Last Poet Standing
By Don McIver
In Amiri Baraka’s review of Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry, I was struck by not only the vitriol, but how he was making a similar argument that I had made a few years ago during my review of In Company: An Anthology of New Mexico Poets After 1960. Lacking the vitriol, I took the editors to task for trying to be inclusive but missing what was happening outside the Academy. Similarly, Baraka argues that the Black Arts Movement had not gotten the attention it deserved in this anthology. On the purpose of the movement he writes, “We wanted it to be a mass art, not hidden away on university campuses. We wanted an art that could function in the ghettos where we lived. And we wanted an art that would help liberate Black people.” Baraka’s review, “A Post-Racial Anthology?,” basically makes an argument I find all too common in poetry circles: poets aren’t inclusive enough in describing the history/importance of poetry and what they define as poetry.
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