Friday, October 13, 2006

Viva la Gala!
Blogger: Cherryl Floyd-Miller

I felt so grungy from travling that I wanted to change my clothes. But what good would that have done without a shower? Since I gazed around the room and saw that many other people had on jeans, I felt safe to stay dressed as I was. Some people were dressed to impress -- of special note, our beloved Dante Michaux, who changed into a a black velour jacket, crisp white shirt and matching tie. Gorgeous!

I mostly watched the room. There were so many faces that brought me joy just to see them again. But the room was so crowded, it required special maneuvering to reach people, and by the time you could get to them, they were off to the next person they had seen in the crowd. I stood in the back of the room with Tara Betts and Sean Hill. We caught up a little on each other's entrances and exits in poetry and ate generously from fancy hors d'oeuvre trays floating on the extended palms of smiling servers.

The food was certainly not retreat fare: Spicy tuna on peppered crackers, smoked salmon on toasted wheat rounds, chicken skewers with a mustard sauce, assorted sushi, mushroom cups, gargonzola and carmelized onions on miniature croissant circles ... fruit, cheese, wine.

Live jazz played in the background.

A silent auction table bearing these things for sale: first edition prints of harder to find books (Toi Derricotte's Captivity being one), all of Tony Kushner's plays, a reading/performance by Yusef Komunyakaa, dinner with a politician ... great finds on that table.

An adjacent table held CC T-shirts, tote bags, 10 x 10 anniversary booklets, and books from fellows and faculty as far as the eye could see.

I was very pleased that we took a moment to acknowledge those lovely souls who had the courage to come to that first retreat in the mountain. Phebus Etienne read the names and offered a gift to those present:

Herman Beavers

Omari C. Daniel

Hayes Davis

Ronald Dorris

Michele Elliott

John Frazier

Rachel Harding

Yona Harvey

Shayla Hawkins

Terrance Hayes

Major Jackson

Suzanne Jackson

Valerie Jean

Honoree Jeffers

A. Van Jordan

Sherry Quan Lee

Carrie Allen McCray

Renee K. Moore

Dominique Porter

D.J. Renegade

James W. Richardson, Jr.

Lorelei Williams

Vincent Woodard

(Names highlighted in blue were present for this event.)

These souls, too, are our founding voices. Because they dared to come together in 1996, toil over poems, talk about poetics, forge a safe space, we are all able to move in a tradition.

I'm grateful to them all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a CC neo heading into his 2nd year this summer, its good to see a list of the founding poets. as soon as i read Cherryl's list I checked off the poets i've had a chance to meet and began strategizing on how to grow that list. i live and breathe in the midwest and these meetings have all occured for the first time in santa fe (terrance), chicago (major), dc(hayes & DJ), mineapolis(sherry) and atlanta(honoree). i suspect many others were at the soire in atlanta, but i spent more time taking photos than being social. next time, i'll bring a smaller camera and do a better job.