Friday August 8, 2014 was Damon’s tenth birthday since he died on March 30, 2005 and also the date ten years ago when I started writing Immortal Bird. For me, the first decade went by in a flash. It has barely dented Damon’s image or my physical sense of him. But our family has splintered in the tragic aftermath, so Immortal Bird has become an unwitting testament not just to Damon but to all of us as we once were in that magical family.
I continue to get moving reader letters, a selection of which I will post in my next blog, and there is still a modest public interest in the book.
Below is a sample of readings, panels and talks related to Immortal Bird from the past three months.
On Thursday May 8, I was on a panel at LitTAP called True Minds–The Writer as Reason, Leader and Resource in Literary Arts Organizations. LitTAP is a part of the New York State Council of the Arts and seeks to “benefit the public and the art of writing by networking organizations, providing technical assistance, and helping literary arts presenters access the tools and resources they needed to succeed.” I was on the SESSION IV Panel: Writer/Editor + LIT Leader which took place at The Poet’s House in Battery Park. All the panelists were writers, poets or editors who also worked for cultural and arts organizations and we discussed this dual role. The panel was moderated by Michael Kelleher, Director, Windham-Campbell Prizes at Yale and included Ed Hirsch, Poet, President, John Simon Guggenheim Foundation; Brigid Hughes, Editor, A Public Space; Deji Olukotun, Freedom to Write Fellow, PEN American Center; and me.
On Friday May 16, I did a reading from Immortal Bird at the Daniel Pierce Library in Grahamsville, New York. Grahamsville is where we used to spend our summers and this fine, little town library was Damon’s favorite library in the world. He whiled away many a hot summer day in its cool alcoves and the wonderful librarian, Joann Gallagher, still remembers how Damon would come in with his Legionnaires’s hat and a determined reading list and send her and her staff scurrying to find each title. My reading was part of the Book Discussion Group’s Local Author Evening and took place in the handsome Reading Room on the Upper Level. The library has made major additions and modernized the premises since Damon’s day–there is now wifi–but the place retains its warm intimacy. The audience was unusually receptive and Damon’s connection with the library and the hamlet made the experience special. I sold a surprising number of books and fielded many excellent questions. Libraries in small towns play a bigger-than-normal role in the community and the Daniel Pierce Library in Grahamsville, NY, founded in 1902, is an exemplary town library.
On Thursday June 12, I was one of three authors featured in A LITTLE CONVERSATION: Medicine, Mystery and Martinis at the Writers Room, where I have been a member for over 25 years. I was honored to share the stage with two outstanding authors and fellow Writers Room members, Sheri Fink and Charles Graeber. All three of us had written books with medical themes. Sheri Fink, MD, is the author of the New York Times bestseller Five Days At Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital, winner of the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction, and her reporting has won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. Charles Graeber is an award-winning journalist and the author of the 2014 Edgar Award-nominated The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder. Victoria Rowan, the enterprising founder and Creatrix-in-Chief of Ideasmyth, moderated the panel, which can be viewed on YouTube. The evening was meant to offer the public a behind the scenes look at just three examples from the over 1000 books published by Writers Room members, which makes the Writers Room the most productive, as well as the oldest and largest urban writers colony in America. The audience was comprised of many distinguished people who could just as easily have been on stage.