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Joanna Mąkowska

By situating Baldwin’s Jimmy’s Blues and Other Poems in conversation with Jericho Brown’s 2019 poetry collection The Tradition, this article examines the theory of love in their poetic thinking. It argues that in their poetry, love emerges as a multifaceted mode of knowing and feeling, grounded in corporeal intensity and imbued with sociopolitical and historical meanings. Both Baldwin and Brown view love as integral to the understanding of queer sexuality and racial politics, foregrounding at the same time the challenges of loving and being loved in a historically anti-Black society. Their poetics of love coalesces the intellectual and the affective, the erotic and the political, moving beyond the conventions of inward-bound and personal lyric toward what Martinican philosopher and novelist Édouard Glissant termed a “poetics of relation.” Such transgenerational reading also allows us to explore Baldwin’s and Brown’s poetry as acutely attuned to historical moments which seem strikingly similar: Reagan’s and Trump’s presidencies.

James Baldwin Review
Rashida K. Braggs
William Murray
, and
Elijah Parks

Music lives and breathes through the spaces of much of James Baldwin’s oeuvre. This article introduces a course that features Baldwin’s musical literature and teaches students to compose music inspired by their newfound knowledge of Baldwin. The course, entitled “James Baldwin’s Song,” was taught in the department of Africana Studies at Williams College in fall 2021. It guided students to listen to Baldwin in a different way—through a musical lens and by relating Baldwin’s wisdom to their own lives. This article takes readers behind the scenes as it shares some of the curricular choices that guided the course and student insights gleaned from it. Though students heard many things in Baldwin’s musical oeuvre, two ideas sang out most clearly: that the blues was not just music but was also a way of living, and that joy differed from happiness. Accordingly, the second half of this article illustrates these key concepts as featured in original songs from the professor and student co-authors.

James Baldwin Review
A Review of Biographies about James Baldwin
William Henry Pruitt III

This review essay compares the research methodologies and narrative strategies of Baldwin biographies as well as their main claims. Analyzing these books in their chronological order, it seeks to chart a history of book-length knowledge production about the dynamics between Baldwin’s ideas, art, personal life, and public roles. The conclusion of this review essay heralds the future of biographical research in Baldwin Studies. It also proposes two new narratives about Baldwin: a chronicle of his responses to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s surveillance of him and a broader chronicle of his responses to Cold War conservatism.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
A Review
Herb Boyd

This review of Jubilee for Jimmy explores the various ways Baldwin’s genius impacts our musical, dance, and literary culture. It was an extravagant performance that had both thematic and chronological resonance, approximating Baldwin’s influence. Most creative was the dance sequence in which two men evoked dramatic moments of love and passion.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
James Baldwin’s Poethics of Love
Emanuela Maltese

Often overlooked by James Baldwin criticism or addressed according to its unique relationship to sex and gender, love plays a central role in the writer’s oeuvre. This article, conceived as a contrapuntal reading between A Dialogue (1972)—the transcript of a four-hour conversation between James Baldwin and poet Nikki Giovanni in November 1971—and If Beale Street Could Talk (1974), Baldwin’s fifth novel, will shed light on Baldwin’s “poethics” of love in the 1970s, after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and the author’s engagement with Black Power and feminism. This revision takes its cues from intersectionality and extends them via Hortense Spillers’s bold critique of Baldwin’s politics of intimacy, his writing style, and the American family grammar. His vision of love as moral “energy” not only anticipates what Denise Ferreira da Silva terms a “Black Feminist Poethics,” but is also a potential “key” to end “the racial nightmare” and “save the children,” thereby becoming a poethics of love for the infancy of the world.

James Baldwin Review
James Baldwin Remembered
Walter Lowe Jr.

James Baldwin Review offers readers a reprint of a rare archival find, an article from Emerge magazine, first published in October of 1989, which ran with this abstract: “A magazine editor recalls working with his literary hero and getting to know the surprisingly vulnerable, charming, and often exasperating man behind the legend.”

James Baldwin Review
Marta Werbanowska

Like much of his prose and nonfiction, Baldwin’s poetry follows his actual and figurative movement between Europe and America against the backdrop of his homeland’s constant refusal to work through its racist, imperialist, and heterosexist legacies. The 2014 reissue of his two poetry collections, Jimmy’s Blues (1983) and Gypsy (1989), as Jimmy’s Blues and Other Poems urges us to revisit Baldwin’s poetry as an expression of his ideas and sentiments through a different lens: that of a blues poetics. In Baldwin’s poetry, the blues provide an aesthetic and epistemic framework for his expression of a radical internationalist politics of liberation.

James Baldwin Review
Justin A. Joyce

Justin A. Joyce introduces the ninth volume of James Baldwin Review with a discussion of I Heard It Through the Grapevine (1982), “The Uses of the Blues” (1964), Florida, and Fox News.

James Baldwin Review
Selma, 1963
Davis W. Houck

1963 was a defining year in James Baldwin’s life as a public intellectual. Beginning in January with a trip to Jackson, Mississippi, and closing at a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee conference in Washington, DC, Baldwin often frequented the speaking rostrum. On October 7, he spoke at a Freedom Day event organized by SNCC’s Jim Forman in Selma, Alabama. That speech, recorded by a private citizen and heretofore unremarked upon, can be productively read as part of Baldwin’s ongoing radicalization, away from a solution that privileged rhetorical (re)invention and toward destructive and collective acts designed to subvert American capitalism. At another register, Baldwin’s speech functioned as an important culmination to an eight-month campaign to bring voting rights—and the federal government—to Dallas County, Alabama.

James Baldwin Review
James Baldwin’s Encounter with the BBC in 1963
Robert J. Corber

The author reviews the recently released short film The Baldwin Archives (Laura Seay, 2022), and argues that, in restaging the most important moments of Baldwin’s 1963 interview for the BBC television program Bookstand, it helps us understand better Baldwin’s belief that people had a moral obligation “to deal with other people as though they were simply human beings.” Following the rise of the Black Power movement in the mid-1960s, this belief contributed to Baldwin’s marginalization by a younger generation of Black activists who identified it with a lack of militancy that they attributed to his gender and sexual nonconformity. But in focusing on the moments in the BBC interview where Baldwin elaborated his understanding of this obligation, The Baldwin Archives enables us to grasp its radicalism more fully.

James Baldwin Review