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Archive for January, 2014

MARY RUDGE, Alameda’s poet laureate (1928 – 2014) | in memoriam

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

update _________________________________________

Augusta Lee Collins posted in February Poetry Celebrating the Life of Mary Rudge

10.17.11 Augusta Collins-61-Edit

  • The Alameda Island Poets Chapter of the CFCP, Inc. hosts a reading
    Wednesday, February 12th from 7 PM
    dedicated to Mary Rudge.Mary’s longtime friend and admirer, Kirk Lumpkin, is featured.
    The open mic time will include members and guests
    reading from Mary’s poems and writings and
    reading or telling their own poems and stories about Mary.

1344 Park Street, Alameda, California 94501

open quotes blueService was her mission.
— Al Young

 Mary Rudge 15May2013 copy Button-Play-32x32 Watch

Mary Rudge bedecked with roses after receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 11th Berkeley Poetry Festival, May 15, 2013

Mary-Marcia Casoly

For Mary Rudge

Now Mary steps out into the great adventure
radiant with passport
passing into the universes’ total imagination
Pattern dance of fireflies
Lines on the transit map of conversation
She is the poet
dropping her crust of seasons
she used to wear around her spirited antique frame
assured that her poetry brought about safety
and joy, curiosity and potions
from writing rich spices and riding camels so far—
a goddess watering the flowers of the world
one spout at a time. O there she goes sashaying,
her eyes wide behind her glasses, the world is imagination!
She is glad to have squeezed your hand,
glad she could be of help. She must be going,
poet of peace in a fiery fusion, traveling beyond creation.


Adelle Foley | FOR MARY RUDGE

Came out of Texas
Scars of the great depression
Made you strong and sweet

You taught children art
Marched for peace and for justice
Traveled round the world

You published our poems
Taught us to work the camera
And roll the credits

At last we were stars.
Our 1990 feature
Is there on YouTube

We’ll miss those evenings
Driving from San Francisco
To Alameda

Trading bits of news,
Plans, shared memories, gossip
Rolling through the fog

Dancing in our dreams
You are forever our
Poet Laureate

Adelle Foley
1/21/2014 – 1/24/2014


Clara Hsu | MARY RUDGE

Mistress Mary
child of verse
how did the curtain fall?
With laurel crown
on haloed hair
and loving faces gathered around.
Gentle Mary
long endured
brittle bones and heart.
Mother Hubbard
with a problem shoe
fed her kids and filled the cupboard.
Hail Mary
full of grace
the Lord is with thee.
A lullaby
from earth to heaven
for the wee lamb blithe and spry.

Clara Hsu


My Town

Alameda: Mary Rudge, beloved Island’s poet laureate, dies at 85

ALAMEDA — Mary Rudge, Alameda’s beloved first poet laureate, died Sunday from cancer in her home with her daughter Diana Rudge by her side. She was 85.

On Saturday, Rudge participated in a celebration of poetry, art and dance entitled, “Collaboration and Inspiration,” at the Alameda Historical Museum. She read her poem, “Irish Girls,” with her daughter, accompanied by dance and music.

Rudge also presented her new book, “Jack London’s Neighborhood, A Guide to History and Inspiration in Alameda.”

Rudge was born in 1928 in Los Angeles, and grew up in Texas and Oklahoma. Even as a child, she loved art, and spent hours drawing, writing poetry and dreaming of traveling throughout the world with her poetry.

arrowClick here to read the rest of Nanette Deetz’s story


Passings: Alameda poet laureate Mary Rudge

Michele Ellson
© The Alamedan
Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mary Rudge Photo: George Hollie

Mary Rudge and her daughter, Diana Rudge, at a Meet the Artists reception Saturday at Alameda Museum.

Mary Rudge, Alameda’s longtime poet laureate, has died.

Rudge typically declined to give her age. Friends said she had suffered a string of medical problems and had been in poor health, and that she passed peacefully on Monday.

Friends described Rudge as a woman who gave tirelessly to her community, raised a family and practiced her art in the face of incredible personal obstacles, traveling the world to spread her message of peace and working locally to boost literacy and access to her chosen form of expression.

“We’ve lost a real champion in poetry,” Natica Angilly, a longtime friend, said. “I don’t think any 25 people can do the work that she has done. She tried to really give of herself, always.”

arrowRead all of Michele Ellson’s obituary on the ageless Mary Rudge



Details for Mary Rudge’s viewing, funeral mass, and burial ceremories

Tuesday, January 28, 5pmViewing and Rosary service — Greer Mortuary, 2694 Blanding Ave., Alameda

Wednesday, January 29, 10amFuneral Mass — St. Barnabas Church, 1427  6th St. (at Taylor), Alameda

Wednesday, January 29, NoonBurial Ceremony  —  St. Dominic’s Cemetery, 585 Hillcrest Ave., Benicia

Everyone is welcome to all events.

