Marta Werbanowska University of Vienna

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On the Fugitive Radicalism of Jimmy’s Blues

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.

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