Seattle Evenings Out

Of the books I’ve read this past year, my favorite is Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. He spoke at Benaroya Hall’s main auditorium this last Wednesday evening to a sold-out crowd, including giddy me along with B.DSC_0056

That evening Ta-Nehisi Coates won the National Book Award for nonfiction, which was announced as “breaking literary news” and applauded with whoops. Coates’ Between the World and Me is on my to-read list for this summer.

This interview captures a little of Doerr’s delightful personality. His talk was on the beauty of failure, and at one point he told the audience to read Wislawa Szymborska’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech. So now I have, and  here’s part of it that I’ll use with my seniors close to their graduation:

inspiration is not the exclusive privilege of poets or artists generally. There is, has been, and will always be a certain group of people whom inspiration visits. It’s made up of all those who’ve consciously chosen their calling and do their job with love and imagination. It may include doctors, teachers, gardeners – and I could list a hundred more professions. Their work becomes one continuous adventure as long as they manage to keep discovering new challenges in it. Difficulties and setbacks never quell their curiosity. A swarm of new questions emerges from every problem they solve. Whatever inspiration is, it’s born from a continuous “I don’t know.”

Last night we saw the extraordinary Mark Morris Dance Group at the Moore Theatre. Waiting in the restroom line, I was standing by someone who said to her companion, “Did you like Anthony Doerr’s talk?” Her friend replied, “Yeah, he was just fabulous. He was…goofy!” 

It made me wonder how many people there had gone to both events and how many people circulate in Seattle’s arts scene. I thought of my Proust professor’s lectures on Belle Époque Paris and how, though the city population was somewhere around two million, the arts scene was small enough that regular attendees would have been familiar with each other.

This article on the reason for theatre (and I would argue, art of all kind) and its inability to reach a huge number of people continues to intrigue me.

A four-hand piano version of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 accompanied the dancers’ performance of “The”; I watched the pianists as much as the dancers.

MMDG was humorous, transporting, inspiring. Modern dance makes me want to write poetry and talk to strangers and leap around outside–all at the same time. I usually sort of carry on as usual until the feeling subsides.

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