Jim Nawrocki (1964–2018), G&LR Mainstay

Published in: September-October 2018 issue.


REGULAR READERS of this magazine will instantly recognize the name of Jim Nawrocki, who contributed to just about every issue starting in 2002. He wrote on an amazingly wide range of topics, always with a degree of authority that suggested a deep reading on the topic at hand. Jim’s death on May 31st will leave a giant void in the lineup of regular contributors to The G&LR—someone who could always be counted on for insightful and engaging reviews of LGBT books.

            Jim left us at an unforgivably early age, 54, succumbing to liver failure following a three-year struggle with metastatic colon cancer. Throughout this entire period, which was marked by hospital stays, procedures, and physical discomfort, he continued to write his bimonthly reviews for this magazine. He even has a posthumous piece in the current issue, an interview with his San Francisco neighbor, antique dealer Isak Lindenauer.

            Jim was also a regular writer for the Bay Area Reporter(B.A.R.) for many years running. But perhaps his greatest passion was poetry, both as a critic and as a respected poet in his own right. His poems appeared in this magazine as well as in the B.A.R., Poetry magazine, and other periodicals. (His brilliant poem “The Hex Shank” appears in this issue.) He was something of an expert on the Beat poets and especially on the works of poet Harold Norse. But his interests stretched far and wide, encompassing all of the fine arts—fiction, film, painting—as well as gay history and biography. He would always jump on books about San Francisco and Asian culture and was a relentless booster of gay literature as a distinct genre to be cultivated and preserved.

     I never met Jim in person but felt that I knew him well, so frequently had we communicated via email. While ours was mostly a professional relationship, we always checked in with each other, sharing recent activities and weekend plans. As a reviewer, he was every editor’s dream, a wonderful writer who really didn’t need an editor, who always did his homework—he would often read everything by a given author before reviewing his latest work—and who never missed a deadline. He was active in the San Francisco gay community and often gave readings and spoke on panels. He is survived by his longtime partner and husband Jason Wong.