Joans, Ted 1928-2003
JOANS, Ted 1928-2003
OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born July 4, 1928, in Cairo, IL; died of complications from diabetes May 7, 2003, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Musician, artist, and author. A self-described "jazz poet" of the Beat generation, Joans was also considered by many to be part of the French surrealist movement, the only African-American painter to be viewed as part of that group. Often writing about the black experience in America, Joans became somewhat of a legend as a poet. A myth about his early childhood said that his father cut him loose from the family when he was only twelve, giving him only a trumpet to play as a way of earning a living on the river boats. The truth, according to his daughter Daline Jones-Weber, was that Joans earned a bachelor's degree from Indiana University in 1951 before seeking his fortune in Greenwich Village. There he changed his name from Jones to Joans to make it more distinctive; he found a mentor in Langston Hughes and inspiration from the likes of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. Although he was a jazz musician and a friend of Charlie Parker's—who was the subject of one of his abstract works of art—Joans earned much of his income from his poetry. His verses were published primarily in chapbook form and produced by small presses. Uninterested in making a lot of money from his writing because he did not want to become part of "the system," Joans led a peripatetic life, often living in tiny apartments filled with books. His published poems, which typically express outrage at such societal problems as racism and sexual repression, are collected in over a dozen books, some of which contain his illustrations. His books include Funky Jazz Poems (1959), All of Ted Joans and No More: Poems and Collages (1960), The Hipsters (1967), Afrodisia: New Poems (1971), Sure, Really I Is (1982), Teducation: Selected Poems, 1949-1999 (1999), and Our Thang (2000). Never believing himself to be accepted in the United States because of his race, he spent many years traveling between Paris, France, and Timbuktu, Mali, retiring in his final days to Vancouver.
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
Independent (London, England), May 14, 2003, p. 18.
Los Angeles Times, May 13, 2003, p. B10.
New York Times, May 18, 2003, p. A33.
Times (London, England), July 9, 2003.