Flipping through the pages of a Norton Reader Anthology on modern British and American poets, I stumbled upon some of the language's greatest poets and writers. From Whitman to W.B. Yeats, all the archetypes of modern lyric verse pulled on my heartstrings at the ripe ol' age of 19.

As my fingers danced over the pages, I landed on LeRoi Jones-parenthesis-Amiri Baraka, which seemed odd--to have a pen name and a birth name beside one another--but Jones-cum-Baraka captivated me just as his predecessors did.

Two matriculated years later, I would study Amiri in a class at Pace University, led by local performance guru Erica Miriam Fabri. The name stuck, as did his words and wide-spanning erudition; Amiri had stolen a piece of me that I was fine to part with it.

"Luxury, then, is a way of / being ignorant, comfortably / An approach to the open market," writes Baraka in "Political Poem."