Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note
Lately, I've become accustomed to the way
The ground opens up and envelopes me
Each time I go out to walk the dog.
Or the broad edged silly music the wind
Makes when I run for a bus...

Things have come to that.

And now, each night I count the stars.
And each night I get the same number.
And when they will not come to be counted,
I count the holes they leave.

Nobody sings anymore.

And then last night I tiptoed up
To my daughter's room and heard her
Talking to someone, and when I opened
The door, there was no one there...
Only she on her knees, peeking into

Her own clasped hands

Analysis of Poem


Rhyme Scheme: none
Stanzas: 7 stanzas (5,1,4,1,5,1)
Punctuation: Uses the “…”


Author is an African American
Written during the 1960’s when prejudice towards blacks was prevalent in America.

Literary Devices:

Repetition: “And now…”
“And each…”
“ And when…”

“ The ground envelopes me”
“ Broad edged silly music”
“ Tip-toed”
“ Clasped hands”

Figurative Language:
Personification: “The ground envelopes me”
“ Broad edged silly music the wind makes…”

Tone: Hopeless

Theme: African Americans are frustrated because they are being oppressed by whites.

Author Background:

Amiri Baraka was born on October 7, 1934. Preface to a Twenty-Volume Suicide Note was published in 1961, and it was his first volume of poetry. He was the founder of Totem Press, as well as the Black Arts Repertory Theatre/School. Baraka has also written many off-Broadway plays and has taught at colleges such as San Francisco State University, Yale University, and George Washington University. He has been a professor of Africana Studies at the State University of New York at Stony Brook since 1985.