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Books are in blue

Direct web links to essays are underlined


Leaders in Literature, Politics and Arts Share Their Favorite Books of 2020

Short piece on books including Busted in New York and Other Essays by Darryl Pinckney

and The Tradition: Poems by Jericho Brown

Wall Street Journal

December 3, 2020

Roots & Reality

Essay on teaching children about America


October 23, 2020

Wonderful Worlds

Short essay on Louis Armstrong’s song “Wonderful World”

Voice Male: The Magazine for Changing Men

Fall 2020


Essay in Symposium on Anxiety

The Threepenny Review

Fall 2020


Short story

Four Way Review

August 15, 2020

George Floyd, Derek Chauvin, and the New Gold Standard


Scoundrel Time

June 10, 2020

Clifford Thompson with David Winner

Interviewed by the writer David Winner for…

The Brooklyn Rail

June 2020

Rooms and Clarinets

Personal essay on race and the pandemic


May 30, 2020 (reprinted in Writing the Virus: Work from StatORec Magazine, Fall 2020)

Homage to Albert Murray

Personal essay/review of Library of America’s 50th anniversary edition of

The Omni-Americans by Albert Murray

The Baffler, April 8, 2020

Long Red Monte Carlo

Personal essay

The Common Reader, March 25, 2020


Humor Is the Dominant Note

Review of James McBride’s novel Deacon King Kong

Los Angeles Review of Books, March 18, 2020


Table Talk Piece

The Threepenny Review, Spring 2020


Fully Human, Every Single One

Review of Ta-Nehisi Coate’s novel The Water Dancer

Times Literary Supplement, February 7, 2020


Staking Out His Territory

Review of The Selected Letters of Ralph Ellison

Wall Street Journal, November 30, 2019

Seventeen Notes on Singing

Personal essay, AGNI (online), November 25, 2019


Summer of ’83

Personal essay, AGNI, Number Ninety, Fall 2019

What It Is: Race, Family, and One Thinking Black Man’s Blues

Other Press


On Unhappiness, Friendship, and Charlie Brown

Essay in The Peanuts Papers: Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the Gang, and the Meaning of Life 

Library of America

Essay in Symposium on Desire

The Threepenny Review, Fall 2019

Better Angels

Apple, Tree: Writers on Their Parents 

edited by Lise Funderburg 

University of Nebraska Press

Pen and Ink

Times Literary Supplement, August 23 & 30, 2019

Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!

review of Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow and Henry Louis Gates's Stony the Road

Times Literary Supplement, August 16, 2019

Intellect and Intuition

review of Colson Whitehead's novel The Nickel Boys

Times Literary Supplement, July 26, 2019

Toni Morrison’s Big Bang 

Los Angeles Review of Books 

Review of William Melvin Kelley’s novel A Different Drummer 

Times Literary Supplement, May 10, 2019

“Hearts and Bones”

review of Yuval Taylor’s book Zora and Langston: A Story of Friendship and Betrayal

The Wall Street Journal, April 27, 2019


“Where the Poor Cope, Suffer, and Die in Silence”

review of Alex Kotlowitz’s book An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago

The Washington Post, April 19, 2019

Raincoats,” “Frozen Over,” “Revolutions Per Minute,” “Love and Golf,” and “The Magic Gap” (poems)

COG magazine, March 1, 2019—Finalist for the COG 2018-19 COG Poetry Award


A Spy in Caanan and Bluff City (review of two books)

The Wall Street Journal, February 23, 2019

Naked City

Mr. Beller's Neighborhood, February 10, 2019

Joan Didion’s Blues 

The Threepenny Review, Winter 2019


Dear White People: Stop Using the Term 'Uncle Tom' 

(op-ed) The Washington Post, November 16, 2018


Long Tall Tenor Man 

Review of Maxine Gordon’s biography Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon

 The Wall Street Journal, November 3, 2018

Sunday in New York 

Personal essay, The Coal Hill Review

Myths that Shape Our Notion of Identity 

Review of Kwame Anthony Appiah's book The Lies That Bind

The Washington Post, August 23, 2018

In the Haze Where Sea Meets Sky

Times Literary Supplement, June 29, 2018

Getting Ahead

Times Literary Supplement, June 8, 2018



Speak magazine, June 2018 


"Table Talk" Piece

The Threepenny Review, Summer 2018

Review of Smoketown: The Untold Story of the Other Great Black Renaissance

 The Washington Post, March 2, 2018

Out of the Past

The Threepenny Review, Spring 2018

Review of The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke

The Wall Street Journal,  January 27, 2018

Life with Rodents 

The Common Reader, January 4, 2018

Read a Book 

Times Literary Supplement, January 12, 2018


Aliens and Fences 

Review of The Origin of Others, by Toni Morrison 

Times Literary Supplement, November 21, 2017

Hollering at the System

Review of Chester Himes' biography 

Wall Street Journal, August 26, 2017

Essay in "A Symposium on Neighborhoods"

