what's next on your to do list?
the question still remains
to much debate
at this late date
the 11th Anniversary of
“Somebody Blew Up America”
Poet icon and political activist Amiri Baraka
in a reading from his book
“Somebody Blew Up America & Other Poems.
performs with Rob Brown, “…one of the most talented musicians playing in the avant-gard.” – The New York Times
recorded live on February 21, 2009 at
The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy NY.
In July 2002, ten months after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, Baraka wrote a poem entitled “Somebody Blew Up America” that was controversial and met with harsh criticism.
After the poem’s publication, Governor Jim McGreevey tried to remove Baraka from the post of Poet Laureate of New Jersey to which he had been appointed in 1999, only to discover that there was no legal way to do so. In 2002, McGreevey abolished the NJ Poet Laureate title in order to remove Baraka from the post. In response to legal action filed by Baraka, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that state officials were immune from such suits, and in November 2007 the Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear an appeal of the case.
In response to the attempts to remove Baraka as Poet Laureate of New Jersey, a nine-member advisory board named him the poet laureate of the Newark Public Schools in December 2002.
Baraka has received honors from a number of prestigious foundations, including: fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, theLangston Hughes Award from the City College of New York, the Rockefeller Foundation Award for Drama, an induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and theBefore Columbus Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.
This production is part of “Free Jazz at the Sanctuary,”
a 13-part series of performance videos featuring some of the world’s most talented improvisers.
Each hour-long show is available on DVD directly from Downtown Music Gallery (www.downtownmusicgallery.com). For more information on this series, visit http://www.JazzSanctuary.org