The Jewish Community Center (JCC) is a welcome venue for artists and writers. I honestly thought it was just a gym. I used to swim at the JCC with my parents, never noting the art-lined hallways or pausing to consider that the locale might be a place to foster, you know, community. See also: Dim, remarkably.
During a break from last night’s reading featuring Rusty Moe and Bonnie Maurer, I spoke with Lisa Freeman, the center’s Arts and Education Program Coordinator. The reading was a precursor to this fall’s Ann Katz Festival of Books, whose well-known authors have included NBC correspondent Martin Fletcher and Wall Street Journal columnist Jeffrey Zaslow.
The evening began with light cello and clarinet music from Liz Brooks and Dianna Davis, two members of the improvisational group Thin Air. Maurer then stepped in front of the podium and read “As It Is Said,” an elegy to an uncle that will soon appear in Lilith Magazine, an independent, Jewish, and feminist publication. Many of her selections came from the newly-published Reconfigured, including the lovely and evocative “Invitation,” in which Maurer is “drunk on the orange rose begonia / filling up with moonlight.”
Rusty Moe read, in part, from his memoir, Bright Wide Stone. He spoke to memories of his grandmother and “watching the sun set at her hem” and laughed while telling the crowd about watching the Lawrence Welk show, during which he learned to jitterbug. In “A Poem for My Father Whom I Never Knew,” Moe acknowledges that his father “died of a beaten-up heart” but read with such warmth that the listener couldn’t help but smile.