It was an intimate gathering on a Saturday afternoon (4/20) at Bank Suey. A crowd of artists, book lovers, and writers turned out to hear author Julién Godman read selections from his first published booklet entitled, Andanzaz Vol. I . Friends.
Godman, a soft-spoken bohemian, with dark hair, sometimes beard, and brilliant blue eyes – that sparkle whenever he reveals a full smile – sat before an engaged audience and shared childhood memories through present day travels with a soothing tone that seemed to provide comfort against the dreary weather going on just outside the windows of an historic building.
Established in 1918, as Merchants & Mechanics’ Bank of Hamtramck, and most recently remembered as Golden Hill Chop Suey, the now community space served as an appropriate venue for Godman’s hour plus storytelling session.
Our journey began with a discussion about the author’s style of writing, followed by testimony from various writers who, unfortunately, could not attend the event, but left word on the strength and poetry of the work, followed by a selection previously published by this very outlet.
The author was relaxed and in good spirit when he led us next through the prose of his ‘booklet’, as it is described on the back cover, taking his audience on a trip through Maine, Bogotá, Tunisia, Paris, Montreal, and Detroit (a place Julién calls home) via a poetic tale entitled, “Of swimming, and friend I do not own.”
The audience replied with warm applause that echoed off the tiled floor. There were voices of appreciation and, perhaps, a whistle or two. Listeners sipped coffee or tea, while bistro tables held large loaves of fresh bread and [pitted] dates to accompany the prose. This was certainly a communal affair.
Julién then moved into his second and final read from his booklet entitled, “Friends who have left (friends with no face)”; a moving selection about the loss of friends, the loss of memories, and the inability to recall the faces of those we have lost – but, at its center, the story is about losing his mother when he was only a child.
Again, the writer, now orator, was received with warm appreciation.
His eyes sparkled.
From my vantage point, he seemed happy that his work was accepted – if not a bit relieved the reading was over – and, for a moment, I thought that I had sensed the look of a boy who was filled once again by his mother’s love …
Arandanza Vol. I. Friends, a 40 plus page “booklet” published by Ban Pang Editorial, Guadalajara, Jalisco. Made In Mexico. $16 US