Friday, December 19, 2008

The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be

Last night, the book store fulfilled its promise, maybe for the first time. I had always envisioned it as a creative community gathering place, a resource for the literate and literary. We had sponsored numerous events to foster the growth of that type of relationship with the community, but attendance, especially on non-Friday For the Arts nights, had been sporadic. This was partly due to my sometimes clumsy efforts to promote the events and partly due to the events themselves not quite resonating with their intended beneficiaries. It has been, to say the least, a steep learning curve. But last night, the walls rang with the musical clack and clatter of words bouncing off of words. The shop teemed with talented young writers who shared their work and worked on building their own creative community. The Governor's School Reading Series kicked off here last night, and we traded in ideas, coffee and comfortable seating, the way I've always intended.

It's important for writers to commune and equally important for them to read their work aloud in a supportive environment. But it's not only important to the writers. It's also important to a healthy, vital community to hear new voices and fresh ideas. The best thing about these particular voices is that they're good! So often, young writers (and some not-so-young writers) fall in love with their own vocabulary and use their writing first and foremost as the vehicle to show it off. Another mistake young writers frequently make is to write outside themselves. Because their life experience is usually somewhat limited, they try to compensate with vividly imagined but unwieldy fantasies. Not so with the group that was here last night. To a one, they had something to say; they had strong, viable voices; and they weren't afraid to use them. They wrote and spoke with passion and clarity about topics that mattered. They showed they have the courage to write and speak honestly, and they deserve ears to listen. So mark your calendar for the next reading in the series: January 15 at 5 pm.

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