Saturday, January 11, 2014

As Essential as Groceries

The title of this post is paraphrased from Dr. Fowler's paraphrasing of Amiri Bakara in the opening moments of this clip (with thanks to Poets and Writers Inc. for drawing attention to that video).

The clip has about 7 minutes of interview footage, and includes great perspective from Baraka on the importance of speaking and hearing poetry, as well as simply reading it off a page.  Early on, it also has this pearl of Truth:

The reason they cut the arts always is because the people that run the world don't want you to be conscious, because otherwise you'd resist. You couldn't possibly be living like we live if you understood what they were doing, you know, you'd fight them.  So the arts is always expendable.  Anything that makes people conscious of what the world is, and what it could be, is always expendable.

Baraka goes on in this interview to discuss how an artist needs to live and work on this earth, in this actual world, the physical universe of people and things, rather than retreating into an imaginary, idealized, self-constructed cave or tower, of ivory or any other color.

This world has plenty that is nearly uncontrovertibly craptastic in it [which, in case it's not obvious by now, is one of the most important reasons why art and poetry out loud are as essential as food].  But one of the things I'd argue is good about these internets is that, in addition to the cat videos and endless rants, you can find a trove of material at a moment's notice about Amiri Baraka, the Black Arts Movement, and delve into a rabbit hole of your own devising.

For now, I'm leaving you with a couple clips of Baraka reading his work.  One, a relatively recent live performance video with Rob Brown, courtesy of The Sanctuary for Independent Media.

And this other, even more powerful and controversial (if that's possible) earlier poem - audio only, with a still photo - Black Art, with Albert Ayler, Don Cherry, Sonny Murray, Henry Grimes, and Louis Worrell.  Required listening.

Rest in Power.

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