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Thursday, July 5, 2007

reading recap

I have been relaxing up north (which is how we refer to Northern Minnesota), so I’m only now posting about the first (and hopefully annual) Mother Words reading.

First, if you are ever in Minneapolis and have a chance to go to a reading at the Open Book, where the Loft Literary Center is housed, you must go. The building is gorgeous, full of exposed beams and brick—such a lovely place to teach and listen to writers read. We filled the Target Performance Hall with over 80 people!

Nanci Olesen set the tone for the evening with her engaging voice and wonderful writing, with which many of you are familiar. She read a number of short pieces, including her laugh-out-loud essays about watching her son play baseball and of nightly dinners in a circus truck. She also read the heart-wrenching essay about talking care of her sister’s young children as her sister undergoes chemotherapy for a brain tumor. You can listen to Nanci read her writing at MOMbo and Minnesota Public Radio.

The second reader was award-winning Bonnie J. Rough, who read an excerpt from her memoir about being a carrier of the genetic disorder ectodermal dysplasia. Bonnie’s writing is beautiful—gasp-out-loud gorgeous. It is no wonder that she was just awarded a Bush Artist Fellowship and a McKnight Artist Fellowship. She is so poised and so, so talented. When her book is out, I’ll be sure to let you know. You can read one of her essays online in the New York Times’ Modern Love column.

I was the last reader, and I chose to read part of a chapter of my book titles “A Tenuous Hold.” I consider it one of the darker chapters in terms of subject matter, but people laughed, which was a huge relief! It helped, of course, that D. was sitting right in front, smiling up at me. I was more than irritated with him during this section of the book, and I had to pause mid-read to tell him I loved him because he’s such a good sport about me making public our lives. In this particular chapter it’s his blatant disregard for detail that makes me feel especially crazy, and as I read, he just grinned away at me. Thanks, D.

After my reading, we took questions from the audience for about twenty minutes. Someone asked how you know you’re ready, how you know you have enough distance to write your life (We all had variations of “get it down first and then craft it.”) Someone asked about what Nanci’s kids (who are teenagers) thought of her writing about them. (They don’t seem that interested, though she does allow them to review what she writes before she airs it.) We each took turns responding to questions, and then retired to the lobby to drink wine and continue chatting. Though I coordinated the event, and invited both Nanci and Bonnie to participate, I didn’t anticipate how well our styles and subject matters would compliment each other. I was ecstatic, and I hope it will be an annual event!

Thank you again to MotherTalk, MOMbo and the Loft Literary Center for sponsoring the event, and stay tuned for information about next year’s reading. And thanks to everyone who braved the traffic and parking to be there!

1 comment:

mcewen said...

My brother [published] said much the same thing, namely 'get it down on paper first' then you can twiddle away to your hearts content. Thanks for the sound advice.
Best wishes