I was a last minute addition to the author readings sponsored by the North Shore Literary Society (NLS). Somehow the bookstore was able to obtain the last four copies at Ingram in time for the event. NLS had been gracious to include me. I reciprocated the favor by volunteering to help with the all-day event.
In addition to reading from Finding Faith in the City Care Forgot, I was assigned to organize and be Master of Ceremony at the last event of the day – Poets Corner. Poetry? I knew nothing about poetry. I opened my internet search engine and and Googled poetry. My research gave me a new appreciation for poetry, but more about that later.
I had finished a low calorie diet a week before the event. Experience had already taught me to reintroduce foods gradually, but I thought it would be safe to put a little cheese on my omelet. NOT! I had picked up a friend and just started the 24 mile drive across the Causeway Bridge when a dull ache in the pit of my stomach told me I would pay for eating cheese.
Dallas, my friend, noticed my discomfort. I explained. She dug in her purse and produced a single dose of antacid. I devoured the tablets hoping for instant relief. NOT. Pain from the indigestion grew stronger cause me to break into a sweat. As soon as I exited the bridge, I pulled into a gas station. All they had was single packets of Pepto-Bismol, which did little to relieve the pain.
The cheerful founder of the NLS greeted me at the door. I wasn’t feeling very cheerful, but managed to smile. Then requested directions to the bathroom where I’d have a little privacy to pray for relief and decide if I would be able to read.
When I exited the bathroom, Dallas greeted me with a bottle of Maalox acquired from a nearby supermarket. I took several swallows and then set up my camera to record the readings and hoped I would be called upon to read last.
Most of the authors had never used a wireless mic. One author picked up the battery pack to speak into. Instead of clipping the battery pack to their clothing they left it sitting on the podium. When they walked away from the podium, the pack went swinging through the air. Another lady pulled the wireless mic from its clip. It fell to her waist before it ran out of cord. She picked it up and held the tiny orb in her hand to finish her presentation.
The wisdom of joining toastmasters this year was evident as some of the authors read from their book. Some stood awkwardly uncomfortable with public speaking. One author spoke so softly she could not be heard. Fortunately, I was asked to read last. By that time I was feeling much better.
After the readings Dallas and I went to lunch with one of the authors. I was careful to eat lite lest indigestion rear its head again. We returned for Adult Playtime to hear a reading of two of Rebecca Gernon’s plays: Winds of Change, a humorous story of New Orleans residents stranded in a dingy Arkansas motel during hurricane Katrina and Artistic Expressions, a semi-finalist in the Drury College (Springfield, MO) semi-annual play contest, finishing in the top 10 of over 300 plays.
By the time Poets Corner began I had caught my second wind. No longer weary and in pain I enjoyed being MC. My discoveries about poetry opened the event. Poetry preserved history until humanity developed a written language. The Greeks were the first to preserve their poems in writing. The word poetry comes from a Greek word that means “I create”. I also discovered that ancient medical doctors prescribed poems to their patients for healing their aliments. After 911 there was a phenomenon of poetry in New York City. In a quest to console themselves and others people left poems in public places all over the city.
I had never been a fan of poetry, but my experience as MC gave me a new appreciation for the art. The poems carried messages about our times, were filled with emotion and several were comical. On the way home, Dallas told me about some young people sitting in a nearby café who scowled and mocked the poets. Until an amusing poem about a woman with a bowling ball stuck on her toe was read. The young people listened attentively and applauded. I wasn’t the only one who found a new appreciation for poetry that night.
The pros outweighed the cons of the day. The cons. The book sales were dismal for all of the authors. The pros. We benefited by having our books placed in a bookstore. I also learned to be careful what I eat before speaking publicly. And it was a pleasant day with new friends and old.