Donations should go to the Rudge family to offset costs.
Make checks payable to Diana Rudge.

Artists’ Embassy workshop
this Saturday Jan 25th
will be dedicated to Mary Rudge.
There will be a book table with many of her books.
This will be from 11 AM at the
Alameda Historical Museum,
2324 Alameda Ave, Alameda, CA 94501.

The Alameda Island Poets Chapter of the CFCP, Inc.,
will host its regular Wednesday reading in February.
on the 2nd Wednesday
(NOT on February 5th),
Wednesday, February 12th from 7 PM
BOOKS, INC. 1344 Park Street Alameda.
This will be dedicated to Mary Rudge.


Mary’s longtime friend and admirer, Kirk Lumpkin, is featured.
The open mic time will include members and guests
reading from Mary’s poems and writings and
reading or telling their own poems and stories about Mary.


passport always everywhere poems Clickable image

Mary Rudge became the City of Alameda, California’s First Poet Laureate in 2002 and the city has retained her in this position … Newspapers called Mary Rudge “a global catalyst,” and critics described her as one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s most charismatic poets.

Mary Rudge by Kristen Hanlon Kristen Hanlon | The Alamedan

Alameda’s poet laureate Mary Rudge in April of 2013

And in the rite of passage, leaving the flower
of the world in full bloom
beyond decay, released to sky,
even we, transformed,
leap from a body’s spun threads
to butterfly flight.
— Mary Rudge
(from “Butterfly Poem”)


Monday, January 20, 2014
San Francisco Time

open quotesMary Rudge died early this morning. Her daughter Diana was with her, and told us that she passed away peacefully. It was an honor to have her with us one last time at our Big Show in Alameda Saturday, where she introduced her new book, Jack London’s Neighborhood, gathered with her many friends, and she and Diana read her poem, “Irish Girls,” accompanied by our dancers.

We will miss her dearly, after all these many years of wonderful creative activities.

Richard Angilly,
United Poets Laureate International,
World Congress of Poets


Alameda Bookshelf: Mary Rudge, Alameda’s poet laureate

© Kristen Hanlon
Thursday, May 9, 2013

On a recent warm April afternoon, I found Mary Rudge at Alameda’s Multicultural Community Center. She likes to spend most weekday afternoons there, writing, checking her e-mail, and helping facilitate events such as the annual Alameda Student Poetry Contest. Rudge is the City of Alameda’s first-ever poet laureate, a title she’s held since 2002, and has lived in Alameda for over 50 years. She has published numerous books and chapbooks and spoken internationally at schools, cultural centers, libraries, poetry groups, and peace events; she also raised seven children. On May 11, Rudge will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Berkeley Poetry Festival. Currently, Rudge is working on updating a book she published a decade ago, Jack London’s Neighborhood: a Pleasure Walker’s and Reader’s Guide to History and Inspiration in Alameda.

You were an art teacher for many years, and since retirement you’ve remained active, spreading the word about poetry. One of your endeavors has been the Alameda Student Poetry Contest, which is open to all students in Alameda from grades three to 12.

Zoe Holder was the co-chair with me this year, and we had so many wonderful poems come in from students all over Alameda. Our theme this year was “My Culture,” which we chose in hope that young people would be in dialogue with their family members about aspects of their culture. The poems that came in were very moving, and the judges were impressed by the variety and quality of the work.

What was your experience of poetry as a child?

I wasn’t exposed to poetry as a child. I grew up on the outskirts of a town in Oklahoma, we had an outdoor toilet, and we were what you might call “culturally deprived.” I went to a very small school, but I was a good student and skipped grades. Sometimes as a second grader the teacher would call on me to explain things to the fourth graders!

