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Harlem Book Fair Fiction Festival at Columbia University

Jerome Greene Hall, Columbia University School of Law
435 116th Street (between Amsterdam and Morningside Avenues)
Room 101/103

Friday, July 11th, 10:00am – 4:00pm

Inheritance: James Baldwin and His Literary Progeny: A Roundtable Conversation


Jerome Greene Hall, Columbia University School of Law, Room 101/103

10:00am – 12:00pm









Moderator: Aimee Meridith Cox 

Participants: Kiese Laymon, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, Long Division; Patricia Spears Jones, Painkiller: Poems, The Weather That Kills; Christopher Winks, Symbolic Cities in Caribbean Literature


A roundtable conversation among a number of James Baldwin’s literary offspring gathered to engage questions concerning the legacies of one of the most important writers of the 20th century, this panel aims to consider the state of African American literature nearly 30 years since the author’s passing. Questions to be broached include: How has the landscape changed for contemporary writers in the intervening decades? What lessons can one draw from Baldwin’s fictional career? Is it possible to complicate and contextualize the familiar, critical school of thought, which insists that James Baldwin’s fictional prowess suffered due to the historical/political pressures of his time? And how might we more fully understand the necessary relationship between art and politics—especially for historically marginalized writers then and now?





LUNCH         12:00pm – 1:30pm


Coming from Far: Caribbean Writers on Home and Otherness (Readings and Discussion)

Presented by the NGC Bocas Literary Festival

Jerome Greene Hall, Columbia University School of Law
Room 101/103

1:30pm – 3:00pm









Moderator: Nicholas Laughlin, Program Director, NGC Bocas Lit Festival

Participants: A. Naomi Jackson, Who Don’t Hear Will Feel; Stephen Narain, Small Axe: A Platform for Caribbean Criticism; Tiphanie Yanique, Land of Love and Drowning


The annual NCG Bocas Lit Festival brings together writers, readers, performers, and publishers for a five-day celebration of books and writing. At the heart of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest are a series of readings by some of Trinidad and Tobago’s and the Caribbean’s finest writers of fiction and poetry — from authors of books already considered contemporary classics to prizewinning newcomers. Join the celebration through these readings and discussion.




“The Artist's Struggle for Integrity”: James Baldwin and the Writer’s Life: A Roundtable Conversation 

Jerome Greene Hall, Columbia University School of Law,  Room 101/103

3:30pm – 5:30pm








Moderator: Barbara Webb

Participants: Rashidah Ismaili AbuBakr, Cantata for Jimmy, Missing in Action and Presumed Dead: Poems, Autobiography of the Lower East Side; Mendi Obadike, Armor and Flesh; Pamela Sneed, Imagine Being More Afraid of Freedom Than Slavery: Poems


In one of two searing propositions in a speech presented at New York’s Community Church in 1963, James Baldwin declared “that the poets (by which I mean all artists) are finally the only people who know the truth about us. Soldiers don’t. Priests don’t. Union leaders don’t. Only poets.” This roundtable conversation will take up questions concerning the role of the artist in contemporary society and aims to pursue Baldwin’s declarative proposal to its troubling conclusion.  That is, although “only artists can tell, and…have told since we have heard of man, what it is like to get to this planet and survive it,” the price that both the artist and the audience must pay for such a witnessing is a “willingness to give everything up.” This provocative assertion will provide the focus of a timely conversation about the artist and the radical imagination at a moment of deepening crisis.



Presented in collaboration with THE YEAR OF JAMES BALDWIN: A Partnership of Harlem Stage, Columbia University School of the Arts, and New York Live Arts, April 2014 – June 2015


A consortium of cultural organizations throughout New York City have united to declare 2014-15 The Year of James Baldwin on what would have been the great American essayist, novelist, playwright, poet, and activist James Baldwin’s (1924-1987) 90th year. The principal conveners of this multidisciplinary festival are Harlem Stage, Columbia University School of the Arts, and New York Live Arts . Other collaborators include The New School’s Vera List Center for Art and Politics and the School of Writing, New York University, The Poetry Society of America, The James Baldwin School, The Harlem Book Fair, The National Black Theater, and others to be announced as the year progresses. 

Panels Curator: Rich Blint, Ph.D.

Associate Director

Office of Community Outreach and Education

School of the Arts, Columbia University

HBF 2014 Vision Partners:
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