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AMIRI BARAKA (October 7, 1934 – January 9, 2014) in memoriam


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Call for a West Coast Anthology of Poems for Amiri Baraka

 Marvin X is calling for all West Coast poets to contribute poems to an anthology dedicated to the memory of Amiri Baraka, published by Black Bird Press, Berkeley, late 2014. Send poems, bio and pic to If possible, please include a $100.00 donation toward publication costs. Send checks to Black Bird Press, 1222 Dwight Way, Berkeley CA 94702. Call 510-200-4164 for more information.
The Black Arts Movement Conference at University of California, Merced, Feb 28 thru March 2, 2014, will be a tribute to Amiri Baraka, Ras Baraka will participate.
Bay Area folks are planning a tribute to Amiri Baraka at Eastside Arts Center ASAP. It will also be a fundraiser for his son, Ras Baraka, who is running for Mayor of Newark, New Jersey.

38px-Speaker_Icon.svgHear Amiri Baraka funeral highlights (including Danny Glover, Sonia Sánchez, Michael Eric Dyson, Cornell West, Raz Baraka) | with special thanks to Davey D’s “Morning Mix” at KPFA, Pacifica Radio

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Nicole Benvigeno/New York Times
Pallbearers carry Amiri Baraka’s casket from Newark Symphony Hall  | January 18. 2014

“Remembering Amiri Baraka with politics and poetry” | Annie Correal | | January 18, 2014


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“You got to be a spirit.
You can’t be no ghost.”
— Amiri Baraka in Bulworth, Warren Beatty’s 1998 comedy-drama
(Baraka’s literal walk-on cameo filmed just outside the Newark, NJ Mount Sinai Medical Center. In December 2013 the prolific writer and activist was hospitalized at Beth Israel Hospital, where he died January 9, 2014)

Amiri Baraka Has Died: Long Live Baraka

 Marxism-Leninism Today



In These Times logo

Web Only / Features » January 27, 2014

‘It is Roi who is dead’: Remembering Amiri Baraka (1934-2014)

The rousing, polarizing poet had many selves.

BY Andrew Epstein


Pres Spoke in a Language
a poem by Amiri Baraka (1981)
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Opal Palmer Adisa

Amiri Baraka: an Anansi Spirit of Poetic Disguises/Genius

Posted: 01/28/2014 3:47 pm
” … Usually anthropomorphic, Anansi, the spider, who came to the new world in the Kinte clothes of the enslaved Africans, is one of the preeminent trickster figures throughout the Caribbean, who breaks all the rules, defies convention and plays tricks on others. Anansi’s trademarks are his acute cunning demeanor, his subterfuge and his ability to out-wit the largest and most powerful. Naturally, given the context of colonialism, that this diminutive spider figure was able to technically get over on “massa” the overseer, made him an endearing hero to the masses.”
arrowRead on


Amiri Baraka – A Literary Hero


open quotes blueAmiri Baraka will never be silenced. I suspect that he is still in the vanguard bombarding all souls within reach with poetic flash bombs in the afterlife where revolutionaries continue to insist on justice. In my pursuit of wielding culture and knowledge as an alternatively blunt and subtle implement for social change I find his voice ever present.

Baraka first erupted into my consciousness as Leroi Jones in the anthology 3000 Years of Black Poetry, a book I stole as a junior high school student in San Francisco. His presence in those pages, alongside Gwendolyn Brooks, Mari Evans, Nikki Giovanni, Ted Joans, Bob Kaufman, Victor Hernández Cruz, and other poets, pulled me into an inescapable creative orbit. I had the privilege of moving within Baraka’s gravitational pull on a few occasions after stealing that book.

