Envision the first sentence of a Virginia Woolf novel (Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.) pasted, black letter by black letter, on the exterior of a Chinese lantern bigger than a basketball by an event organizer of exquisite standards, she who never leaves a stone of grammar unturned—the lantern LED-equipped: switch on bottom, an illuminated orb cradled by an incorrigible colorist in a cardinal jacket emerging from the deep of the 145th St. subway station accompanied by a willowy dance partner or poetess in the pink dress, the boozing late night regular on St. Nicholas Ave. commenting: “What you got, a moon?” and drizzle marinating the panther prowl of building shadows, tires slurring across damp pavement, the exclamation points of our emphatically bleary yet still dazzled eyes turning up 148th Street, led homeward by inherited incandescence of Tradition and its Future, just one lantern of many bearing famous first sentences that were hung about the auditorium, but at this moment this silvery blue glow seems to contain the extravaganza entire, all crafted decorations, the whole dance floor and its cornucopia of whirling faces celebrating writing, one true newness we can grant ourselves daily.

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