Volunteer Nathan attends Potomac Review’s Issue 51 launch party and reading at the Black Squirrel.

Last Wednesday, The Black Squirrel in Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C., hosted Potomac Review’s Issue 51 launch party and reading. An enthusiastic crowd gathered in the upstairs private room furnished with cushioned seats and couches. This was my first visit to The Black Squirrel, and I was delighted by the ambiance and bar selection. The Black Squirrel serves slightly obscure beers from different regions as well as liquor and wine. The walls are each painted a bold color with one washed brick wall offsetting the room’s textures to add a sense of dimension. Potomac Review intern Karolina Gajdeczka introduced the event. The reading was mic-less, which augmented the event’s intimacy.

Issue 51 contributor and North Carolina resident Joseph Cavano was in town to read from “Phineas Rising” and “Story Cloth.” He segued between readings with humorous anecdotes about attending school in the South, Johnny Carson interviewing Truman Capote and the value of jazz. His charm warmed up the crowd. The audience was attentive and visibly enjoying the evening.

Janice Gary, Issue 51 contributor with “Random Acts,” read an excerpt from Short Leash: A Memoir of Dog Walking and Deliverance about the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks. This book is upcoming with Michigan State University Press. She offered a detailed, personal account of the sniper events as they unfolded and an exploration of how her life changed as a result. Many people nodded along to the reading. Gary said it was a powerful experience to read to people in the D.C. community who really understood what it was like to live in D.C. at the time.

Linda Morefield broke the sniper tension with a romp through “Rescue Dog,” which appeared in Issue 51, and “The Explorer’s Club,” a childhood tale of sexual discovery from a girl’s perspective. “Rescue Dog” is the story of a hard-to-love dog and his owner blustering their through a very tense event with some children. Both stories had their laugh-out-loud moments, and Ms. Morefield had to pause to let the laughter fall away.

Readings tend to be a hit or miss, but this one was a homerun. Judging by the voluminous applause at the event’s end, I’m one of many who’d say so. Potomac Review Issue 51 can be purchased for $10, and you can read Zachary Benavidez’s blog posting about the event here.