Research Paper on Baraka's Islamic Phase Poems

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1169 Words
Date:  2022-04-07


Foregrounding devices in poetry refer to the freedom of the poet's use of phrases and words in such a manner that is grammatically wrong. Its purpose is to attract the reader and increase their concentration. It is achieved through use of incomplete phrases, broken sentences or even wrong punctuation (Hakemulder 194). The whole idea of foregrounding is to achieve flow of the poem while at the same time highlighting major areas emphasized in the poem.

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It is clear that Amiri Baraka uses diction as a powerful tool to pass message to Muslims and non-Muslims. In his poetry work, Baraka focuses on addressing the challenges faced by the Africans and Muslims at large. He advocates for equal rights and treatment for all. Baraka's effort led to controversies in white countries. However, to the blacks, he is viewed as a liberator and independent thinker who played a major role in the fight all people's rights. He used foregrounding devices as an essential tool to facilitate the passing of the information. It demonstrated a lot of the freedom in poetry (Brooks 33). His choice of words and phrases in his various word art makes the poems stand out. He has gained global attention due to the way he manages to capture the reader's minds. This paper will analyze how Amiri Baraka uses symbolism, repetition, Capitalization, shortening and lengthening to show the role Islam can play in poetry to advocate for their rights.

Baraka's poetry work uses symbolism to prove that Islam has a major role in poetry. In the poem, 'The agony,'' symbolism is used in the opening line, "I am inside someone who hates me.'' Line 2 follows by the poet saying he looks from the person's eyes and sees himself without meaning. In the real context, the poet tries to bring in attention how the Islam is treated. Often, the Islam is hated for other persons view. He as of less significance. Baraka demonstrated that the Islam is cornered in a position that is hard to rescue them. In Baraka's poem,' Balboa, The Entertainer'' title is symbolically used to mean that regardless of how well you may have the thoughts you must put them into action to have an impact to the society. In line with this, Baraka tells Muslims to be heard they must express themselves. It is only by speaking out that the rest will hear their voices just as he expresses his thoughts in the poem. 'Like Rousseau'' poem by Bakari is a confession poem that symbolizes self. The poet uses the poem to symbolize the problems the Muslims go through. In stanza two lines 2, "steel balloons tied to out mouth'' demonstrate the harsh environment of the Muslims where they appear to be served by outdated facilitates. It demonstrated how the Muslims dreams are shuttered. They do not have the freedom of speech.

In all his poems, Baraka fails to follow the capitalization rule. He uses capital letters to show the keywords or points he wants to pass. Also, his use of capital letters are designed to show a new thought, or worthwhile point noted. Capitalization is a stylistic device that allows the poet to recite it easily (Blair 120). This style can be illustrated in the poem, 'The Agony' wherein in several occasions, he capitalizes the words in stanza 3 line 2, "...Innocence is a weapon; an abstraction. Touch "...he stresses how innocence''. Also in the poem,' Balboa, The entertainer" Baraka stresses who he directs his messages by capitalizing the words ...''The People.'' In the several instances, he uses this stylistic device of capitalization. This style is meant to give the reader an insight that he is directing the message to them. He makes stress to the words, as he wants to divert all the attention of the person towards understanding the powerful message he is passing especially to Muslim.

Baraka uses varying line poetry as a technique to bring about contrast. That is, contrast is created between the longer and short line. This style is important as it brings the rhythm of the poem. Also, he demonstrates great poetry skills where his use of commas allows change a common phrase (Blair, 124). This technique makes Baraka's poems fall under the category of spoken poetry. Also, the variance in the length of the lines allows fast and slow narration of the poem, which aids in giving the poem a flow. Through the poem, 'The Agony'' Bakari has used the variance in the line length as to provide a flow of better flow of the poem. The art is demonstrated well in third from the last stanza. The art is also manifested throughout the poem,' Balboa, in the entertainer' the lines have different lengths to bring about the rhythm of the poem. Baraka seems to be less concerned on the lines of the poems across all the stanzas. In the poem,' Like Rousseau'' Bakari uses variance in lengths of the sentences to mean to bring rhythm in the poem. He uses questions to bring on contrast. It is illustrated in last stanza line one,' Then Back offhand where are you?' and 5th line,' What is there you left, to destroy?' which also acts to change the rhythm of the poem (Baraka n.p).

Baraka's literary works use a lot of repetition of phrases and words. The purpose of repetition is to create the rhythm of the various poems. Also, Baraka has used the tool to emphasize on an idea (Ali 339). Also, repetition in the poems makes it easier for the poet to recite it. It can be illustrated in the fourth stanza second from the last line "...soul, say beauty. Beauty...." In the poem, Balboa, The Entertainer' Baraka repetition is used in the phrases "..., o The People'' in line 9 and 13 to stress whom he intends to pass the message. In this case, the phrase "... the People'' represents Muslims whom poem is addressing. Also, repetition has been used in, Like Rousseau poem, last stanza line six "...Pumping and pumping'' meant to create the rhythm of the poem.


On the three poems analyzed above, it is clear that the poet uses similar style of writing in the poems. Baraka has succeeded in the use of foregrounding devices to pass his message to the intended audience. He demonstrates powerful use of diction that is important in making the poem useful and entertaining to the reader. His prowess in the area is something that can be borrowed and serve as an example to all poets. In his artwork, he demonstrates that Muslims have a vital role about all his poetry work.

Works Cited

Ali, Salah Salim. "Pertinence and redundancy in poetic repetition: A translatological perspective." Babel 51.4 (2005): 337-356.

Baraka, Amiri. SOS: Poems 1961-2013. Grove/Atlantic, Inc., 2015.

Blair, Kirstie. "Advertising Poetry, the Working-Class Poet and the Victorian Newspaper Press." Journal of Victorian Culture 23.1 (2018): 103-118.

Brooks, Cleanth. Modern poetry and the tradition. UNC Press Books, 2018.

Hakemulder, Jemeljan F. "Foregrounding and its effect on readers' perception." Discourse Processes 38.2 (2004): 193-218.

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Research Paper on Baraka's Islamic Phase Poems. (2022, Apr 07). Retrieved from

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