CENTER: Literary House - Blog

Intern’s Report: Crash Course in Arts Administration

  • Dutch Williams and Brian Campbell of Sleeper Cell.
    Dutch Williams and Brian Campbell of Sleeper Cell.
  • 2013 Cave Canem Fellow, Yona Harvey
    2013 Cave Canem Fellow, Yona Harvey
  • Steve Kistulentz
    Steve Kistulentz

Location: Rose O’Neill Literary House

June 27, 2013
Literary House Summer Intern Aileen Gray ‘14 experiences her first Summer Poetry Salon, behind the scenes.

On the first day of my internship, Lindsay and Owen explained how the Salons run, lamented that the May Salon had had a very small turnout, and asked me to work on advertising for upcoming events.  I spent the day looking over the advertising methods we were already using and finding more ways to spread the word for the Salons.

Four weeks later, the day of the event arrived.  The energy in the house was buzzing as we awaited the arrival of Steve Kistulentz, Yona Harvey, and the members of Sleeper Cell.  In a fit of last-minute preparations, I straightened chairs, arranged books on tabletops, and put a sidewalk sign in front of the house to catch the attention of passersby.

At 4:23, the excitement was turning to anxiety.  We’d had only a handful of guests trickle through the door.   But, as these things always happen, the Lit House filled with people just as 4:30 came and went.  We shepherded guests, a few already clutching copies of the poets’ books, to the porch.  Jehanne gave a lovely introduction and the event began. 

I knew how the salon would go and what to expect, but it was still a new experience and a delight to discover.  The thing that struck me most about the afternoon was how hearing the poetry aloud changed my perception of it.  Before the salon, I had read the collection of poetry from which Yona Harvey read.  At the time, I’d chosen certain favorites and found there to be a musical quality in the way she strings words and phrases together.  Hearing her read it aloud brought this music to life.

The other thing that I found delightful—as I do at any reading, poetry or prose—was the anecdotal energy that pervaded both readings.  A poem’s meaning or sound changes not only when you hear it aloud but also when you hear the story behind it.  The questions you find yourself asking as you read—What was the author thinking here? Why this word, this phrase? Where does the line fall between author and speaker in this work?—these answers are found only through the explanations and anecdotes of the author.  

There was a congenial desire from both the musicians and the poets to share their art with the audience, and somehow the salon was both formal and relaxed.  The energy of each set bled into the next and thematic connections carried from the music to the poetry—one of those unplanned aspects that always manage to happen.  I absolutely loved the afternoon and cannot wait for the salon in July!

Last modified on Jun. 27th, 2013 at 4:10pm by Lindsay Lusby.