Amiri Baraka, a noted poet and playwright, passed away January 9, 2014 at the age of 79. Born Everett Leroy Jones in Newark in 1934, he studied music as a child before enrolling in Rutgers and later, Howard University. After that, he had a brief stint in the military before leaving that to live as a magazine editor in New York City. He was influenced by the Beat poets, particularly Allen Ginsberg, who encouraged him to write poetry. His writing was apolitical at first until he traveled to Cuba in 1960 and became radicalized by what he found there. He became one of the founding members of the Black Arts Movement (the artistic arm of the Black Power Movement) in the late 1960s and early 1970s and changed his name shortly thereafter to Amiri Baraka after converting to Islam. In later years, he became more Marxist in his politics and controversial in his public life and writings. His standing as a great American poet, however, remains undiminished. Listen to and read his poems. Search our catalog for works by and about Baraka to learn more about a distinguished poet who has lived and died in our midst. You will be richly rewarded.