How is anger portrayed in Baraka's poem "Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note?"

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Start the analysis of anger with the title and I think that one can get an idea of where it is located in the poem.  The idea of a suicide note indicates one level of needing to speak and articulate one's voice.  Yet, the idea of a twenty volumed suicide note is intense to the point where anger is present.  The speaker has much to say and has a great deal to indicate in what needs to be articulated.  It is here where there is anger, an intensity that would fill a twenty volumed suicide note.  In the poem itself, the first stanza's articulation of the day to day mundane state of the speaker's life is undercut with the idea revealed in the one lined, second stanza:


Things have come to that.

This line helps to indicate where the speaker is in his life.  The idea of an existential reality defined by the most mundane of tasks such as walking the dog or missing the bus help to reflect a state of affairs where resignation have given way to anger in such a terse articulation.  A similar reality is presented in the fourth stanza:

Nobody sings anymore.

If taken by themselves, the second and fourth stanzas help to reveal a certain amount of anger regarding where the speaker is in the world.  This condition is one where "things have come to that nobody sings anymore."  There is noticeable anger and regret in both of these conditions, something to which the speaker does not shy from.  The question would be whether the speaker's anger can be mollified by the solitary state of his daughter's prayers at the end of the poem.  The alienation and dislocation the speaker experiences, along with the anger that accompanies this is something that collides head on with the solitary daughter praying into her own hands, perhaps for the subsiding of her father's anger and sense of loss.

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