[Critics said "The Dutchman"] expressed deep hostility towards women — a charge that followed the playwright for much of his life. After the murder of Malcolm X, he left his white wife and two daughters to live by radical black nationalist ideals.... "In the '60s, after Malcolm's death, black artists met and decided we were gonna move into Harlem and bring our art, the most advanced art by black artists, into the community."He became the Poet Laureate of New Jersey, which is what he was at the time of the 9/11 attacks, and his poem on the subject, "Somebody Blew Up America," was not appreciated. I suspect that most younger people, if they remember him at all, remember him as a man who was disgraced by a single poem. But there's much more to the story of LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka, much more grace and disgrace.
The Black Arts movement was a basically a counterpart [sic] to Black Power, and Baraka wrote a number of books now seen as foundational for a certain kind of black aesthetic and cultural identity. He converted to Islam, changed his name [to Amiri Baraka] and in the 1970s, turned towards Marxism. His work would always emphasize social and political issues: "The people's struggle influences art, and the most sensitive artists pick that up and reflect that," he said.
ADDED: Here's the full text of "Somebody Blew Up America." Excerpt:
Who do Tom Ass Clarence Work forALSO: State-level poets laureate might seem like it shouldn't be a thing, but it is. The states that have no such position are: Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and (post-Baraka) New Jersey. ("Because of Baraka's defiant refusals to apologize or resign as poet laureate and that there was no mechanism within the law to remove him, the position was abolished by the legislature and Governor James E. McGreevey in 2003.")
Who doo doo come out the Colon's mouth
Who know what kind of Skeeza is a Condoleeza
Who pay Connelly to be a wooden negro
Who give Genius Awards to Homo Locus
Who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get bombed
Who told 4000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers
To stay home that day
Why did Sharon stay away?
My state's poet laureate is Max Garland, who's an English professor at UW-Eau Claire. Here's his poem "Fedoras."