A Poem For Monday

Jan 20 2014 @ 1:31pm


Amiri Baraka - poet, playwright, essayist, music critic, fiction writer, teacher, political activist, and one of the founders of the Black Arts Movement in 1965 – was born Everett LeRoi Jones in 1934 in Newark, New Jersey, where he recently died on January 9. In honor of MLK Day, below is his stirring poem “Young Soul” (which can be found in The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry, edited by Arnold Rampersand):

First, feel, then feel, then
read, or read, then feel, then
fall, or stand, where you
already are. Think
of your self, and the other
selves . . . think
of your parents, your mothers
and sisters, your bentslick
father, then feel, or
fall, on your knees
if nothing else will move you,

then read
and look deeply
into all matters
come close to you
city boys—
country men

Make some muscle
in your head, but
use the muscle
In yr heart

(From Selected Poetry of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones © by Amiri Baraka. Reprinted by permission of the Chris Calhoun Literary Agency and Sterling Lord Literistic. Photo of Baraka addressing the Malcolm X Festival in San Antonio Park, Oakland, California, in 2007, by David Sasaki)