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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Do you feel that Amiri Baraka's Poem "Somebody Blew Up America" deserved the controversy it received ?

Amiri Baraka, born in 1934, in Newark, New Jersey, USA, is the author of over 40 books of essays, poems, drama, and music history and criticism, a poet icon and revolutionary political activist who has recited poetry and lectured on cultural and political issues extensively in the USA, the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe.
With influences on his work ranging from musical orishas such as Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, and Sun Ra to the Cuban Revolution, Malcolm X and world revolutionary movements, Baraka is renowned as the founder of the Black Arts Movement in Harlem in the 1960s that became, though short-lived, the virtual blueprint for a new American theater aesthetics. The movement and his published and performance work, such as the signature study on African-American music, Blues People (1963) and the play Dutchman (1963) practically seeded “the cultural corollary to black nationalism” of that revolutionary American milieu.
Other titles range from Selected Poetry of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones (1979), to The Music (1987), a fascinating collection of poems and monographs on Jazz and Blues authored by Baraka and his wife and poet Amina, and his boldly sortied essays, The Essence of Reparations (2003).
He has been the subject of numerous documentary films including Mario Van Peeble's Poetic License for The Sundance Channel and St. Clair Bourne's In Motion: Amiri Baraka. He has also appeared in dozens of films including, most recently, M.K. Asante, Jr's award-winning documentary The Black Candle.
The Essence of Reparations is Baraka’s first published collection of essays in book form radically exploring what is sure to become a twenty-first century watershed movement of Black peoples to the interrelated issues of racism, national oppression, colonialism, neo-colonialism, self-determination and national and human liberation, which he has long been addressing creatively and critically. It has been said that Amiri Baraka is committed to social justice like no other American writer. He has taught at Yale, Columbia, and the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Somebody Blew Up America & Other Poems is Baraka’s first collection of poems published in the Caribbean and includes the title poem that has headlined him in the media in ways rare to poets and authors. The recital of the poem “that mattered” engaged the poet warrior in a battle royal with the very governor of New Jersey and with a legion of detractors demanding his resignation as the state’s Poet Laureate because of Somebody Blew Up America’s provocatively poetic inquiry (in a few lines of the poem) about who knew beforehand about the New York City World Trade Center bombings in 2001.
The poem’s own detonation caused the author’s photo and words to be splashed across the pages of New York’s Amsterdam News and the New York Times and to be featured on CNN--to name a few US city, state and national and international media.
Baraka lives in Newark with his wife and author Amina Baraka; they have five children and head up the word-music ensemble, Blue Ark: The Word Ship and co-direct Kimako’s Blues People, the “artspace” housed in their theater basement for some fifteen years.
His awards and honors include an Obie, the American Academy of Arts & Letters award, the James Weldon Johnson Medal for contributions to the arts, Rockefeller Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts grants, Professor Emeritus at the State university of New York at Stony Brook, and the Poet Laureate of New Jersey.

Somebody Blew Up America

by AMIRI BARAKA
Somebody Blew Up America
They say its some terrorist,
some barbaric
A Rab,
in Afghanistan
It wasn't our American terrorists
It wasn't the Klan or the Skin heads
Or the them that blows up nigger
Churches, or reincarnates us on Death Row
It wasn't Trent Lott
Or David Duke or Giuliani
Or Schundler, Helms retiring

It wasn't
The gonorrhea in costume
The white sheet diseases
That have murdered black people
Terrorized reason and sanity
Most of humanity, as they pleases

They say (who say?)
Who do the saying
Who is them paying
Who tell the lies
Who in disguise
Who had the slaves
Who got the bux out the Bucks

Who got fat from plantations
Who genocided Indians
Tried to waste the Black nation

Who live on Wall Street
The first plantation
Who cut your nuts off
Who rape your ma
Who lynched your pa

Who got the tar, who got the feathers
Who had the match, who set the fires
Who killed and hired
Who say they God & still be the Devil

Who the biggest only
Who the most goodest
Who do Jesus resemble

Who created everything
Who the smartest
Who the greatest
Who the richest
Who say you ugly and they the goodlookingest

Who define art
Who define science

Who made the bombs
Who made the guns

Who bought the slaves, who sold them
Who called you them names
Who say Dahmer wasn't insane

Who? Who? Who?
Who stole Puerto Rico
Who stole the Indies, the Philipines, Manhattan
Australia & The Hebrides
Who forced opium on the Chinese

Who own them buildings
Who got the money
Who think you funny
Who locked you up
Who own the papers

Who owned the slave ship
Who run the army

Who the fake president
Who the ruler
Who the banker

Who? Who? Who?
Who own the mine
Who twist your mind
Who got bread
Who need peace
Who you think need war

