Flycatcher: A Celebration of Words

Rosemary Royston

Last week, my husband and I drove to Atlanta to attend the one-year celebration of Flycatcher: A Journal of Native Imagination.  It takes a lot to get me out of the house these days.  I feel safe in the cocoon of my home office, surrounded by a thousand books and found treasures: rocks, driftwood, marbles, and arrowheads.  So you may wonder why I closed the door behind me and headed to Atlanta, three and a half hours from home.  Well, I’ll tell you: I love Flycatcher and the people responsible for its publication.  These talented editors, writers, and artists come with a heart that pulses with something deep and immeasurable.  I can’t say what it is; I don’t know.  All I can tell you is it sings to me like a violin. I heard the calling in southern Georgia and followed it to Atlanta.

Rev Coffee House is one of the coolest places I’ve seen in some time.  Art hangs in no particular order on the walls, and the scent of coffee greets you at the door. The furnishings are an eclectic mixture of old and new. While eating hummus with vegetables and drinking black coffee on that rainy night, I listened to the voices of other writers swirling around me, warm and vaporous.

I had fallen in love with Janisse Ray’s writings before I finally met and fell in love with her.  Although she couldn’t attend the celebration, Chris Martin, Editor of Flycatcher, read one of her poems, Red Lanterns, featured in the first issue of Flycatcher.  The words of that poem resurface in me again and again, a perennial in the garden of my soul.

It was Flycatcher that introduced me to David King’s works.  He comes to me in a language that never preaches, yet feels soaked in salvation. He wasn’t what I expected: I'd expected a lot from him, but he was even better than that. He made me think of a pentecostal preacher, leading me astray. I’d make that long drive to Atlanta to hear him read again

While searching for the guest speaker, I asked, “Which one is Rosemary Royston?” Karen Pickell said, “The beautiful one standing by my husband.”  I looked at the counter where customers were ordering coffee.  A gorgeous blonde stood between two men. I smiled and said, “And she’s standing beside my husband, too.”  Rosemary is a treasure, the Monet of poetry, her words as rich in color as water lilies. 

I could go on and on. There was so much talent there that night. Beate Sass played to me a song of history through her photography.  I saw eyes, black as coal, weathered hands, a map of a life traced into a face, an old upright piano waiting for magical fingers. And there was Peter Peteet.  He’s multilayered, multitalented and multicolored.  Jennifer Martin, a natural beauty was there.  I’d looked at her digital images, Seams, numerous times, thinking there’s a story hiding in those images, just waiting for me to write. Precious Williams, who spoke to me for the longest time, sharing a bit about her own life, introduced me.  She’s one of the amazing editors at Flycatcher.

I believe in Flycatcher because I believe in its editors.  Kathleen Lewis greeted us all as though we were old friends, coming together after years apart. It was a wonderful night and the taste of it lingered in my mouth long after the evening ended.

If you ever have the chance to attend a Flycatcher reading, I urge you to go.  You’ll find yourself wrapped in words as warm as a blanket on a rainy night. 

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