HARLEM'S LAST POET

By Vagabond BEAUMONT

AVT - as PROD

Social issues - Development 2016

Imprisoned for robbing the Ku Klux Klan, Abiodun Oyewlole of the Last Poets found that his prison sentence was a blessing, making time serve him instead of serving time…

    • Year of production
    • 2016
    • Genres
    • Social issues, Biography, Documentary
    • Countries
    • USA, UNITED KINGDOM
    • Languages
    • ENGLISH
    • Budget
    • 1 - 3 M$
    • Duration
    • 90 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Vagabond BEAUMONT
    • Writer(s)
    • Vagabond BEAUMONT
    • Producer(s)
    • Vagabond BEAUMONT (AVT), Tontxi VAZQUEZ (STOOPPIX/GFF)
    • Synopsis
    • Before Hip-Hop had a name it had a voice and that voice was The Last Poets. The group came about, out of a compelling need to combat the oppression that they not only saw but experienced. The Last Poets defined the political upheaval of a generation of Black people in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. Their firebrand of political poetry set to a sparse soundtrack of drums was a rallying cry for change.

      Of all the members of the Last Poets no one has consistently carried the torch for the group like Abiodun Oyewole. Abiodun isn’t just a revolutionary poet because he wrote about revolution, Abiodun is a revolutionary poet because he he converted his political thoughts, words and artistry into action.

      He went to North Carolina to cofound an African Village in 1970 and it was there that his political activism turned radical. Abiodun and his partner decided to rob the KKK in North Carolina in order to raise bail money for two other friends who were in prison for botched gun store robbery they had done earlier. On the run from both the Klan and the police Abiodun and his partner were caught, convicted and imprisoned. The Last Poets album was released shortly after Abiodun’s conviction and Abiodun struggled to keep his newly found and unexpected celebrity a secret.

      Once he got out of prison he got his Phd from Columbia University and moved to Harlem. He got a job teaching at Columbia and began working as an arts educator in schools and prisons. The Last Poets made a comeback in the 1990’s and they continue to record and perform to this day.

      The life of Abiodun Oyewlole is one that’s worth unearthing in a creative documentary. Harlem's Last Poet will follow Abiodun as he works with a group of extremely talented musicians to create a concept album that will document his life. Among those musicians DJ Johnny Juice of Public Enemy and Grammy Award winning trumpeter and percussionist Jerry Gonzalez. As we follow that story arc Abiodun will speak about his life. At key moments in Abiodun’s life there will be short surreal, hallucinatory, dream like reenactments that fleetingly crop up into the narrative. When the album is near completion the film will follow the preparation of a concert in London with Jamaican dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson who was highly influenced by the Last Poets. The film concludes with Abiodun’s concert with Linton Kwesi Johnson in London.

      The path Abiodun’s life has taken is a strange one. He saw his role as a member of The Last Poets as a way to be a revolutionary through art and when art was not enough he became a revolutionary through action. The secret to Abiodun’s life can be summed up in something he realized in prison, he learned that you have to “make time serve you , instead of you serving time”.
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