Posts Tagged ‘Thaddeus Rutkowski’

Emcee for the Reading at the Cornelia Street Cafe in NYC during AWP

May 23, 2008

Being the emcee for a reading at the Cornelia Street Café for the Many Mountains Moving, Inc. authors and editors was thrilling, especially hearing the work of my peers there.

Patrick Lawler, whose book Feeding the Fear of the Earth is one of those rare books capable of changing the way the world looks and feels after you are finished reading it, gave a very charismatic and funny performance. I knew he was really on from the moment he opened his mouth and kidded me, his editor, about the cuts I suggested in his book manuscript. (All the other authors had very nicely complimented me on being this inspiring editor etc.)

I can’t remember Patrick’s exact words, but he said something like, “My book used to be fifty pages longer than it is, and then Jeff made me cut all the best ones! So tonight I’m going to read those poems that aren’t in this book.” What made this so funny was that he did it without a hint of irony. I was laughing so hard I almost fell out of my chair. Patrick is usually an amazing reader, but this night he was even better than usual. He was literally glowing with inspiration under the stage lights.

It was an exciting gathering for MMM Press. This was our first and, so far, only group reading. The setting was a very beautiful long room with decorative lighting and not a lot of other lighting around the dining tables in the basement space. The small bar at the opposite end of the room was far enough away that it didn’t interfere with the reading and vice versa.

This was also the first time I heard Susan Settlemyre Williams read—she was added at the almost last minute because we were not sure the book would arrive on time for the AWP book fair. It was wonderful to hear in her own voice the work that has been garnering so much great praise. Anne-Marie Cusac in her part of the reading was luminous and elegant; she has a style of reading that draws you in closer to the subjects of her work, which are very strong in their sensuality and their sensory experiences. This was also the first time that I heard Alison Stone read her work, and she had a very distinctive voice that cut through the atmosphere with its sharp insights, its surprising turns and inflections. All in all the reading revealed to me some of the strands that make MMM, Inc. what it is.

Thaddeus Rutkowski, our new fiction editor, also read in a very inspired and inspiring way. Though I had heard all or nearly all of the pieces before, he was so on top of his comic timing that I was laughing to the point where it hurts. Worse, I couldn’t stop laughing that hard.

I actually did not have a great reading on stage myself; it was okay though. Other worries were really absorbing my energy, so it was very hard to concentrate on the work. But at least a few people really liked it a lot.

The person in charge of the scheduling programs, Angelo Verga, was very kind afterwards. He does not come to everything at the Cafe—it is so busy there. He said that we had done a great job all together. I think that for him that was high praise.