Honoring the Life and Legacy of Amiri Baraka

The Great Author Amiri Baraka (photo by Lynda Koolish)

Amiri Baraka with poems and mic in hand. (photo by Lynda Koolish)

This story was first published as part 2 of the article “Two Literary Laureates Celebrated: Herta Muller and Amiri Baraka.” It is presented now to honor the life and legacy of the great African-American literary powerhouse Amiri Baraka (Oct 7, 1934-Jan 9, 2014).

While his was not among the names short-listed for the Nobel Prize in Literature, Amiri Baraka has long been lionized for his tell-tale intellectually precise yet poetic analysis of U.S. culture and his fire-brand style of political truth-telling.

A playwright, novelist, poet, essayist, short-story writer and performance artist all wrapped into one, the Newark-born Baraka attended Rutgers and Howard Universities and is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. He launched his writing career under the name LeRoi Jones with the 1958 play, A Good Girl is Hard to Find, produced in Montclair, New Jersey. He went on to confirm the promise evident in his early efforts with the 1961 publication of his first major collection of poetry, Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note, and the 1964 Obie-winning play Dutchman, among other published and performed works.

These early years of Baraka’s career are often described as his “Beat” period both for the influence of jazz and blues music upon his writings and because of his literary affiliation with such Beat writers as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, many of whose work he published in a literary magazine called Yugen.

Like Haki R. Madhubuti, Sonia Sanchez, Eugene Redmond, Nikki Giovanni, and a number of other African-American litterateurs still writing today, Baraka became a major voice of the 1960s Black Arts Movement that championed both the re-publication of classic works by Harlem Renaissance authors and the publication of new works by emerging black authors of the era.

To read more of the complete article by Aberjhani please click the link: Two Literary Laureates Celebrated: Herta Müller and Amiri Baraka (Part 2) – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.

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