Edmond Chibeau looks at performance and theatre from the avant-garde communication perspective

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Location: Mansfield, Connecticut, United States

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Amiri Baraka dead at 79

Amiri Baraka 2007 NYT

I recently saw Dutchman by LeRoi Jones, Directed by Jamie Taylor with Nicole Conlon-McCombe as Lula, and Aaron Andrade as Clay at the 62nd annual convention of the New England Theatre Conference.  
I remembered reading the play when it came out and being amazed.  In high school I had already read The Baptism and The ToiletThe Toilet takes place in a bathroom in a High School.  The scene is very much like the scene in the real bathroom at DeWitt Clinton High School where I was co-editor-in-chief of “The Magpie” literary magazine.  Our advisor was Mrs. Whalen.  She had been the advisor when James Baldwin and Richard Avedon were co-editors of “The Magpie”
Amiri Baraka and I have read at several events, including one at the home of Bob Holman, lots of great people that night including Pedro Pietri.  
The man had fire in his belly and in his words. I don’t always agree with everything Baraka says, especially the World Trade Center poem, “Somebody Blew Up America,” but he was a great writer and a great performer.  Years ago Kenneth Rexroth claimed that Baraka had betrayed his great talent and lost his poetry to become a gadfly and race provocateur.  Rexroth said, “His loss to literature is more serious than any literary casualty of the Second War.”
Amiri Baraka: 7 October 1934 - 9 January 2014.  Peace.

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