Sunday, September 1, 2019

On Finding Grace at the National Book Festival

When I heard Grace Cavalieri was reading at the National Book Festival, I was motivated to go. So on Saturday, August 31, 2019, without any tangible evidence that she would be reading there, I packed a lunch and set out for the Walter Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC.

My understanding was that the twelve poet laureates who had won substantially large grants from the Academy of American Poets would be reading on at the Library of Congress Stage. Steiny had already written about this in her column The Steiny Road to Operadom.  

So after getting through the long security line, I stopped briefly in the South building but knew I had to get to the North building.

Along the way, I bumped into Anthony Kolasny, who would have been glad to hear Grace but he was with a friend from out of town who preferred to hear a fiction writer and the uncertainty of finding Grace persuaded him to stick with his friend's agenda.

For scale, relative to the size of this event, I took this photo from above the booths pertaining to states of the United States and what they do to celebrate books.

While passing the book signing lanes where people would line up to get an author autograph, I got this shot of poet Dorianne Laux's location.

Was Grace's reading on the Poetry and Prose stage where I found Jericho Brown wrapping up his program of Poetry Out Loud Winners?

Don Ilich whom I found in the back of this auditorium said no. Grace was not here and he had given up on finding her.

However, I persisted and found Grace not far from very active children's programs down on the lower level of the North building. 

I got there just in time for his last poem and then stayed on to hear and meet some of the other poet laureates—Molly Fisk, Jaki Shelton Green, and Raquel Salas Rivera.

Officiating was Rob Casper.

So at least two fans of Grace Cavalieri made this reading—Karren Alenier & Dr. Fred Foote.