Jayne Cortez, 78, poet and performance artist

NEW YORK — Jayne Cortez, a poet and performance artist whose work was known for its visceral power, its political outrage, and above all its sheer, propulsive musicality, died Dec. 28 in Manhattan.

She was 78.

Her death, at Beth Israel Medical Center, was from heart failure, said her son, jazz drummer Denardo Coleman.


One of the central figures of the Black Arts Movement — the cultural branch of the Black Power Movement that flourished in the 1960s and 1970s — Ms. Cortez remained active for decades afterward, publishing a dozen volumes of poetry and releasing almost as many recordings, on which her verse was seamlessly combined with avant-garde music.

She performed on prominent stages around the world, including New York’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Museum of Modern Art, and Carnegie Hall.