For those unfamiliar with the Eaux Claires festival, allow me. It's a music and arts festival held in Eau Claire, Wisconsin founded in 2015 by musicians Aaron Dessner of The National and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, who is from the area. Now, I would have gone to this festival anyway, so I was honored when Creative Director Michael Brown invited me to perform poetry this year, along with the brilliant lineup of musicians, artists, writers, and creators. Most notably (my boy) Paul Simon. So with great expectations and my Wisconsin-born-forever-boyfriend Kevin, I drove from our bitty studio in Milwaukee to the clear waters of Eau Claire.
The first day in town, I stopped by the festival grounds to visit The Local Store. The manager Lindsey Quinnies was kind enough to peddle my book in their cozy makeshift shop during the festival. They also have a beautiful brick 'n' mortar place downtown. Then I hitched a golf cart ride with celebrated author, performer, and festival Narrator Mike Perry. He was generous with his time and uttered hilarious subtleties as we bumped along the turf. This is us headed toward the Escape Installation where I'd be performing for five-person audiences in hour time slots. The gorgeous tiny house smelled like fresh cedar and was equipped with merciful AC.
We concluded the tour at the Oxbeaux Stage. It's where I'd be performing my latest work, a ten-minute poem called "Ollie Ollie Oxen Free." The relation between the title and the stage name just now occurs to me. Anyway, here I am marveling at the setting. Note, Kevin is an ace with the candid shots. Most of my life's photos are really his.
There's an eerie beauty to being in an empty place intended for lots of people. Like when you're walking your school's hollow halls, or your resounding footsteps fill a dark arena. I relished the moment of quiet gratitude for the things to come. Then I ran into an inspiring dolphin.