Last night’s reading at the Luckart Gallery in Auburndale, Mass. was a truly enjoyable event. The venue was small yet spacious, an art gallery lined with colorful paintings, its large windows looking out over busy Lexington Street. Next door the Bocca Bella Bistro and Cafe hummed with activity; Chef Mario had provided a small buffet for our event. Somehow I never found the delectable-looking red wine that a number of attendees sipped gratefully during the reading — I could have used a sip or two before heading toward the microphone.
It was a small but appreciative audience; the room was full, something that’s always appreciated by literary readers. I remember a funny short essay by a well-known poet who joked about the “tens or maybe even hundreds” of people who might read her book, and the two or three who might show up at a reading. Thankfully, the Solstice MFA Alumni community is strong and growing, and many current and former students live in the Boston area. I had an opportunity to re-connect with a number of graduates: Estela Gonzalez, Melissa Varnavas, Jim Kennedy, Margaret Krell, and Cindy Zelman. I also met Mike Miner, another graduate, for the first time, and loved the short story he read to wrap up the evening. Meg Kearney, the director of the Solstice Writing Programs, also made the effort to attend along with members of the local community. Memoirist and former Boston Globe Education Editor Linda Wertheimer Mintz was there (she has connected with many of us through Facebook), as was one of the artists whose work graced the gallery walls.
The interesting thing about this reading was that each reader was so different; I read a descriptive, somewhat meditative piece called “Waiting for the Hurricane,” Estela Gonzalez read a chapter from her poignant novel-in-progress, Cindy Zelman read two of her humor-laden, bravely written essays about her life, and Mike Minor read a short story about a rural Connecticut girl who finds herself facing a foe in a Tae Kwon Do class at all of eight years old. The event really illustrated how different writing — and writers — can be, and how each genre, style, and personal perspective adds to the literary conversation.
The event also inspired me to try to attend more readings and to get more involved with the local literary community. Colleagues are everything in a field with limited pull among the general public. My thanks to those who read and attended yesterday, and to alumnae coordinator Faye Snider, who organized the evening.