Early morning in Wburg, Brooklyn, here. The sunrise is orange melting into pale blue, the simplicity absolutely calm and stunning.
I had organized a reading with Peter Trachtenberg, Mary Gaitskill, and Robert Marshall at a community garden, run by two stoned gay men. Mary and Peter said they were going to read cat pieces, then a few days ago, Peter sent an email saying he can't read something new. I told him he can read whatever he wants to read.
Before heading over, I spent an hour and a half figuring out what to wear. The leather pants seemed to be the most comfortable and attractive choice, than light-weight black plaid shorts or tight black jeans. I wore a red silk jacket embroidered with chinese plum blossoms. Martha wore black jeans and a white shirt and was sick with a cold, but was a trooper. We ate chicken soup for a late lunch.
The tv spot was canceled for the time being, which was just as well.
I arrived at the garden and found a bench among a proliferation of shiso leaves that I staked out for the readers. The garden men were happy to see us. My friends were there and had brought friends. And the other readers drew many people. The small garden filled with over 80 people standing room only. Mary Gaitskill and Peter Trachtenberg arrived together. Mary said in a wispy voice that she was annoyed because she couldn't find the new piece she wanted to read. Could she read another thing that is long? I said, yes, you can read whatever you want and for however long you want since you are going last. Robert Marshall arrived in a good mood and happy to see my friend Elspeth, who is ten years older than us. In a private conversation, Robert said he wants to marry Elspeth, and should he ask her in the garden on bended knee? I think he admires her because she's written history books and he is working on a history book, debunking Carlos Castenedas. He read from this new work.
I volunteered to read first so I could concentrate on my role as host. I was so nervous, that I almost asked the garden men to host... but Peirre was was supposed to introduce me, but had crumpled up the page. I had asked Robert to introduce me, but then Peirre wanted to. I was patient when he tested the mike during my reading... The mike testing went very badly for the first several minutes, with the mike squeaking. I worked triple hard to keep my focus and read. I read a sex scene with a joke about the fire spelling out words, or spilling outwards... then the beginning of a long funeral scene. When I read the funeral scene, I felt like my head was filled with light. Later, Martha told me who laughed when and who gasped in tears in response to the funeral scene.
Then I sang the lullaby sleep song from Mary Poppins, owning the song by half way through.
I introduced Robert, and realized that I enjoyed hosting.
I said in my intro that Peter's subject matter was so emotionally weighted that he was like a deep sea diver wearing a wetsuit of empathy. Someone in the audience said, "Awww." Peter read something non-fiction and confessional. Mary read a wacky fictional piece about the astral plane, with political and religious figures. She enjoyed reading playfully, and relaxed.
After the reading a tough friend told me she wept during my reading of the funeral scene. Later, Robert called it a Cry-umph, like a triumph, with crying.
Matthew Sharpe, Christopher Bram, Sara Jones, and some other writers were in the audience.
The evening was luminous.
Le Petit Versailles 346 East Houston Street (Avenues B & C )
F / V trains to Second Ave. Walk east on Houston St.
J / M trains to Delancey. Walk northeast to Houston St.
rain or shine