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‘For Amiri Baraka’: Diane di Prima’s Remembrance of the Late, Great Poet

By Harriet Staff


SFGate recently published this beautiful poem by Diane di Prima, written the day after Amiri Baraka died. A memorial service was held on March 2nd in San Francisco to celebrate his life. First di Prima introduces the poem, an excerpt of the poem follows. Head to SFGate for the entire poem.

The great poet Amiri Baraka died Jan. 9. While he was in the hospital, I spoke daily to his wife, Amina, my dear friend. I wrote the poem below the day after Amiri died. He and I became friends in the New York art scene of the 1950s. We were drawn to each other by our work as poets and activists. We fell in love and had a daughter, Dominique. We remained friends all the rest of our lives.

For Amiri Baraka“don’ matter was it

yr left foot went bad

or yr right

don’ matter yr lungs

or yr heart

don’ matter if that


on yr liver was


or what’s been wrong

so long

w/yr kidneys

don’t matter


or herbs

or acupuncture

or why you didn’t


to those appointments

don’t matter how much you drank

or if you drank

don’t matter you did or you didn’t

take drugs

meaning meds

or take drugs

meaning drugs

what matters now

what matters &

what’s gonna matter

a hundred

a thousand years

what matters when

what we wrote

what we thought

is lost

Go now for the rest of the poem.

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Posted in Poetry News on Thursday, March 6th, 2014 by Harriet Staff.