Words have incredible power and can impact the direction of a whole society. Whether an epic cli-fi novel to help prevent climate change or a high fantasy novel that draws a line between right and wrong, the truth is―words are a force that inspires change.
‘Write in order to change the world, knowing perfectly well that you probably can’t, but also knowing that literature is indispensable to the world… The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even but a millimetre the way people look at reality, then you can change it.’ ― James Baldwin.
The name James Baldwin, a writer and activist, is sure to be known in most readers’ minds. Baldwin, best known for arguing that emotional connection could help heal America’s racial divide, has a breadth of writings to discover: fiction, essays, plays and poetry. And though many words have been said about him, including those of Carolyn Wedin Sylvander who wrote: ‘One is struck repeatedly by the power of Baldwin’s prose, and by our continuing need, as readers and as citizens, for his steadying apocalyptic vision… one can find a vigorous model for venturing beyond charted areas,’ Baldwin’s voice is of someone who wasn’t afraid to describe who he was, where he’d come from or what he’d seen.
This distinctive style, known for both its eloquence and rhetorical force, inspired readers to confront truths they themselves were often oblivious to, illustrating that words and actions do have an impact on the world and those around us one millimetre at a time.
Baldwin’s powerful and fluid legacy has the remarkable ability to fit whatever category a reader requires. We particularly love his quote: ‘Love takes off the masks we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. People can cry much easier than they can change. Neither love nor terror makes one blind: indifference makes one blind’.
Unfortunately, his writings which provide a blueprint for humankind’s collective welfare, are as necessary today as during his four decade literary career, as we seek to figure out why inequality among people remains.
Margi and Donna are currently focused on a book, Shock and Awe, to be released by Stormbird Press in early 2020. In the lead up to the book’s release Stormbird Press is posting a series of short essays to whet the appetite for some of the topics they explore in Shock and Awe. The first essay was Anthropomorphism in literature: Can It Benefit Conservation?