Amiri Baraka & Mark Nowak


Amiri Baraka published his first volume of poetry, Preface to a Twenty-Volume Suicide Note, in 1961. His book Blues People: Negro Music in White America, is still regarded as the seminal work on Afro-American music and culture. His reputation as a playwright was established with the production of Dutchman at the Cherry Lane Theatre in 1964. The play was revived by the Cherry Lane Theatre in January 2007 and has been reproduced around the world. He has been prolific across four decades, most recently, his book of short stories, Tales of the Out & The Gone (Akashic Books) was published in late 2007, Home, his book of social essays, was re-released by Akashic Books in early 2009 and Digging: The Afro American Soul of Music (Univ. of California) was also published in 2009.

Mark Nowak is the author of Coal Mountain Elementary (Coffee House Press, 2009) and Shut Up Shut Down (Coffee House Press, 2004). For the past several years he has been designing and facilitating “poetry dialogues” with Ford autoworkers in the United States and South Africa (through the UAW and NUMSA), striking clerical workers (through AFSCME 3800), Muslim/Somali nurses and healthcare workers (through Rufaidah), and others. Nowak’s writings on new labor poetics have recently appeared in Goth: Undead Subculture (Duke, 2007), American Poets in the 21st Century: The New Poetics (Wesleyan, 2007), The Progressive, and elsewhere. A native of Buffalo, New York, he currently works as Director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. Visit his blog at at