The first time I encountered SubText Bookstore in St Paul was by accident; Google maps was to take us to Garrison Keillor's bookstore Common Good Books, but hadn't updated. Later, I found out they wanted to put offices in Keillor's former space (he's since moved a handful of blocks away), so the current owners swept in and put SubText in. It's fantastic, and I'm so glad for our accidental stumbling. I ended up buying a stack of books to bring home with me, including that beautiful Ecopoetry anthology.
There's something about returning that shifts a space in my mind. I become fond in layers.
And there's even something more about following up one of your favorite poets in a reading that can really startle and fill you up. Katharine Rauk, below, is the author of the chapbook Basil, and somehow we're in a poetry group together, where the poems she brings in for critique continue to blow my mind. In seriously ridiculous ways.
Shawn got a few photos of me reading and Meryl watching. I stumbled a bit (my brain is totally in the ether these days), but I'm glad to have done it. It has taken me out of some of our sorrows and back into the work of things, what makes my brain feel truly stimulated and exactly where it needs to be, and it hasn't been there for some time. This was an anchor. I want to write more about this, but it's something that's bubbling inside of me and not quite ready for formulated thought. Something about public versus private and the pressures of poetry once balls start rolling and you begin to think of editors and publication and audience and then about honoring craft and... well, anyway, you can see it's all bubbling right now.
And Brett Elizabeth Jenkins, whose chapbook Ether/Ore is a delight, and is also in a writing group with me and her voice is so great and hilarious and witty and wise. I'm lucky to know her and to have the privilege of reading her work. She makes me all kinds of happy.
And Meryl, who is one of my favorite people on the planet. But if you follow this blog to any degree, you knew that already. So I'll let my history and future here be the anecdote.
And us at the bar, where I confess to having wanted a beer. (Hmm, beer. Maybe I will have one tonight.)
And Katie signing her book. (Is it wrong to want to lick a book because it's so delicious?)
And some of our chapbooks are staying behind in the store, so if you want to pick one up (and I know Brett's is listed as out of print online!), head on over to SubText Bookstore in St Paul. When your run is as small as chapbooks are, every purchase counts. So thank you to everyone who picked up copies of our books, in the past and last night. It means so much.
And I say this so I can try to remember the feeling when I forget it: this reading made me glow inside. Not from me at the podium, but from listening and being in that warm room with the leaves pattering down and the rain on the skylights (are they skylights from the basement?) and all the good books and wood and and and. Glowing.