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The Spirit Of James Baldwin

August 29 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm



The Spirit of James Baldwin

James Baldwin’s literary and prophetic brilliance, along with his grassroots activism were illuminated by Raoul Peck’s biopic I am not your Negro in 2016. It reminded us of Baldwin’s continuing influence and relevance as an inspiring force in times of struggle and deep despair. In this interactive essay presentation, we explore the role of Baldwin as a ‘witness’ which we link to Baba Esu, an important Orisa in the Yoruba Ifa spiritual system. Baba Esu/Elegba is a messenger deity, keeper of the crossroads, and is often misinterpreted as ‘the devil’ in Western terms. Esu is the one who opens the way by ensuring we make sound choices, which may require harsh truths to keep us aligned. We reflect on this interpretation of the devil/god duality in our consideration of Baldwin as an Esu figure. Join us as we celebrate Baldwin’s centenary at the CLR James Library. Bring your favourite quotations and personal impressions to share. Way Wive Wordz in collaboration with the CLR James Library, Hackney.


Presenter: Dr Michelle Yaa Asantewa

Award-winning author, independent educator, cultural consultant and publisher, Dr Asantewa’s publications include the young adult novel, ElijahThe Awakening and Other PoemsGuyanese Komfa: The Ritual Art of  Trance and Something Buried in the Yard, published by Way Wive Wordz
Publishing, which she co-founded in 2014. She is the editor of the anthology In Search of Mami Wata, which centres on African and Caribbean water spirits. Mama Lou Tales, a biography of her mother Lucille Davis received a prize for the Guyana Literary Prize in 2022. Dr Asantewa is the course leader on The Amazing James Baldwin, African Women Resistance Leaders: Spiritual and Political and Afrofuturism Creative Writing short courses. She co-facilitates the Toni-Morrison: Her Life Her Work and Andrea Levy courses. Her first collection of short stories, Rupununi Affair will be published in the autumn of 2024.


August 29
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
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Way Wive Wordz
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CLR James Library
Hackney Square
London, E8 3BQ United Kingdom
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Entry to The Spirit of James Baldwin at CLR James Library.

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