Hi Meltingpot Readers,
Can you hear my heart beating rapidly with excitement and joy? Seriously, dear readers, I went full-on groupie last night, ditching the kids and el esposo so I could go in to the city for the big event. Was it a music concert or a broadway show? No, it was two amazing authors reading live at the main branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia. And not just any two amazing authors, but Ayana Mathis and Emily Raboteau.
For the folks who may not be living the literary vida loca, Ayana Mathis wrote The Twelve Tribes of Hattie which was recently selected by Oprah for her Book Club 2.0, made the cover of the New York Times Book Review and was generally praised by every book reviewer in the country. What’s more, Ayana Mathis and I used to work/hang together in Brooklyn back in the day. So watching all of this happen to her is truly awesome and inspiring. And then there’s Emily Raboteau. I wrote about her book, Searching for Zion, last week. As a Mixie writer, exploring issues of identity, Blackness and the meaning of home, I am truly a new disciple of her work. As soon as I finish Zion, I’ll be checking out her novel, The Professor’s Daughter.
So, back to last night.
First let me preface this by saying, I don’t get out much. I’m a total homebody (read lazy butt) and generally don’t like to go out after dark. Getting the kids fed, to bed, checking homework etc, zaps most of my energy and the only thing I really want to do at night is watch mindless television or maybe chat with el esposo. But, the double billing of Mathis and Raboteau had me ordering pizza, kissing the kids goodnight and out the door by 6:30. I didn’t even change my clothes from work. I grabbed my books and my camera and left. I picked up my friend on the way and we giggled all the way to the library, feeling liberated and very groupie like.
The evening didn’t disappoint. With the spirit of Zora Neale Hurston blessing the event, Emily Raboteau spoke first and showed slides from her 10-year long adventure where she ‘searched for Zion’ in Ethiopia, Israel, Jamaica, Ghana and Harlem. Hearing her speak made me want to travel the world and, of course, finish the book. I wouldn’t say her book and my book Kinky Gazpacho were similar, but that amazing discovery of finding Black people in the strangest places, finding some part of yourself in the most remote parts of the world, struck a chord with me.
Ayana Mathis read next. And she opened her talk by saying how wonderful it was to be speaking in the library where she spent so much of her time as a child. Yes, Mathis is a Philly girl. I think half of the audience was made up of her former classmates, teachers, and friends. While standing in line for autographs, I actually met her former principal! That’s Philly love and loyalty.
So, yes, I stood in a line, this long, so that Mathis and Raboteau could sign my books. I told you I was going full on groupie. It doesn’t matter that I’m an author myself. I still get giddy when it comes to good writing. I can’t help myself. And I took pictures too.
I got home after 10:00pm. The kids were all asleep and el esposo, bless his heart, was finishing the dishes. I felt a twinge of guilt, but only a twinge. I went to bed feeling inspired and hopeful and proud. And that’s a good thing. “Onward” is what Ayana Mathis wrote in my book. Yep, Onward!
Dear Readers, do you go full-on groupie for anything in this world? Music, art, chefs, chocolate? Please share. I’m so listening.