Friday, October 19, 2007

Girls Night Out for Girls Write Now

I turned in my tenure materials this week and was thinking that I needed a break, a treat. What would it be?

A couple hours later, I have an email from Lauren Cerand telling me about the benefit she was organizing for Girls Write Now. Girls Write Now is a nonprofit that pairs NYC high school girls with a passion for writing with women professional writers: the coolest kind of Big Sister group I could imagine. Tayari Jones, newly moved to Jersey City, was going to be reading. How could I resist the chance?

Tayari and Janice Erlbaum were the two readers and they’ve already posted their accounts of the night on their blogs. My version will be kind of backwards.

I had arranged to meet my husband for dinner on Bleecker & Elizabeth at 8:40. When I did, I was whipped—a mild cold, the whole tenure thing (did I mention that?), and then the events of the night, had me reeling.

“How was it?”

“Well…It started at Bluestockings, this radical feminist bookstore, and three pairs of girls read poetry with their mentors…then I walked up to Houston and got a grilled veggie pita…,” continuing in a flat monotone, “then I went to the Slipper Room and I met Tayari…and she introduced me to Tara Betts, the slam poet, who'd read over at Bluestockings…and I saw Lauren…and she introduced me to Katherine Lanpher—do you remember reading about her? She used to have that radio show with Al Franken? And she wrote that book about moving to New York in midlife that came out right when we moved to New York, too…and then, Lauren told Tayari that the burlesque dancer wanted to go first…so she did. And she stripped down to a g-string and tassels…and then Tayari read and that was great and I clearly have to read The Untelling right now…and then Janice Erlbaum read from a new book and it was incredibly moving, too, and made me want to read both her books…and then it was time to go meet you, but there was a go-go dancer dancing while I left and I missed the band?” I concluded, slow and puzzled at how this could all have happened in three hours.

“So, it wasn’t very good?”

“I just am not really sure what just happened.”

Still unsure, but more and more amazed. I got online this morning and sent in my donation to Girls Write Now. You should, too. Besides, I don't think I've ever been cool enough to have been to a Gothamist-recommended event.

And while I was uncertain about the feminist politics of burlesque dancing in the abstract, and embarrassed in person, it is really, really fun and funny to watch. I am not that brave.

To cap this all off, I went to class this morning and learned that my student, whom I thought I’d seen at the reading, was indeed there, and is a youth mentor with Tara. Very cool indeed.


Bud Parr said...

poetry and g-strings. Now ya just don't get that in Seattle. I can picture you telling your husband this story. Very funny, Anne, and congrats on getting through putting your tenure package together.

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for coming out to the GWN party on Thursday, for making a donation, and for spreading the good word on your blog! Hope to see you at other GWN events!