Is planning for a book fair something like investing in buggy whip manufactory just as Model A Fords hit the market? While a big box book retail chain declares bankruptcy and Publishers Weekly prints jeremiads about the implosion of major New York publishers, we in Silver City discuss poetry readings, authors who could be speakers and potential workshops. Are we crazy?
The answer is clear. At least it’s clear to us. We’re not crazy. We’re in love, smacked in the collective head with an infatuation. A Southwest Festival of the Written Word isn’t about bookkeepers’ balances and the numbers necessary to keep the book empire inflated. It’s about our passion–a passion to hear words that belong to us and that come from the world that we know. The other side of that passion is to hear words no one else has spoken to another–radically new whispered words from a world to come. We harbor a passion to share with others what we’ve heard or read and in reaction, to celebrate the creators of magical moments. And behind all that passion, a fashionable word, is the sheer fun of written words, like feathers, tickling us.
The Southwest Festival of the Written Word, like the chef of the Curious Kumquat, ranges across our landscape to collect local delicacies. When our SFWW Coro commits a Random Act of Literature, the words themselves may have had no literary pretension about them until the Coro readers speak them out. Then literature happens, not at the writing, but at the reading.
Or the words, spun during a Random Act, may have been literature at the conception and needs no audience to make it so. For example, a passage from a novel by Larry Godfrey, one of our planners:
“Turning 50, Henry suffered from a vast, oppressive sense of
passing prime, unwelcome accusation as of having squandered
promise, having failed to find fulfillment he had wished. He felt
a rage, unreasoned sorrow for the death of Kamla, unseasonable
now, revisitation of a devastating loss he’d grieved in depth, in
desperation, years ago.”
The hero, Henry, who had escaped the West’s straitened Mormonism for India and marriage to Kamla, returns home, and in that iambic swing we feel his loss. In a Southwest Festival of the Written Word or in the many events that anticipate the big festival in 2013, many of us will become Henry or Kamla or scores of other heroes. For that transformation, the time is always exactly right.