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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
FEB
24

Brooklyn Art Library

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To be fair, I didn't even know it existed until a friend pointed it out while we were in Brooklyn. And, further, I wouldn't even have been in Brooklyn had I not been patronizing Mast Brothers Chocolates for the second time in less than a week. The Brooklyn Art Library is literally steps away from Mast's Chocolate Brew Bar. It would have looked appealing regardless, the rows and rows of colorful and uniquely-bound sketchbooks, but looked especially appealing given Saturday afternoon's inclement weather. The brew bar had been packed to the gills with cold bodies dusting snow off of themselves while waiting in line for hot, brewed chocolate. Whereas the library was nearly empty.

When my friend mentioned the library, she explained The Sketchbook Project, which allows anyone who wishes the ability to draw/write/illustrate/create their own small sketchbook and have it housed in the library there in Brooklyn. Others are then allowed to "check out" these sketchbooks as they would regular library books. The concept struck me as empowering, almost like the booming industry of self-publishing, which allows people to get their words out there regardless of a publishing contract.

While I do believe writers are artists, I have always wished to be artistically inclined and have at times felt saddened that I am not. So it will not be me creating a sketchbook, but the good news for any out there like me is that even if you don't contribute a sketchbook, you can sign up with an account (much like you would to get a library card) and check out any sketchbook that interests you after searching through the electronic catalog that sorts them into categories a la "Heroes" and "Changing the World." The whole concept was simply delightful, and if you draw or animate or sketch on any level (or even if you don't), consider becoming a part of The Sketchbook Project. I'd sit on this red bench and check yours out any day. Especially if it's snowy outside.

 

NOV
01

Meeting your Favorite Poet: Be Cool

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It's like this. Billy Collins is my favorite poet. Although I'm in an eternal argument with my parents around whether his work really constitutes poetry, I find it delightful no matter the classification. 

Billy was in Brooklyn this past week, and though it was my second time seeing him, it was the first time I actually got to meet him. When you're the kind of person dorky enough to have a favorite poet, dorky enough to trek across town to meet him, dorky enough to end-of-the-world-style panic when your re-routed subway train makes you late, dorky enough to ask someone to take your picture while sitting in your auditorium seat waiting for Billy to come out, then you are probably also the kind of person who will totally dork out when actually face to face with him.

As I approached the front of the line after the reading, it occurred to me that I had no idea what to say. "Nice job." Or maybe, "I love your work." I decided to tell him that it was my second time seeing him (a true fan, see), and I told him which of his poems was my favorite. It's a poem that praises the familiarity of home and routine, especially in contrast with the stress and annoyances of travel, and as a staunch homebody, I always took great comfort in it. Only when I heard him read the poem in Cleveland the first time I saw him, it became clear by his tone that he was not, in fact, siding with the homebodies. He was mocking the very idea that staying in one's own environment could be superior to exploring the world. I felt a little disillusioned, and as I told Billy this story last week, I wished he would tell me what I wanted to hear, which is that my initial way of looking at the poem had been right. But he didn't, of course. Yet even as he was confirming my gross interpretation error, I couldn't wipe the dopey look off my face, hovering at the table even as he'd moved on to sign the next person's book.

Maybe no one can expect to be cool when in the presence of a literary idol. Maybe no one can expect to correctly decipher an author's intent 100% of the time. And I can live with that. Although I'd be lying if I said I didn't wish his "To Tali" inscription had come with a more personalized post script. Something like, "From a fellow homebody." It would have been our secret, Billy.