At some point I just picked up my pencil and began writing in rhyme, and I don’t really know where that came from (laughs). I had a teacher say to my parents, “Mary would do better if she wasn’t scribbling in the margins of books while I’m talking” and my father was very upset by that, he told me to stop it. But I kept on with it  …

arrowRead Kristen Hanlon’s full Spring 2013 interview with Mary Rudge in The Alamedan



Mary—can scarcely believe it.
Just back from LA—would have liked to have told you about it.
I lost my Catholicism so many years back,
will never regain it
but I would have gone to church with you.
If anyone had power to bless …
But you would not receive such praise
We who are luminous
I loved the hum of your voice
the sweetness of your consciousness
that found good in everyone
are radiant
And you were Irish
Oh, Mary,
named for the mother of heaven
Stella maris, star of the sea,
are 90 o/o light,
how you loved ritual, color, dance
how your words
moved to the movement
in homage to spirit inhabiting everything
(as Pagan a thing as Christian)
Flames loop and leap the arteries
There is a core of ember in the womb
Can scarcely believe your vanishing
beyond our brightness
beyond anything I can know
I remember your sweetness
your love of art
your passion for justice
in the bodies of strong women
reality and dream and memory
with hard and thudding rhythms   of our love
my love for you remains
here, on this earth,
under the deep sky of California
passionate and lasting as the redwoods
(like the one planted in 1980 by William Everson!)
and wishing that I am terribly wrong
about heaven
about the afterlife
so that you
might live
in all your dearness
in a house
that is on no corner
of any earthly city—
that you might have
the mansion
denied you
in life
[lines in italics from Mary Rudge’s book, Water Planet]
© 2014 Jack Foley



Winners of Alameda, California’s Jewel By the Bay Poetry Contest gather at Jackson Park, 19 July 2008: Mary Loughran, first prize (center right); Alameda poet laureate Mary Rudge, honorable mention (left); Patricia Edith, Frank Bette Center for the Arts‘ literary arts director (center left); Al Young, 2008 contest judge (right) | Photo: George Rowan, Jr.

poetry-program-at-kpfa-2-edit Raymond Nat Turner

Damien (a Pacifica staffer), poets Slim Russell, Florence Miller, Mary Rudge, Karla Brundage poets gather at KPFA Berkeley in 2008 to broadcast their love for the late Reginald Lockett on Avotcja’s late-morning radio show.


“Mary’s calm, firm, gentle manner moves and stirs me still. It was Mary who quietly got Mijusiin contributing editor Angela Reiss to translate poems of mine into Korean. And it was Mary who encouraged homeless poets to join her in submitting their work to Street Spirit. Service was her mission.”
— Al Young


Hamden Rice: ‘Most of you have no idea what Martin Luther King actually did’

Monday, January 20th, 2014


Most of you have no idea what Martin Luther King actually did

MLK Jr. Day_Rotator New Size

Excerpt from Hamden Rice’s Diaries
(August 29, 2011)

At this point, I would like to remind everyone exactly what Martin Luther King did, and it wasn’t that he “marched” or gave a great speech.

My father told me with a sort of cold fury, “Dr. King ended the terror of living in the south.”

Please let this sink in and and take my word and the word of my late father on this. If you are a white person who has always lived in the U.S. and never under a brutal dictatorship, you probably don’t know what my father was talking about.

But this is what the great Dr. Martin Luther King accomplished. Not that he marched, nor that he gave speeches.

He ended the terror of living as a black person, especially in the south.

I’m guessing that most of you, especially those having come fresh from seeing The Help, may not understand what this was all about. But living in the south (and in parts of the mid west and in many ghettos of the north) was living under terrorism.

It wasn’t that black people had to use a separate drinking fountain or couldn’t sit at lunch counters, or had to sit in the back of the bus.

You really must disabuse yourself of this idea. Lunch counters and buses were crucial symbolic planes of struggle that the civil rights movement decided to use to dramatize the issue, but the main suffering in the south did not come from our inability to drink from the same fountain, ride in the front of the bus or eat lunch at Woolworth’s.

It was that white people, mostly white men, occasionally went berserk, and grabbed random black people, usually men, and lynched them. You all know about lynching. But you may forget or not know that white people also randomly beat black people, and the black people could not fight back, for fear of even worse punishment.

This constant low level dread of atavistic violence is what kept the system running. It made life miserable, stressful and terrifying for black people.

White people also occasionally tried black people, especially black men, for crimes for which they could not conceivably be guilty. With the willing participation of white women, they often accused black men of “assault,” which could be anything from rape to not taking off one’s hat, to “reckless eyeballing.”

© Hamden Rice / Daily Kos
Diaries are individual blog posts by Daily Kos users.

arrow wee Click here to read, from beginning to end, Hamden Rice’s “short” diary entry on what he learned from his father about Dr. Martin Luther King’s actual achievements.


