Last night the San Francisco Giants made baseball history as Matt Cain threw a perfect game with the help of his team. Last night was historic for me, too, because it was the culmination of my career as the editor-in-chief of the Potomac Review.
You have to understand, I was very worried about the reading. We had scheduled it once for April but had to cancel it because the issue wasn’t ready for publication. When it finally arrived, printed and beautiful, with a cover photo by our blogmaster Andrea Pawley, I had to be convinced to have the reading or “launch party.” We had pulled the rug out from under our invited readers once, who’s to say we wouldn’t do it again? What kind of tragedy might strike us to bar us once again from holding an event? The PR staff said, yes, we must, it’s important. They were right.
Luckily, the three readers that had accepted our invitation to read the first time were still willing to read this time. They are Joseph Cavano, Janice Gary, and Linda Morefield. When I arrived last night (early to set up) the second floor of the Black Squirrel was already abuzz with people. We had an audience! (I was worried about no-shows though the PR staff assured me not to worry.).
Karolina Gajdeczka, our spring intern, had organised the event (twice). She played host last night and was the picture of elegance. We had three in-person readers and three pieces the staff would read for the absent readers, but the readings were so strong that Karolina elected to close the event after Linda Morefield read. As the saying goes, a lady always knows when to leave.
Joseph Cavano surprised me. He is not Hmong though his fiction piece “Story Cloth” is from a Laotion Hmong perspective. He achieved what all of us want to achieve in our writing: convince the audience the story is true. As Azar Nafisi says, what we search for in fiction is not a facsimile of life but truth. He opened the event with banter and jokes — he charmed the audience.
Janice Gary read next from “Random Acts,” a non-fiction piece about the DC sniper shootings. We spoke before the event began about the importance of talking about feelings, especially the sad ones. Her piece about fear, worry, and depression continues to move me. We should all be so honest with our work, trusting our readers to see beyond stigma to the true human experience.
Linda Morefield closed our show by reading the ending moments of “Rescue Dog”. The essay is about Linda’s unyielding dog she’d recently adopted. It wouldn’t obey her and it frightened passers-by. Until. Until, she happened upon a group of kids bullying another. Rescue Dog went into action and barked them to submission. After the bullies ran away, the boy ran to Rescue Dog and hugged him. To Linda’s surprise, the dog finally yields. It is a really special piece.
Karolina began to close the event and although I had promised not to speak, I felt moved to say a few words. I thanked the readers and the group and told the story of how in 2010, Julie Wakeman-Linn announced a two-year stay in Tanzania, leaving the Potomac Review in limbo for someone’s care. The department asked me to take over temporarily and I said yes, but when I sat down to do the job my reaction was one of fear, worry, and intimidation. Julie counselled me to choose pieces that resonated with me on a personal level, pieces that were written well and that also spoke honestly. I hope I achieved that in issue 52, I said, and then the evening ended.
The evening felt like my own personal commencement ceremony. This was the culminating event of my career as Editor-in-Chief of the Potomac Review. A few of my friends and one students from years ago came for support, but the room was mostly made up of the family and friends of the readers, and I hope some PR followers, too.
Last night Matt Cain threw a perfect game but he couldn’t have done it had Melky Cabrera and Gregor Blanco not made spectacular catches. Cain credits their catches as much as he does his throws. Team work made it all possible, and so it goes with PR. Karolina planned and hosted; Nathan created beautiful fliers and a handsome program (the man has an eye for aesthetics); and Andrea blogged, tweeted, and Facebooked the event like crazy. I couldn’t have done anything this year without them. It was a perfect night of celebrating good writing. I’d do throw it again in a heartbeat.