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Join us as we welcome poet and scholar Ed Pavlić to discuss his latest book, Who Can Afford to Improvise?: James Baldwin and Black Music, the Lyric and the Listener!
More than a quarter-century after his death, James Baldwin remains an unparalleled figure in American literature and African American cultural politics. In Who Can Afford to Improvise? Ed Pavlić offers an unconventional, lyrical, and accessible meditation on the life, writings, and legacy of James Baldwin and their relationship to the lyric tradition in black music, from gospel and blues to jazz and R&B. Based on unprecedented access to private correspondence, unpublished manuscripts and attuned to a musically inclined poet’s skill in close listening, Who Can Afford to Improvise? frames a new narrative of James Baldwin’s work and life. The route retraces the full arc of Baldwin’s passage across the pages and stages of his career according to his constant interactions with black musical styles, recordings, and musicians.
"Ed Pavlić is f*cking fearless about how he goes about it, as fearless as any contemporary musician I can think of, as fearless as some of the greats. It's definitely a book, but music is where its soul is, if you ask me." — Dave Marsh, Counterpunch
"Ed Pavlić's words have always heard the music and with Who Can Afford to Improvise?, he shows the exquisite ways that James Baldwin's words both heard the music and was the music itself." —Mark Anthony Neal, Looking for Leroy: Illegible Black Masculinities
"Who Can Afford to Improvise is a tour de force from one of our premier Baldwin scholars. Ed Pavlić's brilliantly insightful meditation on black music and culture and Baldwin's centrality to that tradition is a must-read." —Peniel E. Joseph, author of Dark Days, Bright Nights
Ed Pavlić is author of seven collections of poems and two critical books. His most recent works are Who Can Afford to Improvise?: James Baldwin and Black Music, the Lyric and the Listener, Let’s Let That Are Not Yet: Inferno, and Visiting Hours at the Color Line. His next books are a collection of poems, Live at the Bitter End, and Another Kind of Madness, a novel set on the South Side of Chicago / Coastal Kenya and tuned to the sound of Chaka Khan. He lives in Athens, GA and teaches in the PhD Program in Creative Writing/English at the University of Georgia.