Giovanna’s creative sensibility was forged in an Italian American enclave near the Bronx. She was born in New Haven, Connecticut, and spent most of her growing-up years in New York. Giovanna's earliest creative inclinations were nurtured in the rich cultural tapestry of her Italian American community in Mount Vernon, New York, where she was raised.
This was a neighborhood of immigrants, many of whom had newly arrived from southern Italy, freshly transplanted to American soil. It was a place where newcomers would purchase a broken down house, and the entire family would work together to fix it up, sheet rocking a second bedroom, expanding their front porch, rebuilding their homes from scratch. They would plant tomato gardens on every sliver of land, roast peppers in their backyard, and raise large families thousands of miles from their old-world roots.
These were Giovanna’s earliest memories and have deeply influenced her work. They appear in every medium she works in. In this signature poem, Giovanna writes:
In my neighborhood
the smell of roasting peppers
was often floating in the air
as Mr. Bonavitacola sizzled them
over an outdoor flame
the sweet aroma drifting to every nose.
You would often hear the loud buzz
of an electric saw
as the neighbors next door
knocked down a wall.
With hammer and nails
they’d sheet rock a second bedroom
extending their front porch
to accommodate their bursting family.
- In My Neighborhood: Poetry and Prose, by Giovanna Capone, c. 2014
Giovanna is trained as a public librarian and has worked for many years in city and county libraries and university libraries in five different cities throughout the U.S., including New York, Texas, and California. At the Berkeley Public Library in Berkeley, California, she staffed an adult and family literacy program called Berkeley Reads, where she worked with adults acquiring literacy skills for the first time. In the Oakland Public Library, she taught poetry writing workshops to children and teens, guiding them to find their poetic voice. In the Alameda County Library, she worked as a librarian with at-risk youth at REACH Ashland Youth Center, nurturing their language arts skills. She worked with California Poets in the Schools for many years and taught numerous poetry writing workshops for children, teens, and adults in different settings such as public libraries, school classrooms, recreation centers, and other community locations.
In her creative life, Giovanna’s writing has appeared in numerous online and print publications for over four decades. Her visual art has been exhibited in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her poetry and short fiction can be found in anthologies such as Unsettling America: An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry, Curaggia: Writing by Women of Italian Descent, Bless Me Father: Stories of Catholic Childhood, Avanti Popolo: Italian-American Writers Sail Beyond Columbus, Queer View Mirror 2: Lesbian and Gay Short Short Fiction, What I Want From You: An Anthology of East Bay Lesbian Poets, and Fuori: Essays by Italian/American Lesbians and Gays.
Rossmoor Community, Walnut Creek
Giovanna’s documentary film, Finding the Italians: A Granddaughter’s Journey, was screened along with a line-up of nine other diverse films at the Peacock Theater, for a large audience in this senior living community. This screening was sponsored by the Italian American Club at Rossmoor.
A premiere screening of Giovanna’s new documentary film took place on Memorial Day weekend. Her full-length film, Finding the Italians: A Granddaughter’s Journey, was produced and directed by her in 2022. It was one of seventeen films written and produced by lesbian filmmakers, and screened for the first time in Paducah, Kentucky in their annual film festival.
Finding the Italians: A Granddaughter's Journey
Giovanna’s film was screened as a documentary work in progress two years before its final completion.
Winner: Italian Cultural Heritage Award for indie documentaries in 2021, awarded by Mel Vapour, Director, Berkeley Video Film Fest.
Russo Brothers Italian American Film Forum and the National Italian American Foundation
This esteemed monetary recognition highlights Giovanna's talent in the art of filmmaking. This grant was a major help in the final production of her full-length documentary mentioned above.
You can read further about her film, and the prestigious grant she was awarded in 2020, alongside several other grant recipients by clicking here.
Solano County Library Foundation hosted this literary event, featuring six San Francisco Bay Area poets including Giovanna Capone, in celebration of National Poetry Month.
All proceeds benefited the Library Foundation & Literacy Programs in Solano County.
This is an anthology of short stories and memoirs by 42 lesbian writers, some newly emerging and some well-known, edited by Giovanna Capone, Xequina Maria Berber, and Rome Smith. On Feb. 25, 2017, the book release event for this collection was standing room only. It was held at The Frank Betts Center for the Arts, Alameda, California.
To read a review of this essential and unique anthology, written by Yvet Janzen, please click here.
This volume features the creative writing and art work of young people who attended REACH: Ashland Youth Center and Camp Sweeney in San Leandro, CA.
These written works were the result of creative writing classes taught by Giovanna while she worked with at-risk youth as a teen librarian at REACH, a part of the Alameda County Library system.
This anthology, published by a small press, celebrated and explored LGBT themes, earning recognition in the Best Lesbian/Gay Anthology category.
Bedazzled Ink Publishing Company
Giovanna’s first full-length collection of poetry and prose has been long-awaited and was well-received. A book review written by Benjamin Schmitt of At the Inkwell is here.
