Rotterdam’s city poet Dean Bowen & inJazz

17 June 2019

Rotterdam’s new city poet Dean Bowen is fascinated by jazz music. Dean: “inJazz is a great initiative!” He will work closely together with inJazz for the first time this year on a risograph print that will be created in a limited edition.

The creative process
“I loved the idea of creating a risograph print with inJazz – right from the start. This is because music has a strong presence in my poetry,” Dean Bowen explains. “Writing poetry is very intuitive, and I like improvising. Sometimes I feel just like a jazz musician. With ‘islands’ in mind – last year’s theme of inJazz – I began to walk and cycle around while listening to music. I was keen to clear my mind and make room for new poetry. I wanted to find out how I experience jazz and how to put that experience into words. There are similarities between jazz and islands. For example, an island is isolated and it’s a clearly defined area with boundaries, but I saw islands more as a starting point. I think initiatives like inJazz and North Sea Round Town really add value to the music scene and to the city of Rotterdam. This poem is my own small contribution.”

A whole new world of music
Rotterdam’s city poet has not always liked jazz music. Dean: “It’s not exactly a very accessible genre. Jazz seemed to be far removed from me, but I was fascinated by it too. I began to listen to jazz in my late teens. I used to make my own music, mainly hip-hop, and by listening to samples I came into contact with jazz music. A whole new world of music opened up for me! I listened to all the great jazz musicians. Thanks to music festivals such as inJazz and North Sea Round Town I found out what young people do with jazz music. I learnt that it’s a genre that does move with the times. There is so much more to it than just the jazz classics. These days I often listen to Esperanza Spalding, Kokoroko and Moses Boyd.”

3 tips for jazz lovers in Rotterdam
Although Dean Bowen only moved to Rotterdam three years ago, the city has always played an important part in his life. Dean: “I have always felt connected to the city of Rotterdam. I have family here, I love the nightlife, and I studied here at the art academy. What tips does Dean have for visitors of inJazz in Rotterdam? Dean: “Jazzcafé Dizzy. It’s legendary. I used to work behind the bar so I really got to know the place well. And LantarenVenster is also a very special place for me. My favourite bar is De Schouw on Witte de Withstraat. Its unique atmosphere is very real and not fake or artificial at all. Just like Jazzcafé Dizzy, there is so much history there.

Unique collaboration
Ever since 2017, inJazz has been working closely together with Rotterdam’s city poet on a unique gift that will be presented after the conference programme. The last two years, it was Derek Otte who wrote the poem. This year’s risograph print (with a poem by Dean Bowen) is a design by Marcel van den Broek, type and graphic designer, commissioned by Buma Cultuur for inJazz 2019.