I was invited by Miette Gillette of Whisk(e)y Tit to participate in a reading this Thursday, August 8, 2019 at Trap Door Theatre. I will be joining Svetlana Lavochkina and Stefan O. Rak, two other writers of Ukrainian ancestry.
Miette was one of the wonderful people at Iambik Audiobooks who helped to turn The Silence of Trees into an audio book (You can read about that here). She has since started her own experimental literature publishing company, Whisk(e)y Tit, to serve as “literary wet nurse” for books that “would otherwise be abandoned in a homogenized literary landscape. In a world gone mad, our refusal to make this sacrifice is an act of civil service and civil disobedience alike.”
The reading will be from 8-10:30 at Trap Door Theatre, 1655 W. Cortland Street in Chicago, and will include musical guests. I hope to see some of you there!
Stefan O. Rak lives in New York City, because it makes sense. In the 1940s, his grandparents fled Ukraine for NYC, otherwise he may have never been born. He’s worked as an archival director, film professor, record producer, experimental music programmer, and bartender. Rak’s ADVENTURES OF BASTARD AND M.E. is a pataphysical romp through a seedy underworld of criminal comic characters
You may recall a few months ago, when I posted a Storify link to Xe Sands’ live-tweeting of my novel, THE SILENCE OF TREES. You can see the story here.
I love audiobooks, and it really is a dream-come-true to have THE SILENCE OF TREES in this form. I always heard the protagonist Nadya’s voice in my ear as I was writing it–it’s very much an story told to someone (ironic for a character who has so many secrets). I’m delighted that Xe was the woman to bring Nadya to life!
Now THE SILENCE OF TREES has finally been released on audiobook by Iambik Audio, narrated by Xe Sands!
On Friday night, I made my way up the stairs to the Everleigh Social Club with a friend, to attend the 2011 Naked Girls Reading Literary Award Gala. The fabulous loft space was candlelit and lushly decorated. We were among the first guests to arrive and took our seats in front of the swing, to the right of the stage.
From what I could see upon my entrance, the spirits of beauty, creativity, and sensuality are alive and flourishing in the Everleigh Club. Not unlike the ritual theater I adore by Terra Mysterium, the Naked Girls create a space and then fill it with intention, charging it with provocative elegance. On that night, the intention was to celebrate the five Literary Prize finalists, and I was honored to be in such good company.
The ladies on the stage disrobed at the start of each of the three reading sessions of the night. They did it gracefully, naturally, comfortably, at home in their skin and on the stage. Then they breathed the stories into life, charging each one with emotion, weaving the web of words around them. The crowd was rapt. One word kept coming to mind: communion: a sense of intimate fellowship or rapport.
The word “communion” has an interesting etymology, a little different than its more modern and ecclesiastical definition. It comes from the late 14th century Old French comunion, meaning “community, communion” (12c.), and from the Latin communionem (nom. communio) “fellowship, mutual participation, a sharing.”
The act of reading someone a story, or having a story read to you, is intimate. We don’t usually sit and read with strangers or people we dislike. If we read a story, it is with someone dear to us: a parent, child, partner. It’s often a part of a ritual, like “the bedtime story” or a “reading hour.” I love to read, but listening to a story is a different experience than reading a story. Listening takes us right back to our ancestors–sitting around a campfire to share in the storytelling experience, a sacred experience because it revealed ancient secrets, imparted treasured wisdom, taught life lessons, celebrated community milestones. The storytellers were both library and librarian.
Even today, when we listen, we receive something. Yes, it’s the same story. Yes, the words are the same. However we add the element of performance, the experience of emotion conveyed by a reader, the feeling that there is an exchange with a person and not just a text. Communion.
This is one of the reasons I love to listen to audiobooks, especially those read by the author. It’s like my own private bedtime story. In the reading of a story, the author has given me something, more than the words and the world they shape (although those are treasures). In an audiobook, as in a reading, they have given me an experience of the story.
It was an honor to hear my story read aloud on that stage, to experience my words delivered in such a beautiful and provocative way. I didn’t win the prize, but I certainly felt like I was given something to treasure. (It made me all the more excited to hear the audiobook for my novel when Xe Sands finishes recording The Silence of Trees for Iambic Audiobooks.)
The Naked Girls Reading Series is now in cities across America, so you too can experience the glamour and allure of Naked Girls Reading.
Rick Kogan said it so well in an article he wrote for the Chicago Tribune in April 2011:
It is a beautiful and bold experiment to be sure, with the emphasis on, well, beautiful and bold.