I’ve wanted a podium for our poetry reading* ever since we moved from Blue Moon Books to Main Street Books. Periodically I would stop by the used furniture store in town and poke around, ask if they ever saw any at auctions. They’re not so common as you might think. You can’t just pick one up at Target or Wal-Mart (as if you’d really want one from there anyway). I just kept expecting one would turn up. But none ever did.
Finally, I asked a woodworker friend of mine if she’d make one. I was hoping it could be that easy. It’s not, though. We had to meet, in person, at the church, so we could try some out.
“Just something simple,” I said. “Something we can easily carry from the back to the front of the shop once a month. I don’t care if you make it out of old barn wood or scraps. Whatever.”
“Well, how high to you want it?” she asked. “But you’re tall. How big do you want the face? What about the angle of the face? What kind of wood do you want to use? Do you want a shelf? Here,” she thrust a book at me full of photographs of artfully crafted wooden furniture with torn bits of paper marking certain pages. “Which of these do you like? Do you want it solid? or open, so that you can kind of see through it? What do you think about some brushed steel inlayed into the front?”
Then she started musing about gluing the face out of two boards, expansion and contraction, the mellowing of the color of cherry over time. She pondered how many connection points between the face and the pedestal portion and how sturdy it needed to be. “You know some people get nervous and drape themselves all over the podium when they’re up in front of people. You wouldn’t want it to tip over on them. No. That wouldn’t be good.”
We decided on cherry with some lighter maple panels. We chose a height better for women. We chose to make the face big enough to hold two sheets of paper. We chose to make a little shelf just big enough to hold a bottle of water.
“You know,” she said on the phone a few days later. “I was looking at designs for V-shaped podiums, like the one I’m making for you, and they kept calling them Victory Podiums. I guess because of the V shape of the pedestal.”
“Perfect,” I said.
Because it’s a victory that this podium is here; made by a mother of four during the month of December with extended family popping in unexpectedly. It’s a victory that we gather here each month. It’s a victory every time we create, bring our ideas into existence, write them down. It’s a victory when we simply stand up, behind this podium, in front of others and share our work.