Last Friday evening, Albany’s Liberte wine bar was the venue for 500 Words Out Loud, an event featuring ten ABC Open online writers reading aloud published stories, as a Write in the Great Southern event.
Champagne bubbles fizzed before us in elongated glasses as we gathered in Liberte’s rear parlor. We sat comfortably upon antique furnishings , surrounded by plush burgundy velvet drapes and opulent gilded mirrors enjoying the intimate subdued ambience.
The full room buzzed with anticipation as writers conquered last minute nerves contemplating how best to deliver their story to full effect and listeners chattily wondered aloud at the evenings’ mysterious agenda.
Rarely do grownups come together for the purpose of sitting quietly and listening to the stories of others. Outside of the theatre, this is something usually reserved for the story time of children. How old were we when we lost the pleasurable opportunity to listen to a story aloud together?
With an air of sophistication the evenings hostess Suzannah respectfully introduced each writer, musing on their motivations for writing, briefly profiling their biography, sparking our interest in the story about to be told.
Each writer expressively delivered their words, their diverse stories taking us on a collective journey. Together we laughed and cringed at Jeannie Steed’s dealings with Attila the Librarian, related to Kate Myors tricky dynamics involving the family matriarch, audibly anguishing Ian Alexander’s loss of a treasured childhood keepsake, we were touched by gentle ponderings in Life Before Children and reminded of our childhood road trips singing along with Michael Lloyd’s story Boom, Boom! Ain’t it great to be Crazy?
Listening was delightfully relaxing. The writers creatively engaged my imagination as their words washed over my passive being. In some strange way the experience of listening, was akin to both an old world recital and a modern day meditation.
Actually hearing the voice of the writer, afforded glimpses of a life beyond the story being told, somehow assembling a more detailed portrait of them, arousing our curiosity for their other life stories.
My turn arrived to stand behind the mike and give voice to memories of being caught out in Provence. A deep breath inhaled, I began the well rehearsed tale my loving family and the seagulls of Goode Beach are now well familiar with, having served as audience in preparation for this evenings proceedings.
This however was different. As I addressed the gathering of supportive strangers, I happened to glance a vision of white haired elegance nodding as my story unfolds, I hear the sigh of recognition as young women relate to my embarrassing moment, I spy others too, various generations leaning into laughter and eyeing me with knowing recollection, absorbed, enjoying the words I have strung together and the journey we now share as I read. This is an incredibly validating experience.
It was then that I realised I was not alone in wholeheartedly embracing the night as something quite unique. The faces gazing at me were reflecting my own wonder at listening. Completely at ease and thoroughly entertained.
Photo Credit: (TOM81115’s) http://www.flickr.com/photos/49719980@N02/