When Amiri Baraka died on January 9, 2014, a great poet left us. During his career, about fifty years, he didn’t only write poetry. We remember this poet for his emphasis on the emancipation of African Americans. This is the poem Wise I.

When Amiri Baraka died on January 9, 2014, a great poet left us. During his career, about fifty years, he didn’t only write poetry. We remember this poet for his emphasis on the emancipation of African Americans. This is the poem Wise I.

Amiri Baraka was the pseudonym of the American teacher, writer, poet and critic Everett LeRoi Jones (1934 – 2014).

About the poem

The poem that Amiri Baraka left us is a poem that shows a different point of view. Irony should not be confused with comedy. Yes, the poem strikes as a comic one. In the light of the wish for African Americans to be treated as normal citizens instead of the way they were treated, one can only conclude that this poem is full of irony. Irony and maybe even agony.

Where it all basically comes down to: if you destroy someone’s culture, then you are in serious problems. Maybe not yourself or the generation you are part of. It may take centuries to change things back to what they should be… or could be. Also, one of the other lessons that Baraka brings forward: don’t forget your roots and what has happened to your ancestors.

Baraka was part of the Black Arts Movement that started at the beginning of the sixties. Together with James Baldwin, he founded this art movement. Theatre, art, music and literature were all sources to use and should be used; equal. Through their art, they wanted to show the world a different point of view.

Many American poets, such as Maya Angelou and Nikki Giovanni became involved with this movement.

The poem Wise I, isn’t your basic protest poem. This is Protest. This is the outcry of someone, who saw that changes needed to be made.

Wise I

Wise I

WHYS (Nobody Knows
The Trouble I Seen)
Traditional

If you ever find
yourself, some where
lost and surrounded
by enemies
who won’t let you
speak in your own language
who destroy your statues
& instruments, who ban
your omm bomm ba boom
then you are in trouble
deep trouble
they ban your
own boom ba boom
you in deep deep
trouble

humph!

probably take you several hundred years
to get
out!

— Amiri Baraka

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