Controversial Poet Amiri Baraka is Dead
December 10, 2013
Baraka, seventy-nine, born Everett LeRoi Jones, was New Jersey’s Poet Laureate from 2002-2003. He co-founded the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s, and his poetry garnered extreme praise and condemnation. He was a poet, writer, and teacher, whose work, according to The New York Times, “was widely anthologized.” He was often heard on the lecture circuit, and he was also famous as “a political firebrand.” Baraka's tenure as Poet Laureate included the controversial public reading of his seemingly anti-Semitic poem "Somebody Blew Up America?" written in response to the September 11 attacks.
Baraka was the prolific author of several books of poetry, drama, fiction, and nonfiction. Among his best-known works are the poetry collections The Dead Lecturer and Transbluesency: The Selected Poetry of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones, 1961-1995, and the acclaimed but controversial play Dutchman, which premiered in 1964 and received an Obie Award the same year.
Baraka also won a PEN/Faulkner Award, a Rockefeller Foundation Award for Drama, and the Langston Hughes Award from City College of New York. He was awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Photo Credit: The Poetry Foundation