While Joaquin Miller had to deal with the “perils of civilization,” the volunteers and audience of the June 9, 2009, opening night program had to deal with the perils of Mother Nature. Thunder, lightning, and rain sent participants directly to the Sixth Presbyterian Church where we typically have our receptions and our programs when inclement weather occurs. However, the church was dark and locked despite assurances from our contact Mr. White that he was primed to be there for us.
Karren Alenier suggested that we drive to Connecticut Avenue and try the new café attached to the Avalon Theatre. One of the assembled audience members called ahead and asked for permission and voila—a moveable feast (Marcela Sulak, one of the readers, had brought her birthday cake)!
The gracious manager and staff of the Avalon Café welcomed the dozen people with carrot cake and were happy to serve us coffee, tea, and spirits. Marcela had poems fitting the occasion—sonnets about food and coffee that got the staff chuckling and nodding their heads.
Deborah Bernhardt who had driven all the way from Massachusetts with a friend presented a lush landscape of language in the tradition of Gertrude Stein.
It was definitely a family affair. Lead co-host Kathi Morrison-Taylor invoked the spirits of Jacklyn Potter (the former director of the Cabin Series) and the late Word Works Board Members Robert Sargent and Hilary Tham. Mel Belin gave an inspired reading of Joaquin Miller’s poem “Columbus.” Paul Hopper in the open reading hosted by co-host Deborah Ager read a trio of poems honoring Jacklyn, his mother, and a late NIH doctor who had visited the Cabin. Marcela’s daughter wander on and off “stage” as her mom read.
We apologize to anyone who came either to picnic grove 6 where the Cabin sits or to the church and couldn’t find us. Nonetheless, we had an inspired reading in an unexpected and wonderful venue. Thank you to Henry Passman and his staff at the Avalon. Join us next week on Tuesday June 16 to hear Tyler Caroline Mills with the Jacklyn Potter Young Poets Katherine Casey and Baobao Zhang.