Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Waiting 4 Giovanni

As a kid growing up with my great grandmother in Boston in the early 1960s I learned to love reading like most kids learned to jump rope.  And when I visited my father most weekends I loved that reading was as intrinsic to his life as it was to mine.  It was in his flat among a stack of magazines and novels that I first discovered James Baldwin.

I started with "Giovanni's Room" because it was shorter.  I can identify moments when I knew my life stopped in place and turned onto a new path.  That was one of those moments.  Baldwin's writing took my breath away and the story was about the ill-fated love affair between two men in Paris.  In Baldwin's elegant language I understood gay existed outside of my own isolation. 

Decades later and on the other side of the country my friend Harry Waters Jr., actor and director, asked me to write something for him about James Baldwin.  It was as if I'd been waiting for his request, his challenge all of my life.  It was strange since I've spent most of my career writing lesbian/feminist literature in general and lesbian vampire stories in particular.  But I took to Baldwin like the proverbial duck to water.

This blog site will keep you up to date on the progress of this project from Harry's first challenge to the opening night of the play, "Waiting for Giovanni."  I'll relate some of the  disappointments and triumphs, talk about breakthroughs in the research and the writing; and introduce some of the people I meet along the way.

Baldwin said: "Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within."  My teen encounter with Baldwin sewed the seeds of a deep love for writing as well as for his work.  That love has helped me challenge those masks over the past 40 years.  

There will be much talk about the 'isms' that have contaminated our loves but mostly this blog is about love...love of James Baldwin...love of writing...love of theatre.  I hope you'll leave this spot and dash off to re-read JB or some other writer or to buy theatre tickets or partake of some cultural experience.  Who we are as a country is imbedded in our culture and we are that culture.  All of us.  Read on! Right on!


  1. Glad to be a follower, Jewelle. Your blog looks fab.

  2. Thanks! I'm trying to use some of my excess anxiety/excitement about the project in a productive way between rewrites before we go into production!! x0j