…of all the events, and all the human beings that walked planet Earth during the 20th century, it’s impossible to find one more astonishing than the story of Paul Robeson.”
What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?
My wheelhouse is in shaping and writing stories that are based on or inspired by true historical events. Most of these stories have a fascinating human being at their center. And of all the events, and all the human beings that walked planet Earth during the 20th century, it’s impossible to find one more astonishing than the story of Paul Robeson. The range, breadth and depth of his impact and achievements are remarkable. At the height of his influence and fame, his was the most recognized voice on the planet. He excelled in fields as diverse as acting for the stage and film, political activism, concert hall singing, international diplomacy, collegiate and professional athletics, Constitutional law, and civil rights — especially for indigenous, oppressed and/or working class people. His entire adult life was devoted to using his gifts and influence as a performing artist to fight against racism, fascism and colonialism– and for freedom and opportunity for all people of color, so that they could live and work in full human dignity.
What are you working on now?
On April 15th, at Waterline Writers, I’ll be reading a scene from a work-in-progress, full-length stage play. I’m about five drafts in on the rewrite. My goal is to have it ready by mid-summer for development with a local director and theater company. I’ve also recently been hired to write a screenplay for an independent feature film. It, too, is an adaptation of a book inspired by true events.
What was the last great thing you read by another author?
Stolen Air: Selected Poems of Osip Mandelstam, translated by Christian Wiman. Born in Poland and raised in St. Petersburg, Madelstam is the poet who was arrested and thrown in the Soviet gulags during the Purges, in part because of his poem The Stalin Epigram. In it, he compares Stalin’s mustache to a pair of laughing cockroaches.
You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which writer, dead or alive, do you invite?