Funk Lore: New Poems, 1984-1994

Overview

This new book of previously uncollected poetry (1984-1995) demonstrates Baraka's gift for the music of thought, and reveals his continued mastery of tone and performance. Engaging in the primary issues of African-American music and contemporary politics, and imbuing his homages to such grand figures of America as Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Sarah Vaughn, Albert Ayler, and John Coltrane with a passion that has not abated over the years, Baraka glories in his own virtuosity. ...
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Overview

This new book of previously uncollected poetry (1984-1995) demonstrates Baraka's gift for the music of thought, and reveals his continued mastery of tone and performance. Engaging in the primary issues of African-American music and contemporary politics, and imbuing his homages to such grand figures of America as Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Sarah Vaughn, Albert Ayler, and John Coltrane with a passion that has not abated over the years, Baraka glories in his own virtuosity.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Baraka has managed to sustain his revolutionary ardor throughout increasingly conservative times, and this volume of previously uncollected poems will surprise no one who has followed the poet and activist's career. The collection covers his familiar theme of "the hole/ in the American soul" produced by racism, and Baraka continues to trumpet the power of black style, the "exhaltation & joy" found in the sounds of musicians such as John Coltrane and Thelonius Monk. Baraka isn't shy about attacking his enemies and critics ("What do you think/ of the movie/ `X'?/ Spike/ Lie!"). His total commitment to a free-form poetics makes all of his work better when read aloud than on the page. When his jazz-influenced oral style works, it can be breathtaking: "When love is perfected, when love/ is understood./ When love is the law/ & the measure/ The ruler & ruled & body of/ of what is body mind of/ what is mind/ When love and the Soul/ are uncovered/ then you will always/ sound like/ Duke Ellington." When it doesn't, it can be almost a parody of itself: "Black snake the tongue of the world a blue/ chord coming the milky way, the jizm/ the stars shot out in." While Baraka's constant anti-Eurocentrism can be tiring, at his best he never forgets his own advice: "the universe/ is rhythm, and whatever is only is as/ swinging." (Jan.)
Library Journal
Baraka (Sky's, Wise, Y's, LJ 11/1/94) greets the reader in a state of rage. The Klan, Nazis, big business, nonartists, Vikings, Napoleon-you name it, Baraka strikes out against it. In his best poems ("The X Is Black," "The Snake of Lightning Thunder Clouds"), the anger becomes justified; his weaker poems are often simply catalogs of enemies, past and present. As was his forte in his early work, Baraka (a.k.a. Leroi Jones) remains capable of startling, often humorous language and imagery: in a poem praising knees we learn: "These knees are/ Called/ knee grows" or the speaker is one of "the unheard, the ones/ for whom democracy is a republican/ pornograph." Later poems also become more lyrical. "Othello, Jr.," a wonderful jazz riff based on the O.J. trial, begins a series of blues and jazz poems capturing the rhythms and spirit Baraka explored years ago in his critical book, Blues People (1980). This volume is essential for libraries, if only because it chronicles the progression of a major literary spokesman.-Rochelle Ratner, formerly Poetry Editor, "Soho Weekly News," N.Y.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781557132963
  • Publisher: Sun & Moon Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/1996
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 8.47 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Table of Contents

J. said, "Our whole universe is generated by a rhythm" 9
Masked Angel Costume: The Sayings of Mantan Moreland 11
Sounding 15
Brother Okot 20
Forensic Report 22
Why It's Quiet in Some Churches 25
Sin Soars! 27
Ode to the Creature 37
X 39
I Am 40
Syncretism 47
Tom Ass Clarence 49
Citation 51
Reichstag 2 52
Art Against Art Not 53
Ancient Music 63
Getting Down! 63
The Heir of the Dog 64
Incriminating Negrographs 65
Bad People 71
The Under World 72
In The Funk World 72
Americana 73
Lowcoup 73
"Always Know" 74
History Is a Bitch 75
Size Places 77
To the Faust Negro to Sell His Soul to the Devil for That Much! 79
Black Reconstruction 83
In The Fugitive 87
Othello Jr. 88
Funk's Memory 93
Funk Lore 95
One Thursday I Found This in My Notebook 98
Duke's World 99
Afro American Talking Drum 100
Monk's World 102
Buddha Asked Monk 104
Monk Zen 105
Lullaby of Avon Ave 106
The Dark Is Full of Tears 107
Fusion Recipe 108
JA ZZ : (The "Say What?") Is Is Ja Lives 109
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