Haki Madhubuti

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Haki Madhubuti

Haki Madhubuti was born Donald Luther Lee in Little Rock, Arkansas. A poet, essayist, editor, and publisher, Madhubuti was one of the early prominent voices in the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s. After serving in the US Army, he attended Chicago City College and received an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. He is the author of more than twenty books including YellowBlack: The First Twenty-One Years of a Poet’s Life (2006), which Vibe Magazine writes “conjures up the sound of Miles Davis, the acuity of Richard Wright, the intellect of W.E.B. Dubois, and the grittiness of street culture: a soundtrack to the lives of urban youth across America.” His collections of poetry include Run Toward Fear: New Poems and a Poet’s Handbook (2004), HeartLove: Wedding & Love Poems (1998), Groundwork: New and Selected Poems of Don L. Lee/Haki R. Madhubuti (1996), Earthquakes and Sunrise Missions: Poetry and Essays of Black Renewal, 1973- 1983 (1984), and Directionscore: Selected and New Poems (1971). His prose works include Tough Notes: A Healing Call for Creating Exceptional Black Men (2002), Claiming Earth: Race, Rage, Rape, Redemption (1995), and Black Men: Obsolete, Single, Dangerous? (1991). He is the co-editor, with Maulana Karenga, of Million Man March/Day of Absence: A Commemorative Anthology (1996). Madhubuti is the founder and publisher of Third World Press. He is also a co-founder of the Institute of Positive Education in Chicago. Among his honors and awards are an American Book Award and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is currently the University Distinguished Professor and professor of English, founder and director emeritus of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center and the director of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program at Chicago State University.


if it is truth that binds
why are there
so many lies between

if it is truth that is liberating
are people told:
they look good when they don’t
they are loved when they aren’t
everything is fine when it ain’t
glad you’re back when you’re not.

Black people in america
may not be made for the truth
we wrap our lives in disco
and sunday sermons
selling false dreams to our children.

are refundable,
can be bought on our revolving
charge cards as
we all catch truth
on the next go round
it doesn’t hurt.


Let Freedom Ring | April 16, 2008
Symposium II | Creativity, Resistance, Liberation: Forms of Political Engagement in the Arts of the 1960s