Baraka, Amiri

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Baraka, Amiri

(amērē bərä`kə), 1934–2014, American poet, playwright, and political activist, b. Newark, N.J., as Everett LeRoy Jones, studied at Rutgers Univ., Howard Univ. In college he adopted the name LeRoi Jones. In the 1950s he moved to Greenwich Village, where he associated with writers of the beat generationbeat generation,
term applied to certain American artists and writers who were popular during the 1950s. Essentially anarchic, members of the beat generation rejected traditional social and artistic forms.
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 and founded two literary magazines and a small publishing company. Radicalized in the early 1960s, he won critical attention and notoriety in 1964 when four of his plays—Dutchman, The Toilet, The Baptism, and The Slave—were produced Off-Broadway in New York City. A provocative political analyst, he wrote many works that express a strident anger toward the racism of mainstream white American society, and was an important figure in the Black Arts movement of the 1960s and 70s, which echoed the aims of the Black Power movement. His volumes of poems include Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note (1961), Selected Poetry (1979), Transbluesency: The Selected Poems of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones, 1961–1995 (1995), Eulogies (1996), and S.O.S.: Poems 1961–2013 (2015). Among his many other plays are those in The Motion of History and Other Plays (1978) and Election-Machine Warehouse (1996); his volumes of essays include Blues People: Negro Music in White America (1963, repr. 1980) and Daggers and Javelins (1984). With his second wife, Amina Baraka, he edited Confirmation: An Anthology of African-American Women (1983). His collected fiction was published in 2000.

Baraka also was deeply involved with the African-American community. He founded Harlem's Black Arts Repertory Theatre and a related school in 1965. After they closed in the late 1960s he moved back to Newark, converted to Islam, and changed his name to Amiri Baraka. In 1968 he established the Black Community Development and Defense Organization, and started the Black National Political Convention in 1972. He also taught at a number of colleges and universities, and was named New Jersey's third poet laureate in 2002. After one of his poems suggested that Israel had foreknowledge of the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade CenterWorld Trade Center,
former building complex in lower Manhattan, New York City, consisting of seven buildings and a shopping concourse on a 16-acre (6.5-hectare) site; it was destroyed by a terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001.
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, the resulting controversy led to unsuccessful demands for his resignation or firing; in 2003 the state legislature eliminated the poet laureateship to remove him.


See W. J. Harris, ed., The LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka Reader (1999) and Baraka's The Autobiography of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones (1984, rev. ed. 1997); C. Reilly, ed., Conversations with Amiri Baraka (1994); studies by K. W. Benston, ed. (1978), T. R. Hudson (1973), W. Sollors (1978), W. J. Harris (1987), K. Woodard (1999), and J. G. Watts (2001).

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AF: How about Hettie Jones, because you knew her in the various phases of LeRoi Jones.
Leroi Jones sums up the "aura of menace" that so many perceived as surrounding Liston.
The uncertainty of defining Beat is evident in the recurring references to Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, and LeRoi Jones, who were Beat contemporaries and who had sometimes important connections with the Beat women writers, but whose relations to Beat are vexed.
As Koch collected himself Van Newkirk traded insults with several audience members, and in the back of the church an accomplice, Andrei Codrescu, distributed leaflets protesting the suspicious conviction of LeRoi Jones for illegal possession of firearms.
In 1963, LeRoi Jones made the following comment in Blues People: "It is impossible to say simply, 'Slavery created blues', and be done with it--or at least it seems almost impossible to make such a statement and sound intelligent saying it" (50).
As poet, jazz critic, playwright, and belletrist LeRoi Jones makes transparently clear, jazz, like revolutionary black nationalist ideology, springs from the most oppressed stratum of United States society, the Negro working class, the "blues people," in the author's felicitous phrase [LeRoi Jones, Blues People, 1963].
LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka), for example, writes that "[b]ebop rebelled against the absorption into garbage, monopoly music; it also signified a rebellion by the people who played the music" (p.
Algunos nombres son: Philippe Delaveau, Jack Kerouac, Valerio Magrelli, Edgar List, Nelly Keoseyan, Kenneth Patchen, Leroi Jones, Alberto Blanco, Gary Snyder, Sergio Mondragon, Veronica Volkow, Pura Lopez Colome, Tomas Calvillo, Pablo Molinet, Maricruz Patino y Maria Vazquez Valdez.
She doesn't mention that Elise Cowen typed Kaddish for Ginsberg, or describe how much work Diane di Prima did on Floating Bear with LeRoi Jones, or how much work Hettie Jones did on Yugen with Jones.
In an example unearthed by Nicholas Lemann, the Newark, New Jersey, arm of the War on Poverty spent part of its grant funding a play by Leroi Jones depicting Jack Benny's butler, Rochester, murdering a white man.
Baraka, Amirialso called Imamu Amiri Baraka, original name (until 1968) (Everett) LeRoi Jones (b.