Last night we celebrated the release of If I Ever Saw Mr. JK I Would Ask Him These Things, our first-ever chapbook from our MEGAWORKSHOP. Lots of people came, talked, laughed, mingled, took pictures, ate cookies, bought copies of the chapbook, leafed through the chapbook; there were student readings; you know the drill. We were, once again, inundated with a meaty showing of community supporters, and, again, awed and inspired by the wonderful group of students and volunteers we’ve managed to bring together in the last (almost) three years. I don’t mean to sound blase on this last point; while we never take this for granted, we are becoming used to it, as it were. (“It” referring to the fortunate position we are in: being surrounded, on every side, by people of all ages whom we love and respect.)
This morning, we had an email in our inbox from Julia Tang, a high school student whose short story “Four” is published in the chapbook. She’s quite a good writer, intelligent and wry, as you will see from the email below, which we have decided to post. Her short story has one of our favorite moments in the entire chapbook: “The wind blows, not a breeze and not the whip of a bone-chilling gust but still it is not 80 and sunny outside. It is not 40 and raining. It is 60 and gusty, the kind of weather I like when I’m not at the beach. So yes, I have been to Newport Beach, but I don’t have this sweatshirt because I wanted a souvenir.”
Which segues nicely into Julia’s email:
The Chapbook Release or Other Creative Title
Scott Beal holds a ribbed plastic cup containing strawberry lemonade, which doesn’t look like either. Instead, it looks like the color of the water one washes one’s watercolor paintbrush in twice—before it turns brown. It’s this dirty pastel magenta.
Children talk, laugh, run. Some cry. Parents, volunteers, people- flip through the chapbook. Cookies are fondled, swapped, scrapped, snatched.
I’m introduced to… (Well, I’m bad with names. Amanda. She watched me write.)
After a while of this, the microphone is repeatedly adjusted between readings. Preston is cheeky, but because he’s eleven and completely adored it’s let go. Oh, and he’s the tech support. Also, when you flip through, he’s approximately half the chapbook.
Hannah tells me she’s on her fifth cookie. I wonder why the staff bought cookies. Cookies?? I sip my coffee and feel old, wonder how many people are going to read the thoughts I splatted IN CAPS LOCK. And I, when finally possessing a chapbook, am shocked that my 826LA blurb was printed in whole.
Later, I papercut my finger on the chapbook. A blue one.
P.S. I’m sixteen. Don’t worry. I forget sometimes, myself.
You can pick up your copy of If I Ever Saw Mr. JK I Would Ask Him These Things for the low, low price of $3. You can read Julia’s full story, before which her age is erroneously stated as seventeen, and you get your pick of colors: red, blue, and emergency red (self-explanatory).