Monday, August 16, 2010

An Amazing Reading at Dog Days

This last weekend, the middle of August, "dog days" indeed, we had a celebration in Stockholm, WI, of dogs and books.

On Friday night, charming emcee Pete Hautman kicked off the community read: poems or stories, often featuring a dog. We had eight-year-old Cole Johnson reading about his love of books; and our unofficial poet laureate, Bill Charlesworth, reading about driving to Sturgis to hang with the bikers (Bill is about ten times Cole's age and a more gentle, intelligent and dignified man would be hard to find). The readers, too numerous to list here, were terrific and the work was as varied the breeds of dogs.

The next day a slew of dog-related activities went on in the park, including a doggie parade complete with several competitions. Including in this blog, is a photo snapped by Maryanne Coronna moments after Jacques, a seven-pound toy poodle, received his trophy for third place for best costume, held by his proud owner—me. His flowers had grown limp so I had already discarded them, but he had pranced across the stage as "Flower Boy."

The very outrageously grand finale was Saturday night when David Rhodes read from Driftless and I worried that we didn't have the ambulance still on hand as several members of the audience were laughing so hard I feared for their lives. (John and Bill, you know who I'm talking about.)

Then three members of the St. Paul and Minneapolis Poetry Slam teams—Cynthia French, Kyle "Guante" Myhre, and Khary J.—enthralled the audience with their performances. When it was over, no one wanted to leave. It was very clear why these poets were members of the winning teams--the St. Paul team took first in the national poetry slam held a week ago. There is talk of putting together a slam team from Stockholm, talk to John Graber if you're interested.

Personally, I think this reading might have been the best one I've ever been to in my life.

Once Mary Anne Svoboda, Harley Cochran, Ericka Svoboda, Mary Michael, et al. recover (which may take months) we might consider doing it again. Bravo to all!

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