Friday night's poetry reading was held at local art gallery. My friend PoetWoman, who has degrees in creative writing and science and seems to be good at everything, happens to be an amazing photographer. She had come to town for the opening of a show that featured her photographs. It was great to see her, and to see her photographs nicely framed and hanging on the wall, but the other fun thing was the chance to catch up with some old friends who came the opening.
I hadn't seen Gentle Giant in a couple years. Last time I saw him, he was running a workshop for urban teenagers and I came to help the teenagers do some creative writing. We worked together years ago when I was the editor of an alternative environmental publication. Friday night, after catching up on each other's lives, we spend time reminiscing about our days doing layout. In those days, we were actually cutting galleys, waxing them, and pasting them onto grid sheets on a light table. Yes, cutting and pasting was once literal and not just a computer command.
I admit that I still think the best way to learn layout is to do it by hand, moving the sticky wax headlines and bits of stories around on the sheet. I loved the smell of the hot wax and the camaraderie of working together, talking as we concentrated, coming up with crazy headlines and getting into bouts of laughter. Gentle Giant used to drink countless cups of coffee as we worked so always that rich smell drifted over the pages. Sometimes we'd lose a headline and search the table for it, only to discover the white piece of paper stuck to my long hair.
Other friends who came to the opening were local poets. We talked about our writing, about our families, about our jobs. We compared notes on what we were going to read that night. We'd been assigned the topic of art and color. I love theme readings because it forces me to look at my work in a new way. (Art? Do I have any poems about art? Oh, yeah, I do.) We moved into a smaller room for the reading, an intimate setting with good acoustics so that no one needed a microphone.
It was the kind of relaxing evening I enjoy. We read poetry, we talked, we drank punch, and we looked at amazing photographs, all of us glowing with pride at the accomplishments of a dear friend. And then halfway through the event, PoetWoman informed me that the trays of homemade cookies on the punch table were vegan. That made a nice evening perfect.