My Avatar: JB in Seattle, March 20-21


It’s off to Seattle for me this week, where I’ll be doing two events for the Richard Hugo House, the city’s center for the arts and a home for writers and artists of all stripes. Among the houses’ many activities is staging various literary stunts from time to time, and this weekend, three writers, including me, will be performing work specially written for this event on the theme of “My Avatar.” There will also be a band, the Maldives. The night gets underway on Friday at Seattle’s Town Hall.

I will be doing a piece I’ve never done before, presented in an unusual format for me. Instead of the usual English teacheresque reading from published work, I’ll be performing a series of pieces– singing and playing piano, reading from interconnected stories, and picking autoharp. My own take on “avatars” is to talk about imagined selves, the tension between who we believe ourselves to be and who we actually are. The stories include the account of my own duel with a porcupine, which leads immediately to two days at the National Convention for Ventriloquists. One of the other presenters, novelist Vikram Chandra, also makes an appearance in one of the stories– since Vik and I knew each other briefly back at Johns Hopkins in the mid 1980s. Put this together with a song written for the occasion, “My Other Self,” as well as an old harp ballad, “There is a Reason We Carry Our Lunches,” and you have a literary bloodbath of the very best sort in the making.

There will be some sort of party/reception thing after the Friday night performance, and while I’m unlikely to be able to hang out as much as I’d like with my friends on hand, I do hope I”ll get a chance to meet you.

There is also a smaller workshop on Saturday, “Stories that Feel Like Movies,” which is a small craft class about how to utilize cinematic technique in story.

Hope to see you all there!

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2 Comments

  1. DMc
    Posted March 18, 2009 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Holy crap, I hope someone gets video of this.

  2. pedrofeliz3b
    Posted March 19, 2009 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Dear Jenny:

    way cool that you are integrating music and blues harp into your readings since you are a trained and skilled musician.

    “avatar” is “ratava” spelled backwards, but if there were an avatar of cross-gendered rock n’roll literature set to music, i’m certain you would be the one.

    Morpheus and the Oracle told me. It’s been prophesied. And in your case, there is a damn spoon.

    –art kyriazis

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