Last night, fueled by cough drops and coffee, I ventured out to my first event in support of Burn This House at the Los Angeles Review contributor reading at Soulfood books in Redmond, Washington. Redmond, just over the water from Seattle, is home to a little software company you may be familiar with. It’s not a huge city, but one that values the arts community so much that it’s created its own poet laureate position. We at LAR are proud that one of our repeat contributors, Jeannine Hall Gailey, is the current (is “reigning” too strong a word?) poet laureate, and has been working hard to bring poetry to the forefront of a community that is in many ways dominated by tech culture.
Last night’s reading, thanks to Jeannine, the amazing folks at Soulfood, and the city of Redmond, was a huge success. The house was packed, our contributors read like the pros that they are, and yes, I too squeezed in a few poems from my new book.
I was pleased that my first stop on this book tour (“tour” makes it sound so official when all I’m really doing is driving/flying around with a box of books) was one that I could share with other writers whom I admire. Literature can be a lonely pursuit; we create our work alone, we send it forth into the world hoping that it’ll find acceptance, we rinse and repeat. These rare chances to celebrate poetry together are a sweet reminder that our work doesn’t exist in isolation, but that we each play a part in a literary ecosystem bigger than any one of us.
I was also pleased to help carry out a very important literary task: smashing a banana cream pie in the face of one Michael Schmeltzer, LAR poet and editor of the journal River and Sound Review. Michael was on the losing end of a bet with his fellow editors about the number of expected contest submissions, and the agreed-upon pillory was a pie in the face from yours truly. This was, I think, the first time I’d thrown a pie at someone. I enjoyed it so much that it may not be my last.
Next stop on this tour, Sacramento Poetry Center! I’m coming for you on Monday the 18th, 7:30 pm, with the fabulous fiction writer Stefanie Freele. I hope to see you there, Northern California.