A chilly Thursday night. Tulane’s auditorium was full, the lights already dimmed, the audience alert, the staff restive and ready to start the show, but moments before the host began the evening’s introductions, a fire alarm suddenly sounded.
The crowd emptied onto the street, spilling out the doors to form a loose, nervous assemblage on the sidewalks, huddling together for warmth, unsure whether the show would go on. Staff members brandished their phones, receiving vague assurances from the authorities. Someone called out, to laughter, “Let’s just do it out here!” Precious minutes slipping away, the honored guest shrugged as if to say, sure, why not?
Yet when the host finally received the all-clear, and the crowd streamed back inside the auditorium, the room was – somehow – even more tightly packed than before.
And they say that poetry makes nothing happen.