The Aesthetics of LeRoi Jones / Amiri Baraka
This book will explore the aesthetics of LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka from his early days as a “Beat Poet” to his now somewhat inflammable days of being the rebel poet, ever attacking the politics, abuse of power, and misguided administrative policies of the United States. Baraka came into prominence during the student’s rebellious days of the late sixties and seventies, a rebellion based on our involvement in Vietnam and the lack of a curricula in African American Literature and Gender Studies on campuses, but it is worth noting that his concern with the abuses in America against women and the Black minority had been in evidence prior to this period. By the time Maurice A. Lee heard him speak to the students at the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1969, at the height of the resistance to the Vietnam War and other atrocities against the defenseless population throughout the world, Baraka had written and published ten books, a collection that included plays, poems, and essays. The current text will attempt to first put that early period of creativity in perspective with his development as a rebel poet, and then examine the poetry and plays in detail. The essays and fiction of Baraka are just as important as are the plays and poetry, but because he is more recognized as a poet, these works do not receive as much attention by critics as do the poetry. This book hopes to correct some of that problem by examining some of the important essays and fiction, both early and late, with an aim toward clarifying for the reading their importance in Baraka’s development as well. Indeed, some critics view Baraka’s The System of Dante’s Hell as his finest work.