Last night was the 6th Annual Writers Night at the Springwater Grange presented by The Estacada Area Arts Commission. Reading were my mentors, Stevan Allred and Joanna Rose, along with Jackie Shannon-Hollis, whom I adore as both peer and teacher.
I rode out to the grange with my friend Mary Milstead and her husband Nathan and baby Solomon, who were most engaging travel partners. We got to discuss all things llama, bbq, and grizzly bear and swap stories about when you first met the parents of your significant other, since my daughter was that very afternoon meeting the parents of the boyfriend. Solomon mostly listened.
The theme for the evening was The Elephant in the Room, an open look at those things we don't talk about in polite company, things like politics, race, religion, sex, and mental illness. Except that Mary, Nathan, Solomon and I had pretty much run the gambit on the drive, including how my darling muscular husband would be the Donner Party first-choice should his Mazama climbing class become stranded on their climb this weekend.
Keeping with the theme, Stevan tackled racism, Joanna religion, and Jackie mental illness. "Writers," said Stevan, "have the task of addressing these issues with grace and wit, so that the unspoken can be heard and discussed in a way that is intelligent instead of threatening."
Joanna opened with part of her novel in-progress, Ruby's Roadhouse. Jackie read her short story, Her Own Special Touch. And Stevan closed out the evening with the end of his story, As Men Will Do Unto The Least Among Us; he read the beginning last year, but there were so many requests to finish, he had to comply.
The stories were engaging and poignant and thoughtful. The language beautiful. Cecily Patterson showed up and we both laughed at Stevan's reference to atheists, although Cecily may have just been laughing at me.
I'm sure the party-after was no less than fabulous - I have been to one before, with oysters on the half-shell, an unlimited supply of wine and drink, and a troupe of belly-dancers. Stevan is admirably committed to throwing a good party.
Alas, it was a party we would miss this year. Solomon was well past his bedtime, and I had to pickup the teenagers from VSAA Spring Fling and get the scoop on the parent-meeting. Thanks to Nathan's keen ability to avoid deer, we made it home without incident.
I always love to experience to the greater community of writers. To hear those who are ahead of me, my mentors, read in their own voices, their own works. It was a night to remember.
Sherri H. Hoffman