Hundreds of Los Angeles literary lovers joined to toast Red Hen Press’s 19th year
Photo by Jamie Clifford
Thank you to this year’s silent auction and raffle donors! Click here for the full list.
PASADENA, CA — November 10th, 2013 marked one of the grandest days of the year for the Southern California literary community as over 200 friends, fans, arts advocates, and literary luminaries joined Red Hen Press in a celebration of the organization’s 19th anniversary. The Fountain Ballroom of the Westin Hotel bustled with devout literati bonding over their shared love of the written word, and helped raise more than $50,000 for Red Hen Press.
Guests were greeted by champagne cocktails and a silent auction where hopefuls bid on lavish prizes such as vacation getaways, exquisite jewelry, and tickets to cultural events and attractions throughout Southern California. Bids cast to their satisfaction, attendees settled into their seats as Managing Editor and co-founder of Red Hen Press, Dr. Kate Gale, took the stage. Her introductory remarks included a poem that would set the tone for the day, “Trembling on the Brink of a Mesquite Tree” from Brynn Saito’s recent collection, The Palace of Contemplating Departure. The poem begins, “And the Lord said Surprise me so I moved to LA.”
Dr. Gale then introduced the Mayor of Pasadena, Bill Bogaard. Mayor Bogaard spoke highly of Red Hen’s contributions to the flourishing arts and cultural community of Pasadena. After the Mayor’s remarks, Dr. Gale then introduced Red Hen poet Brendan Constantine, her co-host for the day’s festivities.
Next came a moving reading by two local students, 6th grader Natalie Flores from Pacoima Charter Elementary and Ashley Allison, a 5th grader from City Terrace Elementary. The students recited poems they had written as participants in Red Hen’s outreach program, Writing in the Schools. Ashley’s poem, “Advice from a Koala,” advised readers to, among other things, “Live in a tree for the rest of your life,” while Natalie’s poem, “Untitled,” concluded on an upbeat note: “I will make the / world a better place because I / will make breakfast for everyone / and the town will be clean every day.” Following the student reading, there was a brief intermission in which the raffle and silent auction winners were announced.
The next speaker was Sean Carroll, a theoretical physicist at Caltech and the author of several popular books, including The Particle at the End of the Universe. Carroll introduced the first of the day’s featured authors, Charles Yu, who read from both his acclaimed novel, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, and his new short story collection, Sorry Please Thank You. After Carroll’s introduction, Yu joked that among the things he and Carroll have in common, Carroll’s graduate thesis is called “Cosmological Consequences of Topological and Geometric Phenomena in Field Theories”, while Yu “understood most of those words.”
Dr. Gale returned to the stage to introduce the second featured reader, C.D. Wright, who read from her beloved collection, One Big Self. In a slip of the tongue, she used the word “hysterical” when introducing her work, before correcting herself with “historical.” It was an oddly appropriate choice of words, however, as she had more than a few people in tears by the end of her performance.
Lastly, Brendan Constantine introduced Alice Sebold, noting that she wrote not just The Lovely Bones—“she wrote all her bones.” Sebold began her reading by describing the surprising warmth of the Los Angeles literary community, a warmth she has yet to find in her current home of San Francisco, and did not find in ten years in New York. She then read from a new piece, a smart and funny essay about the obsessive attention writers (or Sebold, anyway) pay to the space in which they write. Sebold herself fixated on a settee that, at three in the morning, she decided she had to throw out the window.
Constantine and Dr. Gale then concluded the program with a heartfelt thank you. After finishing their dessert, guests streamed out in the lobby to have books signed by the featured readers, enjoying the fellowship of literature.
Red Hen Press is thankful for the generosity of the businesses, organizations, and individuals who donated to this year’s silent auction and raffle. We encourage you to support them as well! See the full list of auction and raffle donors here.
For more information, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org, call 626.356.4760
Photos from the press’s 19th Anniversary can be viewed here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/13848657@N07/sets/72157637955995714/
All pictures by Jamie Clifford
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