Amiri Baraka 1934—2014

Amiri Baraka has passed away,  January 9th at age 79.  “Biography in Context”,  is featuring him this week:

Amiri Baraka

Amiri Baraka Amiri Baraka  (from Gale, Biography in Context)

“Amiri Baraka (1934-2014) was one of the most controversial writers in twentieth-century America, one whose influence on African-American literature was profound. Plays, poems, novels, essays, short stories, jazz operas, and music criticism are all included in his body of work, and all served as vehicles for his outspoken social and political commentary. According to Dictionary of Literary Biography contributor James A. Miller, he is “a protean personality, fond of manifestos and vehement repudiations, [who] has shifted guises and discarded identities with such astonishing rapidity that critics have often been frustrated, suspended in the act of defining a man who is…”

You’ll have to go to the GRPL databases ( under, “Research”, Databases, then Biography, to read more–  And then, check out some of the library’s collection of his books, which include: poetry, plays, essays, and fiction.

The more of his works and personal life I read about, the more mysterious and talented he appears. Like many great artists of the past, one is left wondering (and arguing) about the meaning of his art in context, and also, for a man who had lived through such a tumultuous time in American history—  What were his conclusions at the end?

What is your favorite work by Amiri Baraka, and why?

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