Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Bringing Flower of Iowa home

There’s a moment in my World War I novel Flower of Iowa when the title character, American soldier Tommy Flowers, returns to the front after a brief time in England. As familiar places and faces come into view, he reflects that being back in France feels oddly like coming home.  
Centre LGBT Paris-Île-de-France logo
On August 8, Flower of Iowa itself finally will be coming home. That’s the evening that Chuck Muckle and I bring our dramatized reading with period music to France for the first time. We will be performing at the Centre LGBT Paris-Île-de-France, a mere two hours’ drive from Rainneville, where Tommy and British soldier David Pearson first meet in the book’s opening chapter.

The timing of our event is remarkable: August 8, 1918, was dubbed "the black day of the German Army" by that nation’s Chief of Staff, Erich Ludendorff. 

Battle of Amiens

That’s because it marked the beginning of the Battle of Amiens, the offensive which broke through their long-held line – and in which both Tommy and David participate. How appropriate that we will be giving our presentation on the 100th anniversary of that fateful day.

Gay Games 10 square logo

The reading is also one of many cultural events scheduled to accompany Gay Games 10, which is bringing more than 10,000 participants from more than 70 countries to the French capital for nine days of competition in dozens of athletic events. 

Chuck and Lance Bronze Medalists
Chuck and I have our own history with the Gay Games; in 2006, we won bronze medals in Chicago, and in 2010, he won a silver medal in Cologne – medals in bowling, of all sports… but that’s another story! 

The celebration of the Gay Games, the centenary of the events of 1918, and the mere fact of being in France, creates a confluence for our reading that is simply extraordinary. There is something especially fitting about coming full circle to give our presentation in the nation that serves as the primary backdrop of the novel. And it is equally fitting that we are doing so in this, the final year of the Great War Centennial.

The reading at the Centre LGBT Paris-Île-de-France marks a culmination of a more than four-year journey. Our path has taken us from such far-flung points as Chicago, home of Tommy’s captain, Billy Sand, to London in David’s native England, and to Ireland in April of 2017, where we opened the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival. What an amazing journey it continues to be!

Centre LGBT Paris-Île-de-France event logo
The Centre LGBT Paris-Île-de-France is located at 63, rue Beaubourg, close to the Centre Pompidou (Metro: Rambuteau or Arts et Métiers). The reading of  Flower of Iowa, with period music, will take place at 8:00 p.m. (20h00) on Wednesday, 8 August. Admission is free and the presentation is in English, although Lance is likely to interject a bit of French as well.

To download the novel Flower of Iowa, Iowa, click here.