Over four decades, Jayne Cortez has perfected her personal expression of an exuberant poetry steeped in African-American traditions of jazz, blues, dance, drama, and painting, and connected to the needs of the communities that continue to shape her voice. In Cortez's work, the personal is always intensely political, both in topical poems that address specific issues of war and injustice, and in her recurring vision of a community of strong, resourceful, and free women and men. The poet's role is to record wrongs, to chastise wrongdoers, and to give heart to the individuals whose struggles create the community. Her poetic personae, thus, include the griot, the jeremiah, and the shaman. Critically praised as one of the most forthright voices raised in opposition to racism and sexism, Cortez, herself, says in an interview with D.H. Melhem, "I think that poets have the responsibility to be aware of the meaning of human rights, to be familiar with history, to point out distortions, and to bring their thinking and their writing to higher levels of illumination."
Source: Gale In Context: Biography