A Grand Retrospective: Joe’s Take and “The Secret”

A Grand Retrospective: Joe’s Take and “The Secret”

A Grand Retrospective: Joe’s Take and “The Secret” 6000 4000 Joe Patti
Pictured is Joe (left) with Macon Film Festival volunteers shortly after re-opening The Grand after COVID-19 closures in 2020.

Joe Patti has served as the executive director of The Grand Opera House since 2018. He will be leaving The Grand on June 30th for new endeavors. This blog is his reflection on some of his time spent in this role.

Back around 2008 I heard someone read the poem “The Secret” by Denise Levertov. Since then it has been something of a personal value statement for me.

The Secret
By Denise Levertov

Two girls discover
the secret of life
in a sudden line of

I who don’t know the
secret wrote
the line. They
told me

(through a third person)
they had found it
but not what it was
not even

what line it was. No doubt
by now, more than a week
later, they have forgotten
the secret,

the line, the name of
the poem. I love them
for finding what
I can’t find,

and for loving me
for the line I wrote,
and for forgetting it
so that

a thousand times, till death
finds them, they may
discover it again, in other

in other
happenings. And for
wanting to know it,

assuming there is
such a secret, yes,
for that
most of all.

This idea that someone can find a secret in a creative work that the creator didn’t even know existed, and can potentially rediscover it over and over again, is something I hope everyone experiences. It is something I have tried to provide while I have been at The Grand.

As severe an impact as Covid made on the normal operations of The Grand, the need to explore creative alternatives resulted in projects our staff created at The Grand, of which I am extremely proud.

A month or so before Covid hit, we met with Storytellers Macon about partnering to present a curated storytelling series that would be recorded for a podcast. The original idea was to host small sessions in our front reception room, where people passing by the large windows facing the street could see something interesting and exciting happening inside.

Instead, due to the pandemic, we ended up having the event on stage so we could socially distance the audience seating. People may have had to sit at a distance from each other, but seeing the stories of Middle Georgians depicted on stage brought them closer together and changed perceptions about The Grand and who the space is for.

From there, it felt like the momentum continued to build with other programs, before touring productions resumed, with the fire escape cabaret series, Macon Art eXplosion arts fair/fringe festival, and Healing A Haunted House, which revealed the past and of Macon’s Pleasant Hill neighborhood and reflected on its future.

Over the last couple years, more people have discovered secrets while visiting The Grand than ever before. I expect that number will increase in the coming years, as The Grand continues to work on being a place where people feel they belong. Because, as Levertov’s poem says, once a creative work is out there, its secrets belong to everyone to explore.

So my wish for all of you as I depart from The Grand is that you find secrets no one else has and experience delight with every discovery.