Catherine Lee explores poetry’s percussive jazz voice and social change activism by performing solo or with improvising musicians “on poem.” Since 1976, Lee’s multifaceted writing has appeared in print, online, and as collaborative multimedia. Her impact on Boston’s jazz scene is detailed here:
“Work Song Cadence—Prison Industrial Complex” is anthologized (May 2022) in Resist with Every Breath.
Among her 2021 publications was her prize-winning ekphrastic poem “Apache Pitch Lined Basket” which now appears with its artwork on The Witte Museum’s website. Lee is currently working on a city Dept. of Arts & Culture-funded poetic drama called “Mentor Wonders.” Developed with Seniors In Play, a repertory company, where Lee has been a member since 2014, the play incorporates as dreamscapes her poems about mentoring Westside public school elementary students. A Zoom-based video performance is anticipated to be released in November 2022.
Lee collaborates with media artists to create crossover educational multimedia works. Lee, former Pearson custom textbook production editor, created several signed, numbered artist handmade, limited edition chapbooks (We Free Kin, A Rested Development and Kinda Pregnant), available with a music CD from her writing/editing services web site Cat at Jazz Ovation Inn. Selections from among the multimedia poetry, documentary videos, and radio specials that Lee has produced are archived on
A collection of ten poems about mentoring in SAISD public elementary schools. As of September 2021, they are being incorporated into a musical drama I am writing called "Mentor Wonders," in collaboration with Cecil Carter and the Seniors In Play Repertory Theater Company.
\"Be A Mentor - Sea Un Mentor\" is a video PSA created to encourage bilingual volunteer mentors for a San Antonio public school where Lee has mentored for a number of years. Lee wrote the grant that secured production funding, hired and managed video artist and talent, arranged production schedule, wrote storyline, logged footage, and managed a schedule of public showings. It exemplifies Lee\'s skills in bringing her writing to life in a complex multicultural, collaborative environment. Post-Covid-19 school schedule, this piece is conceptually accurate, but the school\'s mentoring program no longer functions this way.
Lee\'s original poem, \"White Horse Black Mountain Boob Blues,\" performed with Aaron Price\'s piano accompaniment.
Lee\'s original poem, \"Laces Rule,\" from her collection of poems based on mentoring public school students. Lee reads with composer/guitarist Aaron Price, who contributed his original song to the project.
Lee\'s original poem, \"Keeping Score,\" performed with bassist Zack Page and pianist Aaron Price.
Lee\'s original poem, \"Crescendo,\" performed with Aaron Price\'s piano accompaniment.
Lee\'s original poem, \"Ceora Vocalese,\" performed by vocalist/trombonist Ron Wilkins with pianist Cecil R. Carter. Vocalese is a type of lyric poem that closely matches recorded music melodies or solos played by jazz musicians. In this case, Lee wrote lyrics to the melody of \"Ceora\" by trumpeter Lee Morgan.