Amiri Baraka was born in 1934, in Newark, New Jersey, and is the author of over 40 books of essays, poems, drama, music history, and criticism. His work includes the study of African American music, Blues People (1963); the play Dutchman (1964); Selected Poetry of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones (1979); The Music: Reflections on Jazz and Blues (1987), a collaboration with his wife, poet Amina Baraka; a collection of essays, The Essence of Reparations (2003); and a collection of short stories, Tales of the Out & the Gone (2006). His many awards and honors include an Obie Award, the American Academy of Arts & Letters award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, and Rockefeller Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts grants. He has taught at the New School for Social Research in New York, the University of Buffalo, Columbia University, San Francisco State University, Yale University, and George Washington University. He is Professor Emeritus at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and a former Poet Laureate of New Jersey. Baraka lives in Newark with his wife, where they lead the word-music ensemble, Blue Ark: The Word Ship, and co-direct Kimako’s Blues People, the “artspace” housed in their theater basement.
(For Blues People)
In the south, sleeping against
the drugstore, growling under
the trucks and stoves, stumbling
through and over the cluttered eyes
of early mysterious night. Frowning
drunk waving moving a hand or lash.
Dancing kneeling reaching out, letting
a hand rest in shadows. Squatting
to drink or pee. Stretching to climb
pulling themselves onto horses near
where there was sea (the old songs
lead you to believe). Riding out
from this town, to another, where
it is also black. Down a road
where people are asleep. Towards
the moon or the shadows of houses.
Towards the songs’ pretended sea.
- Artist’s Website
- “A Poet Looks Back on a Bloody Week in 1967” by James Barron. The New York Times. 10 October 2012.
- “Amiri Baraka: Walk On to the Freedom Land,” Interview by Michalis Limnios. Blues.Gr. 30 September 2012.
Let Freedom Ring | April 16, 2008
Symposium II | Creativity, Resistance, Liberation: Forms of Political Engagement in the Arts of the 1960s