|Zinta preparing to read at TSP's anniversary event|
In fact, when the Kalamazoo Gazette wrote an article about The Smoking Poet's celebration, Putting on the Dog: TSP Celebrates 5, and ran it in Easter Sunday's issue on April 24, my parents were a tad dismayed when they opened their Sunday paper. I do believe they were on the verge of grounding me, or at very least standing me in the corner with a dunce cap on, for lighting up.
Okay, so I do own a humidor. And it is pretty well stocked. And there is a small sculpture atop it of a bulldog with a stogie gripped in his boxy muzzle. And I do know my way around a good cigar. And I do have a favorite: Hoyo de Monterray Excalibur. And I have on occasion been seen in a cigar lounge. And they do know my name at the local cigar shop in Kalamazoo.
And, all right, all right, eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevery once in a while, now and then, on the rare occasion, when the eve is just so and the stars twinkle on a warm summer night and the mood strikes me in a contemplative way and the fire pit crackles with a cheery flame and a pal stops by with a couple fragrant ones with a conversation to unweave over the next couple hours ....
I might unwrap one and light it. I just might.
|Amy Newday, emcee for the evening|
Oh, but it was fine. Everything came together. Perfectly. After nearly a year of planning, with much much help from Amy Newday and Friends of Poetry, the sponsors of the evening, the event was finally here. Posters of our mascot cigar pup were in most every Kalamazoo business window downtown. The good people at The Wine Loft had been promoting us at every opportunity. Announcements ran on WMUK radio, Kalamazoo's NPR affiliate, and I did a live radio talk show with Lori Moore at WKZO to talk about poetry.
When it was my turn to read, I looked out at the audience and felt warm with pride. All this talent, and all of these people had been published in our pages in our first five years. This was only a small sample of hundreds of fine writers. This was our local talent, but our reach has been international. We have published work from writers from many countries and from across this country.
|Dean Hauck from MNA|
I'm a writer, too, not just an editor, so I know what a hard fight it can be to find one's audience. One can even publish a shelf full of books and still not have found it. We chip away and hope to make that golden thread of connection, one human life with another, an understanding that mirrors one perspective on life to another perspective for a momentary glimmer of shared experience. It is a moment of knowing ourselves not alone in the world. Someone gets it. Someone sees what we see and feels what we feel and nods in acknowledgement.
There I step in. Connecting writer to reader, and reader to writer. I am drawn to that magical moment.
I find literary treasure and I spread my blanket out in the sand so that I may arrange all that treasure out in the sunshine and let it catch a ray of that light. Gems, every one. A passerby can hardly resist but to stop for a moment, pause, pick one up and turn it in the light to enjoy its beauty.
Out in the audience, among our many eager listeners, I saw faces of friends and family. I saw my sister from Chicago. I saw my parents. I saw many familiar and friendly faces I'd come to know and care about because of our common ties to The Smoking Poet, based on our common love for fine literature . I saw my community. This was why I had put in those five years of countless hours ... and why I would no doubt put in many, many more. On this night, we could all share the treasure and be in awe. Its glow would reflect in all of us.
It was precisely the sort of moment I would no doubt reflect upon , and more than once, on some future starry summer evening, a curl of smoke rising from a stogie in my fingers. Mom, Dad, I don't inhale. Not cigar smoke. But I do inhale poetry, and fine prose, and I get giddy on it, every time.