WATCH: The Gifted Najee Omar Performs “The Anti-Poem (After Amiri Baraka)” for All Def Poetry
“Poems are bullshit unless they are screamed, or howled, or thrown in your face.” – Najee Omar
The true role of an artist, the poet Amiri Baraka said, “is to raise the consciousness of people. To make them understand life, the world and themselves more completely.”
Najee Omar’s “The Anti-Poem (After Amiri Baraka)” calls out the wordsmith with no depth to his offering. That’s what artistry should be, truly, according to Omar – a vulnerability that others can’t help but feel. Najee’s unique delivery pays homage to Baraka’s terrific wit and sometimes cynical clarity of the general emotions surrounding crucial topics in our communities. At the same time, the Brooklyn native compares poetry to the every day songs sung by those black, the suicidal, the incarcerated, those seeking justice and so on. These stories are important, and Omar suggests that these are the stories where words are most crippling to the system that impairs.
“There’s a black man leading the free world/There’s a free world leading the black man/There’s a free world, black man. Lead/There’s a world needing a free black.” In all of it’s simplicity Najee talks about blacks standing up and taking their place in America, not in spite of the poetry that soothes souls but because those screams and those howls are apart of the dignity and pride he suggests blacks to wear proudly. Unless followed by productive action, our poems, our hood hymnals stand alone and don’t stand a chance against whatever oppresses us.
Najee Omar turns classrooms into stages as a teaching artist conducting workshops in theater and poetry in schools across the greater New York City area. He also serves as the curator for artist showcases on the HigherSelf Arts Committee. You’ll also find Najee performing in Brooklyn and beyond.
Watch Najee perform “The Anti-Poem (After Amiri Baraka)” for All Def Poetry above and share your thoughts.