Amiri Baraka: Contribution as American Author

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      Born as LeRoi Jones in New York, New Jersey, he studied at Rutgars and Harvard Universities. He changed his name as Imamu Amear Baraka then Amiri Baraka on the converting to Islam in 1965 and founded Totem Press (1958) with publication of little magazines, Floating Bear and Yugen and the Black Community Development and defense organization. He directed in the Black Arts Repertory and the Theatre at Harlem. He has taught at the University of Columbia, the New School for Social research, the State University of New York at Buffalo until retiring in 1999 at Stony Brook. Being one of the most prominent Black writers Baraka courts controversy. He was arrested during Newark rebellion in 1967 and later on obscenity charges. His tenure as a Poet Laureate of New Jersey ended in 2002 and was challenged after he wrote an unpleasant poem on 9/11. He established his reputation with the play - A Good Girl is Hard to Find (1958) and Dante (1961) - adapted as a novel. The System of Dante’s Hell (1965) is an episodic novel which equates the black slums of New York, New Jersey with the Inferno. The Dead Lecturer (1964) is a collection of poems which represents Baraka’s farewell to the Beat posts. His other volumes of poetry are It’s Nation Time (1970), In Our Terribleness (1970) Transbluesency: the Selected Poems of Amir Baraka/LeRoi Jones (1995).

      Baraka developed his political ideology and became associated with the Marxist-Leninist and advocated for the overthrow of all capitalistic system by the black and white people. These were followed by Baptism (1964), The Toilet (1964) most concerned with issues of personal identity. He was influenced by the American white poets who themselves alienated from the cultural mainstream. Dutchman (1964), The Slave (1964) and A Slave Ship: A Historical Peasant (1967) all deal with the relationship between the black and the white. As a writer in particular, though, Baraka’s main contribution has been to encourage a generation to be unapologetic, even proud and aggressive, about their African American heritage. Particularly in the writing of the 1960s and early 1970s, he introduced a prophetic, apocalyptic dimension into black writing: a sense of mission, the violent redemption of the then sins of the past in the revolutionary future.

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