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Finding Aid to the Ted Joans papers, 1941-2005
BANC MSS 99/244 z  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Sketch
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Ted Joans papers
    Date (inclusive): 1941-2005
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 99/244 z
    Creator: Joans, Ted
    Extent: 26 boxes, 6 cartons, 4 oversize boxes, 14 oversize folders (19.5 linear feet)
    Repository: The Bancroft Library.
    University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley, CA 94720-6000
    Phone: (510) 642-6481
    Fax: (510) 642-7589
    Email: bancref@library.berkeley.edu
    URL: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/
    Abstract: Contains original mss. of poems, many unpublished, non-fiction, fiction, short stories, essays, plays, jazz critiques, reviews, movies, translations and prose, as well as his notes. Also includes personal papers containing correspondence from Amiri Baraka, Stokely Carmichael, Diane di Prima, Bob Kaufmann, and Ishmael Reed, professional papers containing invitations to read, resumes, tributes, reviews and clippings.
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English
    Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.

    Information for Researchers


    Collection open for research.

    Publication Rights

    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720-6000. Consent is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html. 
    Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.Materials in this collection may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Ted Joans papers, BANC MSS 99/244 z, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

    Alternate Forms Available

    There are no alternate forms of this collection.

    Related Collections

    Title: City Lights Books Records, 1953-1970,
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 72/107 c
    Title: City Lights Books Records: Additions, 1947 - [on-going] (bulk 1970-1994),
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 77/89 c

    Material Cataloged Separately

    • Printed materials have been transferred to the book collection of The Bancroft Library.
    • Photographs have been transferred to Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library (BANC PIC 1999.097 - ALB).
    • Videotapes/sound recordings have been transferred to the Microforms Collection of The Bancroft Library.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog
    Joans, Ted
    African American poets

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The Ted Joans papers were purchased by The Bancroft Library on June 25, 1998.


    No additions are expected.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Monica Arriola and Katherine Yu in 2000. Additions processed by Dean Smith and Alison E. Bridger in 2007, and Mario H. Ramirez in 2012.

    Biographical Sketch

    African American poet, jazz musician, and surrealist artist, Ted Joans, whose original name was Theodore Jones, was born July 4, 1928, in Cairo, Illinois. His father, a riverboat entertainer, gave him a trumpet and put him off a boat in Memphis at the age of twelve. Joans received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Indiana University in 1951.
    Moving to New York City after his college graduation, Joans soon joined the arts scene in Greenwich Village. He became a well known member of the Beat movement, and established the jazz poetry scene, along with Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Bob Kaufman. In 1957, his first book, Beat Poems, was published by Deretchin, which also published his Funky Jazz Poems in 1959. Joans published more than 30 collections of poetry, of which many are now out of print. He read his poetry with rhythmic swing, speeding up or slowing down, raising his voice or lowering it, much like he did when he played jazz trumpet. In fact, he referred to himself as a jazz poet with a lifelong passion for avant-garde jazz. Joans’ mantra was "Jazz is my religion and surrealism is my point of view."
    Joans has been described as an irreverent writer who denounced racism, sexual repression, and injustice. His calls for social protest were often considered controversial, but he felt it was the best way for breaking down barriers. Growing dissatisfied with the commercialism of the Beat movement, he became an expatriate in the 1960's, traveling the world, and later settling in Tangiers, Morocco. Continuing to paint and write poetry, Joans supported himself primarily through the sale of artwork, which he collected during his travels in Africa. Some of his African experiences are reflected in the poems Afrodisia: New Poems, published in 1971. Joans was editor for Dies und Das, the first surrealist magazine published in Germany in 1984. He contributed to Black World, Coda, Jazz and Presence Africaine.
    Several years before his death Joans, moved to Vancouver with his partner Laura Corsiglia where he continued to write prolifically. He died in his apartment on April 25, 2003 at the age of 74 due to complications from diabetes.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Ted Joans papers, 1941-2005, contain a wealth of literary manuscript material spanning the career of this surrealist artist and poet, as well as personal correspondence with friends and colleagues, and his professional and personal papers. The collection includes over eight hundred individual poems, many of which are unpublished, plus original manuscripts with corrections for two poetry collections, including the typescript and illustrations for New Duck Butter Poems.
    Other writings provide a thorough examination of the variety found in Joans’ work, including original manuscripts of his non-fiction, fiction, short stories, essays, plays, jazz critiques, reviews, movies, translations, and prose, as well as his notes and a notebook. Among the earliest works is a poem from 1948, a play written in 1949, and translations completed in the 1950's. Prose contains a selection of long and short works on a variety of subjects. Much of the material is unpublished and includes drafts with holograph corrections. Dies Und Das, a literary magazine published in Germany, was edited by Ted Joans in the winter of 1985. A complete mock-up of the first issue has been retained and includes notes, layouts, paste-ups, galleys, and folios.
    Joans’ papers contain correspondence, both personal and professional, from friends and colleagues, including Amiri Baraka, Stokely Carmichael, Diane di Prima, Bob Kaufmann, and Ishmael Reed. Of particular note is a handwritten note from Jack Kerouac, and letters from Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg. His professional papers include invitations to read, resumes, tributes, reviews, and clippings, as well as a small amount of memorabilia.
    There is a selection of artworks that illustrate his fascination with surrealist techniques and ideas, being both political and erotic. These artworks are primarily works on paper and include sketches, paintings on paper, and collages.
    Joans collected a large amount of news clippings, newspapers, flyers, newsletters and small underground papers on various topics, but generally focused around his concerns of race, politics, Black leaders, and arts and culture.
    His personal papers, though brief, include a scrapbook of photos, reviews and other news clippings from the early 1950’s about his art and music career. Joans’ papers conclude with an extensive amount of material related to his unrealized publication, “A Black Man’s Guide to Africa.” Consisting primarily of brochures, flyers, and other tourist ephemera these materials also include brief writings about several of the African countries he visited, including an introduction to the guide itself.