A couple of months ago my friend Lynn sidled up to me during the coffee hour after church. “We should do a reading,” Lynn said. “At The Coffee Cottage. What do you think?” I liked the idea, and so did a few other writers in our small church.
Lynn scheduled the event for the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, which happens to be the one-year anniversary of my first visit to Newberg. While Todd met with the headmaster at the school that would eventually offer him employment, I took the girls to a local coffee house. And that coffee house is where the reading will be held.
Lynn met with me and the three other writers this past week to discuss what we’re each going to bring to the reading. She passed around a sheet of paper for our approval—Lynn wrote winsome introductions for each writer. I could see from the faces of my fellow writers that each of us was pleased.
Lynn then spread her creative work out on the conference table. “I want you to tell me honestly about these poems.” She looked to Dave, who just sent in his final manuscript for an anthology highlighting the work of seven select poets. Dave pulled out three poems.
“I think you should read these.”
“I just wanted to be sure what I read seems finished,” Lynn said.
“Your work is always good,” Dave said.
He means it. I know, because everything I’ve read from Lynn is good. She writes honestly of hardship—no false happy endings for Lynn—and her work shatters me.
Keith read next (he’s an elder in our church—okay, the elder … it’s a small church). As he read his memoir segment, I traveled back to 1969 and the world of a boy seeing death for the first time at his grandfather’s funeral. In the five minutes it took Keith to read an additional excerpt from a short story in progress, I came to love a foul-mouthed bigot of an old man.
I wish I could write like that.
After we’d all read, Keith commented that this sure isn’t what you’d expect from a bunch of church folks doing a reading. You’d expect something written on a Helen Steiner Rice card.
If that’s what you want to hear, don’t come to this reading. But if you want to hear what a bunch of church folks have written about death and changing seasons and Scrabble and coffee beans, then come.
Five Newberg Writers Read Out Loud
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
8:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.