Who own the oil
Who do no toil
Who own the soil
Who is not a nigger
Who is so great ain't nobody bigger

Who own this city
Who own the air
Who own the water

Who own your crib
Who rob and steal and cheat and murder
and make lies the truth
Who call you uncouth

Who live in the biggest house
Who do the biggest crime
Who go on vacation anytime

Who killed the most niggers
Who killed the most Jews
Who killed the most Italians
Who killed the most Irish
Who killed the most Africans
Who killed the most Japanese
Who killed the most Latinos

Who? Who? Who?
Who own the ocean
Who own the airplanes
Who own the malls
Who own television
Who own radio

Who own what ain't even known to be owned
Who own the owners that ain't the real owners

Who own the suburbs
Who suck the cities
Who make the laws

Who made Bush president
Who believe the confederate flag need to be flying
Who talk about democracy and be lying

Who the Beast in Revelations
Who 666
Who know who decide
Jesus get crucified

Who the Devil on the real side
Who got rich from Armenian genocide

Who the biggest terrorist
Who change the bible
Who killed the most people
Who do the most evil
Who don't worry about survival

Who have the colonies
Who stole the most land
Who rule the world
Who say they good but only do evil
Who the biggest executioner

Who? Who? Who?
Who own the oil
Who want more oil
Who told you what you think that later you find out a lie

Who? Who? Who?
Who found Bin Laden, maybe they Satan
Who pay the CIA,
Who knew the bomb was gonna blow
Who know why the terrorists
Learned to fly in Florida, San Diego

Who know why Five Israelis was filming the explosion
And cracking they sides at the notion

Who need fossil fuel when the sun ain't goin' nowhere
Who make the credit cards
Who get the biggest tax cut
Who walked out of the Conference
Against Racism
Who killed Malcolm, Kennedy & his Brother
Who killed Dr King, Who would want such a thing?
Are they linked to the murder of Lincoln?

Who invaded Grenada
Who made money from apartheid
Who keep the Irish a colony
Who overthrow Chile and Nicaragua later

Who killed David Sibeko, Chris Hani,
the same ones who killed Biko, Cabral,
Neruda, Allende, Che Guevara, Sandino,

Who killed Kabila, the ones who wasted Lumumba, Mondlane,
Betty Shabazz, Die, Princess Di, Ralph Featherstone,
Little Bobby

Who locked up Mandela, Dhoruba, Geronimo,
Assata, Mumia, Garvey, Dashiell Hammett, Alphaeus Hutton

Who killed Huey Newton, Fred Hampton,
Medgar Evers, Mikey Smith, Walter Rodney,
Was it the ones who tried to poison Fidel
Who tried to keep the Vietnamese Oppressed

Who put a price on Lenin's head
Who put the Jews in ovens,
and who helped them do it
Who said "America First"
and ok'd the yellow stars

Who killed Rosa Luxembourg, Liebneckt
Who murdered the Rosenbergs
And all the good people iced,
tortured, assassinated, vanished

Who got rich from Algeria, Libya, Haiti,
Iran, Iraq, Saudi, Kuwait, Lebanon,
Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine,

Who cut off peoples hands in the Congo
Who invented Aids
Who put the germs
In the Indians' blankets
Who thought up "The Trail of Tears"

Who blew up the Maine
& started the Spanish American War
Who got Sharon back in Power
Who backed Batista, Hitler, Bilbo,
Chiang kai Chek

Who decided Affirmative Action had to go
Reconstruction, The New Deal,
The New Frontier, The Great Society,

Who do Tom Ass Clarence Work for
Who doo doo come out the Colon's mouth
Who know what kind of Skeeza is a Condoleeza
Who pay Connelly to be a wooden negro
Who give Genius Awards to Homo Locus
Subsidere

Who overthrew Nkrumah, Bishop,
Who poison Robeson,
who try to put DuBois in Jail
Who frame Rap Jamil al Amin, Who frame the Rosenbergs,
Garvey,
The Scottsboro Boys,
The Hollywood Ten

Who set the Reichstag Fire
Who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get bombed
Who told 4000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers
To stay home that day
Why did Sharon stay away?

Who? Who? Who?
Explosion of Owl the newspaper say
The devil face cd be seen

Who make money from war
Who make dough from fear and lies
Who want the world like it is
Who want the world to be ruled by imperialism and national
oppression and terror violence, and hunger and poverty.

Who is the ruler of Hell?
Who is the most powerful

Who you know ever
Seen God?

