Amiri Baraka, formerly known as LeRoi Jones and Imamu Amear Baraka, was an African-American writer of poetry, drama, fiction, essays and music criticism. He was the author of numerous books of poetry and taught at a number of universities, including the State University of New York at Buffalo and the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He received the PEN Open Book Award, formerly known as the Beyond Margins Award, in 2008 for Tales of the Out and the Gone.
Baraka’s career covers nearly fifty years and his topics range from Black Liberation and White Racism. Several poems that are always associated with his name are “The Music: Reflection on Jazz and Blues,” “The Book of Monk,” and “New Music, New Poetry.” These titles draw on concepts such as society, music, and literature. Baraka's poetry and writing have attracted both extreme praise and condemnation. Within the African-American community, some compare him to James Baldwin and call Baraka one of the most respected and most widely published Black writers of his generation. Others have said his work is an expression of violence, misogyny, homophobia and racism.