Fightin’ Words

You’d think that people would expect thought-provoking words from a poet, especially one decorated with the title of state poet laureate. But in 2002, Amiri Baraka’s “Somebody Blew Up America” was a little too edgy for some. His ranting dissection of America’s history of racism as it contrasted with the country’s reaction to the 9/11 attacks spurred the governor of New Jersey to call for Baraka’s resignation. When Baraka refused, the controversy ultimately resulted in the state’s elimination of the position of poet laureate. Fighting the power comes naturally to Baraka, an activist and founder of the 1960s Black Arts Movement. At 75, he has published more than 40 volumes of poetry, essays, drama and criticism. At 7 tonight, he’ll lecture and read poetry on the topic “Racism, Imperialism and the Obama Presidency” at Alderson Auditorium on the University of Kansas campus (1301 Jayhawk Boulevard in Lawrence). Baraka’s appearance is part of the University’s Marwa Africana Lecture Series. Call 785-864-3054 for more information.

Tue., Nov. 3, 7 p.m., 2009