SELECTED POETRY OF AMIRI BARAKA/ LEROI JONES by Amiri Baraka

SELECTED POETRY OF AMIRI BARAKA/ LEROI JONES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Another bad poem cracking/ steel knuckles in a jewlady's mouth."" The offensive defense has taken over--to the detriment of the poetry and its power to move and shake. One of the strongest, most acerbic black voices of the Sixties (""Roywilkins is an eternal faggot"") and best known still for his gritty plays, LeRoi Jones--now Amiri Baraka--here presents over 300 poems of the last two decades. Early on, Baraka's anger has a rough polemic force, a gut contempt ""For the deadly idiot of compromise/ who often shrieks compassion, and bids me love my neighbor""; but the verse itself is sloppy, of the stream-of-stoned-consciousness sort, and so sweeping in its uplifts or putdowns that any real political message (or narrative thread) is lost in the babble. ""If we are something we can love, laughter is edens rain/ our work good work love builds it dirt and hope and flowers/ of thought."" And, more and more in the Seventies, Baraka's politics diffuses into support for Third-World nationalist causes and a vague international revolution. ""afroblue fire the sung flags of memories' future victory/ democracy and socialism/ joe louis turns on roosevelt/ Kid Gavilan boloes Brezhnev to his knees."" In this later poetry, the straight-arm rancor subsides to sour muttering.

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 1979
Publisher: Morrow