Leroi Jones - Amiri Baraka
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Leroi Jones - (Amiri Baraka)
Leroi Jones was a very interesting man. He had many different views on culture and race. He was a talented man who shared his thoughts, feelings and opinions through his writing. Through this paper I feel that I have brought across the many ways he has touched the minds of people and brought the arts to an (at the time) under privileged minority.
The poem I choose called the "Incident" gave me a clear image of a man killing another man. Amiri Baraka gave me a vivid mental picture of this event. He expressed all the details about the killer. He gave details about all the situations going on in the poem. I did not find any other literary devises other than imagery. The poem made me feel somewhat empty inside myself. It also made me feel like he was looking over the situation seeing all aspect of what was going on.
One day a man, for no apparent reason, shot another man. The man fell, tumbling down a flight of stairs, watching his life flash before him. The killer was a genius who knew exactly what he was doing. They probably knew each other.
Report on author's life-
Amiri Baraka (formally known as Imamu Ameer Baraka and Everett Leroi Jones) was born in 1934 in Newark, New Jersey. He was the son of Colt Jones, a postal supervisor, and Anna Jones, a social worker (Encarta, p.1). Amiri was an American poet, playwright, and political activist. Whose writing had a major influence in the 1960's, Pushing African American writing away from themes of integration and more toward the "black experience (Ecoy, p.1-2)."
Amiri earned a scholarship to Rutgers University in 1951 but transferred to Howard University one year later. At Howard University Amiri earned his bachelor's degree in 1954. When he got out of collage, he joined the air force where he served as a gunner for three years. After leaving the army he moved to Greenwich Village, located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York. While there, he befriended many artists, musicians and writers including Allen Ginsberg (Amazu, p.1217).
In 1958, Amiri married his first wife, Hettie Cohen, a middle class Jewish woman, and together they co-founded the beat literary magazine Yugen. In 1964, Amiri published his first major play, Dutchman, that opened in New York and won an Obie (an off-Broadway award given by the village voice newspaper) Award. Amiri also founded the Black Arts Repertory Theater in 1964 (Britannica, p.1).
Amiri distanced himself from the Beats and White culture in general during the early 1960's. After Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965, Amiri turned his back on white society all together. He divorced his white wife, moved to Harlem, and devoted his life to creating black culture through art. He also became a Black Nationalist (Hanna, p.2). During the 1970's, Amiri turned himself toward politics. In 1972, He founded the Congress of African People and organizing the Black National Political Convention. Later in 1974, he turned from the Black Nationalist movement in favor of Marxism and Leninism.
Today, Amiri is a critic, poet, playwright, and activist who still is recognized as an outspoken critic and advocate for the rights and equality of African Americans. He frequently tours to speaking and reading engagements at universities and colleges nation-wide(Gookin, p.74).
This poem ties into today's world very easily. Every day people are killing each other and people are dying for no good reason. Right now, there are wars going on in places like Kosovo. In Colorado, there was just a shooting. Two young boys went into school and shot 25 people. Although this is a horrible event, it relates to the poem. These events share the same imagery as was shown in my poem.
Criticism of author's work-
Here are some criticisms on Amiri's work.
"Baraka seeks to educate white society to the feelings and situations of the collective black man." -Shirley Anne Williams-
"[His] play challenges the whole proposition of integration. The question which he is asking is, 'integration what?' Western rationalism, 'the great intellectual legacy of the white man.'" -C.W.E. Bigsby-
"Up to the time of the outburst, the boy has been winning every round anyway, and it just won't do to suddenly cast him as the representative of the exploited
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Guggenheim Fellows, Amiri Baraka, Poets Laureate of New Jersey, Racism in the United States, Hettie Jones, Black Arts Movement, Dutchman, Leroi, Amiri, Beat Generation, The Cricket: Black Music in Evolution, Poet Laureate of New Jersey
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