Author Richard Heller gathered the Seattle community together at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20, at Queen Anne Book Company.

About 10 attendees gathered in the quaint children’s section of the bookstore. Many were friends and greeted Heller as they sat down.

A town is not a community without a heartfelt bookstore,” Heller remarked of Queen Anne Book Company in his opening speech.

Heller is a poet and third-generation Rodin student of sculpture.

What draws me most to this event is its multi-genre-- regarding the art, the cello, and the poetry, and looking at how these different forms of art can overlap to experience them all in one night,” event coordinator Melanie Venhaus said.

The evening opened with Elliot Pearl-Sacks playing the cello.

Heller closed his eyes while he let the cello’s melody encompass him. The audience watched eyes open with contemplative smiles on their faces.

Heller grew up in California and left school in the second grade due to an abusive teacher. He learned to read in Griffith Park by practicing Shakespearean lines with actors and began writing poetry of his own.

Heller recalled his first experience with Native American tribes, which has inspired his art and connection to animals and nature.

When I was a young kid, my playmate happened to be part of a tribal family and they made me 'little brother,'” Heller said, “They did some sort of ritual that I really didn't appreciate at the time, other than they felt like family to me and I felt warmth and love when I didn’t have any.”

Heller referred to the book as his attempt to share his own perspective and to encourage others to do the same to complete the circle.

Lakota Sioux believe we all sit in a circle. Where we sit in a circle gives us our unique perspective, and I need to know your perspective as well as you need to know mine,” Heller said.

The first chapter, ‘Witness,’ is our awareness taking in the world from birth that we carry on throughout our lives. The second chapter, ‘Speak,’ is how we communicate and engage with others.

'The Other World’ is chapter three. That's animals-- how we engage with animals. I've had unique experiences with animals for sure for 40 years,” Heller said.

Heller worked with children with autism and horses. One of the children, Cindy, would go to the corral at night and sleep with a horse named Shadow.

Cindy would lie down with Shadow and they would just sleep. In the morning, the Shadow would not leave until Cindy got up,” Heller said.

This interaction is representative of a strong theme of interconnectedness in his book.

The fourth chapter is ‘Both Worlds’— the integration of the human with his natural world, which is part of his family,” Heller said.

He brought the book to an end with the final chapter, consisting of two poems sandwiched between a short prose story.

The last chapter is ‘Whole,’” Heller said. “The hope is that by the time we gain a certain amount of these chapter skillsets that then we can contemplate that there is something above and beyond us—whether it’s God or whatever you want to call it, that we are part of everything.”

The audience listened intently. One woman and one man sitting in separate rows closed their eyes as they took in Heller’s words.

Heller finished early and asked the audience if they wanted him read another story. They replied with an ecstatic, “Yes.”

The audience mingled after the show, and there was a unified appreciation for having this space.

Holding events like this brings people in to our store, but also brings them to meet each other, to be more cultured, to meet these authors and have these experiences that they wouldn't otherwise have,” Venhaus said.

Venhaus said she is excited about a couple upcoming events as well. On March 10, poet M. Willet is releasing his new poetry collection, “The Elegy Beta.” On March 12, Rebecca West is talking about her book, “Happy Starts at Home,” which is about using home and décor to improve your mood.