CALIBANONLINE #14 (Edited by Lawrence R. Smith)

Thursday, January 16th, 2014


It looks just like the old Caliban: it has the same design, format, and even the same typeface. You hear the sound of turning pages as you move through it in virtual space. As one artist remarked, “This is the way angels read.”

To open Caliban, click on its cover

Calibanonline 14 cvr
© www.calibanonline

Issue #14 is dedicated to Wanda Coleman. Her passing in November was a terrible loss. Wanda was one of the great original voices of our generation. “On Theloniousism,” her brilliant 1988 essay, is reprinted in its entirety in this issue.

Caliban #14 is full of diverse and stimulating work, both writing and art, including a number of new voices.

I hope you enjoy it.

— Lawrence R. Smith, Editor
(in an email to Al Young)

Explore Classic Print Caliban

Caliban is Back Online

Editor Larry Smith has revived Caliban, now Calibanonline

In the mid-80s, American politics and writing took a turn to the right. The great American tradition of innovative, imaginative writing, from Whitman and Dickinson through the giants of the 20th century, was overshadowed by an obsession with literary formalism. Lawrence R. Smith founded Caliban in 1986 to counter this tendency. Writers who flourished in George Hitchcock’s legendary kayak magazine, which closed in 1984, moved to Caliban: Raymond Carver, Robert Bly, Colette Inez, James Tate, W.S. Merwin, Michael McClure, Charles Simic, Diane Wakoski, Philip Levine, Louis Simpson, Russell Edson, and many others. Writers who had never published in kayak also joined the Caliban scene: William Burroughs, Maxine Hong Kingston, Jim Harrison, Wanda Coleman, Louise Erdrich, William Stafford, among a host of others. Caliban was an instant success, praised by Andrei Codrescu in a review of issues #1 and #2 on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and given a Coordinating Council of Little Magazines award for outstanding new magazine. The original Caliban was also awarded three National Endowment for the Arts grants in support of the publication costs of the magazine. The Bancroft Library of the University of California, Berkeley, purchased the Caliban archives in 1997.

In 2010, fourteen years after the physical magazine closed, Smith started an online version. It looks just like the old Caliban: it has the same design, format, and even the same typeface. You hear the sound of turning pages as you move through it in virtual space. As one artist remarked, “This is the way angels read.” In addition to the outstanding contributors that characterized the old magazine, the new Calibanonline features full color, high-resolution art reproductions throughout each issue, short art videos, and recordings of original musical compositions. In that sense, the new online version offers even more than the original.

Caliban looking for angels

“You taught me language: and my profit on’t
Is, I know how to curse: the red plague rid you,
For learning me your language!”
– Caliban to Prospero
in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest
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Saturday, January 11th, 2014


For JoAnne in Poland

JoAnne Ivory Gibson | Kraków, Poland, circa 1965



You are not to trouble yourself

with your ladyness

your blackness


of having been brought up

on collard greens





Nor must you let the great haters

of our time

rattle in your heart


They are small potatoes

whose old cries

for blood

may be heard

any afternoon of the millennium

any portion

           of this

         schoolroom globe


Al Young

© 1969 and 1992 by Al Young
(from Heaven: Collected Poems, 1956-1990)

[Photo note: JoAnne Ivory, a Detroit Central High School girlfriend, married Donald B. Gibson, now an American literature scholar. In the mid-1960s, Gibson was awarded a postdoctoral Fulbright Fellowship to teach literature and English in Poland, where this lovely antique likeness of ‘Jody’ was snapped.]



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

Thursday, January 9th, 2014


Baraka HuffPostOpal

updatewinter sky

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

amiri-baraka-funeral-2 magnifying_glass_icon
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


Bulworth-1998Amiri Spirit Bulworth magnifying_glass_icon

“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)
the paris review logo


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


words without borders logoHandal Flickr

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”


l.a. times logo


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

leroi_jones and diane di prima

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


LeRoiJones EdDorn Ltrs cvr
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


vidcamera003On his poetry and breaking rules
Amiri Baraka in conversation with poet Ethelbert Miller
(The Writing Life, Howard University, 1998)

AgainstBourgeoisArt 38px-Speaker_Icon.svg

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

Improtance of Aframerican Historybutton ff
© 2011 University of Virginia

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


WSJ_Plus_200x200 ish & baraka magnifying_glass_icon
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



Blues-Peopleblack music cvrpreface to suicide notesystem dantes hellTales cvrthe-moderns.1963.front


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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boston review logo

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


38px-Speaker_Icon.svgListen to the Lannan Foundation podcast


DemoNow logo


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