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Poetry and the Black Panther Party: from Ancestral Memory, Morphogenetic Fields to Hip Hop | Paperback

Poetry and the Black Panther Party: from Ancestral Memory, Morphogenetic Fields to Hip Hop | Paperback

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Poetry and the Black Panther Party brings to life the poetry printed in the Black Panther newspaper and the poetry performed by Black Panther leaders. This book is unique because no scholar has addressed or explicated the ongoing poetry printed in the editions of the Black Panther newspaper from its inception to its end. Featuring poetry from 1967 to the 1980s, the Black Panther newspaper demonstrates how much the Panthers and the Black nation in America value the art of word play.

Normally, when one mentions the Panthers we get an image of Huey Newton and Bobby Seale legally armed in self-defense either patrolling the police or legally armed standing in front of the original Black Panther office in Oakland, California. Regina Jennings' new addition to Panther history definitively broadens that image because this text shows that the bravery and innovation of the Panthers were not confined to protecting the Black community against racist and trigger happy policemen. More roundly, it provides glimpses into the Panthers' personalities that focuses on performative and literary appreciation.

Panthers were poets and poetry performers unconsciously understanding the potency of spoken word. They valued the art of poetics and poeting so much that they shared this vocal creativity beyond academic classrooms. It is often overlooked that Bobby Seale and Huey Newton were college students when they founded the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense during the 1960s and their artistic bent was heightened by what Amiri Baraka (1934-2014) coined the Black Arts. The Black Arts weaponized poetry to fight against racism, segregation, and all despicable White American acts against Black people. But this text is not confined to solely American issues. Instead it delves into culture and history particular to the African continent showing that the Panthers' penchant towards writing and performing poetry did not just stem from the 1960s Black Arts/Aesthetic Movement, but from distances in time that suggest an African inheritance of literary performance(s). In a most unique convergence of archaic African history, that includes the spiritual traditions vibrant in ancient Kemet (now Egypt) one theoretical trend in this book offers the significance of words and writing that possibly influenced the Panther co-founders and more generally the Black community at large.

This trend teases out the metaphysical certainty that Africans throughout the Diaspora share common cultural inheritances that never disappeared despite Africans being enslaved and branded with new racial names that hid the original African archetype. In this African philosophy, the author does a comparative analysis with Western science, most specifically quantum physics. Words produce vibrations and energy, this is why words can either kill or create. This fascinating direction that explores the essences alive in Panther poetry brings together the power of language, traditional African culture, and how the latter morphed into African-American folklore, seculars and poetry. This trend shows up in the poetry published and performed by Panthers which also establishes a Black resistance literary motif replicated similarly and differently in current rap and hip hop culture. Poetry and the Black Panther Party offers readers a lost body of literature and in so doing, this text makes relevant what has been overlooked in the examination of Black poetry, poetry performance, activism, and gendered studies particularly those of the Black male. Black male thinking and doing created the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and both Bobby and Huey appreciated poetry as did the Black female activist poets who joined their vision and broadened the art and the act of resistance in America influencing people worldwide. Through the study of the Panthers and their poetry, Jennings' offers a multiplex formation that spotlights the power of language and its relationship to human and social change.

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