Poet and playwright Leroi Jones changed his name to Amiri Baraka to affirm his African roots. While exploring his black identity, he participated in a variety of different arts and political movements. Though his views continue to evolve, his past experiences continue to inform his writing today.
Etheridge Knight began writing poetry while serving a sentence for robbery. He talks with Fresh Air producer Danny Miller about how he draws inspiration from his past experiences as a former prisoner and drug addict.
Poet Gwendolyn Brooks was, in 1954, the first black person to receive the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Brooks has written over fifteen books, her poetry has been widely anthologized, and has received over forty honorary doctorates. Brooks is also the Poet Laureate of Illinois. Brooks is in the are to deliver the "Marion Moore Poetry Reading" at Bryn Mawr College. Brooks discusses her career and reads some of her poetry.
Documentarian Bob Mugge's new film "Black Wax" is a performance documentary with poet and activist Gil Scott-Heron. The film documents performances by Scott-Heron, including some with wax figures. Mugge's previous film "Amateur Night at City Hall," was a documentary about Frank Rizzo. The film includes Scott-Heron performing a portion of his poem/song "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised."
In between a series of odd jobs, the two folk musicians made a living performing across the country before settling down in Philadelphia. They join Fresh Air to showcase the kind of energetic music they can make with their traditional instruments.