Amiri Baraka, the poet, novelist, and activist once known as LeRoi Jones, has died at the age of 79.
Baraka was a native of Newark, N.J., and was poet laureate of New Jersey from 2002–2003. (The position was eliminated by the state after Baraka published a controversial poem about the Sept. 11, terror attacks that suggesting Jews had advance notice of the terror attacks. ) But despite his controversial views, he was unquestionably integral to the black arts movement in America.
Here are some quotes from Baraka’s career.
4. “Art is whatever makes you proud to be human.”
—The Kindly Ones
6. “Warriors are poets and poems and all the loveliness here in the worlds.”
7. “Since the rich eat more/ than anybody else/ It is reasonable to assume/ that they are more full of shit.”
9. “There is no depth to education without art.”
—Digging: The Afro-American Soul of American Classical Music, 2009
10. “If the flag of an armed enemy of the U.S. is allowed to fly over government buildings, then it implies that slavery, or at least the threat of slavery, is sanctioned by that government and can still legally exist.”
12. “The attempt to divide art and politics is a bourgeois which says good poetry, art, cannot be political, but since everything is … political, even an artist or work that claims not to have any politics is making a political statement by that act.”
—Interview with Aaron Winslow via The Argotist Online
Watch Baraka perform one of his best known pieces, “The Way Of Things (In Town).”
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