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In my last blog, I made a case for supporting the literary arts in the public arena. More specifically, I pretty much begged everybody to come to the presumptuously-monikered Yellow Springs Reading Series that my partner Anthony and I have been hosting since March of this year.

Maybe it was the blog, maybe it was the various media outlets. Maybe it was the fact that “Poetry Reading Saturday” was written in chalk all over downtown Yellow Springs. Who can say?

All I know is, something worked, because we had a great turnout. I met some new locals, which is always nice; I admit, I was in the pre-event frenzy that renders my conversation a particular brand of harried nonsense, but everybody was very gracious and very cool. I still came home with about a week’s worth of vegetarian appetizers, but my fellow employees here at the Yellow Springs News, ever willing to step up and help a fellow human in need, kindly took care of that for me.

The evening began with music from Ben Hemmendinger on accordion, clarinet and vocals (not all at once, of course) and Ben Williamson on bouzouki. Kentucky poets Chris Mattingly, Melva Priddy, George Eklund and Laura Eklund followed with a variety of style that was often funny, often poignant.

I enjoyed listening to the music and verse, when I wasn’t trying to keep my kid from eating fistfuls of coffee grounds from the trash can. The Eklunds, George and Laura, had brought along their three children, who proved to be entertainers themselves. I took Lucy outside a few times during the reading, trying to keep the noise to a minimum for the sake of the audience we’d procured. At one point I took her outside to find two of the kids, Waylon and Fiona, dancing in the gravel under a streetlight. After a moment they noticed Lucy and me, and came over to share some baby talk and some laughs. Following some cooing at Lucy, Waylon, who I believe is around 10 years old, asked me in a very grown-up tone, “So, where you from?”

“Well…I live just down there,” I said, pointing vaguely down Dayton Street. “But my family all lives in Florida.”

“Oh,” he said. “My dad’s family is from there.”

“How about your mom’s family?”

“They’re all from the Mayflower,” he said. “You know. Pioneers.” At this, he and his sister reclaimed their spots in the yellow-white circle of streetlight, and resumed their dancing.

For those of you who wanted to be there but couldn’t make it, here’s a short video with a little bit of what you missed from each artist:


Accordionist-about-town Ben Hemmendinger informed me that the song in the video is a Serbo-Croatian tune called “Evo Banke,” whose lyrics translate thusly:

Here’s some money, my Gypsies,
my gypsies, play for me!
I will pay you,
Play for me.
Champagne will be opened,
opened and consumed.
And when the time is right,
the champagne will make us drunk.
Here’s some money, my Gypsies,
my gypsies, play for me!

Which I think, at least in spirit, pretty much sums up the evening.

Thank you to everyone who came out, whether reader or musician or listener. I hope to see you again next time.



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