And came time Sunday for the Bloomington Writers Guild/Boxcar Books First Sunday Prose Reading, this month with featured writers Tony Brewer and Joan Hawkins and followed by the usual open mike session, but with a twist.  Two writers — Shayne Laughter and . . . moi — would be allowed ten minutes each, rather than the usual three-to-five.

So it began with poet, sometime radio play and screenwriter, and Writers Guild Chairman Brewer demonstrating that he sometimes writes stories too with an allegory of death and the afterlife (and vultures), “The Trouble with Boys” of young lust and death, and handy hints on tanning one’s deer hide.  The second of these also included an odd interruption, a noisy customer who dropped in to buy a book and, somehow in the course of the purchase, shared with all that he was a two-time rabies survivor.  Tony took this well in stride, though, and ended by introducing Joan Hawkins, fedora crowned, who read a piece from a memoir-in-progress, TALES OF SCHOOL AND SUICIDE.  This was about a marathon New Years Day poetry reading in New York’s Lower East Side in the early 2000s, the highlight of which was actress, director, and co-founder of The Living Theatre Judith Malina (1926-2015)* with a striking ChristmasRatrendition of a scene from ANTIGONE.

Then we lesser lights had our time on the stage, starting with Shayne Laughter with the first part of a contemporary story-in-progress, “The Nature of the Beast,” related to her reading of the previous month of “Emmonsburg” (c.f. December 6), a story inspired by her grandfather’s writings about growing up in Indiana.  This was followed by a refreshment break, and then my “longer” short reading of a tale of the just-past holidays, “The Christmas Rat,” originally published in the Winter 2007-8 DOORWAYS and reprinted in THE TEARS OF ISIS, including showing copies of the illustrations used with its first publication, followed in turn by several more readings, the last introduced by poet-essayist Antonia Matthews as being probably “more wholesome” than mine.  (But then when I had finished my story, amongst the applause I thought I heard one person mention she was “glad Christmas is over” so, as I see it, I’d done my job. 😉 )

*Fun Fact:  Though perhaps best known for her work with The Living Theatre, Judith Malina also appeared in several movies including, in the role of “Grandmama,” 1991’s THE ADDAMS FAMILY.


  1. “The Christmas Rat” was one top fave of mine from Tears of Isis!

    Funny about the loud rabies-suvivor customer.
    I saw that 1991 Addams Family flick and I vaguely remember Grandmama –scary fun!

  2. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Blossom Rock too, from the ’60s TV show. (And the Christmas Rat says “Thank you”!)

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