Remember way back to last week when we urged you to go to the cool launch party for Not What I Expected: The Unpredictable Road From Womanhood to Motherhood. Well, today guest blogger Liz Greer stops by to file a Friend of the Happy Booker report, giving us the full scoop on the evening.
Guest blogger and mom, Liz Greer here. Last night, I had the pleasure of sneaking out, ahem, attending, the book launch party for Not What I Expected: the Unpredictable Road from Womanhood to Motherhood, edited by Donya Currie Arias and Hildie S. Block. As I was getting ready, I explained to my kids ages 10, 7 and 3, that we would not be shooting the books off into space, but instead having a grownup party. But if things got really bopping, who knew?
Before the readings, I chatted with Jacqueline Jules, who has three poems in the anthology. A children’s writer and school librarian, Jacqueline holds what are considered glamour professions by my three young readers. Jacqueline must also be a writer of fiction – how else to explain her insistence that her children are 22 and 26? (She looks like she is like, 25, herself.)
First up was proud publisher and Washington literary scene doyen Richard Peabody of Paycock Press. He called the book “an object of beauty and a heartfelt and soulful journey. The book combines pain and passion and packs an emotional wallop. I can’t imagine reading these pages without tears.” (Richard was kind enough to give me his remarks, so I know I’m not misquoting. A nice man, Richard.)
Next, the book’s lovely editors took a turn. While opting not to read from her story in the book "Baby Dreams" (though it inspired the art on the cover by San Diego artist Dale Shimato) Donya Currie Arias welcomed the surprise visit of family members from Atlanta for the event and also recognized so many folks who contributed efforts to the anthology. Co-editor Hildie Block read from her story “Just Talk” about a woman who used to speak in complete sentences, and now, not. Both women acknowledged Nita Congress for support with copyediting, layout and design -- shaping the book for publication.
Best line of the evening was delivered by Laurie King-Billman who drove all the way from North Carolina to attend, only to have her outfit declared “unacceptable” by her teenage daughters. (I am so not looking forward to that moment). She saluted “the ghost of a more buxom woman” who previously inhabited her thrift store find. She looked great, and read her poem “Miscarriage” with “a lot of juice.”
Many of the writers said they were honored to be in the book among such excellent contributors. “Once you get over the joy of being accepted in an anthology, you start to wonder if it’s going to be any good,” remarked Arlington poet Mary Doroshenk, who added that the book more than exceeded her expectations.
The last selection of the evening was read by Christina Daub, a poem called "Domestic Bliss." (Party over - time to go.) But her description of her cat-vomit splattered living room cut a little to close to home, so I had a second glass of champagne and hung out for a while longer. First rule of sneaking out – never, but never, return before the kids are asleep.
[editors note: Here's some related news from Hebdomeros who gives us the inside scoop—and photos!—on the Kiss the Sky... reading (another title from local Paycock Press) last Saturday night at the Writer's Center. More info on the both anthologies can be found here. ]