The Liar Background

The Liar Background

Imamu Amiri Baraka is a prolific writer and poet active during the 1950s and 1960s. Inspired by the popular culture at the time, as well as the veins of the civil rights movements, Baraka provided powerful commentaries on race and the role it played in American society. His poems, written in rhythmic prose, evoke tremendous feeling.

The Liar is no exception. Written in 1964, the poem demonstrates Baraka's growing consciousness of his black identity. With lines such as "When they say, "It is Roi/ who is dead"? I wonder/ who will they mean"?" (Roi being his alias), The Liar exemplifies his questioning of his own psyche and exterior appearance. The poem is an eminent example of Baraka's growing political involvement during that period, where race became a larger part of his works. Eventually, it would grow to dominate his writing as he wrote scathing indictments of injustices.

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