Hot Springs holds Gallery Walk the first Friday of every month. Stores downtown stay open so that people can enjoy art, shopping, and refreshments. Tomorrow night’s Gallery Walk finds me in the nave of First United Methodist Church, 5:30-7:30. This is the last of my readings this fall.
When we moved from Little Rock, we heard that FUMC’s Child Development Center was the best daycare in Hot Springs. Our daughter thrived there. FUMC’s emphasis on social justice appealed to our family as a whole, and in time we became members. We have listened to so many thoughtful words at FUMC. It is humbling to be asked to share Underwater Panther there. Thanks to Reverend Michael Mattox and FUMC for being part of our home.
At my reading earlier this week, a former student, now a friend, asked how poets learn to read their works out loud: pauses, emphasis, tone. As always with her questions, I’ve been thinking about this ever since. As a child, I would record myself reading to study my voice, then go back and do it better. My parents read to me, so I learned the rhythm of a piece that way. But it’s fitting to realize now that my upbringing in the church also taught me the way a text can rise from the page. In parochial school, for eight years, I read the Bible every day, and cadence and sound play were key to memorization and performance of its verses. But more than this was the voice of our pastor, Reverend Theodore Michalk. He had gone to India as a missionary in 1945 and worked there for over 25 years, and while he rarely mentioned that time, words were never just words to him. When he spoke, words became everything: communion, action, love, grace.
Since Gallery Walk is a walk, my reading needs to be somewhat fluid. I’m planning for four 15-minute segments on the half hours (5:30, 6, 6:30, and 7), with time in between for people to visit, enjoy refreshments, and come and go as part of the scene of Central Avenue.