“I owe a lot to jazz…I was really shut down emotionally and I couldn’t really express myself or feel anything hardly. A cousin of mine came from Laguna Beach, California…when he opened up his suitcase, he said, here’s a present for ya…he handed me two Louis Armstrong albums. Those records changed my life. I felt so excited and for the first time in my life I could emote and really let my feelings out and from then on, I just kept following jazz…it opened a door to a whole world for me.” –Anthony Swann
Anthony Swann is a well-known poet around the Bemidji area. His poetry collection Paint with Words was released in 2016 and now he’s just released his first novel, To Search the Night: A Jazz Novel. It’s a story that’s been percolating since Anthony was in his early 20s and it’s an adventure steeped the early 1960s Minneapolis jazz scene.
In this segment of Area Voices, in addition to discussing the novel, Anthony shares how his relationship with jazz music changed his life, led him on adventures in San Francisco, Mexico and Brazil, and ultimately altered his view of humanity.
“I was a white guy, I had all the white privilege, but I was hanging with jazz people, I knew how they were treated…I knew how hard it was to break thru as any kind of an artist…we all have to be more tolerant and more understanding of people that are so called different from us…we’re all human beings. We all have blood and heart beat…I keep learning that lesson all the time. I have to look at how I might “dis” people in my mind and why and none of it seems to hold up. Compassion and love, that’s the thing that we’re supposed to learn.” – Anthony Swann