Black Art (poem)  

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"We want poems that kill", see aestheticization of violence


We want poems
like fists beating niggers out of Jocks
or dagger poems in the slimy bellies
of the owner-jews. Black poems to
smear on girdlemamma mulatto bitches
whose brains are red jelly stuck
between 'lizabeth taylor's toes. Stinking
Whores! We want "poems that kill."
Assassin poems, Poems that shoot
guns. Poems that wrestle cops into alleys
and take their weapons leaving them dead
with tongues pulled out and sent to
Ireland. Knockoff
poems for dope selling wops or slick
halfwhite
politicians Airplane poems, rrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
rrrrrrrrrrrrrrr ... tuhtuhtuhtuhtuhtuhtuhtuhtuh
... rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr ... Setting fire and
death to
whities ass. Look at the Liberal
Spokesman for the jews clutch his throat
& puke himself into eternity ... rrrrrrrr
There's a negroleader pinned to
a bar stool in Sardi's eyeballs melting
in hot flame Another negroleader
on the steps of the white house one
kneeling between the sheriff's thighs
negotiating cooly for his people.
Agggh ... stumbles across the room ...
Put it on him, poem. Strip him naked
to the world! Another bad poem cracking
steel knuckles in a jewlady's mouth
Poem scream poison gas on beasts in
green berets

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

"Black Art" (1965) is a poem by Amiri Baraka. The poem was set to music on the album Sonny's Time Now by Sunny Murray.

It serves as one of his most controversial, yet poetically profound supplements to the Black Arts Movement. In this piece, Baraka merges politics with art, criticizing poems that are not useful to or adequately representative of the Black struggle. First published in 1966, a period particularly known for the Civil Rights Movement, the political aspect of this piece underscores the need for a concrete and artistic approach to the realistic nature involving racism and injustice. Serving as the recognized artistic component to and having roots in the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Arts Movement aims to grant a political voice to black artists (including poets, dramatists, writers, musicians, etc.). Playing a vital role in this movement, Baraka calls out what he considers to be unproductive and assimilatory actions shown by political leaders during the Civil Rights Movement.

According to Werner Sollors of Harvard University, the poem expressed Baraka's need to commit the violence required to "establish a Black World".

Baraka even uses onomatopoeia in "Black Art" to express that need for violence: "rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr . . . tuhtuhtuhtuhtuhtuht . . ." More specifically, lines in "Black Art" such as "Let there be no love poems written / until love can exist freely and cleanly" juxtaposed with "We want a black poem. / And a Black World" demonstrate Baraka's cry for political justice during a time when racial injustice was rampant, despite the Civil Rights Movement.

"Black Art" quickly became the major poetic manifesto of the Black Arts Literary Movement and in it, Jones declaimed, "we want poems that kill," which coincided with the rise of armed self-defense and slogans such as "Arm yourself or harm yourself" that promoted confrontation with the white power structure. Rather than use poetry as an escapist mechanism, Baraka saw poetry as a weapon of action.

Historian Melani McAlister points to an example of this writing "In the case of Baraka, and in many of the pronouncements of the NOI [Nation of Islam], there is a profound difference, both qualitative and quantitative, in the ways that white ethnicities were targeted. For example, in one well-known poem, Black Art [originally published in Liberator January 1966], Baraka made offhand remarks about several groups, commenting in the violent rhetoric that was often typical of him, that ideal poems would 'knockoff ... dope selling wops' and suggesting that cops should be killed and have their 'tongues pulled out and sent to Ireland.' But as Baraka himself later admitted [in his piece I was an AntiSemite published by The Village Voice on December 20, 1980 vol 1], he held a specific animosity for Jews, as was apparent in the different intensity and viciousness of his call in the same poem for 'dagger poems' to stab the 'slimy bellies of the ownerjews' and for poems that crack 'steel knuckles in a jewlady's mouth.'"




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Black Art (poem)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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