Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
Virtual Events
Click Here for More Articles on Virtual Events

National Sawdust Announces FIRE THIS TIME Series


The series will explore James Baldwin's influence and his continued impact via the work, experiments, collaborations, and vital futures imagined by the guests.

National Sawdust Announces FIRE THIS TIME Series

Sometime in 1962, James Baldwin wrote the words: "Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. I use the word 'love' here not merely in the personal sense but as a state of being, or a state of grace - not in the infantile American sense of being made happy, but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth."

When Baldwin drafted the letters and essays that would become The Fire Next Time, Martin Luther King Jr. had not yet spoken his expansive dream into our collective imagination. Malcolm X was about to depart from the Nation of Islam and adopt Sunni Islam, becoming el-Hajj-Malik el-Shabazz. Dorothy Height and Bayard Rustin were busy planning many of King Jr.'s key Civil Rights actions, including the March on Washington. Like African-Americans across the nation, Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton would be deepening their radical imaginings toward serving their community. Had he lived, Emmet Till-murdered at 14-would have turned 21 in 1962, and every Black person knew it. For what would not be the last time, the nation slipped its mask and turned its eyes toward justice and the question of race. Baldwin's voice, then and now, cuts through the noise. No other writer of the 20th century has more cleanly sharpened our focus on this American story's truth through the lens of Blackness. Few have so plainly signaled the path forward for us through love and action.

Love and action are the fuel for National Sawdust's conversation series, Fire This Time, launching April 20th. The host, poet Lynne Procope, will sit down with musicians, critics, stick fighters, DJs, academics, curators, poets, and music lovers at the ley lines of organizing, activism, and the legacy of perhaps the most influential writer of the last century, James Baldwin. The series will explore Baldwin's influence and his continued impact via the work, experiments, collaborations, and vital futures imagined by the guests; those bearing his flame.

Each week, mixologist Chris Buckley will join in to introduce a cocktail and mocktail combination for viewers to try at home. Buckley invites us behind the bar to discover new cocktail and mocktail ingredients sourced from women, LGBTQIA+ folks, and BIPOC suppliers who only a decade ago would be unlikely in the industry. Elevate your home bartending with Buckley and learn how we can do more than pay lip service to diversity and inclusion, over another round.

Discussion Details

April 20

Abena Koomson-Davis, Elana Bell, and Dara Lazar of the musical ensembles Saheli and Resistance Revival Chorus kick off the series by taking us on a journey through their activism, organizing, and creative sustenance in troubled times.

April 27

jessica Care moore, award-winning poet, curator, founder of Black Women Rock, and all around force of nature, discusses the vital role of spoken word in progressive resistance; and the music and poetry of place.

May 25

Rondel Benjamin, Chief Dreamer and co-founder of Bois Academy of Trinidad and Tobago, guides us through the cultural history and foundational music of the Kongo artform of Kalinda as it survives in the stick fighting arenas of the islands.

June 22

Toyin Spellman-Diaz, oboist and activist of Imani Winds, discusses Baldwin's legacy and its potential for profound impact on Western classical music.

For more information visit:

Related Articles

Featured on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes & More

More Hot Stories For You