It pays to chat up the guy at the liquor store. Hanna Fox, a writer and owner of Red Hummingbird Press in Princeton, started buying her wine at Varsity Liquor on Nassau Street a few years ago, when she liked the wines her son, David, was getting there. (Her current favorite is Chateau Haut Rian, Bordeaux blanc). "I prefer white wines to red, so recently I asked Scott (Pollack, Varsity’s owner) to recommend a red wine that tasted like a white – since red wine is supposed to be good for your heart. I’m enjoying the Camelot Pinot Noir he suggested."
With such good wine advice, Fox and Pollack soon forged a chatty friendship. When Fox mentioned to Pollack that she had paid a New England printer an awful lot of money to have a book published, he recommended she use buddy of his, a printer in Maryland, for her next book. "He printed the book and saved them a lot of money," says Pollack.
Pollack’s involvement in the book, "The Sun’s Palette: Poems and Tapestries," by Paula Bramsen Cullen, didn’t stop there. When Fox mentioned she was looking for a place for Cullen to do a book signing, a light bulb went off over his head. Since New Jersey passed an in-store tasting law in August, 2004, Pollack has been holding tastings every Saturday, from noon to 8 p.m.
"We have six bottles of wine that customers can sample, usually bottles that are new to the store," says Pollack, who recently provided the wine for a reading that Gary Kraut – author of "Paris Revisited," a book of offbeat Parisian sites – held at his house. "My wife knew the sister of the author. The wine tasting gave the event a French flair," says Pollack, adding that he sells an extra five or so cases a week now at the store, thanks to the tastings. Why not add poetry to the mix?, he said to Fox.
On Saturday, February 5, at 2 p.m. Cullen will read from her book and have a signing. The poet has requested all California wines for the tasting. Fox says she met Cullen in the 1970s when her son, David, and Cullen’s son, Sean, were at the UNow nursery school on the university campus. "We began sharing our writing with each other. I’ve always loved her insights and humor and ability to see the complexities and ironies in ordinary and extraordinary experiences."
"The Sun’s Palette" is Cullen’s second poetry collection, which combines the author’s poems with color plates of her abstract needlepoint tapestries. "My passionate interest is trying to understand what people feel about what they are experiencing," she says about the poems in "The Sun’s Palette."
Although Pollack himself is in the process of selling Varsity Liquors, he nevertheless sees a decided synergy between a poetry reading and a wine tasting. "I think they pair up very well. If it catches on, it would be fantastic. I can never get enough culture."
The following are excerpts from "The Sun’s Palette: Poems and Tapestries." From "A Dinner with the Family":
We are a circle of inquiry
a crowd of wonderers
batting back and forth
questions of the universe.
Laws of relativity
bubble in the air.
Can mass and energy
play musical chairs?
From "Fourth Dimension":
Yesterday’s epaulets and anguish
are blotted up like ink
and used to sketch
So now is then and what will be.
Poetry reading and wine tasting, with poet Paula Bramsen Cullen, Saturday, February 5, 2 p.m., Varsity Liquors, 234 Nassau Street. Free. 609-924-0836. For information on Red Hummingbird Press or to purchase "The Sun’s Palette" online, visit www.redhummingbirdpress.com.
Omicron Theater Productions has open auditions for speaking and non-speaking parts for males and females, ages 20 to 50s. Back stage help also needed. Call 609-443-5598.
Midnight Productions has auditions for "Jesus Christ Superstar" on Monday, February 7, 7 p.m. at EnCorp Studio on Villa Victoria campus. Show plays March 18 to 26. Bring picture and resume. All must sing. Dancers should be prepared to dance.
Middlesex County College has auditions for "Laughter on the 23rd Floor" on Tuesday, February 15, 4 to 7 p.m. and Wednesday, February 16, 6 to 9 p.m. at the studio theater on the Edison campus. The show will be to be presented April 15 to 17. For information call 732-906-2589.
Art Teachers Wanted
Arts Council of Princeton seeks part-time teachers for children’s teen, and adult art. Positions are available for spring and summer arts camp and the spring semester. Send resume to Katie Stein, Arts Council of Princeton, 102 Witherspoon Street, Princeton 08542, or fax 609-921-0008. No phone calls please.
Great Dane Rescue
Mid-Atlantic Great Dane Rescue League has more than 70 abandoned, neglected, or abused Great Danes awaiting placement into foster care or permanent homes. Donations are also welcome. Visit www.magdrl.org for information.
Tritones, a three-woman a cappella group, offers singing valentines at your valentine’s home, workplace, restaurant, nursing home, or hospital. They will perform two songs and present a photo memento. $50. Call Dotty Westgate at 609-683-0563.
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey offers free dental service to medically disadvantaged children under age 12 on Wednesday and Friday, February 2 and 4. Call 973-972-3247 for information.
Rider University seeks vendors for its second annual craft fair to aid children with cancer on Saturday, April 2. Table fees for crafters are $40 and $45. Electrical outlets available. Register by Friday, March 11. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 609-896-5377.
Allentown Presbyterian Church seeks food and craft vendors for its third annual Freedom Fest to be held Monday to Saturday, July 18 to 23 at the Upper Freehold Regional School Complex on Route 539. Contact David Joy at 609-259-2233.
Trenton Public Education Foundation, a new effort aimed at providing scholarships and programming for Trenton Public School children, seeks contributions. Call Pamela Pruitt at 609-695-1300 for information.