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 II
Joseph To His Brothers

I am deaf and blind and lost and will not again sing your quiet verse.
I have lost even the act of poetry, and writhe now for cool horizonless dawn.

LeRoi Jones is a poet, is a teacher, is a playwright, is a critic, is a celebrity, is a king of the lower East Side. Is a Flaming Seducer, is a Rabid Racist, who Hates whites, Hates Negroes, Hates Homosexuals, Hates intellectuals, Hates liberals, and Watch Out, he's a killer! 1

Isabel Eberstadt tongue in cheek comment, from December 1964 article "King of the East Village," is an indication of Baraka's emergence as "personality" during the early 1960's. To be sure, Eberstadt indicates in the remainder of her highly favorable article, that the LeRoi Jones of her acquaintance was quite different from the LeRoi Jones of the press and popular reputation. In fact, she tries to disprove some of the sensational rumors by noting that the poet was happily married to a Jewish intellectual at the time. There were, nevertheless, those outraged detractors who would agreed with Eberstadt's introductory statement, completely missing her rather obvious levity. Baraka's fiery reputation grew with appearances of his increasingly political and race-conscious publications and theatrical productions. The poetry, drama, fiction, and social essays written between 1961 and 1965 are evidence of the poet's protracted assimilation of the crucial Cuban experience. Evidence of influence of this experience is most graphically seen in the works to be considered in this chapter, all of which were written after 1960. Although we perceive the quickening influence of the Cuban trip in at least two poems of Preface, the experience plays no major part in most of the poems, some of which were written as early as 1957. The largely self-directed anger of the poems of Preface is still present to some degree, but the later work is primarily directed to the liberal and apolitical artist friends of the poet. The works are, however, as

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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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