Amiri Baraka - Real Politics, Real Poetry

Feb 24, 2014

02/17/2014 - 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. He 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 was a cultural icon and an iconoclast. He 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.