Something’s Brewing Café sits on Milltown Boulevard in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, close to the Canada-U.S. border crossing.
It’s a bright, bustling, cheerful, welcoming, all-embracing spot, serving delicious coffees and teas, as well as morning-coffee-complementing pastries and muffins and croissants and cinnamon buns, lunchtime soups and sandwiches and wraps, all day and evening cheesecake and squares and scones and other sweets, all the time pulsing with conversation and discussion and laughter and banter, under the creative eye of tireless owner and café meister Ada Dempsey.
So a perfect venue for a reading, which I did a few days ago to a small crowd huddled in the back room, with any shortcomings on the part of the author-reader alleviated by the coffee, wine, beer and snacks the listeners carried through from the front of the café, and a view out the back across the St. Croix River to Calais, Maine.
It was a chance to share two recent releases, Colorland and Defiant Island (both Speaking Volumes Press), as well as give a kind of sneak preview of a forthcoming release (re-release, I should say) by Speaking Volumes of my first novel, The Ragged Believers, originally published by the now sadly defunct DreamCatcher Publishing of Saint John, New Brunswick.
Holding a reading in a coffee shop fits a long tradition of cafés serving as venues for artistic presentation and inspiration and creativity. Think Schubert knocking off a lieder or two on a napkin between sips of java in early 1800s Vienna, Kerouac and Ginsberg reciting in Greenwich Village coffee houses in the ’60s, T.S Eliot in a London coffee bar in 1920 jotting, “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons”. Not for a moment do I mean to suggest I belong with stars such as these, but it’s nice to know that from a historic point of view you’re in good company.
Thank you, Ada, and all your colleagues at Something’s Brewing, for hosting the occasion, and for all the times you lift our spirits when we drop in for morning coffee.