And so somewhere last month, April, that much-embraced month of poetry, just a short while after Friday the 13th, to me a rather blessed, lovely day, and better evening, I think somewhere between truth and fiction I ran full-steam into a concrete block wall and inside, my head rang like Quasimodo's bell. The taking of stock was at hand.
The aforementioned Friday had been the launch of my new, second poetry collection, of which I feel the kind of joy, satisfaction, pride, and relief a writer had been better feel, or as the great Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette had remarked upon another occasion, it would be for the writer "...time to lay aside the pen."
Further below in this post are a bunch of photos taken of the launch. But here are my favorite parts:
- The audience laughed just where the poems wanted them to, and the audience applauded madly, spontaneously, after four of the seven poems I read.
- No one left early. No one wanted an open mic after. No one fell asleep; well, Johnnie's husband, dear Tom, feel asleep, but he falls asleep at everything, and I'm crazy about him anyway. NO ONE looked at their CELL PHONE EVEN ONCE! Not one single person.
- Standing room only, and so many people were sitting in the aisles beside bookshelves, and then began thronging to the stage area, the staff had to put out more chairs.
- I didn't say too much, finally, after all these years, and I didn't screw up even one word in any poem -- which I've always done at every reading I've ever given.
- My shoes didn't pinch.
- The owner of the famous independent bookstore made it a point of attending my reading. Yes, I was overjoyed by that. You'd be, too. She leaned forward in her chair during the whole reading, smiling, her blue eyes sparkling and wide with listening.
- I didn't read any of the sadder, more intense, longer poems. Seems people (honestly) want a happy time when they go out. They'll tolerate "bleak" but I've also learned you can tell bleak truths just as powerfully with a dose of sly humor on the underbelly. Took a long time to get that one down pat.
- Five of my students were in the audience. Everyone's tired of hearing about my work in law, I know -- and last year I began teaching poetry workshops and craft classes (for money, and a pittance) at Phoenix Center for the Arts, and wouldn't you know it?, five of my wonderful students came. I got misty-eyed at the lectern when I told the audience they were there that night. Photos to prove. One of them, Daniel Pereyra, has just had his own collection, How I Learned to Learn New Things, accepted for publication at Finishing Line Press, and I was honored to provide a blurb for his book. It is a very good book of poems.
- My mother's serving trays, cake tray, and serving ware graced the buffet table and the dessert table. Nobody knows how much this meant to me. In fact, four days up to the reading I was more concerned about the food, the arrangement, the specialty cake, and the presentation than having my set list down. This is a true statement. I changed that set list over six times the four days up to the day of the reading.
- The booksigning line was serpentine - I say, serpentine, to the degree that the store closes at 9PM, and cash registers were still ringing and I was still inscribing up to near 10PM. Serpentine! J. K. Rowling-serpentine, well, not quite....
- I felt like the most fortunate person to have this embracing, thoughtful, engaged, spirited, appreciative audience.
- The specialty cake was actually called "Satin Bondage." I am not fabricating this. I've never used this word before in print, but it applies like no other: they "snarfed" it. I was beyond happy.
|Pre-Reading, with Pinna Joseph, Marketing and Events Director for Changing Hands Bookstore|
|Book Display Table, Lectern, Mic - The Changing Hands Bookstore Stage|
|I'm thinking I'm in the "warm golden oil" line from "Why All The Ladies Like Ray"|
|Rachel and Danny, two great students in this pic, including Gayle, owner of CH, but you can't see her because she's directly behind the applauding man in the black T-shirt. Oh joy! Jeredith! Wilson! Everyone else is beautifully new.|
And so there has to be a part II since this blog won't let me load but so many photos per each post. And I haven't even shown off the buffet!