October 01, 2012

Fables for Our Time: Highlights

By Colin Ward

On Wednesday's Mainstage, Festival Director Charlene Diehl extended greetings to the attendees and introductions to the authors. First up was Mike Barnes, reading from "The Reasonable Ogre"--specifically the illustrated story "Silver." In it, a man seeking the source of his village's failing river is told by a mysterious voice to "give up what is precious or go no further."

Esmé Claire Keith rendered up some wonderfully nuanced dialogue from "Not Being on a Boat," featuring the main character dealing with a debt collector. Pasha Malla's reading from "People Park" was as energetic as it was enigmatic.

At the break a new pair of readers took the stage, bringing with them an entirely different approach:  the poetification of prose.

Seán Virgo's reading was, flat out, the best I've ever seen—yes, even better than Cordelia Stube’s performance at Tuesday’s Book Chat. He was personable, unpretentious, didn't crowd the microphone, and spoke with a gorgeous Irish lilt. If and when the podcast is uploaded I'd encourage you to listen to it. The television networks should be hiring this guy to do their voice-overs. Not knowing any of the writers, I made a point of approaching Mr. Virgo afterwards, finding him to be among the warmest people I've encountered.

While Seán's work sounded much like finished verse, Rawi Hage's reading from "Carnival" resembled a detailed outline of a poem, packed as it was with metaphor, analogies and symbols. He wrote of the two types of cab drivers: the Spiders, who wait to be summoned by dispatchers, versus the Flies, who travel about looking for fares, waiting only for "rains to make them busy." The drivers refer to each other by their cab numbers (e.g. #56's wife is having a baby). One revered driver is called "Mr. Green" because of his ability to work long shifts by napping during red lights, coming to life when the light turns green...or when the waitress at a slow diner finally brings his salad.

Again, I'd like to thank the organizers and volunteers. Great job!

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