by Adrian Ernesto Cepeda
With Nina Simone’s cover of “Who Knows Where the Time Goes” playing in my head, I wonder, has it really been five months already? As part of my Field Study requirement for my MFA program at Antioch University, I started volunteering at WordTheatre in January. With a week left I keep wondering, is my time at this amazing place really coming to an end?
I walked inside the doors of WordTheatre’s home office as a poet, actually worrying if my time here would take away time from writing my own verses. The opposite has happened. Writing blogs for WordTheatre has not only strengthened my writing voice, but I’ve penned some of the best poems in my life during my time here.
Some highlights of my time here include: interviewing Poet Laureate Donald Hall, seeing Annie Lennox perform in a living room in the Hollywood Hills in front of a handful of guests, writing a poem and giving the poem that I penned to short story master Richard Bausch at WordTheatre’s Venice event. Not only was Richard touched by my creative gesture, he actually wrote me back telling me how much he loved my poem.
How could I not feel inspired volunteering here at WordTheatre, the place where actors bring the best short stories to life? Being a poet, I was a novice to the art of the short story, but now after reading such heavyweights like Richard Bausch, T.C. Boyle and Stuart Dybek, I am quickly becoming a connoisseur of this literary form.
I loved writing blogs for WordTheatre’s website. To date I’ve tallied over twenty blogs and each one was a joy to write. I’ve penned blogs on actors like Mark Ruffalo, J.K. Simmons, Xander Berkeley, Gregg Henry, Thomas Mann, Stephen Tobolowsky, Damian Lewis and Maggie Siff. I’ve also been lucky enough to write pieces on incredible authors like Miranda July, Emma Donoghue, David Vann, Charles Baxter, and the brothers Richard and Robert Bausch.
The events I volunteered for, such as One Billion Rising with Gary Dourdan, Anita Day and Lynn Whitfield, were definite highpoints of my time here at WordTheatre. I can’t forget Richard and Robert Bausch’s event in Venice where Thomas Mann, Darren Criss, Robert Pine and Mariette Hartley all read pieces from these two literary powerhouses. I loved Granta’s Dead Interviews, witnessing Howard Hesseman bringing Marquis de Sade back to life on the stage, Nymabi Nymabi challenging the rock and roll spirit of Jimi Hendrix, and John Fleck’s amazing performance of Andy Warhol were all performances I will not soon forget.
When I think about my time here, a quote by TC Boyle comes to mind that reflects all that I’ve experienced at WordTheatre: “But to my mind literature is alive, a living, vital art form that needs to appeal to its audience—not pander to it, but appeal to it in the highest way.” If you’re looking for a place to work or volunteer, WordTheatre is more than just another job, we bring short stories and the love of literature to life, 365 days a year. And who wouldn’t want to work here?
What am I going to miss most about working at WordTheatre? There’s a sense of dedication and passion for finding the best literature and poems that’s addicting and equally inspiring. I am going to miss the dogs: Wilbur, Eno and Pepper, the official furry mascots of the home office. And then there’s the team–Evan, Bree, Brady, Amanda, Darrell–and our Artistic Director Cedering who personifies the spirit of WordTheatre. I will miss all of you.
Thank you for the opportunity; I will never forget the stories, the times, the laughter, the fun—these past six months were definitely some of the best times of my life as a graduate student. I can honestly say working here at WordTheatre has changed me and actually made me a better and more confident writer. I am proud to say I will carry the time I spent here inside my creative spirit for years to come.