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Transbluesency: The Selected Poetry of Amiri…

Transbluesency: The Selected Poetry of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones…

by Amiri Baraka

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There are certain obvious problems in evaluating a work with strong 'nationalist' vibes, when you are not a part of that group. I.e., the book is, if you'll pardon the expression, very black, and I'm white. However, I felt like a certain amount of exposure to this sort of thing might be worth it, (even though I'm probably less biased in discussing works of Indian origin, for example), and I decided to review it, since he is certainly very open in disclosing whatever the hell it is he may be thinking at any particular time, and so I suppose that he at least deserves an honest reply, even if it's not a very strong affirmation of its value. It would be easier to stay silent-- and perhaps better, I cannot tell-- or to give a sort of masked response of false enthusiasm, which would certainly, I think, be worse. But I've decided not to do either of those.

I'm not going to quote it, since it would be to easy to pick off phrases which strike you as being a bit off, just like it's easy to break a small twig off the limb of a tree. In fact, it would be a little too easy somehow. So I will try to confine myself to broader themes.

Among my complaints I do not include the fact that it is very modern, non-rhyming poetry, since I find much (though not all) of the older stuff to be excessively grand and stuffy. However, there is a issue for me, not in the form itself but in how he uses it-- his stance or attitude. One image follows another, and then there is another and another in quick succession, and he seems not to care if he has left you behind, or even put you off a little bit with one of his brusque flourishes. He doesn't see to it that you can keep up with him, and there is the question as to whether or not this modern poet thinks that he is above pleasing his audience. (If so, then why write? would be the obvious question.)

This leads into a second issue of whether, beyond black or white, he is the sort of man we could call good. He is certainly filled with purpose, but the *manner* in which he pursues it creates an obstacle, I think, in whether or not we will admire it. He can be quite insinuating, and careless of whom he offends. Almost anyone with cooler emotions than his own will at some point find it difficult to follow him into the forest into which he leads.

And finally, I find him to be a very unromantic, even anti-romantic, man. The importance of this cannot really be spelled out to those not already in agreement, for it is an intuitive sort of value, but I put alot of stock by it....

It could be worse, but it is mediocre, and it's the worst thing that I've read in awhile. (Except for the Bible.)

(7/10) ( )
  fearless2012 | Oct 3, 2013 |
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