Illuminated by candlelight and warm overhead fixtures, Fadensonnen’s upstairs tavern generates the kind of setting where time moves at an idiosyncratic pace and where the murmur of conversations don’t echo. On a packed evening, the pitter patter of talk is nourished by the room’s wooden tables and seats. It gets rather dark by nightfall, dim enough that reading from the menu sometimes requires the aid of phone light. Even with this obstacle in the cards, it is no wonder that Ashleigh Bryant Phillips and Joseph Grantham started Hidden Palace—a reading series for poetry and fiction—in this locale.
Though I have only attended a handful of the twenty Hidden Palace nights to date, they all seem to begin in similar fashion. Phillips or Grantham (or the both of them together) shimmy over to the microphone from a table in the corner of the room closest to the tavern’s entrance, where Emily Miller of Greedy Reads sells books written by the evening’s invitees.
This table is also where the four authors slated to read often hang out and chat with each other, friends, family, and audience members before the readings get started. Everyone gathered in the room for the night can anticipate an introduction is on the way. Phillips or Grantham clear their throat; both have the wonderful gift of bringing smiles to the faces of those watching them without having to do or say much. Then, quietness sets in and all you hear if anything at all is the gentle clanks of bartenders serving up delectable cocktails, wines, and sakes.