Remembering Amiri Baraka

POETIC: as in, poesis: as in, revealing (and what is revealed); as in, revelation: as in, prophetic—not of ‘truth’ as tradition, but ‘truth’ as disclosedness.

Technically: The poetic as the bearing of witness {that which the English have called, ‘the hue and the cry’, semantically apropos to BLACK DADA}; is the speaking of what is: is a telling—the sort of which reveals, discloses that which it speaks about; and speaks about that which it disclose: the poetic: to speak is to disclose: the poetic is what is: and, being what is, speaks itself {metaphysical, organizing (immanent) principle}; the poetic can only speak that it itself already is.

Specifically: Poetics: as in, specification; as in, the typification of what is known: of ‘word’: poetics—what is known of ‘world’ as what is said of world: that is, ‘word’ captured ‘world’. Poetics reveals ‘world’ as shared venture, as ‘word’, as ‘language’: Poetics implies ethno: as in ethno-poesis; as in, ethno-poetics.

Sylvia Wynter (secondary citation): “…At root ‘Ethnopoetics’ has to do with the essentially ‘local’ incidence of ‘poesis’ or acts of ‘making’…So ethnopoetics is rooted in ‘self-poetics,’ ‘our kind’ of poetics, which by inevitable extension of poesis becomes that activity which has gradually become conscious of itself…What does any local band of people living together do in their poetry? Answer: They say themselves.” In saying themselves they are the living engagement with the world: what that means is precisely this: it is the way in which and through which we experience space and time; the poetic {like the Dadaist, like the Surrealists, from which Baraka’s BLACK DADA emerges, NIHILISMUS} temporalizes ‘time’ in space-matter, bending it towards the manner in which we experience it (and vice versa): the poetic, rather than the quickening of prose, semantic nullification {of the post-modern, -structuralist}, or aphoristic fracturing, speaks itself, speaks its people, speaks its world and sculpts the substance of life into {from} its use-concepts: and, the world shows up, anew.

Poetics, then, is the speaking of a people: that is, of “the operation performed on the language of thought”, specific and general; they are the making of a people and the making of their world:

Interviewer: Let’s talk about the movement {Civil Rights Movement}; it’s been such a part of your life. Some critics would say that it affected your poetry in such a way that the quality was effected…

A.B.: See, the point is this. Like Mao Tse Tung says: “where do ideas come from? Do they drop from the sky?” No, they don’t drop from the sky. Ideas come from the social life. And as your social life changes—your day to day material existence changes—so the focus on what you want to speak about; what becomes important to you changes. So that if you lead some kind of, you know, closed effete circle of…literatures who have no real interest in…the human rights movement to transform society, then they’re going to think that your topics, your themes, your focus changes, that somehow your poetry is diminished; but, quite the contrary, I think this: I think most black people wouldn’t know me if it wasn’t for my own participation—and my wife certainly says this: “they wouldn’t know you if wasn’t in the struggle to transform reality, the struggle for democracy, the struggle for socialism they wouldn’t know you”. And, its true because people are concerned with what changes their lives, with what moves them…(Amiri Baraka, “On his poetry and breaking rules. HoCoPoLitSo. Howard County Poetry and Literature Society: The Writing Life)

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Filed under Afro-American Lit, The Philosopher's Corner

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