But everybody seen
The Devil

Like an Owl exploding
In your life in your brain in your self
Like an Owl who know the devil
All night, all day if you listen, Like an Owl
Exploding in fire. We hear the questions rise
In terrible flame like the whistle of a crazy dog

Like the acid vomit of the fire of Hell
Who and Who and WHO who who
Whoooo and Whooooooooooooooooooooo!

Copyright 2002. Amiri Baraka.


Source Amiri Baraka.com



The Controversy as explained: by Kurt Nimmo at Counterpunch.org

Amiri Baraka's Somebody Blew Up America

Poetry as Treason?

by KURT NIMMO
It seems you not only have to be careful what you say, as White House spokesman Ari Fleischer warned last year, but also what you write, especially if you are an African-American poet with a Muslim name and Marxist politics.
On September 19, Amiri Baraka, an influential beat poet and founder of the Black Arts Repertory Theatre in Harlem, read a recent poem, "Somebody Blew Up America," at the 2002 Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival at Waterloo Village in Stanhope, New Jersey. Note the following lines from the poem:
Who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get bombed
Who told 4000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers To stay home that day
Why did Sharon stay away?
Since Baraka read his poem in September, popular news commentators and powerful political organizations have called for the revocation of his status as poet laureate of New Jersey, an honorary title which pays him a modest salary of $10,000 per year. Even though he wrote the poem last October, ten months before taking on the title as poet laureate, New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey wants Baraka to resign and apologize.
Obviously, McGreevey doesn't know Baraka too well. "Amiri Baraka ain't never been your Polite Negro Poet," writes Lee Bailey on EUR, a website covering black entertainment and culture. "So you have to wonder what the New Jersey powers-that-be were thinking when they named him Poet Laureate of NJ?" In fact, Baraka warned the governor something like this might happen. "I said, 'Governor, you're going to catch a lot of hell for this,'" Baraka told the New York Times. "He said, 'I don't care.' I said, 'If you don't care, I don't care.'"
But the Anti-Defamation League does care and is leaning on McGreevey to get rid of Amiri Baraka. It's not so easy, however. Baraka was selected by a committee of poets and New Jersey state law gives the group sole power of selection. They can't oust Baraka, nor can the governor. Baraka will remain poet laureate until July, 2004 -- that is unless the state of New Jersey can find a way to strip him of the title.
Regardless, Shai Goldstein of the ADL said his organization will put the pressure on the state's humanities and arts officials. The ideas expressed in Baraka's poem, according to William Davidson, ADL chairman-elect, are "directly linked with the anti-American xenophobia that caused such destruction and the murder of so many Americans." In other words, Baraka is not much better than Osama bin Laden.
The New Jersey Council on the Arts said it "regrets" what Baraka chooses to think and write, and they don't see how he can remain poet laureate. Baraka, said the council members in a statement, is a "remarkable poet," but also said his poem is "deeply hurtful and painful." One has to wonder if the New Jersey Council on the Arts knows anything about poetry or literature in general, which is often "hurtful" and "painful." Of course, when the "hurt" and "pain" issues from powerful groups, such as the Anti-Defamation League, not even poets have an excuse. They must be purged for their unacceptable political beliefs.
Before "everything changed," the media simply ignored poets, even when they said outrageous things, even things now considered "anti-American." Few people take poets seriously, even in New Jersey, home of famous poets, including Walt Whitman, William Carlos Williams, and Allen Ginsberg. Now, instead of ignoring poets, more than a few Americans condemn them, especially if the poets are Muslim and hold views contrary to the US government -- and particularly if those "anti-American" views are broadcast via the corporate media, from the reactionary Bill O'Reilly on Fox News to the pages of the New York Times.
As for Baraka's assertion that both the US and Israeli government had prior knowledge of the September 11 attacks, there is clear, ample, and documented evidence they most certainly did. Consider the following:
Newsbytes reported on September 27, 2001, that employees of Odigo, an instant messaging company in Herzliyya, Israel, received messages warning of the attacks two hours before they occurred. Alex Diamandis, vice president of sales and marketing for Odigo, confirmed that workers in Israeli received the messages. The story was subsequently carried by CNN and Ha'aretz in Israel.
On August 11, 2001, US Navy Lt. Delmart "Mike" Vreeland, held in Toronto on U.S. fraud charges and claiming to be an officer in U.S. Naval intelligence, gave to Canadian authorities a sealed envelope. On September 14, 2001, Canadian jailers open Vreeland's sealed envelope to find a letter detailing attacks against the WTC and Pentagon. Source: The Toronto Star, Oct. 23, 2001, and Toronto Superior Court Records.
On September 6-7, 2001, 4,744 put options (a speculation that stock prices will go down) are purchased on United Air Lines stock. There are only 396 call options (speculation that the stock will go up) at the same time. Many of the United Air Lines puts are purchased through Deutschebank/AB Brown, a firm managed until 1998 by the current Executive Director of the CIA, A.B. "Buzzy" Krongard. This is reported in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
In June, 2001, German intelligence, the BND, warns the CIA and Israel that Middle Eastern terrorists are "planning to hijack commercial aircraft to use as weapons to attack important symbols of American and Israeli culture." The story was reported by Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, September 14, 2001.
During the summer of 2001, Jordanian intelligence intercepts a communication indicating attacks are planned on the WTC. The message is relayed to Washington. Reported by John K. Cooley of ABC and published in The International Herald Tribune on May 21, 2002.
Summer 2001. Russian intelligence notifies the CIA that 25 terrorist pilots have been specifically training for missions involving hijacked airliners. Reported by Izvestia.
On July 26, 2001, CBS News reports that John Ashcroft has stopped flying commercial airlines due a threat assessment.
In August, 2001, Russian President Vladimir Putin orders Russian intelligence to warn the U.S. government "in the strongest possible terms" of imminent attacks on airports and government buildings. Source: MSNBC interview with Putin, September 15.
Also in August, 2001, Dubya receives classified intelligence briefings at his Crawford, Texas, ranch indicating that Osama bin Laden might be planning to hijack commercial airliners. Reported by CBS News and CNN, May 15, 2001.
August through September, 2001. French intelligence services warn the FBI of imminent attacks. These are ignored. Reported by AP, May 21, 2002.
In the week prior to September 11, a caller to a Cayman Islands radio talk show gave several warnings of an imminent attack on the U.S. by bin Laden. Reported by MSNBC on September 16.
On May 31, 2002, FBI Agent Robert Wright holds a press conference at the National Press Club describing his lawsuit against the FBI for deliberately curtailing investigations that might have prevented the 9/11 attacks. He uses words like "prevented," "thwarted," "obstructed," "threatened," "intimidated," and "retaliation" to describe the actions of his superiors in blocking his attempts to shut off money flows to Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Source: the C-SPAN website.
(The above information provided by Jeff Chelton of the Law Party.)
None of this, of course, was mentioned in The New York Times article on Baraka, nor did the reactionary O'Reilly mention it when he questioned Baraka's motives or patriotism (and also called him a "pinhead") on Murdoch's Fox News. The New York Times, ADL, and O'Reilly are simply providing their state assigned service -- to engender public amnesia and divert attention from the truth surrounding 9/11 and the role played by US intelligence and the Dubya administration. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
Finally, the following lines of Amiri Baraka's poem should be considered far more inflammatory and indictable by the "powers-that-be" than any accusations of anti-Semitism put forward by the ADL:
Who make money from war
Who make dough from fear and lies
Who want the world like it is
Who want the world to be ruled by imperialism and national oppression and terror violence, and hunger and poverty.
Click here to read Amiri Baraka's Somebody Blew Up America.
Kurt Nimmo is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. He can be reached at:nimmo@zianet.com

