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A New York Times Editors' Choice
Fusing the personal and the political in high-voltage verse, Amiri Baraka"whose long illumination of the black experience in America was called incandescent in some quarters and incendiary in others" (New York Times)was one of the preeminent literary innovators of the past century. Selected by Paul Vangelisti, this volume comprises the fullest spectrum of Baraka's rousing, revolutionary poems, from his first collection to previously unpublished pieces composed during his final years.
Throughout Baraka’s career as a prolific writer (also published as LeRoi Jones), he was vehemently outspoken against oppression of African American citizens, and he radically altered the discourse surrounding racial inequality. The environments and social values that inspired his poetics changed during the course of his life, a trajectory that can be traced in this retrospective spanning more than five decades of profoundly evolving subjects and techniques. Praised for its lyricism and introspection, his early poetry emerged from the Beat generation, while his later writing is marked by intensely rebellious fervor and subversive ideology. All along, his primary focus was on how to live and love in the present moment despite the enduring difficulties of human history.
Amiri Baraka (1934-2014) was an award-winning writer of poetry, drama, fiction, essays and music criticism, and a revolutionary political activist who lectured on cultural and political issues extensively in the USA, the Caribbean, Africa and Europe.
Paul Vangelisti, a poet and translator, is currently the Chair of the MFA writing program at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.