My wife and I drove to Laramie yesterday to see Garrison Keillor speak at the Arts and Sciences Auditorium at the University of Wyoming.
Mr. Keillor spoke of poetry and literature. He sang spiritual hymns and patriotic songs. He told of Wyoming and Minnesota, New York and Washington, even Billings and Pocatello. He recited tales of sex and of funerals and of murder ballads thrown out at Thanksgiving. He spoke of literature and of poetry. It is a poetic month, after all.
It was surreal.
Watching him speak felt just like listening to him speak.
I might have closed my eyes and imagined him talking--as I have so often since I started listening to him on the radio a mere twenty-five years ago or so--and it would not have appeared at all different than it did as I watched him pace the stage before me last evening.
His somnolent drone, sagely sharp in every sigh. His wry observations. His seasoned humour. His poetic flow. His storytelling. His storytelling. His tangential, spiralspun, wonderful storytelling.
He often refers to his efforts as those of a writer. (And any reader would know he's a better writer than me.) But, truly, he is a storyteller. As natural a storyteller as who ever did spin yarn enough to hold a few drops of soup--or who ever did carry his audience away, yet also carry them closer to themselves.
I missed the chance to have him sign my copy of Lake Wobegone Days. Still, I was glad for the opportunity to attend the performance, particularly with my wife at my side. And I was honoured to be part of a master storyteller's audience--to watch, and to listen.
Here is a link to The Writer's Almanac, Garrison' Keillor's daily offering of nourishing sips of literature, history, and poetry.