes, Melvin Tolson, Jack Kerouac, Bob Kaufman, Amiri Baraka, Jayne Cortez, and many others. According to Michael Collins in Parnassus, the anthology offers "an array of writers—well-known and obscure—who delight and enchant, infuriate and appall," a fitting representation of "a music that sparks reevaluation of one's place in the world" and therefore a rich subject for a collection of diverse writings.
About half of the poets in The Jazz Poetry Anthology provide autobiographical statements, often including their theories concerning the link between jazz and poetry. MultiCultural Review contributor Richard N. Albert noted that the contributors' theories "make for interesting and engaging reading beyond the poems themselves," and added of The Jazz Poetry Anthology: "What makes this work most enjoyable [for readers] is knowing the music and musicians and using that knowledge to understand and judge the poets' reactions to elements in the music that please and inspire." While commenting that the Beat poems included "suffer from a 'hipper-than-thou' attitude and the pseudo-profundity that attitude inspires," Crazyhorse reviewer David Jauss concluded that The Jazz Poetry Anthology assembles "many poems as extraordinary as the music and musicians that inspired them. . . . And for that . . . this fine book deserves not only applause but a standing ovation."
Feinstein and Komunyakaa have also teamed up for a sequel, The Second Set: The Jazz Poetry Anthology, Volume 2, which a Choice contributor praised as a valuable extension of the first volume compiled with "remarkably little overlap." Including works by Ntozake Shange, Hart Crane, Thulani Davis, Haki Madhubuti, and Paul Beatty, the volume is "as impetuous and bent as a Thelonious Monk song."
Feinstein has also produced the critical study Jazz Poetry: From the 1920s to the Present. In JazzTimes contributor Marcela Breton called the book "a definitive work," praising Feinstein's "penetrating criticism" and "fine ear, for verse and jazz alike." Noting that the author's overview of jazz poetry is "overdue," American Book Review contributor Jamie Hutchinson praised Jazz Poetry as "impressive," noting in particular the "poet's sensitivity" Feinstein brings to his "scholarly discussion" of the issues surrounding this poetic form.
In 1999 Feinstein's poetry collection Misterioso won the innaugural Hayden Carruth Emerging Poets Award from Copper Canyon Press. A Booklist contributor reported that the volume appropriately earned this award "because the poems in it are good, sturdy work" that focus on "one of Carruth's passions, jazz." Noting that Feinstein's poems range across areas as varied as the death of his mother and his love for his wife and children, his "jazz poems uniquely communicate what it is like to live with music one adores." A Kirkus contributor noted that Feinstein also "calls forth the music from everyday life" with a sensitivity that is "both vital and deft." Misterioso contains poems that resonate like the "everlasting moment of a sax solo," added a contributor to Bloomsbury Review in praise of the collection.
Feinstein once told CA: "I write about topics other than jazz, but I discovered jazz as a boy on the Upper West Side at the same time that I discovered poetry, and so the two have been quite naturally married in my work. I'm interested in capturing the musicality of jazz, with its thrilling promises of unexpected transitions, and celebrating the mythological history of its musicians—such as Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane—whose music has been central to my life. At the same time, I long ago rejected what has sadly become the stereotypical view of jazz poetry: hipster jargon and dated Daddy-O vernacular. Like the best jazz improvisations, poems written both in form and free verse should be firmly grounded in structure. I want my poems to unite passion with craft.
"Yusef Komunyakaa and I have tried to offer a wide range of responses to jazz in the two anthologies, and I hope the two critical books will help scholars explore the genre with still more depth. As the editor of Brilliant Corners, I plan to keep publishing the most engaging jazz-related poetry and prose from around the world."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Book Review, July-August, 1998, Jamie Hutchinson, review of Jazz Poetry: From the 1920s to the Present.
Booklist, February 1, 2000, Ray Olson, review of Misterioso, p. 1002.
Choice, June, 1997, L. J. Parascandola, review of TheSecond Set: The Jazz Poetry Anthology, Volume 2, p. 1666; October 1997.
Crazyhorse, spring, 1992, David Jauss, review of TheJazz Poetry Anthology, pp. 125-140.
Jazziz, October-November 1991, p. 65.
JazzTimes, December, 1997, Marcela Breton, review of Jazz Poetry, p. 60.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2000, review of Misterioso, p. 148.
Library Journal, May 15, 2000, Judy Clarence, review of Misterioso, p. 989.
MultiCultural Review, Volume 1, number 2, 1992, Richard N. Albert, review of The Jazz Poetry Anthology, p. 65; December, 1997, p. 68.
Parnassus, Volume 19, number 2, 1994, Michael Collins, review of The Jazz Poetry Anthology, p. 49.
Publishers Weekly, September 30, 1996, review of TheSecond Set, p. 83.