In one of my favorite theatres in Cambridge, The Brattle, I was lucky enough to attend Janaka Stucky’s book release party for his first book The Truth Is We Are Perfect. I have had the pleasure of hearing Janaka read before in Brookline for the Bash Reading Series, so I was excited to attend and hear some of his recent poems. I will admit that I wasn’t able to stay the full night due to public transportation (my bus runs occasionally in the evenings). This, unfortunately, means I lack any knowledge of what happened after 10:45pm; however, I did catch some readings and interesting performances.
The night began with Janaka welcoming everyone and sharing a bit on his experiences ever since the book first came out. He shared the joys of celebrating on the spring equinox in New York City, along with the typical struggles of road-tripping on book tours. During his storytelling, he elaborated on thoughts that crossed his mind as he struggled to deal with a fever in the backseat of the car. Without faltering, he smoothly transitioned from thoughts to poetry reading.
Tranced and emotionally locked inside the words of each phrase, he slowly shared a few poems by memory with the audience listening intently. Janaka paused after each phrase, letting it sink in and allowing everyone, including myself, to truly meditate on the words he was delivering. There were phrases that have stayed with me from the first couple of poems, though I won’t share them here, but I felt very much emotionally connected to the pictures he painted. With each pause, I mulled over his words and how they could be seen (or not) in my life and writing.
After some by-memory poems, Janaka continued with some poems read from his new book before introducing Jennifer Hicks. Jennifer performed an improv dance using images shouted out by the audience, including one line from Janaka’s poems/stories, “move the back of your heart to the front of your heart.” This let everyone chuckle before she danced to some live instrumental music. Afterwards, a Rhode Island duo called Thunder Perfect, made up of violinist Hannah and accordion player Alec, came on stage and performed some acoustic songs with lots of Irish flavor.
Unfortunately, this was when I had to leave. Nevertheless, before bolting for the train station. I stopped by the Harvard Book Store table in the back of the theatre to purchase Janaka’s book. As Janaka announced at the beginning of night, it was Indie Bookstore Day, so it gave me more reason to support a cherished local bookstore from Massachusetts (and, of course, because I have to support other writers too!). I was also lucky enough to snag the last of his limited edition coasters, which were given to the first 50 people to buy his book that night.
Even though I had to leave early, I was glad I had seen some of the performances that night and been able to share in celebrating one of the greatest accomplishments any writer can experience – the release of a book. Due to the recent events in Nepal and Baltimore, all the proceeds for the ticket sales went to Nepal; Janaka also promised to donate $5 for each book sold that night to the ACLU in Baltimore.
You can purchase Janaka’s book here: