Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Third World Press Tribute to AB

Amiri Baraka

(1934 to 2014)

Third World Press pauses to pay tribute to Amiri Baraka—poet, activist, historian, cultural critic.  He was one of the most significant voices of our times. As we reflect and honor this man and his legacy, we are also reminded of his words, his revolutionary voice, and his unmistakable urgency.
come in a
rushin to catch words that came before him
tho that don’t much matter,
him got his own words, music, dance, dramatics
& bright ideas even if some of them used cars
& don’t work.                              but baraka works
works harder than 15 men his age,
da, da da, do    who been around
long enough to tell his time
in places where people have tried to
beat the beat & tempo out of his talk & walk.
monk, trane & duke played secrets
that saved him and us even if we didn’t
accurately hear their da da, doos
baraka did.  they spoke musically to him.
he gave us his many languages & genius.
his comin in time is getting better & best & less late,
even for this sage still makin up stories
actin on his own stage & firing truthpoems
that compel liars & politicians to exit early and often.

For Amiri Baraka

© 2004 by Haki R. Madhubuti
from Run Toward Fear: New Poems and a Poet’s Handbook published by Third World Press
Baraka II
i saw The Dead Lecturer in a Chicago airport.
pacing, fast walking probably quick thinking about
unfinished projects like plays, poems and essays about
“successful” negroes supporting Bush & Ghost
and the secrets of whites with rhythm and
mass graves in Rwanda;
mostly Tales  of The System of Dante’s Hell out of school
really way past graduate courses taught
on the rough-neck streets
of Newark. A kind of Funk Lore in 3/4 time.
recently, i saw Black Fire, In Our Terribleness—older and
small but still a witness with missing teeth, grayer hair with a
fast smile in a blue shirt, accentuated by a smokin Egyptian
print tie—on the south side of Chicago.
Spirit Reach with his Hard Facts was alone and
standing close to a pay phone without an assistant,
credit or debit cards, without lovers of literature or Jello
supporting him. No Kawaida Studies here.
his aloneness frightens me, approaching him I wondered
why this genius of serious music,
of transcendent literature wasn’t
surrounded by readers, fans, collectors of fine words on pages
seeking instructions and autographs.
It’s Nation Time is still asleep.
where were the Blues People and Black Magic folks?
S.O.S. for the Slave ships and The Motion of History souls.
where were the consumers of best sellers, few sellers & the
new line of negro confessional booty-call stores. maybe
they just didn’t notice this Wise, Why’s, Y’s poet,
this lover of language, passionate protectors of
sound and the laughter of children.
maybe they were blinded by their bones of contradiction—
and pimp juice traversing their veins. they looked past this
original and complicated seer of Black life, this The Moderns
updated, reworked beyond Transbluesency,
there will be no Eulogies here,
no Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note,
just an older and able African son going Home,
pacing the floor of Midway Airport
on the southside of Chicago, thinking and
alone with a swift—smile. 
“whats happenin bro?”
© 2004 by Haki R. Madhubuti
from Run Toward Fear: New Poems and a Poet’s Handbook published by Third World Press
Baraka III
It’s difficult to be talented 
& genius
yet, often called crazy to your face
in a place that rewards moneymakers
who build and worship skyscrapers as monuments
to the individuality of dollar
bill collecting and preemptive war making
& whose poets and artists are viewed
as handicapped, a bit mad with water colored hands & ideas.
artists who work at beauty, wear words
bathed in nature & music,
talk in complex sentences, odd metaphors & swinging
feet are confusing to themselves and others.
they also think too much about
the nature of flags and forests,
the truth of institutions & religions
of language and lawyers, bankers & brokers;
the why & who of homelessness,
the question of collateral damage and
the battle between cultures, races & classes out of school.
actually, being a complete artist
in a place that worships skyscrapers, money, war,
misconceived thought and hummer2,  over children
   requires a bit of madness.
© 2004 by Haki R. Madhubuti
from Run Toward Fear: New Poems and a Poet’s Handbook published by Third World Press
Haki R. Madhubuti
Poet, Founder and Publisher of Third World Press

His latest book is Honoring Genius: Gwendolyn Brooks: The Narrative of Craft, Art, Kindness and Justice.
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