Jimmy's Blues and Other Poems

Jimmy's Blues and Other Poems


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All of the published poetry of James Baldwin, including six significant poems previously only available in a limited edition
During his lifetime (1924–1987), James Baldwin authored seven novels, as well as several plays and essay collections, which were published to wide-spread praise. These books, among them Notes of a Native Son, The Fire Next Time, Giovanni’s Room, and Go Tell It on the Mountain, brought him well-deserved acclaim as a public intellectual and admiration as a writer. However, Baldwin’s earliest writing was in poetic form, and Baldwin considered himself a poet throughout his lifetime. Nonetheless, his single book of poetry, Jimmy’s Blues, never achieved the popularity of his novels and nonfiction, and is the one and only book to fall out of print.

This new collection presents James Baldwin the poet, including all nineteen poems from Jimmy’s Blues, as well as all the poems from a limited-edition volume called Gypsy, of which only 325 copies were ever printed and which was in production at the time of his death. Known for his relentless honesty and startlingly prophetic insights on issues of race, gender, class, and poverty, Baldwin is just as enlightening and bold in his poetry as in his famous novels and essays. The poems range from the extended dramatic narratives of “Staggerlee wonders” and “Gypsy” to the lyrical beauty of “Some days,” which has been set to music and interpreted by such acclaimed artists as Audra McDonald. Nikky Finney’s introductory essay reveals the importance, relevance, and rich rewards of these little-known works. Baldwin’s many devotees will find much to celebrate in these pages.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807084861
Publisher: Beacon Press
Publication date: 04/01/2014
Pages: 120
Sales rank: 392,774
Product dimensions: 5.13(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.10(d)

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.

Date of Birth:

August 2, 1924

Date of Death:

December 1, 1987

Place of Birth:

New York, New York

Place of Death:

St. Paul de Vence, France


DeWitt Clinton High School, New York City

Read an Excerpt

Playing by Ear, Praying for Rain: The Poetry of James Baldwin

Excerpted from "Jimmy's Blues and Other Poems"
by .
Copyright © 2014 James Baldwin.
Excerpted by permission of Beacon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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

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