Tag Archives: Amiri Baraka


He did an entire show that was dedicated to Black women. It featured artists, like the dancer Carmen de Lavallade, and poets like Nikki Giovanni, Jackie Earley, Sonia Sanchez, and Mari Evans. It was unheard of to have a show dedicated to poets, let alone female poets. Carolyn Franklin, the sister of Aretha Franklin, was on the show. People who really know soul music are aware that she was one of the best singers of our time. Of course, rest in peace, Aretha, but she was not on the show, her sister was… [Ellis Haizlip] was an openly gay African American man who saw the struggle and wanted to make sure they had a voice. — Melissa Haizlip

To celebrate the ongoing success of her remarkable documentary MR. SOUL!—the story of producer and host Ellis Haizlip and his groundbreaking PBS television series Soul!—filmmaker Melissa Haizlip (Ellis’ niece) and the Museum of Tolerance present a watch party and post-screening discussion with Giovanni, Blair Underwood, and Doug Blush, moderated by Harvard professor Sarah Elizabeth Lewis.

See link below to register.


Museum of Tolerance, Los Angeles.

Tuesday, December 29.

4 pm on the West Coast; 7 pm East Coast.


Directed by Melissa Haizlip.

Now streaming.

Melissa Haizlip, Mr. Soul! (2020), from top: Ellis Haizlip, photograph by Ivan Curry; Nikki Giovanni on Soul!; Amiri Baraka (right) with Haizlip on the show, photograph by Chester Higgins; the J. C. White Choir with Haizlip, photograph by Alex Harsley; Mr. Soul! poster; Patti LaBelle performs on Soul!; the show’s director Stan Lathan (far left), cameraman, Haizlip, and Melvin Van Peebles (facing television camera), photograph by Higgins; Melissa Haizlip. Images courtesy and © the filmmaker, the photographers, and Shoes In the Bed Productions.


I looked down the line,
And I wondered.

Everyone had always said that john would be a preacher when he grew up, just like his father. It had been said so often that John, without ever thinking about it, had come to believe it himself. Not until the morning of his fourteenth birthday did he really begin to think about it, and by then it was already too late. — James Baldwin*

Join Ayana Mathis for an online discussion of Baldwin’s first novel, Go Tell It On the Mountain. See link below to register.


T Magazine Book Club

Thursday, December 17.

4 pm on the West Coast; 7 pm East Coast.

*James Baldwin, Go Tell It On the Mountain (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1953); © 1953, 1985 by James Baldwin and the James Baldwin Estate.

From top: Toni Morrison and James Baldwin in 1986 at the Founders Day celebration, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York City, photograph by Hakim Mutlaq, courtesy and © the photographer; Harry Belafonte (left), Baldwin, and Marlon Brando at the 1963 March on Washington, © the Associated Press; Baldwin, Go Tell It On the Mountain (1953) reprint cover image (detail) courtesy and © Vintage International; Steve Schapiro, James Baldwin, Harlem, New York, 1963, gelatin silver print, courtesy and © the photographer; Thomas Allen Harris, Untitled (Amiri Baraka, Maya Angelou & Toni Morrison at James Baldwin’s Funeral at Cathedral of St. John the Divine), 1987, (Baraka’s face is partly hidden by torch on left).


In conjunction with their online Peter Hujar exhibition CRUISING UTOPIA, Pace will convene a virtual panel discussion moderated by  Oliver Shultz.

Panelists include Nayland Blake,  Every Ocean Hughes (Emily Roysdon), Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Abigail Solomon-Godeau, and Stephen Koch, a close friend of Hujar’s and the director of his archive.

See link below for details.


Wednesday, July 15.

10 am on the West Coast; 1 pm East Coast.

Peter Hujar, Cruising Utopia, Pace, June 30, 2020–July 28, 2020, from top: Christopher Street Pier #5, 1976, vintage gelatin silver print; John Giorno, Jim Carroll, Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka) and Jayne Cortez, circa 1982, vintage gelatin silver print; Fran Lebowitz [at Home in Morristown], 1974, vintage gelatin silver print; Richie, 1985, vintage gelatin silver print; John Heys in Lana Turner’s Gown (III), 1979, vintage gelatin silver print; Paul Thek Masturbating, 1967, pigmented ink print; Two Cockettes, 1971, vintage gelatin silver print; Greer Lankton in a Fashion Pose (I), 1983, vintage gelatin silver print; Christopher Street Pier #2 (Crossed Legs), 1976, pigmented ink print; Christopher Street Pier #4, 1976, vintage gelatin silver print; Hudson River (III), 1976, pigmented ink print. Images courtesy and © The Peter Hujar Archive and Pace Gallery.


“Freddy was addicted to that moment between the body’s rise and fall.” — FREDDY, by Deborah Lawlor

Freddy Herko was a beautiful, talented dancer, a co-founder (with Diane di Prima, Amiri Baraka, and choreographer James Waring) of the New York Poets Theatre, and—with Lucinda Childs and Yvonne Rainer—a charter member of Judson Dance Theater.

At Warhol’s factory, he was introduced to the wonders of methamphetamine. A runaway addiction commenced, which ended in 1964 when Freddy—age 28, but aging fast—took a great, naked leap into the blue from a fifth-floor loft in Lower Manhattan, the highly amplified sounds of Mozart’s “Coronation Mass” following him out the window.

Herko’s ballet days and Factory nights are revisited in FREDDY, Deborah Lawlor’s 50-minute fantasia—part theater, part dance, part happening. Lawlor (a co-founder of the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles) was an intimate of Herko’s in the ’60s, and knew all of the characters who dance through her piece: Waring (Mel England), Billy Name (Connor Clark Pascale), Ondine (Justice Quinn), Rotten Rita (Jesse Trout), etc. In the title role, Marty Dew ably captures the energy and waste of Herko’s fast trip and long drop, but the piece is anchored by Lawlor’s alter ego—a narrator called “present-day Shelley”—played with grace by former dancer and veteran actor Susan Wilder.

FREDDY—a Fountain Theatre production, playing off-site at the Los Angeles City College’s Vermont Avenue campus—is directed by Frances Loy, with choreography and movement direction by Cate Caplin.

FREDDY, through October 14.

CAMINITO THEATRE, LACC, 855 North Vermont, Los Angeles.

See Tim Teeman, “The Life and Dramatic Death of an Avant-Garde Hero,” The Guardian, October 23, 2014:


From top:

Fred Herko dancing on rooftop in Manhattan in the early 1960s; Freddy, with Jesse Trout (kneeling left), Connor Clark Pascale (standing right), Justice Quinn (below Pascale); Marty Dew as Herko in Freddy; Herko.

All Freddy photographs by Ed Krieger.