In the beginning of this week, it seemed too hot to do anything but read. Then it seemed too rainy and dreary to do anything but read. But last night was perfect here in DC so I went out with a friend to hear someone read to me. Busboys and Poets on 5th and K was hosting an evening of Nikki Giovanni reading from and discussing her new book of poetry, Bicycles: Love Poems.
We arrived nearly an hour early to an entire two level restaurant already packed with people. I laughed a little thinking that this was going to be interesting, but then comes another friend who organized the event for the benefit of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. Guiding us to the two seats he reserved for us right in front of the podium. The seats from which the photo above was taken. Ever have one of those moments when nearly everything in you is saying "too much," but a more formidable voice booms a commanding "Silence!" to the boringly conscientious chidings? Of course you have. And we loved the seats.
The walls of windows rolled back into the walls permitted the most welcome breezes to move through. The conversation all around was warm and sparkly and excited. The bottle of Viognier that sat between our chairs proved good. And as I watched my friend who had just left her seat to photograph the goings on sharing a broad smiled exchange with my other friend, I couldn't help but feel content. Then Nikki Giovanni sat down next to me. Almost too much. Thank God she's hilarious.
So she sits and listens to a well-phrased tribute and intro, and then takes the stage. Where the time flies by through an effortless stream of the poet's thoughts as she wraps us all in a quilt sewn from the most disparate elements - the tragedy at Virginia Tech, her pride the first time she hears some of her books have been stolen from a store, a warning to call Granny first before you come by as she may be in bed with her lover, creationist myth, the nature of love, and of course, Deal or No Deal. She reads three poems from the new book. And as my friend noticed, the whole room is warm with affection for the poet, her words, her stance, her history, and a reflection of her own accessibility. Great intelligence voiced in simple words. An admirable but difficult choice for many.
The crowd overflowed outside the patio and front door. The signing line went on for hours and they sold out of books. Yet everyone was happy, near giddy, and speaking to strangers around them like they were all old friends. Everyone celebrating some of their favorite words with the author in their midst.
Been to a great author event lately?