It has become one of the most anticipated social events of the year. Calendars are cleared, tickets are sought-after and ensembles are planned weeks in advance. Glitterati, the Telling Room’s literary ball held on March 27 at Grace Restaurant in Portland, was indeed an evening to behold.
“We are supporting something that is very important to the community,” said Philip Jones, member of the Glitterati host committee and first-time author, who attended with his wife Mary Baumgartner, president of Garrand. “People want to have fun at the same time. It’s a great combination.”
Authors and luminaries from the world of magazines and publishing mingled with local business, political and cultural leaders, all united in their support for the Commercial Street enclave of expression for young writers.
“The depth of talent behind the Telling Room is inspiring to me and we are lucky to have them here,” offered Richard Maurer, a naturopathic doctor and author of “The Blood Code,” who was joined by his wife, Alexandra, and fellow supporter Elizabeth Thomas of Portland. “I’m here to do everything I can to support them.”
Charlie Miller, a member of the Telling Room’s finance committee, enjoyed the evening’s festivities with Jimmy and Rebecca Evarts of Yarmouth.
“The Telling Room is changing the culture of this city more than any other entity of its size in Portland,” said Miller, who runs the nonprofit The Children’s Initiative.
Spirits were high in the former Chestnut Street church and guests were dressed to the nines in everything from tuxes and ball gowns to dazzling metallic frocks that played off the Glitterati theme.
Elizabeth Moss of Elizabeth Moss Galleries in Falmouth attended with her friend Kate Anker of Running With Scissors, a studio and artist community in Portland. Joe Conway, grant writer at the Telling Room, was joined by Jenny Doherty, associate director at Space Gallery. Melissa Coleman, an author and former Telling Room board member, attended with her sister Clara, a farm consultant.
Gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler and his wife Melanie were joined by Portland Museum of Art director Mark Bessire and his wife, Aimee; Patty and Cyrus Hagge and Telling Room founders and authors Susan Conley, Michael Paterniti and Sara Corbett.
“We built this place for kids to tell stories,” said Conley, author and creative writing professor, commenting on the nonprofit’s success, 10 years in the making. “Tonight, more than any other night, it’s hitting me.”
“The Telling Room has developed along with the community,” observed fellow founder Corbett, author and writer for the New York Times Magazine. “Seeing young people gravitate toward the Telling Room … it keeps pulling in younger, dynamic people. It’s nice to be old guard when you see what the new guard is capable of.”
Nearly 400 guests enjoyed cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and the opportunity to chat with several well-known guest authors and illustrators in a setting that was warm and intimate in feel.
“We have some amazing guest writers this year,” said Heather Davis, executive director of the Telling Room, pointing out the evening’s featured authors, including Paul Doiron; Kate Christensen; Marcia Brown, poet laureate of Portland; Lincoln Paine, maritime historian and author; and Scott Nash and Stephen Costanza, who are also well-known illustrators. “We try to bring in new writers every year and celebrate the literary community here in Maine.”
Tucked away in the Author’s Corner, Christensen, author of “Blue Plate Special, An Autobiography of My Appetites,” was joined by her beau, screenwriter Brendan Fitzgerald; Genevieve Morgan, author and senior editor at Islandport Press; and Doiron, author of the “The Poacher’s Son” and “Massacre Pond.”
Passion for the written word was in abundance at every turn. Bill Lundgren, bookseller and reviewer at Longfellow Books (sponsor of the Author’s Corner for book signing), was exultant.
“This is reaffirmation that there is a literary community here that rivals anything in North America outside of New York City,” he said, beaming. “There’s an extraordinary blooming of writers in Maine … it’s undeniable and it’s extraordinary.”
A highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Telling Room’s Red Buoy Award to Mary Allen Lindemann and Alan Spear, owners of Coffee By Design.
“This organization is so important. It is a safe place to create and share,” said Lindemann, whose acceptance speech from high on the mezzanine had guests moved and mesmerized. “It is so meaningful to receive this award … for people to know that small businesses really do make a difference in our community. It really validates everything we believe in.”
For more information about the Telling Room, please visit www.tellingroom.org.
Margaret Logan is a freelance writer who lives in Scarborough. She can be contacted at:[email protected]