I’ve discovered a new talent of mine: booking flights that require me to wake up at 3:00 in the morning in order to make it to the airport. They’re all flights that seem like great plans on paper (So cheap! So efficient!) but that contribute to an ever more bloodshot look for my eyeballs. The quick trip from Chicago to Minneapolis was no exception, but I was glad to have made the choice to fly to Minnesota rather than drive, as was my original plan, because the Midwest greeted me with a freak blizzard on my arrival.
Everyone in Minnesota swore that a mid-April snow dump wasn’t common, but I have my suspicions: everyone seemed to have a number of craftily knitted hats at the ready. Thunderblizzard notwithstanding, I was happy to be on the ground again and to have a couple of days until my next book tour event to relax with dear former Seattle friends in their new St. Paul home. Relax might be a strong word for what one does when one’s favorite 2-year-old is doing all he can to impress (Singing! Dancing! Counting on a base-two system!), but having some time to eat, sleep, and spend time with friends was a much-needed dose of normality in the middle of the surreal experience that is a book tour.
On Thursday night, after having discovered that my supposedly tough leather boots were, in fact, not as snow-proof as I might have hoped, it was off to Common Good Books in St. Paul. There are so many things to love about Common Good, the first of which is, of course, is that my lifelong love of Garrison Keillor felt strangely consummated by my reading in his bookshop. But Mr. Keillor aside, the bookstore staff was fantastic. They were clearly knowledgable, invested lovers of books, and their store felt as much like a well curated exhibit of literary work as it did a place of commerce. Much as I love our local bookshops in Seattle, the Twin Cities may just have us beaten on the indie bookseller front.
As much as it was an honor to read at Common Good, it was an equal delight to read with Peter J. Gloviczki, who read from his fantastic new collection, Kicking Gravity, from Ireland’s Salmon Poetry. I always love getting to read with poets whose work I admire, and it’s an added bonus to read with poets who, like Peter, are additionally supremely nice, smart, cool people. The audience that braved the thunder-and-lightening snowstorm seemed to receive both of our groups of poems well, and I really enjoyed the thoughtful questions they asked us in the question-and-answer session that followed our reading. The audience in attendance seemed to come from a broad range of backgrounds–from scientists to sculptors–and it did my heart good to find myself in a city where smart folks from a variety of disciplines come out to support the arts and to engage each other in conversation.
Each leg of this book tour keeps getting better. What does next week hold in Alabama and Louisiana? I’m about to find out. Come see me in Tuscaloosa at The Green Bar at 7pm on April 17, and in New Orleans at The Gold Mine (corner of St. Peter and Dauphine in the French Quarter) at 8:00 on April 18!