To the Editors:
We believe LeRoi Jones, not the Newark Police, that the poet carried no revolvers in his car, no revolvers in the car at all; that the police beat Jones up and then had to find a reason, thus found phony guns; that after the double-whammy of his beating and rabbit-in-hat guns, his trail before an all-white jury was triple-whammy. Lo & behold, fourth execrable whammy!—the Judge recited LeRoi’s visionary poem to the court (a butchered version)…and gave him a long 2 1/2-3 year sentence because of it.
Mr. Jones’ whitekind is that self-same demon we call tyranny, injustice, dictatorship. As poet he champions the black imagination; as revolutionary poet his revolution is fought with words. He scribes that the police carried the guns. Lyres tell the Truth!
We herald to literary persons: get on the ball for LeRoi Jones, or else get off the poetic pot. LeRoi is not only a black man, a Newark man, a revolutionary, he is a conspicuous American artist imprisoned for his poetry during a crisis of authoritarianism in these States.
—C.O.P. Committee on Poetry
(John Ashbery, Gregory Corso, Robert Creeley, Diane di Prima, Robert Duncan, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Kenneth Koch, Denise Levertov, Michael McClure, Charles Olson, Joel Oppenheimer, Peter Orlovsky, Gil Sorrentino, Philip Whalen, and John Wieners)
April 25, 1968