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Nov 17, 2015

Nadine Pinede Reads Amiri Baraka



Amiri Baraka was 30 years old when he published “Kenyatta Listening to Mozart” under the name LeRoi Jones. The poem first appeared in the Paris-based magazine Revolution, which had solicited work from him. At the time he asked if he could send them not only his work, but also that of other young African American writers. As a result, the spring 1964 issue featured Baraka and five other emerging poets including Lorenzo Thomas, who, in a 2003 essay in the African American Review, reflected on the “unselfish generosity” of Baraka.

“Kenyatta Listening to Mozart” was reprinted in Black Magic: Collected Poetry, 1961–1967.

In the poem, Baraka writes of Jomo Kenyatta, a leader in the fight for Kenyan independence. Kenyatta became the first president of independent Kenya and left a checkered legacy, having created a strong centralized government and wielded his power to jail political opponents, as well as  alleviated some of the country’s violent tribal infighting.

In this video writer Nadine Pinede reads “Kenyatta Listening to Mozart” and talks about how it engages with and subverts categories.

Pinede, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, was born in Paris and is the author of the chapbook An Invisible Geography. Her fiction has appeared in Haiti Noir and her nonfiction was included in Becoming: What Makes a Woman. In 2014 Pinede visited the Furious Flower Poetry Center to read her own work at the Court Square Theater in Harrisonburg, Va.