Last week, I had the opportunity to read from my book at my favorite hometown bookstore, Elliott Bay Books. It also happened to be Elliott Bay’s 40 birthday later that week, and I felt especially lucky to bring Burn This House out to play on such an auspicious occasion.
When I moved to Seattle from Portland about a decade ago, I was heartbroken to leave the world-famous Powell’s Books behind. I wasn’t sure that the much smaller Elliott Bay would stock enough of the kind of books I devour–literary fiction and poetry–to suit my needs. Happily, I haven’t missed Powell’s much at all, as Elliott Bay has proven to be everything I could need in a local bookshop. One of the things I love about Elliott Bay is the fact that I’ve always had the sense that the staff members love and care about books–this isn’t a store that’s packed with enormous slabs of the latest best-seller, but with carefully picked, intelligently curated displays of books, with heavy representation of local authors. Meeting several of the staff members before the reading only confirmed my impressions, and I look forward to saying hello to them next time I come into the store.
I wasn’t just chuffed to be reading at Elliott Bay, but also to be reading together with the impressive Alice Derry, a fellow Red Hen Press poet. Her new collection, Tremolo, is a finely made book of serious, and, I’d say, important poems; I felt honored to open for her.
After a good reading–in my own, humble opinion, of course–I went for a bite and sip with some friends who’d come out to support me. While we were eating some delicious mac n’ cheese with duck fat (yes. Duck fat. I feel somehow wicked for having eaten that, yet it was so delicious!), a friend of a friend stopped by, and we started chatting. We two hit it off, and later, my new friend promised to pick up a copy of my book and take it on a flight to Eastern Europe later that week. I thought that would be nice, but didn’t expect it to actually happen. Later in the week, when I got a Facebook message with photo of the book headed off on a transatlantic flight, I wasn’t just happily surprised, but also delighted to learn that my words would be traveling to places that I myself have never been. It was a wonderful reminder that, as writers, our words have lives all their own.