In a recent post on her Brain Pickings blog, writer, blogger, and critic Maria Popova discusses a historic gem she discovered in the Academy of American Poets archive: a 1968 open letter written by a group of sixteen white poets in support of revolutionary poet and activist Amiri Baraka.

In the post, Popova reflects on the bold, incendiary, politically aware work Baraka was known for, and recounts how Baraka himself became the victim of police brutality, false arrest, and systemic racial injustice during a series of riots in Newark, New Jersey, in 1966.

Despite the oppressive and ever-present racial and social injustice and landscape of civil unrest at the time—particularly at work in the unjust arrest of Baraka—Popova discusses what she calls “a hope-giving beacon of searing solidarity” in the form of an archival open letter signed by poets who praised Baraka as “a conspicuous American artist imprisoned for his poetry during a crisis of authoritarianism.”

Signed by a group of poets that called themselves the “Committee on Poetry,” this letter bore the names of such luminaries as John Ashbery, Robert Creeley, Allen Ginbserg, and Denise Levertov.

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