Normally I write about my biking, and also the people, places or things I go do or see while on the bicycle. I would have biked there but today a big cold front blew into Austin, so I had to abort my ride after two miles. It got considerably chilly and wildly windy quite quickly. There’s always time for that, and this blog is also about A Dude’s other activities and interests, like writing. And fortunately good ol’ friend Bruce agreed to drive us in his eco-friendly Prius to a poetry reading. Herewith and posthaste is my report.
My first comment about the monthly Austin Community College Creative Writing Department’s Literary Coffeehouse, hosted by Charlotte Gullick, was that there was no coffee, and it certainly was not in a house. There was cheese and strawberries. It was at Malvern Books, where I had previously attended a reading that I blogged about by Owen Egerton and Walter Moore. An open mic follows the featured reader, so people are invited to “bring poems, stories, scripts, rants, raves or midnight confessions to share, or just come to listen and enjoy.” This month’s featured reader is Ehigbor Shultz (pronounced Eyeg-bor).
Her reading was from a book about growing up in Nigeria. She read quickly with a British accent so I didn’t understand every word. It was interesting to hear the perspective of an immigrant, especially in these times when the so-called leaders of more than one government go out of their way to vilify immigrants (even though there. She also read some poems, and one of them was very emotional for her. Afterward, the MC who is chair of the college’s creative writing program said that “being vulnerable is what it’s about.”
Then there was the open mic. The readers were varied, some students, some not. Two poets I recognized were Joe B., who greeted me with a hug, as he is wont to do, and Thom the World Poet, who handed me one of his ubiquitous printouts. I’m no critic but I got something out of each one, whether it was the self-described mid-aged woman talking sarcastically but forlornly about having to rent out the house due to divorce, or the younger and less self-assured students talking about those achy, breaky hearts.
Many were first-time readers, which takes more courage than you might imagine, I imagine. I had thought about reading but wanted to check out the scene first. Since everyone was doing poetry, and the piece I considered reading (The Bike Rider and the Farmer) was longer than the time limit, I didn’t sign up. But it was nice to just listen to the varied voices, themes and stories told through poetry. Some was political about the homeless or the climate crisis, some was very personal, but it was all very human. I didn’t get to talk to Ehigbor, but we exchanged smiles and silent hellos. I hadn’t expected to feel at home, not knowing many people, but there was a sense of a literary community. Maybe I’ll be a reader someday, and perhaps my book will be published and I’ll be featured at events like this.
Afterwards, Bruce and I went to The Soup Peddler. It’s a business with numerous stores now but that was started by — you guessed it, a guy delivering soup on a bicycle. We had the weekly special, cabbage kielbasa soup, nicely flavored and hot for the cold weather outside. Nice guy Adam, whom I met at a bike shop works the soup line, recognized me and donated a second cup, which was, well, very nice. We tipped him well and now safely at home, I’m back to do this writing and my yoga, perhaps a little reading with a cup of sleepytime tea and maybe even a hot Epsom salt bath.
It’s another day of cold, windy and wet weather here in Austin and Central Texas. Current conditions are 33 F and light snow! I intend to suit up and get out there for my walk, then bike to some errands, and as many miles as I can — if I can manage any safely. Until next time, be good to yourselves and others — especially those bicyclists, pedestrians, poets, wordsmiths and writers, the doers and the dreamers.
“For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause”William Shakespeare, Hamlet
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