• 1 of 2: Image courtesy of Alexander Gray Associates, New York.

  • 2 of 2: Detail of Poetry (for Jayne Cortez) by Melvin Edwards. See it reprinted in Gulf Coast 28.1.

Poetry (for Jayne Cortez)

Melvin Edwards

Part of the Art Lies Feature: Prepositional Art

Melvin Edwards made Poetry (for Jayne Cortez) (2012) in tribute to his late wife Jayne Cortez (1934-2012). A noted poet and performer, Cortez was also a filmmaker and global activist. She and Edwards, who married in 1975, collaborated on numerous books that combined her poems and his drawings; they were also deeply involved in dialogues with African writers and artists, spending part of each year in Senegal (where Edwards was as this portfolio was being assembled). Early in their relationship, Cortez wrote poems dedicated to some of Edwards's "Lynch Fragment" series of sculptures. Here, many decades later, he reciprocates, by dedicating a new "Lynch Fragment" to Cortez. In a recent interview with Catherine Craft, Edwards recalled the artistic affinity that was at the heart of his and Cortez's life:

"Every now and then she would say about our mutual thinking: 'Well, I can't tell whether I got it from you, or you got it from me. I really can't.' And at a certain point it's true. At the same time, there's no way I could be the poet—the systems are too different. Jayne's work was complex, dynamically and aesthetically, and it really corroborated for me that there was no problem—except for your own abilities—with using anything you wanted to use to develop your work, your ideas. So we just had a lot of—as we used to say—brotherly and sisterly things in common, in relation to creativity, which I really miss."