Last night was the first official event of the IPRC Certificate term– a meet and greet with readings by some of the instructors in the poetry, fiction/nonfiction, and comics tracks. (Aww, I typed “meet and great” by mistake!)
I had cleverly arranged to eat dinner with Sanguinity and LeBoyfriend just down the block at the Thai Peacock. I like that place! Dinner was a thank-you to LeB for caring for the dog and garden while Sang and I went to Colorado; Sang presented him with a small bag of garden tomatoes which had finally turned red just this week. (And it’s an early variety!)
After dinner I still had half an hour to kill at Powell’s before turning up at the IPRC. I cruised through the YA section, which was as always full of books I’ve been meaning to read (Gimme a Call and Will Grayson, Will Grayson among others) and wound up at the Nobel Prize for Literature shelf. Somewhere this week I ran across a blog that’s two people corresponding about reading Nobel authors. Like them, I have never or barely heard of most of the winners, and want to read more of their books. I’ll try to remember to check the Nobel list as I continue my Alphabet Reading project. (Up to O, as soon as I’m done with Speak, Memory and an E. Nesbit and The Time-Traveler’s Wife!)
Over at the IPRC when I got there, a card table was set up in the hall with a muslin bag for each of us students. The bag contained a nametag, paperwork about the certificate program and accompanying IPRC membership, and a perfect-bound journal made in-house by an IPRC intern! Sweet! A tour was just starting as I arrived, so I tagged along even though I think I’ve had two or three tours already at various times. Amy the volunteer had a pitch-perfect tour-guide air– not quite hauteur, but definitely guiding and presenting each room while dressed in vintage wool. There’s so much style at the IPRC. And not a cat-sweatshirt lady writer to be seen! You guys, I have a two-year membership there now. :)
I actually suck at meeting and greeting, so I had an awkward period of drifting around, trying the wheat-free Newman’s Oreologues, and holding up the wall. Judging from the nametags, poetry and comics tracks had the best turn-out, and since there are two fiction/nonfiction sections I still don’t know if I saw anyone who will be in my class on Mondays.
It was hot and muggy up there, but we all crowded into a room borrowed from the ILWU (union of the employees of Powell’s Books!) for the reading. B.T. Shaw read poetry– I especially liked a piece she said she’d read only once or twice before. It kept flipping perspectives from a family’s poppy garden, to the father (“Poppy”) and grandfather, to the act of writing about this (using the names of computer keys as commentary). She threw in some short funny poems, too.
Kevin Sampsell represented the fiction/nonfiction team. There is no Portland Hipster more venerable than Kevin Sampsell, and I say that with total admiration. (He runs the small press section at Powell’s as well as an indie press that’s having its 20th birthday this year.) He read from his memoir A Common Pornography— it made a splash in Willamette Week and so on when it came out earlier this year, but I hadn’t heard or read any excerpts yet. It’s good and I’m definitely going to get my hands on a copy and read it! He also read from a new novel MS, similar in format and tone to the memoir.
Shannon Wheeler read last–or rather, talked, and showed his sketchbooks and cartoons on a screen. He had just been to New Orleans with two dozen writers, artists, environmental journalists, and others to witness and document the Gulf oil spill. I could see how what he’d seen and what he had to say were just bursting out of him– he’s collaborating on a graphic novel, figuring it out as he goes. It was inspiring to see that passion, but also my chair was hard and it was almost 9:00, when I was supposed to meet Sang back at Powell’s for a ride home. I hope I’ll get to hear him again without the time crunch sometime. He’s getting cartooons into the New Yorker, which he says likes to get TEN CARTOONS A WEEK from contributors so they can really work with the cartoonists and develop a stable of regulars. Man, that must be a lot of work.
It was a long day, but I left looking forward to workshop this afternoon. I rode home with Sang and she let me unwind with a little Plants vs. Zombies on her computer while she knitted a hat for our neighbor’s baby shower this afternoon. Now I’m going for a run– nice not to have to get in in early before the heat anymore!–and before I know it will climb on a bus to head for the IPRC again.