Miami Book Fair

Panel honors James Baldwin

James Baldwin — author of such works as Go Tell it On The Mountain, Notes of a Native Son, The Fire Next Time — attended the first Miami Book Fair. This year, the fair pays tribute to the writer who confronted racial, sexual and class on the 90th anniversary of his birth with a special panel lead by poets Elizabeth Alexander and Claudia Rankine. The presentation, which will include poems and videos, will also include novelist Edwidge Danticat, scholars Jeff Chang and Jennifer DeVere Brody and poet Charles Hancock Rux.

“I teach him all the time; he infuses my own work,” says Rankine, who calls Baldwin “the Miles Davis of literature.”

“I think books like Go Tell It On the Mountain and The Fire Next Time come to mind for everyone, that sense of struggling within history for a change that is refusing to happen. I think that’s the place James Baldwin’s work will continually be negotiated. He said at one point, ‘We have all the answers; it’s the right questions we’re not asking.’ ... Some work can seem dated, but that’s not true for Baldwin. His work opens out, knowing that it’s beyond its moment.”

The panel takes place at 3:30 Saturday in Room 2106 at Miami Dade College.

Connie Ogle