Collaboration came highly recommended by a poet.
Two visiting poets, both former Richmond residents.were stopping at Chop Suey and I was doing my poetic duty taking a first-timer to hear them.
Everyone needs to hear poetry read out loud now and then, even more so when the subject of Mars and Venus comes up.
Especially me since it had been months since the last reading I'd been to. That's too long for someone like me.
Waiting for the reading to begin, I perused a book on unusual buildings only to find a Venetian floating theater used during the Italian Biennial and modeled on the kind popular in the 16th through 18th century in Italy.
It makes me happy to know that there are such things in the world, even if they are in Italy. Look at the stage or look out the window at the passing scenery, oh my!
Jay and Kristin Snodgrass read to the small crowd in the back of the store while their nine-year old daughter made commentary from the floor.
When Jay introduced himself, she said, "Everybody knows that, Dad."
Progeny as peanut gallery.
He now lives in Florida and had done poems about oil slicks on the Gulf coast; many were titled simply "Slick." South Florida and clouds were other topics.
Favorite line: "What passes between us is wafts of conversation."
Kristin was the one who highly recommended collaboration, a process she called "great." She brought it up by way of introducing some collaborative poems she'd worked on.
She mentioned that usually each poet read a part of a collaborative poem at a reading. Immediately, an audience member volunteered to read with her.
He was a fine reader, too, and his voice added a lot to the reading.
Afterwards, the Snodgrasses marveled at the changes around VCU since they were last here ("Chili's?" they asked appalled) and it felt more like friends talking than poets and audience.
Now that my companion had been indoctrinated into the world of poetry readings, we moved on to dinner at Acacia.
From the moment we walked in, it was clear that Richmond was eager to escape home and hearth. The place was mobbed.
We scored a couch and wine and sat down to wait for two seats at the bar.
All at once the packed bar patrons moved to tables and we were two of very few there, which was nice for a change.
It was especially interesting for my sidekick, the poetry reading virgin, since he hadn't been to Acacia since they moved from Carytown.
Thank goodness someone is bringing him up to speed in all the important areas. That's all I'm going to say.
A lover of all things Italian, he chose a bottle of the Kelerei Kaltern-Caldaro Pinot Grigio, a perfectly beautiful wine that reminded him of Italy and reminded me with its aromas a of flower and peaches just how good Pinot Grigio can be.
We started with the house made Coppa with pickled pumpkin and mesclun. The thinly-sliced and flavorful coppa was outstanding, made even more so when we learned that it was the chef's doing.
Poetry works up an appetite, so I went on to the braised pork belly and miso sugar toads with maitake puree and a balsamic reduction.
Yes, I know pork belly is everywhere these days, but sometimes I just need a hunk of fat with a little meat attached. I'll work it off, I have no doubt.
The bacon-wrapped duck breast my dinner partner got was making him very happy, and a bite showed me why.
I have to assume the kitchen was thinking that duck simply isn't rich enough so pig was required to augment it.
We lingered over wine until we were the last customers in the place, talking about the wording of booty calls, unconventional lifestyles and how young is too young to meet and make a relationship work.
Luckily, we had nothing but time.
Or, as The National put it, "We're so disarming, darling. Everything we did believe is diving, diving, diving off the balcony."
And from five floors up, too. There's a kind of poetry to that.