by Amiri Baraka, Imamu Amiri Baraka, Paul Vangelisti (Editor)
Finally in print in a single volume, a selection from Baraka's mostly out-of-print collections of poetry, from 1961 to the present. Starting with Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note and concluding with recent limited-edition chapbooks and broadsides, this selection traces the more than thirty year career of a major writer who - along with Ezra Pound - may be one of the most significant, and least understood, American poets of our century.
Edited by noted poet and translator Paul Vengelisti, Transbluesency offers an ample selection of works from every period of Baraka's extraordinarily innovative, often controversial struggle as a serious and ideologically committed American artist - from Beat to Black Nationist to Maxist-Leninist. This volume reveals a writer shaping a body of poetry that is well a body of knowledge; a passionate reflection upon the cultural, political, and aesthetic questions of his time.
Poet, dramatist, essayist, fiction writer and political activist, Amiri Baraka is considered by many to be the most influential and preeminent African-American literary figures of our time. Transbluesency reveals a writer shaping a body of poetry that is as well a body of knowledge--a passionate reflection upon the cultural, political, and aesthetic questions of his time.
The poems selected here span from Baraka's first collection, Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note (1961), to the long poem Wise, Why's, Y'z, published earlier this year. The best work here has been culled from his second and third books, The Dead Lecturer (1964) and Black Magic (1969). Despite coming out of distinct phases in Baraka's life (the former when he was a book Beat, by the latter he'd become black nationalist), these works combine the personal and political in highly charged ways. When Baraka writes of ``the roaring harmonies of need'' or of ``stumbling over our souls in the dark, for the sake of unnatural advantage,'' he succeeds as both an activist and a poet. However, as revolutionary politics increasingly intrude, Baraka seems largely to abandon the craft of poetry for the the broader strokes of diatribe and rant (``dont tell me shit about the tradition of slavemasters/ & henry james... ''). However disappointing much of this later work may be, it is readily argued that Baraka's influential work prefigured rap and the current vogue of spoken-word performances and poetry slams. This collection provides a useful overview of his work. (Oct.)
Paperback: 296 pages