“A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue. That’s why there are so few good conversations: due to scarcity, two intelligent talkers seldom meet.”
A conversation, in these days, is truly a scarcity. Most communications are merely a regurgitation of whatever political analyst or the televisions latest talking head spewed forth that day. Other conversations are like verbal marshmallows: soft and tame so as not to offend or cross into the realm of what is thought of as politically incorrect. They are conversations of little substance and will probably cause you to have a cranial cavity sometime in the near future.
My conversation with Anthony Barwick, creator of the aptly titled The Conversation Piece, started several years ago and has, as yet, to stop. There are huge gaps between the times that we get a chance to speak with each other, but we pick up the thread as if no time had lapsed. I think it is our love of truly good dialogue and probing the mysteries revealed by the simple question, “why?” that creates this bond. Our first time meeting was for an interview. We met at a coffee and, after an hour or so of non-stop talking, we realized that we had a problem. We had accomplished nothing in the way of an interview. We found that the only way that we could keep on one train of thought was through emails because, if we were face to face, one of us would say something that would send the other off on a tangent, which would lead through a rabbit warren of thoughts and ideas.
I will give you the abridged version of what The Conversation Piece is and what it hopes to achieve. The Conversation Piece started when he began a series of public readings he had held for a manuscript he had written. The reactions of the participants led him to develop the framework for a dialogue driven meet up that would delve into all sorts of topics, from social issues, race, religion, politics…everything was fair game with one caveat: You can espouse whatever belief or opinion as long as you could defend it. That being said, the debates do not get heated or hateful. Under the careful verbal choreography of Barwick, who plays the role of referee and alternately the antagonist, the event becomes a true dialogue and not just the loud ranting of opinions and the shouting down of ideas.
The first event of Barwick’s that I had attended was held fairly early on a Saturday at a downtown eatery. Everybody was friendly and amiable in their discourse and, not only were the attendees given something to think about regarding other diverse members of the audience’s opinions and stories, the people giving opinions learned something about themselves through the sheer act of having to defend the validity of their opinions. I also hosted a chapter of The Conversation Piece during one of my Dirty Little Secret variety shows because, with the addition of alcohol and burlesque, nothing could possibly go wrong! Yet, once again, under the aegis of Barwick’s hand, no one was offended and everyone truly had a good time becoming part of the show and having their opinions heard.
The time has come again for yet another chapter in The Conversation Piece’s history: a triple threat! They are hosting not only another episode of their meeting of the minds, but they are also having a book signing by an author who was born here in Dayton. The third section to this trifecta is an after party simply titled The Beautiful People’s Party. I have been invited to the book signing and The Conversation Piece, but I fear that I will be forced to leave once the after party commences. That has yet to be seen.
The first event will be the book signing with author Sharisse Kimbro for her recently published book Beyond The Broken. Kimbro, who was born in Dayton and now resides in Chicago, wrote the book after being inspired by Langston Hughes’ poem, A Dream Deferred. The book revolves around five friends, following them from their graduation from Stanford and into the lives that were not what they expected. Kimbro explores some of the themes that many women encounter, such as motherhood, depression, serial singleness, suicide and betrayal, yet it is her attention to the character’s details and real world anecdotes that draws the reader in. Kimbro draws her inspiration from her own experiences as well as stories that have been told to her throughout her journeys through life.
The second stage of the evening is another chapter of The Conversation Piece. As illustrated above, this experience is a safe place for one to express their opinions, thoughts and beliefs and to have them respectfully heard by other open minded people. Directly following The Conversation Piece will be the after party featuring music by DJ Spare Change. This will give you the opportunity to mingle and meet others and possibly extend some of the conversations touched upon earlier in the evening. The evening will be held at Lily’s Bistro, which is the most casually elegant places in Dayton. They have great mixologists (try the strawberry moonshine!) and a menu of items that are made from things that I have never heard of and most of which I cannot pronounce but everything that I have had there has been delicious.
WHEN: Sat, April 26th – Book Signing begins at 9:00pm. The Conversation Piece begins at 9:30pm. The Beautiful People’s Party begins at 10:00pm and runs until 2:00am
WHERE: Lily’s Bistro located at 329 E. Fifth St. in the Oregon District.
PARTICULARS: Dress is to be social attire and admission is a mere $10.00