Also, here is Giovanna’s interview with Monique Lewis, founder of At the Inkwell, an online resource for published writers and avid readers. Monique asked Giovanna how she developed her poetic voice. Their discussion “What Makes Poetry Good?” can be viewed here.
Daughters, Dads, and the Path through Grief: Tales from Italian America, an anthology edited by Donna DiCello, PsyD, and Lorraine Mangione, c. 2014
Giovanna's insightful interview enriches this book exploring the intricate connections between Italian American daughters and their fathers. Dr. DiCello, Associate Director at the Graduate Institute of Professional Psychology, University of Hartford, and Dr. Mangione from the Department of Psychology at Antioch University in New England, share their expertise in this collection of interviews with notable Italian American women.
Published by Impact Publishing, Inc., this book maps the emotional journey within Italian American father-daughter relationships, specifically the grief and loss a daughter feels when her father dies.
Second Annual Whitman-Stein Poetry Festival
Giovanna was a featured presenter and honored poet at The Whitman-Stein Poetry Festival, in Santa Barbara, California, a vibrant celebration of LGBTQ poets from across California. This is a literary series directed by Ron Alexander and spanning multiple years.
In 2012, the festival took place at the Fe Bland Auditorium at Santa Barbara City College, co-sponsored by The Pacific Pride Foundation, Instruments of Peace, SBCC Queer & Ally Q&A Club, and UCSB Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity. To view the complete list of honored poets for 2012, click here.
March and April, 2012
Held in March and April 2012, Giovanna's original "political collage" was featured in this contest. Entitled "Occupy Oakland: Stop the Foreclosures!" her artwork shed light on the housing crisis faced by Alameda County residents and beyond, emphasizing the impact of big banks on multiple home foreclosures following the 2008 Great Recession.
Giovanna's thought-provoking creation captured a critical moment in American history which drew into question the longstanding myth of America as the "land of equal opportunity for all."
Giovanna’s original mixed media visual art was displayed two years in a row in the Rockridge Branch Library upstairs gallery, where artists who are also employed within the Oakland Public Library showcase their art for the public.
Giovanna presented multiple visual art works in this venue, alongside other library visual artists who were her colleagues within the library.
Giovanna worked with teen poets and visual artists who were patrons of the Dimond Branch Library and beyond. Together they produced this substantial volume of original teen poetry and visual art, published by Wordrunner Press and sponsored and funded by The Friends of the Dimond Branch Library, Oakland, CA.
As a community artist, Giovanna was given one recently vandalized library book, and she produced two original art collages which were later exhibited and sold. Entitled “Partings at Dawn, I and II,” they were auctioned to members of the public. The funds raised were used to restore library books that had been vandalized by a disgruntled library patron who objected to the gay and lesbian content of these books.
To hear more about this creative way to restore justice to a collection of public library books in San Francisco, please click here.
Hey Paesan! Writing by Lesbians and Gay Men of Italian Descent (1999)
This original anthology, published by Three Guineas Press in 1999, was co-edited by Giovanna Capone, Tommi Avicolli Mecca, and Denise Nico Leto. In year 2000, it earned recognition as a Lambda Literary Award nominee.
This unique collection celebrates and explores gay and lesbian themes from an Italian American perspective. It was nominated by Lambda Literary Awards in the category of Best Lesbian/Gay Anthology, year 2000.
First Annual Dyke Drama Festival, San Francisco, CA
In live theater, Giovanna's play, "Her Kiss," debuted in San Francisco to sold-out audiences as part of Luna Sea Women's Performance Project in their first Dyke Drama Festival in 1999.
Giovanna's original play was selected in a competition that drew over 60 original plays. Hers was one of five exciting new plays chosen to be produced by Luna Sea Women's Performance Project. Her play was performed on four consecutive weekends in the summer of 1999. Every seat in the theater was filled.
Lesbian Writers' Series: A Different Light Bookstore, West Hollywood, CA
This esteemed reading series, established in 1984, stands as a platform for lesbian authors to share their poetry and prose in a community format.
Over the years, this event showcased esteemed lesbian writers like Joan Nestle alongside literary luminaries including June Jordan and Angela Davis.
Giovanna presented her work as an honored poet and writer in 1992.
Giovanna's captivating poetry had the privilege of being included by the late poet and civil rights activist June Jordan in her renowned Poetry for the People program, an arts & activism curriculum she taught at the University of California, Berkeley in the 1990’s.
One of Giovanna’s narrative poems “In Answer to Their Questions,” was included in the program and taught.
Guested edited by a collective of San Francisco Bay Area lesbian writers, including Giovanna Capone. Sinister Wisdom is a longstanding quarterly journal for the lesbian imagination in the arts and politics.
This issue focused on class and was co-edited by a diverse group of lesbians from poor, working-poor, and working-class backgrounds.
Guest edited by Giovanna Capone and Denise Nico Leto. Sinister Wisdom is a quarterly journal for the lesbian imagination in the arts and politics. This issue focused on writing by women of Italian American background.
A book launch took place in July, 1990: Old Wives Tales Bookstore, San Francisco, CA.