This one is hard to keep “professional.” Attending the Jean Corrie Poetry Reading and Ice Cream Social yesterday at Lafayette College meant a lot to us as a publisher, but also as a family.
As publisher here at Parisian Phoenix, I’ve never kept it a secret that this whole endeavor has been a seredipitous accident. And I love ever minute of it, I love all my authors. We’re a collection of plucky artistic souls supporting one another and sharing dreams, slowly making our mark on the world.
I started my career in the Public Information Office of Lafayette College. I still own the oversized coffee mug given to me by my boss, who has since retired. It was then, at my first professional job, I fell in love with the academic environment in a different way than I had experienced my own college career at Moravian College (now University, how the last three decades have changed all of us).
The Jean Corrie Poetry Reading and Ice Cream Social has long been a favorite event. A guest poet hosts the event, judges student poetry in advance, winners read their pieces, the guest poet gives a reading, and everyone eats ice cream and enjoys an open mic.
Darrell Parry has worked at Lafayette College Store for going on 24 years this fall. We often bicker about the exact date he started, and I don’t think that has ever been officially resolved. So it was a big deal to Darrell, and to us as a family, when the English Department invited him to be the poet-judge of the event.
Darrell’s (our) backstory
Darrell and I met at Moravian, and we married around the same time that he started at Lafayette College. We have since separated, after 20 years of marriage, and we have a spunky daughter who has enrolled as part of Lafayette’s class of 2027. Darrell and Eva are both key members of the Parisian Phoenix team.
Darrell worked really hard to design a magnificent poetry volume– so hard in fact that we recently released a second editions to perfect his vision that did not translate into the first edition. Twists: Gathered Ephemera was the second book ever released by Parisian Phoenix and while some may think it self-indulgent to publish one’s own books first, I considered it an opportunity to make mistakes with people who would forgive me.
It’s been fascinating to watch Darrell join the poetry community, which thanks to the pandemic has become more connected and ignorant of geographic divides. It’s been strange to see Darrell’s work move beyond where it was when our daughter was born and into this place where I am slowly erased from the equation. It’s an awkward jealousy, not of Darrell, but of no longer being central in Darrell’s life as new people and new opportunities embrace him. The classic Darrell Parry works that mean so much to me, don’t necessarily mean the same to him.
I often wonder if this new journey– both Darrell’s poetry career and my little publishing company– have only happened because the universe forcing us to stand on our own two feet allowed us to expand into our full potential.
Twists: Gathered Ephemera at The Jean Corrie Poetry Reading
Darrell had a core of community supporters at the reading: myself, our daughter, Nancy Scott, Maryann Riker (who did the painting on his cover) and good friend and fellow poet E. Lynn Alexander. The winners of the contest did tremendous work, as did some of the open mic readers– one reader had designed a poem around a dating quiz that vibrantly depicted the trauma involved in a young woman’s dating life.
The winner (Madeline Marriott) depicted family conflict that hangs in the air through the routine of baking bread. (Forgive the lack of good photos as I took them with my iPhone. Joan Zachary and her camera did not join us on this event.)
And of course, there was ice cream and pizza.
The English Department also received a grant from the American Academy of Poets to sponsor the event, so that is also exciting.
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