The Poets | The Musicians | Production Credits

The Poets

Amiri Baraka (1934–2014) — poet, playwright, essayist, teacher, activist. Amiri was one of the preeminent Black intellectuals of our time.

carolyn baxter — her work includes the solo show Prison, Solitary and Other Free Government Services and contributions to Wall Tappings and Prison Writings of the 20th Century. Carolyn spent several years with Marilyn in Alderson Federal Prison. “I learned so much from her. The strength she gave me, I hold and use daily as I educate young folks with my craft.”

Rajasvini (Vini) Bhansali — as part of Poetry for the People, Vini cofacilitated a writing workshop at the Federal Correctional Institution at Dublin, California (FCI Dublin), where she met Marilyn. “Marilyn’s spirit soars over tall barbed wire.”

Dennis Brutus (1924–2009) — Poet, writer, and activist, a long-time leader in the anti-apartheid struggle. He was imprisoned on Robben Island, South Africa for his active resistance to the apartheid regime. His publications include Letters to Martha and Other PoemsPoems from Algiers, and Strains.

Chrystos — Always aware of the duality of being Native American and urban, Chrystos uses verse to explore colonialism, genocide, class and gender. She visited Marilyn and the Native women’s organization Four Winds at FCI Dublin until she was banned from the prison. Her poetry collections include Not Vanishing, In Her I Am, Fire Power, and Dream On.

Akwasi Evans — poet, publisher of NOKOA News in Austin, Texas. Educated in the segregated schools of Kentucky, Akwasi marched with Dr. King while in high school. He and Marilyn knew each other first as poets who were “born revolutionaries and grew up to confirm it.”

Fanny Howe — “Marilyn and I met several years ago when I was teaching in San Diego and went to visit her. She was my teacher from that moment on. Her cool and unrelenting commitment to social justice in the midst of the consequences of that commitment is a stunning model. And because she writes poetry and I do, too, I see that poetry is a mysterious force for survival and freedom.”

Uchechi Kalu — Nigerian-born poet who has conducted writing workshops at schools, prisons and community organizations. Her book of poetry, Flowers Blooming against a Bruised Grey Sky. Uchechi first met Marilyn while teaching a Poetry for the People class at FCI Dublin.

Aya De Leon — slam poet and performance artist, Aya has performed at Lincoln Center and been the recipient of a fellowship from the California Arts Council and the Compañeras award from Underground Railroad. Her CD is Aya de Leon: Live at La Peña.

Elana Levy — lover of words and silence, light and shadows, reflections and trees. Political prisoners David Gilbert and Marilyn Buck are crucial nutrients in her sustenance. Her chapbooks include Legacies and Heresies and Free as a Bird in a Roomy Cage.

Genny Lim — Bay Area poet featured in the documentary The Voice: Genny Lim; has performed with Jon Jang, Francis Wong, Max Roach, and Glenn Horiuchi. “I don’t know Marilyn personally, but after having read her fierce and courageous poems searing through the bars, I feel like I’ve known her all her life.”

devorah major — third Poet Laureate of San Francisco, novelist, spoken word artist, arts educator and activist. Her most recent books are where river meets ocean and Brown Glass Windows.

David Meltzer (1937–2016) — taught at New College of California in San Francisco where Marilyn was his student as well as his friend. He has published numerous books of poetry, including Beat Thing.

Sara Menefee — San Francisco poet and homeless/ poor people’s activist. Her published works include I’m Not Thousandfurs and The Blood About the Heart.

Kiilu Nyasha (1939–2018) — involved in liberation struggles since 1969, when she joined the Black Panthers in New Haven. She was a revolutionary artist, activist, and journalist in the liberation struggle for over 50 years, who has done much to keep political prisoners in the public eye, contributing to the San Francisco Bay View and other publications. She visited and wrote to Marilyn from the 1980s onward. “She has my utmost respect and undying love for devoting her life to fighting racism and imperialism.”

¡Presente! — cultural revolutionaries, some former political prisoners, whose stage production on US political prisoners includes two of Marilyn’s poems set to music.

Maria Poblet — queer Latina poet and tenant organizer. As artistic director for Poetry for the People, Maria taught a poetry workshop at FCI Dublin; Marilyn was in her class.“ She was my student, but I was her student, too.”