Michael Warr (Armageddon of Funk)


Cat Cafe Radio logoAl Young on Amiri Baraka


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Nathalie Handal’s “Preface to Life,” an elegy to Amiri Baraka and Juan Gelman @ Words Without Borders (January 14, 2014)

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“Amiri Baraka’s Legacy
Both Offensive and Achingly Beautiful”


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Once called the world’s finest living poet by Maya Angelou, Amiri Baraka, shown last year, received similar plaudits from Norman Mailer and other writers. In 1964, his one-act drama “Dutchman” won an Obie Award as the season’s best off-Broadway American play.
(Mick Gold / Redferns / Getty Images)

Outspoken poet lauded, chided for social passion

January 10, 2014 | Steve Chawkins


Button-Play-32x32  Baraka @ U of MN 2008
The Power of Words (University of Minnesota, 2008)


Beautiful Black Women| the 1968 retro doo-wop classic with the Spirit House Movers


Amiri Baraka’s First Family | Hilton Als in The New Yorker (January 12, 2014)


Above: Baraka with daughter Kellie as a newborn in 1959 | Photo: Burt Glinn/Magnum) | Cover of the 1990 memoir, How I Became Hettie Jones

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LeRoi Jones and Diane di Prima, co-editors of Floating Bear and future parents of Dominique DiPrima, at the Cedar Tavern, Greenwich Village, 1959 | Clickable


LeRoi and Frank: On the Friendship of Amiri Baraka and Frank O’Hara


Posted on January 27, 2014


“In the weeks since Amiri Baraka passed away, there has been a flood of tributes and commentary on his work, his controversial career, and his immense legacy and importance. Many of them have discussed his “Beat” phase and touched on aspects of his early connections to the avant-garde.  But as is often the case, not much has been said about Baraka’s close alliance with Frank O’Hara and the New York School of poetry … ”
— Andrew Epstein

arrowLOCUS SOLUS: The New York School of Poets hosts the story

1957 Living Theater Reading

Recovered rare footage of LeRoi Jones reading with Allen Ginsberg, Ray Bremser and Frank O’Hara at The Living Theater, Greenwich Village, 1959


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Click around and read  some

The Collected Letters of Amiri Baraka & Ed Dorn (1959-1960)
Edited by Claudia Moreno Pisano


The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative
edited by Ammiel Alcalay


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Amiri Baraka in conversation with poet Ethelbert Miller
(The Writing Life, Howard University, 1998)

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Air (Henry Threadgill, Steve McCall, Fred Hopkins) with Amiri Baraka: “Against Bourgeois Art” (from a 1982 radio broadcast in Köln, Germany)

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© 2011 University of Virginia

Amiri Baraka: The Importance of African American History (2 hrs)


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Ishmael Reed on the Life and Death of Amiri Baraka
(Speakeasy, Wall Street Journal, January 12, 2014)

amiri-baraka-121 Courtesy of

open quotesOur world is full of sound
Our world is more lovely than anyone’s
tho we suffer, and kill each other
and sometimes fail to walk the air
Amiri Baraka

Apollo Baraka 2

Amsterdam News columnist Herb Boyd eulogizes Amiri Baraka


Panopticon Review
Saturday, January 11, 2014
Kofi Natambu



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Robin D.G. Kelley: “What Amiri Baraka taught me about Thelonious Monk”


open quotesAnd now each night, I count the stars.
And each night I get the same number.
And when the stars won’t come to be counted,
I count the holes they leave.
Amiri Baraka

(Click the link above to visit the late author’s website)

Courtesy of

A Conversation with Amiri Baraka)

Amiri Baraka, influential African American writer and firebrand, dies at 79

© The Washington Post
Thursday, January 9, 4:53pm

Amiri Baraka, one of the most influential African American writers of his generation, who courted controversy as a poet, playwright and provocateur and who was a primary intellectual architect of the Black Arts movement of the 1960s, died Jan. 9 at a hospital in Newark. He was 79.

Newark Mayor Luis Quintana and other public officials confirmed the death. The cause was not reported, but Mr. Baraka had been hospitalized in intensive care since December

arrowTo read the whole story, go to the Washington Post original


Amiri Baraka, Polarizing Poet and Playwright, Dies at 79 | Margalit Fox, The New York Times, January 9, 2013

© Gary Settle/The New York Times

 The writer, 79, was one of the major forces in the Black Arts movement of the 1960s and ’70s. Above, Mr. Baraka at the National Black Political Convention in 1972.

arrowRead Margalit Fox’s entire obituary at the New York TImes


Amiri Baraka (1934-2014): poet, playwright, black nationalist

By Fred Mazelis
World Socialist Web Site

18 January 2014

Amiri Baraka
Baraka at the 2007 Miami Book Fair


… As a somewhat troubled and alienated black intellectual in the years before the mass civil rights movement, Baraka studied at Rutgers, Howard University, Columbia and the New School in New York, obtaining a degree at none of these institutions. He joined the Air Force, but was dishonorably discharged, reportedly after his possession of Marxist or “communist” literature was reported to his commander.

