By Sarah Soards

After all of the stress, uncertainty, and excitement, the day had finally arrived—the Vancouver, Canada, book launch of Alive at the Center. Eight hours of driving in grid-locked traffic and pouring rain left a stale taste in our months as we lugged our boxes of books into the Rhizome Café. But we had arrived. It felt almost surreal; we had been planning the event for so long, making the calls, inviting the people, trying to wrangle a venue in another country. But we had arrived.

The brick walls of the café were warm and inviting, and it was great to stretch our legs. But the moment we set down our slightly damp boxes of books, we were met by the shining faces of excited poets. The night began in full swing.

It was a packed house. Extra chairs were brought in to accommodate the crowd, but many people had to stand or sit on the lap of a friend. The air felt electric and warm—totally the opposite of the chilly storm that raged outside.

It’s strange that poetry can change so intensely when it is read out loud. The inflections, the pauses, and the expressions can transform words or even the overall meaning of a poem. That night, words flew off of the page and into the audience, where they lingered briefly before dissipating into the evening air. We felt so proud of the project at that moment. Life was being infused into ATC—they weren’t just words anymore.

The amount of support, awe, and appreciation at the Rhizome Café was incredible. People were cheering each other on; compliments ran rampant amongst fellow poets and audience members. Ooligan Press was thanked every time a poet came up to the microphone. It was our collective vindication (Oolies, poets, and editors alike,) to prove to the world that we could create something so unusual and outrageous, and, moreover, that we could still love it even after all of the difficulties and rough patches. It was our night to appreciate our hard work, to bask in greatness for one night. Thank you to all of the contributors, editors, and students who worked on Alive at the Center. It was one heck of a ride.

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