Carlos Quiles — Puerto Rican poet, writer, and educator engaged in the political and cultural life of the nation, the Caribbean, and the worldwide currents of solidarity that connect Puerto Rico, Marilyn, and the poets of this collection. He has published four collections of poetry as well as the biography Memorias de Josefina and the novel Quién mató a Pinto Gandía?

Samsara — Jamie Ben-Azay, Rebecca Anders and Susan Appe. Samsara is an a capella trio that fuses numerous styles to create music for the next generation of struggle and resistance.

Sonia Sanchez — award-winning poet, playwright, editor, author, her work spans five decades. She held the Laura Carnell Chair in English at Temple University until her retirement in 1999. Her poetry collections include It’s a New Day, Homegirls and HandgrenadesI’ve Been a Woman, Under a Soprano Sky, Morning HaikuLike the Singing Coming off the Drums, and Shake Loose My Skin.

Staajabu — writer and graphic artist based in Sacramento, California, Staajabu’s work has appeared in numerous publications, including Crucial Comments and Vicious VersesBAMM, This Queendom ComeTaking Names and Pointing FingersAfrican Reflections, and Scribes Rising. She and her daughter VS Chochezi are Straight Out Scribes.

Jean Stewart — disability rights activist and pioneer in work with disabled prisoners. Her poems and essays have appeared in Monthly Review, Voices from the Edge and elsewhere; her novel The Body’s Memory is much acclaimed.

Piri Thomas (1928–2011) — author of the groundbreaking novel Down These Mean Streets. Later works include Stories from El BarrioSeven Long Times and the CDs No Mo’ Barrio Blues and Sounds of the Street.

Kwame Ture (1941–1998) — national leader of SNCC and the Black Power movement in the 1960s (as Stokely Carmichael). He spent 30 years in Guinea working in the Pan African movement. Kwame died shortly after making this recording.

Mariann Wizard — born and raised in Ft. Worth, Texas; took part in the first all-women’s anti-draft action and helped start the underground newspaper The Rag. “I met Buck when we were two foxy hippie chicks; I’ve loved her ever after: sister, soulmate, heart’s inspiration.”

Nellie Wong — works with Radical Women and the Freedom Socialist Party. She has visited and written to Marilyn for many years. Together, Nellie and Mitsuye Yamada created Mitsuye and Nellie for public television.

Merle Woo — active since 1980 in Radical Women and the Freedom Socialist Party. She taught Women’s Studies at San Jose State, using Marilyn’s writings as text, especially her essay on censorship. “Who better to talk about censorship than a political prisoner?” She has also taught at UC Berkeley, SFSU and elsewhere. Her selected poetry was published in Yellow Woman Speaks and she contributed to Three Asian American Writers Speak Out on Feminism.

Mitsuye Yamada — author of Camp Notes and Other Writings. Mitsuye teaches Asian American Studies at UC Irvine. She met Marilyn through her brother, Rev. Michael Yasutake, founder of Interfaith Prisoners of Conscience, and has visited and corresponded with her for 20 years.

The Musicians

Our special thanks to the artists/composers whose music frames the poetry: India Cooke (Ala’s Wing), Eugenio Maldonado “El Viejo Mago”, Fred Ho & the Brooklyn Saxophone Quartet (O Freedom and Song for a United Socialist Pan-Afrika!), Copper Wimmin (everyday), Idris Ackamoor (Raining Down Stars), and the musicians and activists of Shame the Devil.

Production Credits

Wild Poppies was a collaboration of Freedom Archives, Friends of Marilyn Buck and the many poets, musicians and sound folks who contributed their work, time and love. Created and produced by Barbara Lubinski with Donna Willmott, Claude Marks, Jody Sokolower and Karl Macrae.

Sound mix Claude Marks & Greg Landau. Cover design by Lisa Roth. Video and QuickTime greetings from Marilyn by Eve Goldberg, Lisa Rudman of the National Radio Project, and Claude Marks, Freedom Archives. Thanks to: Susan Stone and Dev Ross at KPFA, Mike Keller, National Radio Project, Resistance in Brooklyn, Bob Lederer at WBAI, Joe Resch at WYEP.

About the CD | The Poems | About Marilyn Buck

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