- Dec 27, 2013
Baraka was also accused of anti-Semitism, a stance he formally renounced decades ago. But controversy continued to dog Baraka well into his later years, most recently and famously when he was named New Jersey’s second poet laureate in 2002, in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. His poem, "Somebody Blew Up America," spotlighted instances of white aggression around the world and included phrases perceived by some as anti-Semitic. The ensuing controversy led to the elimination of the poet laureate position before Baraka’s two-year tenure was scheduled to end.
I have read more than one supposition over the years that Baraka's words castigating homosexuals was due to his own closeted homosexuality. It's a plausible notion.
I'm no expert on poetry but I thought his "Somebody Blew Up America" poem was hyperbolic nonsense. However, when you fire someone (which is what it effectively did when the New Jersey legislature abolished the poet laureate position) you have to pay off his contract. The should have just paid him his money.
I respect that he was a writer who continued to evolve his entire life.
A man accused of being anti-Semitic who dies at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. Now that's --pardon the pun--poetic justice.