Saturday I had a book signing party for my chapbook, The Museum of Fresh Starts. Some people had ordered it directly from the publisher, and my first thought was to thank them with food and wine. My next thought was to invite people who might
like to see the book before committing themselves to buying it. Then I asked everyone to bring their spouses, so Doug wouldn’t be the only one. My next thought after that was, what have I done, all these people are not going to fit in my house! This thought determined that we were going to have a non-seated, cocktail party type event, but with wine instead of cocktails. And tea. I’m a big tea drinker.
So my menu was a combination of tea sandwiches and canapes. I made the food; Doug bought the wine.
The hard part was planning the reading. Most poetry readings I’ve been to start with forty minutes of reading, and if there’s a reception it comes after. Forty minutes of reading has always seemed long to me. Even when it’s from one specific book, people aren’t following along with the text – they are listening, and after a while it’s hard to keep it all in your head. Plus, this wasn’t primarily a reading, it was primarily a thank-you party. I wanted it to feel festive, celebratory.
I went out and weeded the garden while I thought about this. With a task like weeding you can assign complicated questions to the underbrain, while the upperbrain pays a more carefree type of attention to sorting out the chickweed from the lamium.
Okay, how about four poems? And how about embedding them right in the middle of the party, with food both before and after? I read three poems from book, the title poem, the cat pantoum, and the last poem, which you can find here.
I ended the reading with a poem not in the book, a poem about Doug, “The Professor’s Nap.” It’s here on my website.
And then we went back to eating and drinking, and a good time was had by all.