Friday, January 10, 2014

Amiri Baraka and 'Somebody Blew Up America'

Mario Van Peebles Presents Amiri Baraka - Poetic Justice @ CAAM 

-SOMEONE BLOW UP AMERICA- on September 11th 2001

"Poetic License," covers the uproar surrounding controversial poet Amiri Baraka. The militant Marxist Baraka has long been known for his confrontational writing designed to challenge the white establishment, particularly during the "black power" heyday of the '60s. Here Mario Van Peebles outlines the furor over Baraka's post-9/11 poem, "Somebody Blew Up America," in which the poet draws a difficult comparison between the terrorist attack and long-simmering internal problems in America that have been elided in our outrage toward foreign enemies.

Any long-time reader of Amiri Baraka should not be surprised at the content of his work. This was, after all, a poet who once announced (in the mid-'60s poem "Black People!") that the magic words that would create solidarity in the black community were "Up against the wall mother/fucker this is a stick up!" But Van Peebles' piece is less about the poem itself than about everything surrounding the performance of Baraka's work. Talking heads abound, trying to dissect the finer points of arts funding, New Jersey politics, Israeli governmental policies (stemming from some borderline anti-Semitic suggestions in the poem), apocalyptic fervor, and so forth, as if trying to cram in a textbook worth of information before time runs out. Baraka's own voice, powerful in the few moments we get to hear it between the analysis, nearly gets buried in the crosstalk.

The full version is on DVD @ Amazon "Poetic Justice" directed by Mario Van Peebles. Location California African American Museum several years back also Conney Williams & son Noah do a presentation called "Confessions of A Black Man"
Retro Blaze from 2005 --


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