Saturday, January 30, 2010

Details from the Olena Kalytiak Davis & Kary Wayson Reading



Photo from iPhone at Open Books, January 28, 2010, Seattle, WA

So I want to tell you about the best dinner ever we had at Kabul before the reading and how the photographer from the Seattle Times was there and we'll be in next Friday's insert about the restaurant, but I know you want to hear about the poetry.

But I'll set the scene-- 6 of us, Annette (my co-editor from Crab Creek Review), Lana (our poetry editor) and I all carpooled down. We met Martha Silano, Susan Rich and Ann Hursey there, all local poets (and more than that, friends) who were also coming to the reading. Susan suggested the restaurant and it was some of the best food I have ever eaten. And the Spanish wine... the best.

But to the reading...

After we ate, drank and talked, we walked to Open Books...

We arrived at 6:30 and the bookstore was well, open and empty. (I had thought the reading was 7...it was at 7:30 pm) However, this allowed us to get front row seats and browse the bookstore. I already had Kary Wayson's book, American Husband, but purchased Olena's chapbook by Hollyridge Press.

Olena & Kary arrived about ten or fifteen minutes before the reading. Kary was beautiful in a black dress with a hint of gold and black leggings & books. Olena was in her almost thigh-high black leather boots, ripped blue jeans and a backwards Nirvana t-shirt which I appreciated being a college student during the grunge era here.

I guess I should say this immediately so you don't think there will be a part in this blog where I have a deep conversation with Olena and reveal something interesting. It won't happen here. Why? Because I am incredibly intimidated by Olena and said all of five words to her, "Would you sign my book?"

Olena reminds me of the tough girls I feared in elementary school. The ones who in 5th or 6th grade were making out with boys behind the tire trees while I was trying to find the correct mixture to my rock polisher so my rocks wouldn't come out with a caky film on them. They were the girls who knew that you put pot in ZigZags and that they weren't some sort of neat art paper to draw a series of dog cartoons on.

Since I have never spoken with her, I do not know how she is in real life. If she is a sweetheart or someone who might push you down a hill. Kary and her seem to have a close relationship, so I tend to think she is a sweetheart to some, and perhaps, a hillpusher to others. Both of them, however, are two of my very favorite poets.

Kary, on the other hand, is the anti-Olena. She is sweet, approachable, good natured, and absolutely charming. Watching her read, I was so happy for what she had achieved and her excitement for the night beamed through. She started out the reading by reading the first poem in her book (the title poem) and thanking everyone especially Open Books, which she said is, "For a poet in our town, similar to giving a speech at the Academy Awards."

Kary read for a bit then Olena came up and read from her chapbook. She made some interesting comments about her and Kary that I wished I would have jotted down in detail, but in the car ride home we talked about how these comments basically were their acknowledgment of how hard they work for their art. That was how we interpreted them. They are loyal poetry readers and read works (prose/novels too) out loud to each other. For me, that was one of the highlights hearing them say that as an undergrad, that was one of my favorites part of being an English major. It was inspiring to hear that they still do that... and not just do that, but then discuss the work that was read and interpret it.

Olena called Kary back up to the mic after she finished reading then leaned against the wall while Kary read (I think Olena may have wanted a conversation back and forth between her and Kary, I wasn't sure). Kary read a few more poems while Olena slowly slipped into a sitting position on the floor watching Kary. Kary read a few more poems and discussed her process on some (which as a poet, I always appreciate). One poem in her book is the same poem with 4 different endings and I loved that idea. But also, how certain poems have inspired her, a poem from Theodore Roethke, for example.

Kary ended with a poem, Olena came up to the mic. There was a good round of applause (Did I mention there was standing room only and that the once cool Open Books now was a small sauna? It was. So many people, so much body heat.) But it was all good.

I ran up to Kary to have her sign my book (Olena was next to her being introduced to Marty, who I sat next to in the first row along with Susan Rich) and while Olena was there, had her sign my book as well. This is where I said my 5 words to her and hoped she would sign my book without telling me how incredibly square I am. Yes, I even still use the word "square," this keeping me out of the kingdom of edgy coolness even more.

But despite being square (though to maybe allow me to stand on the bridge with the cool girls, I was also wearing black boots --oops, I accidentally typed "black books," I am so not meant to be edgy), I had a great evening.

I will double check my notes (of which I took few) to see if there was anything else to share, but I think those were the highlights, at least in my eyes, and in my boots.

~

1 comment:

Valerie Loveland said...

Olena has some cool, tough-girl boots!

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