“He continues to improve,” the spokesman, Frank Baraff, said by email early this morning. “His condition is not dire.”
Baraka, 79, was hospitalized Monday. Lawrence Hamm, the state chairman of the People's Organization for Progress, said the poet, author and playwright had been taken to the intensive care unit at Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark.
Citing the family’s request for privacy, Baraff declined to say why Baraka had been hospitalized.
Baraka, a Newark native formerly known as LeRoi Jones, was the state's poet laureate in 2002 and 2003. He was the last to hold the post, which was abolished during his tenure after he wrote "Somebody Blew Up America," a poem about the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that was alternately praised for its frankness and criticized for what others called its anti-Semitic content.
Asked to resign by then-Gov. James McGreevey, Baraka refused. The state Legislature abolished the laureate post, effectively removing him.
Last month, the 50th anniversary of Baraka’s “Blues People,” a history of music from the time of slavery throughout the various incarnations of blues and jazz, was celebrated as part of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center's TD Moody Democracy of Jazz Festival.