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All Fines Forgiven: Not Your Typical Literary Event

Saturday, April 25, 2015

 

"What's the longest you've ever gone without returning something to the library?"

That was the question of the night on Wednesday's literary-themed variety show "All Fines Forgiven" presented by Late Night Library at the Alberta Rose Theatre.

Rather than a typical literary event, where you listen to a reading in which an author provides a brief bit of background about their book, reads a short passage, and holds a brief Q&A with audience members, "All Fines Forgiven" had a different kind of program.

The event opened with the talented and delightfully self-effacing novelist and Emmy-nominated filmmaker Arthur Bradford reading from his short-story collection Turtleface and Beyond. He was followed by musical performances by Seattle-based band Ayron and the Way and rapper Rasheed Jamal and readings by poet Arisa White and novelists Chelsea Cain and Benjamin Percy.

Following each performance and reading, Arthur Bradford asked each of them a couple of questions ranging from seriously sincere to embarrassing, including the main question of the evening. The answers for this question ranged from 8 years (Ayron), since 1981 (Chelsea Cain), and since kindergarten (Arisa White).

Paul Martone, founder and executive director of Late Night Library, ended the evening's entertainment with a letter he had written to the public library in Albany, NY asking forgiveness for the VHS tape of a reading of Elizabeth Bishop's poems, explaining the circumstances surrounding his checking out this tape and the importance of this tape as it accompanied him through the turbulent first few years of adulthood.

At the heart of this show was forgiveness, community, and connection. 

Forgiveness for all of the library books we've never returned, no matter for how long, or what the object in question was, or why we never returned those items. 

Community as expressed through performances by Ayron and the Way, three musicians who've taken their love of music and Seattle's multitude of  musical genres and fused them into their own blues-rock-and-roll music, and poems read by Arisa White from her collection Hurrah's Nest about her childhood growing up in Brooklyn as the second of seven children. 

Connection as felt through the sharing of a love of story, of words, and of creating meaning and evoking emotion using the right words in the right combination, such as with Rasheed Jone's powerful rapping, Chelsea Cain's definitely-not-kid-appropriate bedtime story, and Benjamin Percy's chillingly horrific The Dead Lands (which he described as Lewis and Clark's journey set in a post-apocalyptic universe).

In sum, "All Fines Forgiven" was a show about celebrating art and literature in its many guises and the many ways people can come together to create, appreciate, and connect through art.

The event included a raffle in which six lucky people had the opportunity to win some truly mouth-dropping prizes such as a $100 Caviar delivery gift card, a dinner for four and four drinks at ¿Por Que No?, signed copies of works by the night's performers.

"All Fines Forgiven" was a unique and innovative literary event, one we can hopefully attend more of later down the line.

 

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