The Literary Life

Home » Birthdays » Birthday: Amiri Baraka

Birthday: Amiri Baraka

Previous Posts

October 2016
« Sep   Nov »

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,628 other followers



October 7, 2016

Amiri Baraka

Amiri Baraka, who for many years early in his career published under his birth name LeRoi Jones, was born this day in 1934 in Newark, New Jersey. He died in 2014. Besides his enormous reputation as a poet and playwright, Baraka was a mover and a shaker in the Beat Movement.

The following is from Baraka’s essay “Expressive Language,” from Home, published in 1965. Here is what the concept of money meant to one of America’s premier social critics.

“Money” does not possess the same meanings for the rich man as it does for me, a lower-middle-class American, albeit of laughably “aristocratic” pretensions. What possibly can “money” mean to a poor man? And I am not talking now about those courageous products of our permissive society who walk knowledgeably into “poverty” as they would into a public toilet. I mean, The Poor.


 I look in my pocket; I have seventy cents. Possibly I can buy a beer. A quart of ale, specifically. Then I will have twenty cents with which to annoy and seduce my fingers when they wearily search for gainful employment. I have no idea at this moment what that seventy cents will mean to my neighbor around the corner, a poor Puerto Rican man I have seen hopefully watching my plastic garbage can. But I am certain it cannot mean the same thing. Say to David Rockefeller, “I have money,” and he will think you mean something entirely different. That is, if you also dress the part. He would not for a moment think, “Seventy cents.” . . .





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog Stats

  • 5,913 hits
Follow The Literary Life on


Follow me on Twitter

Follow me on Twitter

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,628 other followers

Pen and Pension

Immerse yourself in Georgian and Regency England


Renaissance drama: then, now & sometimes in between

Book Geeks Anonymous

I cannot live without books. - Thomas Jefferson

The Scene

Radical Poetics at the Zig Zag Edges

The Hoarding

On 19th-Century Literary Scholarship

cancer killing recipe

Just another site


from boredom to creativity

Proof Perfectly

Editing - Copywriting - Advice

a peek behind the curtain

The Long Victorian - c.1789 - 1914

The literary world of the Long Nineteenth Century, c.1789 - 1914

Nicole Tone

This Literary Life

Under the Light of Western Skies

Intellectual Comfort from the American West

A Poet's Double Life

For poets working outside the literary world.

Rosemary's Blog

A window into my world

Lizzy's Literary Life

Celebrating the pleasures of a 21st century bookworm

%d bloggers like this: