Multiculturalism: Literature and Baldwin Essay

Submitted By Mohammed1978
Words: 1793
Pages: 8


This research is an extension of my personal researches and critical practice in the field of postmodernism, particularly within the area of postmodernist poetry. There has been a critical interest in political and cultural issues of race, difference and identity in the African-American poetry since the late eighties of the twentieth century. However, little attention has been given to James Baldwin's poetry and its aesthetical side.
My PhD project underpins the issues of race, difference, identity and technique in Baldwin's poetry. In the recent years, race, difference, and identity have become prominent features and the fields of criticism of Baldwin's novels and plays. His poetry has been overlooked by critics since its publication in 1985. This negligence is attributed to the critics' interest in his novels and essays and their difference about the genealogy of his writings. Their focusing on his novels and plays has diverted the reader's attention from his poems. In 2000 D. Quentin Miller, a critic writes of the critical negligence of Baldwin's poetry: Jimmy's Blues (1985) stands out as particularly neglected among his later works, and it easily can be by the fact that no one was prepared, by the twilight of Baldwin's career, to accept the fact he was poet ,since they were still trying to resolve the question of whether he was a novelist or essayist.(Aimee Pozrski, 2011:235)
The value of this study lies in its depth of the analysis of race, difference, identity and technique in Baldwin's poetry.
Problem Statement:
The problem of the research lies in the apocalyptic and technical features of Baldwin's poetry. Although he represents the African-American and American literature, his poetry transcends its age. It foreshadows the cultural and literary changes that the world witnessed recently. It foreseen certain problematic issues: queer theory, literature of the transatlantic, identity and race. Cora Kaplan and Bill Schwarz point out that Baldwin belongs to the contemporary age, the twentieth-first century, and his influence can be felt in the present time. They state that "in recent years the movements along with Baldwin's influence can be felt- the means by which he is past enters our present- have been deepening. As every year passes he appears a more, not a less, significant figure. He is becoming a more contemporary" (Cora Kaplan and Bill Schwarz, 2011;2). James Baldwin writes poetry about the city life in the post-world war II America. he writes of Harlem, Washington DC. and Philadelphia. The Apocalyptic feature is recognised in his poem "Some Days." In this poem, he foreshadows the end of sadness and worry among the blacks in America. The poem is an apocalyptic writing of the coming of the happy days. As for the technical features, they are embodied in his defamilarizing uncanny images and impersonality in his "Untitled Poem" (1945). Baldwin seems to be influenced by T.S. Eliot's employment of defamiliar uncanny image and impersonality. Aimee Pozorski explains that "The poem reveals defamiliarizing strategy of juxtaposing a simple, sing-along rhythm and rhyme scheme with a horrifying uncanny image and it blends high and low diction.(Aimee Pozorski, 2011: 230) She adds that " He[Baldwin]follows Eliot's conception of impersonality in poetry. For him, poetry has nothing personal." the book or poem, after all takes on agency of its own. (Pozorski, 2011:233) Baldwin is interested in the aesthetic of the poetic line and impersonality.
Literature Review:
The study investigates three central issues in James Baldwin's: race, identity, and technique. It focuses on the cultural conceptions of race and identity and the aesthetic of defamiliarization and impersonality in his poetry. It falls into an introduction, three