Last Saturday, I was at an event because a good person died. Now I feel up to going into more detail about that.
I took it fairly easy that day, wanting to save my energy for late in it. Did driving errands earlier, got groceries, and rested, and that was mainly it. Then back in the car, searching for parking in the relatively tight area near Beulah, and was there slightly ahead of the event start time, in the bar that like many dive bars always seems under-lit even at max light settings. People had started to gather; regular Saturday night clientele were there in force. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) was on one of the projection screens, on quietly in the background and still funny.
My poem for Dana was up.
My words are there for the rest of this month, words that I hope help people as they remember her or learn of her, along with other artworks made in her memory. I took a look at those pieces. (One of them is above my poem in the preceding photo.) I later found that one artwork had already been bought, which contributes to the new scholarship fund in Dana's name, the Dana Thompson Memorial Fund of Awesome.
We got a decent turnout of Dana's friends and acquaintances. After a time, the bar turned off Christmas Vacation and started a slide show of pages from the upcoming memorial book. It reprints the art on Beulah's walls for the current show, and includes photos of her and short essays from other friends of hers. One page is about her cats, George and Gracie — who she named for the humpback whales in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home — and their new home, which they're adapting to.
I got a ginger ale — no drinking anything hard, since of course I'd driven — and got hydrated: good idea just in general, plus I wanted to be ready to speak. Around 9 o'clock, the speaking part of the event began: co-organizer Angelee Van Allman introduced the event, co-organizer Christine Claringbold said more about what we're doing to keep Dana's memory alive, then Van Allman introduced me to read my poem.
"This won't take long," I told our audience, to (thank goodness) some chuckles.
I'm not used to reading my work aloud. I'm literally a published writer, and not just because of my 15-year-old blog and my three years as a newspaper writer-reporter, but getting up in front of people and saying what I'd written is much less usual for me. I mainly hoped not to do any of the Poetry Slam clichés, and speak clearly enough and with enough variety of tone, not flatly reading at the iPad while not looking around, to get my message across. So I'm not a good judge of my speaking/performing voice, or how well I made eye contact with those who were listening. But I read it, and said "Thank you," and got a good response, and was able to hug Mary-Suzanne right after stepping away from the mic.
(A section of my poem refers repeatedly to different people: a "you and you and you" part. Some days before I'd wondered how to handle that, and I'd decided I didn't want to do the obvious thing of looking directly at different people while saying it. That felt cheesy and possibly manipulative. Instead, I closed my eyes for that line.)
I didn't stay much longer after that. I had work hella early Sunday, as I do each Sunday, so I found Ms. Claringbold and donated to the DTMFA then left. Then home. Meanwhile, the event went on, and DJs who'd known Dana started playing Portland punk songs they felt she would have liked.
The next fundraiser, DanaFest, happens Tueaday, Dec. 31st, her birthday, at Twilight Café and Bar on SE Powell near 14th. Twilight was one of Dana's places: she sang there as part of the band Dartgun and the Vignettes. Live music, more memories, more remembrance.