Amiri Baraka on his poetry and breaking rules

Poet E. Ethelbert Miller introduces Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) as one of the most prolific writers of the century in this 1998 edition of HoCoPoLitSo’s The Writing Life. They talk about the writers that influenced his work: Charlie Olson, the Black Mountain Group, Frank O’Hara and Allen Ginsberg. Baraka reads his first published poem, “Preface to a 20 Volume Suicide Note.” A discussion on the link between his poetry and music precedes a reading of a section of the poem “In the Tradition,” which touches on the heritage of African-American music. The conversation concludes with Baraka’s greatest hope for American poetry — that the great poets will find their voices in a collective way in order to discover literature that speaks against the rules.

28 thoughts on “Amiri Baraka on his poetry and breaking rules

  1. Thank you to all who have written praising Amiri Baraka. This interview was
    truly amazing, as was the man. We are privileged to have hosted Mr. Baraka
    several times, reading to our audiences, especially to our high school
    audiences. He will truly be remembered as a visionary. 

  2. Ethelbert Miller
    I need to hear and listen
    98′ til 14′ and ect..!

    ” Once you realize that everything in your life is significant ..
    That there IS no say symbolism or a metaphor more important then any thing
    other. It’s thee kind of aspect of life that you invest in it ” – Amiri

  3. Actually I admire the fact that the old black monkey learned to utter
    something distantly resembling English.

  4. Agreed — Baraka is amazing. If you enjoyed this program, try our show with
    Martín Espada or the show with Sekou Sundiata. Thanks for watching.

  5. I like Amiri Baraka. I think it’s cool that he was New Jersey’s last Poet
    Laureate. He’s not only a Poet he’s an Activist. He has some great poems,
    plays and on and on. I think when he dies his work will be his legacy and
    he’ll become more widely read and well-known. He has been Interviewed a
    lot. I’ve seen so many Amiri Baraka interviews I’ve lost count on Youtube
    of course.

  6. Hi Ayesha Karim, Amiri Baraka is a national treasure. I’m glad you enjoyed
    the show with him — he is a riot in person. All the best, and keep
    writing, HoCoPoLitSo

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