3 comments:

  1. Wow deep... Allow a poet or poetess to roam freely and have a free spirit. To limit a poets freedom of expression, portrays a veil of ignorance! Get over it people, It's Art! Check yourself,search you inner core, then look around you & pay attention to details. There is nothing wrong with exploring and looking beyond the horizons, and simply questioning what was, is and could have been! Have an open mind and quit being soooo judgmental.

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  2. Amiri Baraka's poem, "Somebody Blew Up America" did not deserve the controversy that was generated from it. The poet was simply expressing his right to free speech and did not in any way point a finger at any particular person or group of people. Mr. Baraka it seemed to me was questioning our nation's history and in fact the history of the world as to who??? do we "blame" for the state of affairs in the world today! One should not judge their fellow citizens in regard to one's opinion, instead we should respect and value another's opinion even if we disagree with it. In short, we all have free will and if you choose not to read, buy, or watch something offensive do not judge your neighbor simply because they do not share your "passion" on the subject.

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  3. Before I get on my soap box I need to make it clear that I would violently defend Mr. Baraka's right to express himself. With that said, I believe that poetry is art and art is the only thing that separates us from our cousins in the animal kingdom. Art transcends our biological limitations. Art enlarges our existence. Art explores universals and ideals.

    Mr.Baraka's words are neither poetry or art. When art becomes political it ceases to be art. His words do not seek truth nor do they strive to enlighten. Someone Blew Up America is not anymore poetic then anything that crawls up the tele-prompter and spills out of Glenn Beck's mouth on Fox TV.

    When it comes to the controversy, I feel Mr. Baraka should have never have excepted the honor of poet laureate nor should it have been stripped from him once it was bestowed.

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