|The Magic of Reading
October 22, 2003
Each time we launch a book I introduce the author, then relax and listen to to the author while also watching the audience's reaction. This is one of the most enjoyable times for a publisher, seeing the results of the writing and publishing processes, and hoping that other people will feel that the book is worthwhile.
Of course, the author and I have concerns prior to the reading. Perhaps no one will attend. Perhaps those who do attend won't like the book. But, if we've done our work well, they come, they enjoy and they often buy books.
However, readings are more than public relations events or avenues for sales. They bring audiences and authors together to celebrate good writing. We come to hear the storytellers among us, and the results can be pure magic. Good poetry and prose are meant to be read aloud in schools, in homes, around campfires, and in children's rooms at bedtime.
On October 3, 2003, we launched Gerald Hill's newest book of poetry Getting to Know You in Regina, Saskatchewan. Fifty to sixty people gathered in Book & Brier, a great independent bookstore on Albert Street, to hear Gerry read and to ask questions. It was an enthusiastic crowd, smiling and listening intently as Gerry read. The crowd stayed after the reading, visiting, drinking coffee, chatting with Gerry and amongst themselves. It was a successful literary event.
Several days later (October 6) Gerald read to a slightly smaller, yet equally enthusiastic group, at McNally Robinson in Saskatoon (a great bookstore). This time we used the bookstore's café, and those attending drank coffee and enjoyed dessert while Gerry read. One of the poems he read was North Central Baseball League Semi-Final, Muenster Red Sox vs. Melfort Brewers, July 23, 2001. Those of us who had either played or watched baseball in rural Saskatchewan were on the diamond or behind the screen, waiting for the next pitch. My regret that night was that my father (farmer, elevator agent, shortstop for the Golden Prairie Chinooks) was not there to relive his experiences through this poem.
Gerald Hill reads next on October 24, 2003, at Laurie Greenwood's Volume II in Edmonton. Please join us if you are available. Also, take the opportunity to attend readings in your local bookstores, even if you've never been to one before and no one sends you invitations. These readings are wonderful opportunities to hear and meet some of the the best authors from this country and elsewhere. Ask your bookstore to put your name on their invitation list for future readings.
Readings, at their best, are stories around the fire, stories read by important people in our lives, stories that form the fabric of our society. They allow us to stop, listen and reflect. They are magic.
previous columns ...