To Raise, Destroy, and Create: The Poetry, Drama, and Fiction of Imamu Amiri Baraka (Le Roi Jones)

By Henry C. Lacey | Go to book overview

Chapter III

Imamu

[ . . . ] we labor
to make our getaway, into
The ancient image, into a new

correspondence with ourselves
and our black family. We need magic
now we need the spells, to raise up
return, destroy, and create. What will be
the sacred words?

The works to be considered in this chapter, i.e., the poems and plays that follow The Slave, are evidence of the author's arrival at a thoroughly politicized art. Exemplary of Baraka's most didactic manner, the efforts are, generally speaking, directed to a black audience. Although it is generally felt that the author sacrifices much of his artistry in these simpler, "instructive" writings, it is my hope to point out certain compensating strengths. To be sure, the intriguing complexities (snytactic and symbolic) of the earlier poems are all too frequently replaced by an overly simplistic didacticism. Similarly, the plays often lack the abundant psychological implications of the earlier works ( Great Goodness of Life affords us ample proof that this is not always the case). On the positive side, however, we see in the ensuing poems a more inventive and faithful employment of the crackling and essentially poetic language of the streets. Moreover, these poems, and the plays as well, exemplify the author's considerable satiric powers. In this respect, they are reminiscent of the poet's darkly humorous earliest works. Finally, I hope to show in this consideration of the latter agit-prop plays the artist's appropriation of various theatrical conventions, a most ironical factor in light of the

-93-

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To Raise, Destroy, and Create: The Poetry, Drama, and Fiction of Imamu Amiri Baraka (Le Roi Jones)
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments v
  • Preface vii
  • Notes xii
  • Chapter I Die Schwartze Bohemien: "The Terrible Disorder of a Young Man" 1
  • Notes 40
  • Chapter II Joseph to His Brothers 43
  • Notes 91
  • Chapter III 93
  • Notes 158
  • Chapter IV Recapitulation 163
  • Notes 196
  • Selected Bibliography of Works by Baraka 198
  • Index 199
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