Friday, May 26, 2006

Goodbye Taft Street

This is a “last” I’ve really dreaded. Last night marked the culmination of one of those perfect amalgamations life occasionally bestows on you that proves the universe has not only made a place for you, it has pulled out your chair, unfurled your napkin and set a plate for you. Such was the case with my sojourn at Taft.

We showed up like iron filings to a magnet. What started for me as a trek to a mysterious bookstore advertised in a tiny ad in the Houston Press ended up bringing me into what was to become a unique and vibrant community of writers. Each of us winded up at Taft through a series of serendipitous occurrances around the same time, converging over shared passions of faith, literature, writing, service and community.

It was a combustible mix. Mark and Jenny Johnson, founders of Strange Land Books and Literacy Foundation, provided their space at Taft to pave the way for Anthony Connolly, Mark Bertrand, and me to offer our abilities as writers to a community. Karen Miedrich-Luo joined us on the night of our inauguration and a core group formed with only vague ideas of what we hoped we might accomplish together. Over the course of the two years or so we’ve been together at Taft, we’ve hosted a weekly critique group, held workshops and readings, produced an anthology, and taught high schoolers. We’ve encouraged, provoked, challenged and strengthened each other. When some obscure literary journal that no other friends or family members have ever heard of accepts one of our stories or poems, we know the journal and appreciate the accomplishment. We’ve become each other’s biggest fans.

It’s been a rich time, charged and productive, and the enthusiasm has been contagious. We’ve recognized ourselves as beneficiaries of something that feels bigger than any of our best intentions could have conceived and no one counts it incidental. We don’t know exactly what we’ve started but whatever it is, our impulse is to share it.

When Anthony’s wife was transferred to Columbia, MO and Karen’s husband was accepted into law school in Dallas it seemed our little Camelot might end. Unwilling to let such a fruitful venture wither away, we put heads and hearts together and conceived LiT: Life in,Though we’re still working out the logistics, we hope to set up a virtual writing community and export our literary bounty to all the places we’ve since scattered to and then to points beyond.

Our impetus to create a literary community connected by faith has already begun to bear fruit, even prior to the launch of LiT. Many connections have already been made. We’ll soon have LiT groups going in Houston, Dallas and Columbia and we’ll take it from there. The dominoes have started falling.

But I’ll miss my seat on the couch on Thursday nights at Taft. The music spun by Ash. The coffee brewed by Jason. The titles that line the shelves like familiar faces. Most of all, these writers, these friends, who, in all I understand about the art of life and the life of faith, have seriously upped the ante .

1 comment:

Karen Miedrich-Luo said...

I miss it too, Allison. Why are all the coolest places near downtown?