Last night I celebrated my first International Women’s Day as a roomie. Room’s annual IWD event, a reading in celebration of literary women, was held at the cozy Heartwood Community Cafe in Mount Pleasant. The cafe was the ideal setting for an event of this nature. Its warm, intimate atmosphere, squishy couches and scent of good things wafting from the kitchen were all made even more inviting by the downpour outside. There were five writers in total (Jen Currin, Elizabeth Bachinsky, Rhea Tregebov, Nilofar Shidmehr, and Susan Alexander), all of whom read beautifully.
I was very pleased by not only the great talent, but also the diversity of the authors, which worked to showcase the many different perspectives and definitions of the female experience. Although all of the authors read very different pieces about very different women –white women, Iranian women, queer women, mothers, and fashion models – all of the pieces blended beauty, heartbreak, and comedy. And isn’t that really what the female experience is?
Because I was taking donations at the door, I had the opportunity to talk briefly to each of the 40-50 attendees of the event as they arrived. Every single person seemed excited and enthusiastic about literature, which is so great to see in a world where it sometimes seems that reading for the fun of it is slipping into the ever-growing category of things that we “just don’t have time for.”
It was nice to see faces light up as they came in the door, and to observe the sense of community that bubbled in the cafe. Everyone was mingling with everyone else and there seemed to be a real sense of connectedness. My location at the donation table also meant that, for the most part, I had my back to the readers, which gave me the unique perspective of observing the audience during the reading. This turned out to be one of the highlights of the night for me (along with falling in love with Rhea Tregebov).
Reactions to the readings were almost as poignant as the readings themselves. Some people had tears in their eyes. Some people looked a little shocked at times. Everyone laughed. One woman would reach out and clasp her teenage daughter’s hand periodically.
That was my favourite part.
Photo Credit | Taryn Hubbard