James Baldwin Archive

James Baldwin in the Archive

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What evolved from an unfinished novel manuscript, through a decades-long struggle with the legacy of Richard Wright, Henry James, and the white Lost Generation, are Baldwin’s 1956 and 1962 books as well as one of his most enduring insights into the struggle to end America’s innocence.

Kinship and Trauma

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Those of us who experience trauma find it difficult to put our experience into words in the first place. Many of us flounder, sputter, or stay silent, at a loss for how to adequately translate our experience into language.

Writing From Exile

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Regarding writing in exile within one’s own country, James Baldwin might facetiously ask, “Exiled from which America?” He might invoke W.E.B. Du Bois’ double-consciousness and say, “You should know you were only really a part of it insomuch as you could see out of your own eyes and perceive,

Therefore

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Spic, Richie said in the cafeteria, and I don’t remember why. After, as we walked back to our fourth grade classroom, I pushed him down when he turned his back.

The Enduring Allure of Literary Provence

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Provence is one of these regions, like Bordeaux and the Atlantic seaboard, that have always had a strong connection to Anglophone cultures, starting in the seventeenth century when the court of the House of Stuart went into exile in Avignon.

Out with T.S. Eliot, and In with Cathy Park Hong: Poetry Criticism in the 21st Century

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The debate about whether Rupi Kaur’s poetry (and by extension, the whole genre dubbed “instapoetry”) is good or bad has apparently been revived. Whether that debate is actually useful in the terms it has set out for itself remains to be seen. Most often, it seems, when the poet

Reading Baldwin after Harvey: Why Climate Change is a Social Justice Issue

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Of course, the circumstances between Hurricane Harvey and the 1943 Harlem riots are different, but the fault lines exposed by those events are not.

Big Picture, Small Picture: Context for James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues”

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James Baldwin’s short story, “Sonny’s Blues,” is published in the summer 1957 edition of the New York City literature magazine, Partisan Review. The story’s narrator is a high school teacher from Harlem struggling to reconcile his relationship with his younger brother, Sonny, a jazz pianist hooked on heroin.

Why Latinx Writers Should Decenter the Narratives That Have Been Weaponized Against Us

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Just last week, I received maybe the first piece of editorial advice that I felt compelled to flat out reject: that Latinx writers have a moral obligation to not write stories in which Latinx characters are portrayed in the context of the drug war or violence or anything else

12 Books To Help You Survive 2017 And the Trump Era

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Many of us will need to cope with, resist, or try to understand (or all of the above) Trump in 2017. So, below are 12 books—one per month—that can help with those unexpected projects.