The Threepenny Review, Fall 2017


Jimmy’s Blues 

Essay on James Baldwin

Los Angeles Review of Books, September 2017



Review of Roxane Gay's memoir Hunger

 Los Angeles Review of Books, Summer 2017


2014 (Poem)

Clockhouse, 2017

The World, the Moon, the Dream

The Threepenny Review, Spring 2017 

Selected for The Best American Essays 2018 edited by Hilton Als


Round Midnight, November 21, 1947 (for Thelonious Monk) (Poem)

 Auburn Avenue, Fall 2016

What a Fine Thing It Would Be (Poem)

The Georgia Review, Fall 2016


The Art, Magic, and Blues of Raymond Carver

 The Threepenny Review, Fall 2016


Journey of Miles 

Los Angeles Review of Books, August 29, 2016

Watching the World: A Young Black Man’s Memoir Turns the Lens in Two Directions

Review of Mychal Denzel’s book Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching

The Village Voice, August 17, 2016

Jazz June 

The Threepenny Review, Spring 2016

 Reprinted in the 2017 anthologies Revise the Psalm: Works Inspired by the Writings of Gwendolyn Brooks and The Whiskey of Our Discontent: Gwendolyn Brooks as Conscience and Change Agent (forthcoming)

Our Hero and His Blues: Celebrating Albert Murray

Los Angeles Review of Books, May 8, 2016

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? 

Review of memoir by Roz Chast 

The Common Reader, May 2016

MMA Is Here to Stay and It’s Time for New York to Legalize and Regulate It

The Village Voice, March 22, 2016

Flying Home

Review of short story collection by David Nicholson

The Common Reader, May 2016

I Have a Nightmare

Review of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s book Between the World and Me

American Book Review, 2016


You Learn Things When You’re Ready to Learn Them

Kemp Powers Interviews Clifford Thompson

Los Angeles Review of Books

November 15, 2015

“Table Talk” Piece

The Threepenny Review, Fall 2015

Twin of Blackness: A Memoir

 Autumn House Press, 2015

King Lear

Review of the autobiography Even This I Get to Experience, by Norman Lear

The Common Reader, March 26, 2015

Eric Garner and Me

Los Angeles Review of Books, March 13, 2015

On the Bus (Memoir)

 The Threepenny Review, Spring 2015

Listed among Notable Essays and Literary Nonfiction of 2015 in The Best American Essays 2016


Say It Ain’t So, Bill

Personal essay/review of Cosby: His Life and Times, by Mark Whitaker

The Common Reader, December 12, 2014


That ’70s Band

Review of Shining Star by Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind & Fire

The Common Reader, October 1, 2014


District Restoration

 Review of Mayor for Life, by Marion Barry

The Common Reader, October 1, 2014


Cities, Bulls, and the Boy at Seventeen

The Threepenny Review, Fall 2014


A Brief Take on Slavery and the Holocaust

 Vox Populi, June 2014


On Rivers 

The Threepenny Review, Spring 2014


“Django Unchained: The Graphic Novel” (Review)

 The Common Reader, January 2014


This Man’s Books (on Tobias Wolff’s writing)

The Threepenny Review, Fall 2013


Long Division 

The Crisis, Fall 2013


“Django Unchained” (Film review)

Cineaste, 2013


Essay in symposium on Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!

The Threepenny Review, Spring 2013


Love for Sale and Other Essays

Autumn House Press, 2013


Edward and Charles (on Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus)

The Threepenny Review, Winter 2013


Three Funerals and a Wedding

The Threepenny Review, Winter 2012


Faith and Faithlessness: Alexander Payne’s The Descendants (Review)

The American Shot, December 29, 2011


Evoking the Extremes of Human Experience (on Thelonious Monk’s “Bright Mississippi”)

Oxford American, November 2011


Love for Sale

The Threepenny Review, Summer 2011 

Translated and reprinted in Danish publication Jazz Special


“Table Talk” Piece

The Threepenny Review, Spring 2010

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