Went to Open Books for Brenda Hillman’s reading this evening. It was packed, standing room only by the time she started, despite the blustery and rainy evening. A lot of UW students were there, including some of the friends I’ve made. It’s a strange place, to be friends with current MFA students in a program I didn’t attend. They have been nothing but kind, but I definitely feel like a bit of an outsider sometimes. I was talking to one of them about Forrest Gander (and his book Eye Against Eye, my pick for the poetry book club I’ve become part of) and Brenda overheard. She brought it up later in the night, both as an example of a poet that “Aunt Zelda” would like, and as a poet who continually evolves and is currently on top of his game. I instantly had to think back–had I said something contradictory to that and she was countering? I forget that conversations can be overheard sometimes. We all create our private bubble and it’s shocking when reminded- this isn’t a conversation that exists outside of earshot. I was so concerned about what I might have said about Forrest (which, when reflecting back calmly, was just that I have a bit of a crush and I love his work, Torn Awake a bit more than Eye Against Eye, but still, I love all of it) that I didn’t realize until later that Brenda said she overheard students talking. But I’m not a student anymore. And this, frankly, breaks my heart a little.
Brenda, before her reading, talked a lot about the importance of supporting local book stores. Open Books is one of the reasons I felt I had to come to Seattle, and I love that I can just walk down a few blocks and buy from them. I do try to get poetry from them rather than online, and for the most part, I can do it. It was crowded tonight, but I plan on going back to get the next book club book there. Rumor has it that Elliot Bay will be closing its doors in Pioneer Square, and I’ve heard that it’ll be moving to Capital Hill. Still, it’s such a landmark- that it has to move at all is shocking. And yet, not. So buy books from your local stores for your Aunt Zelda, as Brenda suggested. I might head down to Open Books and do my shopping there- include with each book a letter about why I’m in Seattle, what I’m trying to do here, and why I’ve chosen to send poetry rather than cooking utensils. Thanks for the suggestion Brenda.