Exclusive Poems = a Very Happy Hour

Thanks to all who came out for our Fall Librarian’s Club Happy Hour event on Monday, November 4th! We had a great group at Our Daily Nada, a “boozy bookstore” in Kansas City’s River Market. Guests were treated to tasty appetizers and wine, as well as a beautiful poetry reading by local author Lauren Scharhag, who wrote two new poems specifically for our event (see below).

Local author Lauren Scharhag reads her poems to the Librarian’s Club, including two poems that she wrote specifically for our event.

Librarian’s Club members also enjoyed sharing their reading recommendations, which was especially helpful as we head into gift-giving season!

The Librarian’s Club is a group of dedicated literacy supporters who donate $100 or more at one time or are sustaining members who donate $10 or more monthly to Reach Out and Read Kansas City. They also receive a few perks, such as twice-annual happy hour events like this one, free extra raffle tickets at our annual Books On Tap fundraiser and entry into four quarterly prize drawings. Interested in membership? Click here.

Librarian’s Club members enjoying the poetry reading

The Reach Out and Read Kansas City Marketing Committee, which is composed of Board Members, planned the fantastic event. Thank you!

Lauren was kind enough to share with us the two poems that she wrote exclusively for our Happy Hour event, and we are thrilled to share them with you!

The Page

By Lauren Scharhag

When I was fourteen, I huffed books.
I sat in the sorting room of the library,
loading up carts, and when no one was looking,
I buried my nose in their bindings.
Not just because I loved the smell of books
but because I wanted to know
where those books had been.
I smelled cigarettes and cigar smoke on them,
I smelled cologne.
I smelled dogs and woodshops, hot glue,
schoolrooms, paint, potting soil,
and, in the case of the old Chilton’s manuals,
garages and motor oil.
I smelled spices on the cookbooks and
sweat on the self-help.
I found crumbs in the hinges,
fingerprinted pages, smudges of chocolate,
and far too often, bodily fluids
(which we will not dwell on).
I noted the dog-eared pages,
read the musings scrawled in margins,
triaged the ripped and torn,
tossed heaps of scrap paper
that had served as bookmarks,
shredded old bank statements,
rescued a love letter or two,
tracked down the owner of
an uncashed paycheck
unwisely stowed in the chapters
of a Sue Grafton.
The old checkout system
was already gone,
so I could no longer see
who had read these books before me;
I could only sniff at them,
attempting to track their journey
the way Sherlock Holmes,
with his olfactory genius,
charted London.
The return dates stopped at 1988,
the volumes in my hands
people already thought of
too much as artifacts,
but not the kind I mean—
how I wanted to tell them
what these pages reveal,
how they are the guide and the journey,
the treasure and the map,
the testimony, the evidence, and the scene.
I want them to read what is left in the wake
of this borrowing and returning:
books made of pulp and gray matter,
humans made of dust and dreams.

Suburban Library

By Lauren Scharhag

No stone lions,
no columns or mezzanines,
just cinderblock and indestructible carpet,
the place we retreated to
on long, pre-internet afternoons.
The stacks were our ideal habitat.
We went together with books
the way some girls go with horses
or tomboys go with softball.
We won every reading contest,
earned every slice of BOOK IT! pizza,
overidentified with Belle—
not because the local jock was into us, obviously,
but because we talked to clocks,
imploring them to hurry us into adulthood.
Here was the one place we could go
where our curiosity was not met
with strange looks.
Boys, assigned as partners in class,
met us in the study areas.
They didn’t know or pretended not to know
how to use the Microfiche or the card catalog
and sat with their feet up while we did all the work.
It was my first after-school job,
and other teenagers, never there voluntarily,
would follow me around, asking,
“So, do you, like, get paid to work here?”
Because they could, only too easily,
envision me wrangling books for free.
I bet if you go there now,
you can still find the old bookend
where I scratched my name on the bottom,
my paperback stash in the corner
where I used to hole up
to read during my shifts.
Girls like me read books the way
pilots hit the eject button,
the way the buried alive
claw at the walls of their coffins,
the way young birds leap
from their nests.
We inhabit libraries even as they
inhabit us.

Thank you, Lauren, for the beautiful poems and for sharing your talents with our Librarian’s Club!

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