|Jon - Robert - Scott - Kristy - Laura - me - Joanna - Yuvi
When we gathered for a photo afterwards, Kate and Gina were lost in the crowd and we couldn't pull them over, but here's most of us - framed by a wall of black and white comic book pages. When you think about reading in the Basil Hallward Gallery in the Pearl Room of the City of Books, you have to wonder what art show will serve as your backdrop. I loved this. It was nearly floor to ceiling.
We had a wonderful, enthusiastic crowd of approximately 150 people, including local writing luminaries like Tom Spanbauer, Stevan Allred, the recently-Oregon-Book-Award-nominated Carter Sickels. And one of the coolest things to me: so much of this crowd was writers. I suppose that's to be expected when the book is about writing and the essays speak to the writing life and the panel is all about craft - but as expected as it was, it still made me very pleased, so many of us gathered in one place to talk about this thing that is sacred to us.
"...Ring of the phone, his voice in my hear, high, almost feminine: 'Can I share something?'
"It wasn't really sharing since he'd only called to read me a story he'd written, and he didn't really want to know what I thought unless I loved it.
"Sometimes I didn't, but I hated to disappoint people..."
Robert's "Why I Write Out Loud" is about words - about sound and texture and cadence - but is also about family. "...I grew up on stories told at bedtime, told on car trips, told at the dinner table, after dessert. My mother told these stories, five or six of them, over and over, in rotation..." and "...Every syllable of these words told in my mother's raconteur's voice full of wit and Brooklyn inflection I loved hearing, every entertaining sentence told again made the usual silence of our family bearable..."
"...The boy in my novel gets diagnosed with a weak constitution, and he believes what the doctor says. He stays in bed. He reads and rests. He wishes. My daughter rolls over, tilts her chin up, breathes deep. She started kindergarten this fall. The shift of her world has begun. Someday both my girls will leave the house without me. They will be broken apart by small things. I tell stories about brushing teeth, drinking milk, getting enough sleep, instead of filling pages with lace and music. Someday my girls will choose whether or not to be good to their bodies..."
|Kristy Athens - Jon Bell - Scott Sparling - Yuvi Zalkow
These guys were great. Every one of them. And after the formal panel, Laura brought all of us back up front for a Q&A, taking questions from the crowd.
- A little goofing with the mic, which didn't quite reach me in the very center of the group. It was an honor to sit in the middle of these smart writers and try to keep up with the great questions and answers.
I said it was an incredible event in many ways, and another of those is the support Brave on the Page has had from Powell's. Forest Avenue Press is a very new press, a micro-press, yet here we were with a big event hosted by the City of Books. Also, the books are printed just one floor down on the Espresso Book Machine. I think Laura Stanfill has something really special going with Forest Avenue Press, and the support she's gotten says loads about not only Powell's and the writing community in Portland but also - and most of all - Laura's energy, ingenuity, and smarts.
"I keep thinking about reading in the Pearl Room as a dream come true and how it came true in a richer, deeper, more powerful way than I could have imagined. And nobody in New York made it happen, no agent or editor or outside party. We made it happen. Together."
To order Brave on the Page from Powell's Books, click here.
To check out Forest Avenue Press, go here.
FAP is now accepting submissions from Oregon authors writing "quiet novels." To submit, click here.