My principal collaborator---Marisel Moreno-Anderson, assistant professor in the Department of Romance Languages and Literature---says that today is like a wedding: you're planning for a year, and the day finally arrives.
The forecast had predicted rain, and although it is overcast in the morning, the sky gets clearer and bluer as the day unfolds. He's waiting for us as we enter the terminal at the airport and our first ten, fifteen minutes of chitchat is all in Spanish---not forced, just flows that way.
Main events are an hour and half charla with MFA students; an audio interview with Marisel; an evening reading, Q &A; and a book signing. The Decio Mainstage Theater holds 300 or so and it's full. Mostly students, but also the Dean of the Graduate School, the English Chair, Africana Studies Chair, ILS staff, etc.
A conclusion I easily come to: he's a consumate professional at engaging with his audience. What I mean is: his articulate and deft mingling of humor, andecdote and erudition is exemplary.
The line of people waiting to have books signed is longest I've seen at one of our events here, with the exception of Carlos Fuentes a few years ago.
I'll close with how he began: he is generous in his expression of gratitude for the work that goes into organizing an event like tonight's. He seems to want to gently educate us that although the invited artist gets most of the applause, the work that goes on behind the scenes also merits appreciation and support.