The young LeRoi Jones first came to prominence in New York City’s Greenwich Village around 1960. He had earlier introduced himself to poet Allen Ginsberg, and [begun] to move in Beat poetry circles. In the late 1950s he had married Hettie Cohen in New York, and the two founded a quarterly literary magazine and were active in a number of other publishing ventures.

arrowRead all of Fred Mazelis’ off-script obituary at


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What Country Is This?

Rereading LeRoi Jones’s
The Dead Lecturer

Adrienne Rich (1929-2012)
March 1, 2009
© Boston Review

A splinter of language flares into mind before sleep, in crawling traffic or some waiting room of defunct magazines. So a few years ago a phrase began stalking me: A political art, let it be / tenderness . . . words of a poem from The Dead Lecturer by LeRoi Jones (afterward to become Amiri Baraka). I found the book, the poem (“Short Speech to My Friends”), then pored through the pages, as after some long or lesser interval one reads poetry as if for the first time. I’d been taken, unsettled, by these poems in the late 1960s; read some of them with basic writing students at City College of New York and graduate students at Columbia. My Grove Press paperback, with the young poet’s photograph on the cover, has titles and pages scribbled inside the back and front covers, faint pencil lines along margins. A traveled book, like a creased and marked-up map …


Read all of celebrated poet Adrienne Rich’s late-life, in-depth reflections on LeRoi Jones’s The Dead Lecturer



Somebody Blew Up America

 <<Somebody Blew Up America>>
by Amiri Baraka with saxophonist Rob Brown, recorded live on February 21, 2009 at The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy, NY.
The poet icon and political activist Amiri Baraka performs with Rob Brown, an eloquent and versatile saxophonist with a deep knowledge of jazz, in a reading from his book
Somebody Blew Up America & Other Poems.


Somebody Blew Up Poetry

for Amiri Baraka

© Francesco Truono


 Amiri Baraka and Al Young at Marvin X’s San Francisco Tenderloin Book Fair and University of Poetry | 2004


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a poem of tribute in motion

Another sun gone into night.
As Dutchman embarks over the coal-black sea.
Leaving such brightness and light in his wake.
On the barque that crosses the underground stream.
A great wind has left us.
I can hear the wind howling in my ears.
His footprints carved into books!
Such a strong presence; hard to imagine him being gone.
all my doors are open
A prophet’s voice falls silent and flowers in eternity.
His passage is the illumining of a great black light—from Amiri learn courage.
What’s that sound? : nothing but percussion in heaven and anti-heaven now.
Yet the light still there through the trees.
To wave back at what particle, what light, what Dante’s Hell?

Jack Foley
Christopher Bernard
Kim McMillon
Ivan Argüelles
Will Alexander
A.D. Winans
Harold Adler
Paul Lobo Portugés
Adam David Miller
Adelle Foley
Chris Mansel
Jake Berry
Michael McClure
Mary-Marcia Casoly
Maw Shein Win
Al Young

“Thanks to Al Young for his formatting suggestion.”
— Jack Foley


2 Responses to “AMIRI BARAKA (October 7, 1934 – January 9, 2014) in memoriam”

  1. Montez Says:

    You don’t know me, Al. I am Loretta [Green]’s brother. I have been deeply moved by your tribute to our cousin Amiri. Thank you so very much for your effort and your wonderful ability to weave words into a tapestry we all can understand.

  2. Patricia Bulitt Says:

    Dearest Al, Poet, and friend .

    This is very very touching.
    All i want to do is muse over and again.
    What a gift to embrace.
    What a friend you have been to one another, without question!

    Thank you so much,

    With love for the poets.

    Always that, from:

    A dancer.

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