May 12 was the official publication date of Solace in So Many Words and also the date for our second reading. This was one was at Barbara’s Bookstore (UIC), which has a separate performance space with great acoustics. The event, which was well-attended, started off with my short explanation of the book and how it came to be, followed by outstanding readings by: Carol Kanter who read her three poems, “Her Best Medicine,” “Alternative Eulogy,” and “The Advanced Course,” Pat Rahmann who read “Last Trip Together,” J. Scott Smith who read “Heartbeat,” Jan Bottiglieri who read “Oliver” and “Why You Knit,” Kathleene Donahoo who read “Stops and Starts,” and D. I. Gray who read “Calculus.” Joan Corwin who wrote “Details” was also on hand.
In closing, I explained how I’d like the website to be an interactive one where readers stop by and feel free to offer their comments or submit to the regular features: Slice of Solace, which is short takes on the subject of solace (75 words or so) and Glimpse of Solace, which is photography and visual art somehow (even tangentially) related to solace. Arnold Kanter was at the reading; his photo of elephants is currently a Glimpse of Solace. It is from the book he and Carol Kanter did together (No Secrets Where Elephants Walk from their company Dual Arts Press. ) I’m going to upload another of Arnie’s photos soon–his amazing pictures paired with Carol’s poems make for a beautiful book.
I ended the event by reading Ann McNeal’s “Faith,” a poem that sums up my feelings for the duty each of us has to the next generations.
“In the end, you must fill the jar.
Leave it for the next traveler.”
One little problem at the reading was that the camera was set to a wrong setting so our pictures are not the greatest, but this was the only downer of the event. (Nota bene: Thanks to Shama Yusuf Patel, we uploaded some better photos in June!) Barbara’s staffers were great (shout out to Victoria Dekoker who made us feel just as important as Chelsea Handler who was the previous night’s guest). Two highlights of the event for me had to be getting to know two contributors–D. I. Gray and Jan Bottiglieri. I so admire D. I.’s “Calculus” that when I lost touch with him in the time between my accepting his poem and actually publishing it, I was determined to track him down. Oh, the powers of Google and the World Wide Web! I was able to contact several strangers with the same name until I found the right person. Jan Bottiglieri is poet whose name is pretty well known in the Chicago scene — she works on Rhino Magazine and has read at Woman Made Gallery. I knew of her in passing and admired her work and figured she would recognize my name when I sent her a solicitation to submit. Funny thing, though, it turns out all this time I have been saying her name wrong by pronouncing every syllable and using a hard “g”. But it is not that at all– it is four syllables and the “g” is silent. Sounds more like Botticelli, which makes all kind of sense and will be the way I remember it from now on.
In other great news, Solace in So Many Words got a terrific review in ForeWord Reviews. The reviewer called the book “a beautiful quilt of essays, stories, and poems.” As always, my thanks goes to the contributors for letting me use their material.
P.S. In case you didn’t read all the text above, I’ve updated this post with some new pix — much thanks to Shama Yusuf Patel