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NJ wake set for activist poet-writer Amiri Baraka

1-17-14

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The Rev. Jesse Jackson will be among those honoring activist poet-playwright Amiri Baraka at a wake in New Jersey.

The wake will be held at Newark’s Metropolitan Baptist Church on Friday night.

The 79-year-old author of blues-based, fist-shaking poems, plays and criticisms died last Thursday.

Baraka’s supporters considered him a genius and a prophet. But critics denounced him as homophobic and anti-Semitic.

He was named New Jersey’s poet laureate in 2002, drawing criticism for the Sept. 11 poem “Somebody Blew up America.”

“Who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get bombed,” read a line from the poem. “Who told 4,000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers to stay home that day?”

Officials couldn’t fire him so they eliminated the position.

His funeral will be held Saturday at Newark Symphony Hall.