December 07, 2007

They Came By Candlelight

Thanks to everyone who made it out Wednesday night for our impromptu Washington Literary Salon with Moikom Zeqo and Wayne Miller. We had about 25 guests, an amazing number given the picturesque but relentless snowfall. Every chair in our apartment was full, which is how I like it. Meeting members of the local Albanian community--an incredibly gracious and enthusiastic crowd--was a real delight. I think everyone came away feeling like they'd discovered some glittering, previously hidden corner of DC culture.

Thanks to Mark Dawson, we even have some pictures of the evening, which I'll use to knit together a little visual narrative...

Moikom and his lovely daughter, Kleitia. They were waiting outside my building as I walked up, carting about 201 bottles of beer. My words of welcome were "I can't shake your hand, but will you get the door for me?"

Mark, our fearless photographer, also notes the loveliness of Moikom's daughter.

Part of the crowd: a little snow-covered, a lot Albanian, and hopefully stuffed with bread and wine by the time they left.

Here I am talking too much, as usual. I'm telling the story of our huge apartment (God bless rent control), which first housed the mistress of the building's architect; then Grover Cleveland; then Calvin Coolidge; now, Washington Literary Salon. The art is by my talented flatmate, Maryanne Pollock.

Wayne, Moikom's translator and the first to read (a few gorgeous poems from his own book, Only the Senses Sleep), looks up expectantly. He is probably wondering when I will stop talking.

Moikom, shuffling his papers. He will go on to read about a dozen poems in Albanian (a beautiful, muscular language), with Wayne reading translations of each. The poems will knock our socks off.

He will then remind us of the great Albanians of the world: Christopher Columbus, Alan Shepard, and possibly, Jesus.

Success! And exhaustion. We came, we saw, we listened, we drank. I am told this is as close as Moikom gets to a grin of joy.

...So thanks, everyone. I'm inspired to have more of these, now that we know where to put the chairs and how many peanuts to pour into bowls. Plus, now I have my new secret weapon to guaranteeing a large crowd: invite the Albanians.

All pictures (c) Mark Dawson

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