Jimmy's Blues and Other Poems


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Table of Contents


Introduction by Nikky Finney ix

Jimmy's Blues

Staggerlee wonders 3
Song (for Skip) 20
Munich, Winter 1973 (for Y.S.) 26
The giver (for Berdis) 30
3.00 a.m. (for David) 31
The darkest hour 32
Imagination 32
Confession 33
Le sporting-club de Monte Carlo (for Lena Horne) 40
Some days (for Paula) 41
Conundrum (on my birthday) (for Rico) 44
Christmas carol 46
A lady like landscapes (for Simone Signoret) 52
Guilt, Desire and Love 53
Death is easy (for Jefe) 55
Mirrors (for David) 58
A Lover's Question 60
Inventory/On Being 52 64
Amen 71

Other Poems

Gypsy 75
Song For The Shepherd Boy 85
For A. 87
For EARL 89
Untitled 91
BALLAD (for Yoran) 92

About the Author

James Baldwin (1924-1987) was a novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic, and one of America's foremost writers. His writing explores palpable yet unspoken intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, most notably in mid-twentieth-century America. A Harlem, New York, native, he primarily made his home in the south of France. He is the author of several novels and books of nonfiction, including Notes of a Native Son, Go Tell It on the Mountain, Giovanni's Room, Another Country, Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone, If Beale Street Could Talk, Just Above My Head, The Fire Next Time, No Name in the Street, and The Evidence of Things Not Seen, and of the poetry collection Jimmy's Blues.


"...Poetry was the current that powered his novels, essays, and plays...blazing, embracing collection...as potent and significant now as then. ...Baldwin writes perceptively and poignantly... His humor is lashing and sly, his sexiness bold and lithe. Baldwin is thunderous and crooning, rueful and cutting, prayerful and ferocious, questioning and questing."

"These poems were written over thirty years ago, yet they still speak to many of the injustices in the world and to our experience as human beings trying to make sense of our own existence."
-The Good Men Project

"Lyrical, captivating, evocative, thought-provoking poems that also happen to be exploring the political climate of his time." -Ploughshares

"A beautiful and necessary collection of Baldwin's poetry." -American Book Review

"I am completely indebted to Jimmy Baldwin's prose. It liberated me as a writer. These poems overwhelm without competing with his prose and I am grateful to have this collection."
-Toni Morrison

"These poems are morning stars to be inhaled everyday as we strip search our eyes for new memory. Thank you Brother Jimmy for the breath of your poems."
-Sonia Sanchez

"James Baldwin was born for truth. It called upon him to tell it on the mountains, to preach it in Harlem, to sing it on the Left Bank in Paris. His honesty and courage would lead him to see truth and to write truth in poetry, drama, fiction and essay. He was a giant."
-Maya Angelou

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