Kavon Cortez-Jones loves Milwaukee. The poet (pictured third from left) and lifelong resident calls the city the “Paris of the Midwest” in his book, Club Noir. Cortez-Jones’ debut release is bursting with references to local landmarks, area musicians, and beloved regional institutions. The majority of the book—which features works written between the ages of 18 and 21—comes from a place of love and appreciation, but through acknowledging some of the difficulties faced while growing up on Milwaukee’s north side, some poems also indirectly shed a light on the city’s issues with segregation.
With another Milwaukee Day on the horizon, the poet and all-around local champion wrote and recorded yet another piece of poetic appreciation to honor the city he proudly calls his home. “A Love Letter To Milwaukee” touches on a few of the familiar subjects, sights, and sounds Cortez-Jones has referenced in previous works, as well as drawing new inspiration. Set to Alex Heaton’s musical accompaniment, the seven-minute Milwaukee ode discusses local points of pride like Brady Street, City Hall, and Rochambo. While out of a place of love, there are also some unflattering turns.
There’s local commentary about “a city one can experience winter, spring, summer, and fall in one week” and acknowledgement of polarizing and controversial issues like the new Bucks arena, the forthcoming street car, and segregation. As a whole, “A Love Letter To Milwaukee” is delivered with the perspective of a resident who recognizes his hometown’s shortcomings, but loves it nonetheless. As you prepare to celebrate Milwaukee Day, listen to Cortez-Jones’ love letter below.