An Agony. As Now.
Amiri Baraka was a dramatist, poet, essayist, orator, and fiction writer. He is perhaps the preeminent African-American literary figure of our time. Yet, until now, it has been impossible to find the full range of his work represented in one volume.
Baraka incited controversy throughout his career. He was praised for speaking out against oppression as well as accused of fostering hate. With the rise of the civil rights movement Baraka’s works took on a more militant tone. His trip to Cuba in 1959 marked an important turning point in his life. His view of his role as a writer, the purpose of art, and the degree to which ethnic awareness deserved to be his subject changed dramatically.
After Black Muslim leader Malcolm X was killed in 1965, Baraka moved to Harlem and founded the Black Arts Repertory Theatre/School. The Black Arts Movement helped develop a new aesthetic for black art and Baraka was its primary theorist.
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This poem was taken from Baraka’s second book of poetry, The Dead Lecturer, published in the mid 1960’s.