Thursday, December 16, 2010

When Pigs Fall in Love premiere at Café des Artistes

The first reading from the first edition of When Pigs Fall in Love took place last week at Café des Artistes in Fallbrook. Kit-Bacon Gressitt runs a great reading. Kit-Bacon was one of the first editors to publish my fiction.

The short story "My Fear of Snakes" appeared in her publication The Bridge Illustrated. Although I thought about reading it from When Pigs Fall in Love, I instead read "The Lost Tribe of Boston," a fiction based on The Boston Tea Party of 1773. After all, it was nearly 237 years to the day.

The story is told by Gerald Folger, a colonist with nautical experience, who's has been promised a reward if he leads the less seaworthy Sons of Liberty in a raid on a ship loaded with tea in Boston Harbor. The narrator begins to feel self-conscious about being disguised like a Mohawk when he sees in the crowd Ruthie, an indigenous woman his father once kept as an indentured servant:

When the tea leaves again pile so high that they spill back on deck, Gerald Folger kicks them out onto the harbor’s mud flats. Wearing nothing above the waist but a layer of burnt cork over his skin and chicken feathers in his hair, he has been moving fast to stay warm in the cold December daylight, but the tea leaves keep coming as if they grow below decks. So far they’ve hauled over 200 tea chests out of the ship’s hold and emptied them overboard. They’re a tad past halfway through. The leaves are wearing down the party guests. 
The number 200 is accurate. But I was really interested in the relationship between Gerald and Ruthie. Relationships between men and women are often difficult enough when they're the same race.   

I also read "The Long Pass" from Driven into the Shade and "The Cough of Dissipation" and "Men in Trees" from Light in All Directions

Kit-Bacon invited me back for National Poetry Month. Of course I love to perform my poems, but there were moments in "The Lost Tribe of Boston" that eveleoped me in the scene and the feeling was sustained. I had a chance to read "Lovers Lie" a couple of months back at Mt. San Jacinto College and had the same eveloping experience. The challenge with fiction is first to create the emotional intensity and then sustain and counter it, all which is challenge enough without trying to do it within the five minutes allowed in an open reading. But if a writer can't find a story's internal stakes within five minutes, they probably haven't found them yet. Reading fiction has a different feeling from reading poetry.

So the difference between stories and poems as spoken word seems to be that stories are arranged primarily around scenes; poems are organized by lines. I wasn't conscious of the difference. At least for today, I feel as if stories hold me by scenes and poems hold me with images and sometimes the music of a line.