Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth: Sun Ra Poetry

Many know Sun Ra for his cosmic, avant-garde music and costumes as well as a pioneer in afrofuturism, but there is not as much discussion of the poetry he wrote, which he often put together with his music. He did say, “Poems are music: some of the songs I write are based on my poems,” yet very few analyze the relationship between music and poetry in his work.

“The Universe Sent Me to Converse with You”

“I am the Instrument”

“Like a Universe”

There are a couple of books that gather together his poetry and poetic analysis of them:

This Planet Is Doomed: The Science Fiction Poetry of Sun Ra: This collection was edited by poet and writer Amiri Baraka. His favorite poem of the collection, which he said in this interview, is the one above, “Like a Universe.”

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