Book Launch Party: The Full Report!
|The luxury hotel of a |
My fives of readers may remember in my last post where I was hesitating about going to Canton because I was all worried about my boarding pass and getting lost in O’Hare and chemical leaks in the hotel. Well, it all came true!!! My boarding pass didn't work on my i–phone and I had to jump the line and go print one out on the little kiosk thingy and then run back to the long queue and wait again… and I did get hugely lost in O’Hare, and all panicky and disoriented, but then they delayed my flight for four hours anyway, and the hotel…while I didn't actually experience a chemical spill per se…let’s just say they were “renovating” (see photo) and leave it at that. Plus, there was the enhanced pat-down at SeaTac, which is a topic for another post.
But no matter! In spite of these minor glitches, it was a gorgeous evening filled with some of the most warm and welcoming people I have ever met. I have a total crush on Canton, OH now. The launch was attended by supporters of Jessica Bennett, founder of Indigo Ink Press, board members of Indigo Ink Press and Arts in Stark, (a non-profit that supports the arts in Stark County), members of the Canton Chamber of Commerce, luminaries from the English department at Walsh University, and a lively assortment of local artists and arts supporters. The event was held in the storefront of Buzzbin Magazine, a local paper focused on arts and cultural events in Canton, Akron and Cleveland.
Many of the attendees were part of a determined if slightly beleaguered group of artists, writers, and arts supporters who are working diligently to revitalize the arts in Canton, in spite of struggling in an area hit especially hard by the Great Recession. Among other things, Canton is renting out its ever-emptying downtown retail space to artists at very low rates, (Dear Seattle—kindly follow their example before artists are priced out of this city entirely), and hosting Art Walks every month that continue to grow in popularity and bring business into the downtown area.
|Captain Kirk, looking spiff!|
They were such a genuine and welcoming bunch that despite my normally introverted personality and horror at being the focus anyone’s attention, I felt at home and comfortable right away. I opened by reading one of my poems, then the audience members came up one by one and read their favorite poems from either “Triplicity” or Chella Couringtons’ “Paper Covers Rock”. They all did an amazing job, but several of the readings were absolutely breathtaking, notably Barbara’s reading of my poem “Orchid”, which gave me chills. Chella thoroughly charmed the audience with two poems she pre-recorded via webcam. And to my amazement, Captain Kirk himself showed up to read, "Spock: A Romance in Quotes!" It was a so much fun to hear both Chella and my poems being read aloud by people who genuinely liked them.
I closed out the evening with a final reading, and afterwards, we all crowded into Bender’s Restaurant for a late-night meal, conversation, and drinks. When the desert came, my crème brulee had a candle it in, and they all sang me Happy Birthday! The next morning, Jessica picked me up from the hotel and we had coffee in the Canton airport. I got a crash course in publishing, which was interesting if slightly gloom-tinged. We hugged goodbye and I hopped the plane back to Seattle.
Flying into Seattle and looking at all the dazzling lights and beauty of the city from above used to make me feel uplifted and happy. But this time, I felt very lonely. The city looked monstrously big, frenetic, and cold. It occurred to me what a claustrophobic yet ever-expanding city this is, and how difficult it is to find community here. The group I met in Canton had the feel that I have been looking for in Seattle forever, and have never found. I don’t mean to end on a down note, but despite our maddeningly aloof "niceness", the Seattle Freeze is more that just a myth. For whatever reason, I have just been unable find a group here that could duplicate the warmth, open-heartedness, and commitment to the arts that these wonderful bunch of people in Canton demonstrated. But now that I have experienced first-hand what I’ve been looking for so long, maybe I can begin to build it here, in spite of the barriers.
So, thank you, Jessica and all of the fun and engaging folks who attended the Launch Party! It was a great trip and I’m so honored I got to spend time with all of you!