Elsewhere Art . . . Amiri Baraka

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Elsewhere Art . . . Amiri Baraka

I'm pretty sure the late Amiri Baraka (born LeRoi Jones in 1934, died 2014) wouldn't have like me.

It might not have been personal, but as white writer sometimes passing an opinion on black jazz and blues I would have no place in his worldview.

A poet and playright, social critic, advocate for black militancy and arts, essayist and much more, Baraka could be uncompromisingly blunt but also cleverly insightful in his observations of the relegation of black artists, arts and culture in American life.

He recorded with jazz artists and the Roots, appeared in numerous documentaries and films, was accused of being anti-Semitic and homophobic, formed his own record label in the late Sixties (Jihad) and was rarely far from controversy or passing an opinion.

His essays, some of which have dated obviously, still make for remarkable reading.

And much of what he had to say became relevant again in the Black Lives Matter movement.

This poem has always had particular appeal. 

The collage here illustrated this piece I wrote for Real Groove magazine in the early 2000s when I wrote about his books on jazz.

I was pleased with this because it looked like a mug-shot/wanted poster but the text conveyed a lot of information.

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