Michael Eric Dyson Spoke in depth about James Baldwin in his book What the Truth Sounds Like. My knowledge of James Baldwin was non-existent but thanks to the internet, I found a beautiful introduction to James Baldwin and his works. I found this poem most interesting and thought I would share it with you all today!
The giver (for Berdis)
By James Baldwin
If the hope of giving
is to love the living,
the giver risks madness
in the act of giving.
Some such lesson I seemed to see
in the faces that surrounded me.
Needy and blind, unhopeful, unlifted,
what gift would give them the gift to be gifted?
The giver is no less adrift
than those who are clamouring for the gift.
If they cannot claim it, if it is not there,
if their empty fingers beat the empty air
and the giver goes down on his knees in prayer
knows that all of his giving has been for naught
and that nothing was ever what he thought
and turns in his guilty bed to stare
at the starving multitudes standing there
and rises from bed to curse at heaven,
he must yet understand that to whom much is given
much will be taken, and justly so:
I cannot tell how much I owe.
Finally, a tiny postscript to last week:
If you did not find anything wrong with the post that lit the internet on fire last week, Karen explains beautifully what should have made you uncomfortable here.
And, then perhaps this perspective will open your eyes even wider.
Giving is often fraught with “risks of madness” and I love how James Baldwin puts this into poetry. Thanks for sharing, Kat!
I have looked at several James Baldwin books, they are intense. “Tears we cannot stop” by Dyson, I will try. My library even has it.
I also have been following the articles you mentioned, and have been pondering them a lot, my eyes are ‘wider’.
So many things do keep people separate.
If you’re interested in learning more about Baldwin, I highly recommend the documentary “I Am Not Your Negro.”
Thanks for sharing this lovely read.
I still disagree with your interpretation of that post from last week. I think it’s a shame the author was bullied into apologizing when she did nothing to apologize for. Reading the idea that to her travel at her time and place in life was frightening as if she was calling people in India aliens is really reaching! As for the second link you posted, I think it is very different from the original post. Thank you for letting me express my opinion.
It was not just my interpretation – it was the interpretation of many many many BIPOC in the fiber community. I was glad to read Karen’s sincere apology and I especially liked how clearly she made it for you to see where she was wrong. I am sorry that you still cannot open your eyes and see.
I have much to learn about how my white privilege affects those around me – and to say it does not exist is a lie. But, beyond that – far be it from me to tell someone that what they feel is not real – that is really what this is all about – not defending something that was clearly wrong and not listening to those who are hurt and calling them bullies.
You are welcome to your opinion but I do not share it.
Lovely post, Kat – thank you! I’m still figuring out where I need to start after last week … and James Baldwin’s words remind me that I might still need to just listen.
beautiful poem and I loved the lilting writing style. Thank you so much for sharing 🙂
Thank you for sharing a lovely poem. I’m hoping to explore more poetry this year.