Poet and performance artist Jayne Cortez was born on May 10, 1934, in Fort Huachuca, Arizona.
Her books of poetry include On the Imperial Highway: New and Selected Poems (Hanging Loose Press, 2008), The Beautiful Book (Bola Press, 2007), Jazz Fan Looks Back (Hanging Loose Press, 2002), Somewhere in Advance of Nowhere (Serpent's Tail, 1997), Coagulations: New and Selected Poems (Thunder's Mouth Press, 1982), Poetic Magnetic (Bola Press, 1991), Firespitter (Bola Press, 1982), Mouth on Paper (Bola Press, 1977), Scarifications (Bola Press, 1973), and Pissstained Stairs and the Monkey Man's Wares (Phrase Text, 1969).
Her work has been translated into twenty-eight languages. Cortez has also released a number of recordings, many with her band The Firespitters, including Taking the Blues Back Home (1997), Cheerful & Optimistic (1994), Everywhere Drums (1991), and Maintain Control (1986).
In 1964, she founded the Watts Repertory Company, and in 1972, she formed her own publishing company, Bola Press. Her awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts, the International African Festival Award, and the American Book Award. Cortez performed, lectured, and taught at many universities, museums, and festivals. She lived in Dakar, Senegal, and New York City. She died on December 28, 2012.