Amiri Baraka – Real Politics, Real Poetry

Amiri Baraka – Real Politics, Real Poetry (lecture, Q&A, poems)

The role of creative people in society has long been debated. Should they focus on their art and stay away from politics? Poets, writers, painters, filmmakers, musicians, artists in general occupy a unique position. Their impact and influence extend far and wide. They illuminate realities in imaginative ways that expand awareness and understanding. Think of Dylan’s “Masters of War” or Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” or Picasso’s “Guernica” or Langston Hughes’ poem “Columbia,” where he exposes the depredations of U.S. imperialism. Hughes writes:

“In military uniforms, you’ve taken the sweet life

Of all the little brown fellows

In loincloths and cotton trousers.

When they’ve resisted,

You’ve yelled, “Rape,”

Being one of the world’s big vampires,

Why don’t you come on out and say so

Like Japan, and England, and France,

And all the other nymphomaniacs of power.”

Amiri Baraka rose to fame in the 1960s as LeRoi Jones. His 1964 off-Broadway play, “Dutchman” created a sensation. Later he became Amiri Baraka and was a central figure in the Black Arts movement. He is an award-winning playwright and poet and recipient of the American Book Award for Lifetime Achievement. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is the author of many books including “Home” and “Digging.”

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