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Jimmy's Blues: Selected Poems

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  100 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
Finally in paperback, here is James Baldwin's only collection of poems. Baldwin's language is deceptively simple--this poetry is easily understood. But the emotions behind the words go to the core not only of the poet's soul, but of America's. Readers will see Baldwin here in both a familiar and an altogether different light.
Published January 1st 1986 by St Martins Pr
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James Baldwin is one of my favorite writers. I fell in love with him after reading "Sonny's Blues" in an American lit course in college.

This is a strong set of poems that cover racism, the pitfalls of love and just being human.

I loved reading Baldwin's words in a different genre.
Jun 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Time is not money.

And the time has come, again,

to outwit and outlast

survive and surmount

the authors of the blasphemy

of our chains.

At least, we know a

man, when we see one,

a shackle, when we wear one,

or a chain, when we bear one,

a noose from a halter,

or a pit from an altar.

We, who have been blinded,

are not blind

and sense when not to

trust the mind.

Time is not money.

Time is time.

You made the money.

We made the rhyme.

Apr 28, 2013 rated it liked it
The first half of this collection seems to emphasize Baldwin's affinity for social commentary. While his novels are enriched by his passion for social issues and identity politics, the poetry sounds a little too strident. The poems that focus on interpersonal dynamics and relationships are much more engaging, in my opinion. It's also possible that the micro-oriented poetry has just aged more gracefully than its macro counterpart. Regardless, I love Baldwin's prose and reading his poetry was a wo ...more
Apr 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredible! James Baldwin is truly a master of all literary forms. So many don't even know he was a poet, but it's evident in the rhythm of his prose and his care with every single word. "Staggerlee wonders" opens the book and is staggeringly bold and beautiful. He's just as relentlessly honest, insightful, and occasionally biting as he is in his prose and essay.
Dec 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first time reading any of Baldwin's poetry. I really liked this. It's sharp and tough. He asks hard questions and imagines dark things. Race, identity, love, hate. I enjoyed this immensely in part of how strong and critical his voice is of... well, damn near everything.
R.K. Byers
Apr 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i'm depressed. i just read my last previously unread Baldwin (that wasn't co-authored). oh well. if music can still be made without Marvin Gaye, i guess there'll always be other writers to read...
May 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
The darkest hour
is just before the dawn,
and that, I see,
which does not guarantee
power to draw the next breath,
nor abolish the suspicion
that the brightest hour
we will ever see
occurs just before we cease
to be.
- The darkest hour, pg. 36

* * *

creates the situation,
and, then, the situation
creates imagination.

It may, of course,
be the other way around:
Columbus was discovered
by what he found.
- Imagination, pg. 36

* * *

Some days worry
some days glad
some days
more than make you
Some days,
Caro Frechette
Reading this made me love poetry again.
Jun 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
True to its title, this is a cool collection of James Baldwin poems. I expected the passion, grit and rage of his novels and it is of course there. What I didn't expect was the humor and free-form funk of some of the writing, which gave me a better idea of who this man who I always assumed to have a very serious personality actually was. The pain and "blues" are certainly there, but just when you think it can't get much more intense he adds a few lines that make you grin or laugh out loud. The d ...more
Aug 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, classics
Baldwin is better-known for his fiction than for his poetry-- and some of the lighter, brief poems here feel very much like sketches, to me-- but the volume contains one true masterwork, "Staggalee Wondders," which is an utterly devastating, angry, epic indictment of the sins of America, white people, and mankind in general. Truthfully: The poem keeps me up at night, so soul-shaking is its fury. A couple of other poems here-- especially the almost-equally-brutal "Lover's Question"-- nearly rise ...more
ennui waves
Sep 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
As one reviewer noted, "Staggerlee wonders" is a brilliant tour de force of a poem that will completely devastate you (in a good way). That alone is worth the price of the ticket. Indeed it is one of my favorite poems of all time for its intelligence, its scathing indictment of North American hypocrisy and injustice, and the pure raw emotion expressed- the unflinching truth laid bare. And there is something darkly comic about it as well. And something cathartic for those in the know. Like Ginsbe ...more
Aug 28, 2016 rated it did not like it
1.5 stars. There were a few poems I enjoyed but overall these poems didn't do much for me, sorry.
Jun 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this for a Race Reading group on campus this summer. This in Baldwin's only published book that is all poetry. Very interesting style.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

James Arthur Baldwin was an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic.

James Baldwin offered a vital literary voice during the era of civil rights activism in the 1950s and '60s. He was the eldest of nine children; his stepfather was a minister. At age
More about James Baldwin...

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