Our trip to Long Beach was a definite success and a blast to boot. The reading at Gatsby Books went well as we suspected it would since Sean Moor, who owns Gatsby Books, and Alisha Attell, who coordinates the events there, were so enthusiastic about our coming to read there. Thanks to Sean and Alisha for their warm welcome and hot promotion! The bookstore was packed.
The reading was kicked off by Donna Hilbert who is not only well-known but also well-admired in the poetry community in Long Beach (and beyond). And, it’s understandable–she’s great! On Tuesday Sander Wolff’s article on Donna “Consolation Prize” ran in the Long Beach Post and you can see why Donna, who has given weekly workshops for years and has numerous books to her name, is such a force in the community. She began by reading “Portuguese Sweet Bread,” by Amy L. Dengler (see accompanying blog) and then read her own “Flowers” and “In Quintana Roo.”
Joan Corwin mentioned Lord Byron’s Don Juan in setting up her condensed excerpt from “Details.” Then she introduced the audience to Evan Rhys, and he charmed us, wacky get-up and all.
Since only one fiction selection was represented and since we were in Cali, I read the first paragraphs of another short story from a California writer, T. C. Boyle’s “Hopes Rise.” “Mellifluous” is a challenging word to pronounce, and even if my reading was not quite so mellifluous, the audience had no difficulty empathizing with Peter as he describes his aching back and doctor’s appointment.
Lisa Liken read Pamela Miller’s love poem, “What It’s All About.” Then she shared with us the naive California girl’s experience with a war-torn land, “Winter in Bosnia.” Lisa came to the launch in Chicago and that’s when we first met (she also met Pamela Miller then). She is a Long Beach native who now lives in Humboldt Country, California.
Coming from San Diego just for the event, Teresa S. Mathes shared with the audience her perspective on the communications skills of men and women as she read “Out of Hate Speech, A New Language.” Terri and I first met when we attended The Writers together some years back when she was honing a wonderful book of inter-related stories and finishing at Bennington. Terri now works as associate program director for the Episcopal Church Foundation. As Terri’s piece was the only essay represented, I read the first paragraphs of Jayant Kamicheril’s essay “In the Wake of My Son.”
Patti Wojcik Wahlberg, who I first met when we were both published in Kiss Me Goodnight, read a great rendition of Jenna Rindo’s “Seeking Solace for Depression and Fever of Unknown Origin.” She read her own works, first “Comfort” and then “Breathe” the poem she dedicated to her daughter Kylie Dawn who was in audience (along with Patti’s other daughter Robyn).
I always want the audience to know there is humor in Solace in So Many Words so I ended with “Nature’s Balancing Act” by S. Minanel who is from California and had another four-liner appear in the super-successful When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Purple, by Sandra Martz. Maybe lightning will strike twice. It could happen.
Our trip to Long Beach was fantastic–we met so many great people, including but not limited to Marilyn Johnson, editor of Pearl magazine, Joan Jobe Smith, Pearl founding editor, poet Tamara Madison, the two women named Kathy who celebrated with us after the reading, Kylie and Robyn, Patti’s Wahlberg’s beautiful daughters, Julie who took special care of us at the restaurant 555 where we had a wonderful lunch, Kathy Kronick who makes Kathy’s Kards, Kevin Lee of Aortic Books and Samy the driver from Long Beach Yellow Cab.