I got up,

to rain,

this morning,

lots of rain,

so in typical,

me fashion,

I expected,

the bookstore,

to be deserted,

I tried to be optimistic,

and tell myself,

I’ll finish,

my Baldwin.

To my great surprise,

I was very busy,

and had a day,

that is surely,

a record,

for early March.





lots of books.


Thirty pages left,

on Giovanni’s Room,

I’ll finish it,

before turning in.

I find it difficult,


filled with,

ugly emotions.

He was a brave man,

James Baldwin.

This novel,

was published in 1956,

and is an honest account,

of a homosexual affair.

His work,

was gutsy,

his life was gutsy.

He lived as an out,


didn’t really say, Gay, then

in the forties, fifties,

a black man.

It’s hard for me to imagine,

how difficult,

it must have been,

I live in,

a time,

and in,

a country,

where I can,

legally marry,

a woman.

He lived ,

in a puritanical time,

in a racially segregated society,

when being queer,

was a disease.

He was brave,


an example in every way.

Being true to,

your art,

your self,

your truth.

Freedom is not something that anybody can be given. Freedom is something people take, and people are as free as they want to be- James Baldwin

We stand on the shoulders,

of the,

James Baldwin’s,

of the past,

all of us,

regardless of,


or identity.

Good to remember,

those who came,


Later girls,


4 Replies to “Those who came before”

  1. I studied ‘Go Tell It on the Mountain’ in undergrad. My prof. was a Baldwin apostle. When I asked what she thought of ‘Giovanni’s Room’. She called it one of his ‘lesser’ works. I was too young then to ask her to contextualize her judgement–was she speaking of content or style?

    Now I know that the content kept her from really considering the style; thus, even if ‘Giovanni’s Room’ was the most well written book in Baldwin’s oeuvre, she wouldn’t know it b/c THERE ARE NO BLACK HOMOSEXUALS! There is only The Man tricking foolish black men into such PERVERSION to hasten the end of the race;-)

    Ironically, she is/was right. Upon rereading some years later, I found ‘Giovanni’s Room’ lacking. I chose ‘Go Tell It…” for my Black Prose Fiction course. While ground breaking and brave for its content, GR is simply not Baldwin’s best work–when given the opportunity to choose, it wasn’t the work that I chose for my students. Unfortunately, students then weren’t as inquisitive as me, so none asked me about GR. I would have told them that it was a wonderfully brave book.

    Maybe he was too angry and too close to make it better….Too bad he’s not around today. I wonder if GR would be the same?

  2. I love Baldwin, all Baldwin, but, his essays, wow, – anger, indignation, heartbreak. I found Giovanni’s Room, dare
    I say it, “Ballsy”, courageous, groundbreaking. Baldwin makes me think and feel, he has a special place in my heart.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *