Join me as I tell you about my expedition to this year’s AJC Decatur Book Festival [August 30-September 1, 2013]! The festival seems to be getting better every year, especially with the brand new addition of the art|DBF pavilion, featuring cultural and arts organizations from the local community. Located on Decatur’s MARTA plaza, the recently added art|DBF provides dancers, photographers, visual and performing artists, filmmakers, museums, galleries and art publications their own space. These venues and individuals now also have the chance to engage in the usual festival dialogue that primarily had taken place between authors, bookstores, readers, poets, and publishers. This joining of the performing, literary, and visual arts creates a dynamic space for an enriched conversation and an elevated festival experience for the public.
DAY #1: Friday, August 30, 2013
It may sound nerdy, but I preferred spending my Labor Day weekend listening to exhilarating poetry readings, seeing pop-up art exhibits, and looking at really amazing books, than chilling out at a friend’s barbecue.
I visited The Seen Gallery for some erotic readings at Eyedrum’s XWA-eXperimental Writer Asylum. Julian Cage read an excerpt from his endlessly witty book, Too Busy to Hate, Volume 1: Tales of Murder from the Streets of Atlanta.
Eyedrum’s captivating Executive Director, Priscilla Smith, performed a live version of her Found Porn Poem. It was a rhythmic and lyrical treat!
Richard Gess entertained me with scintillating lines such as “just another bored arty girl behind a counter…” and the vivid imagery of a man being overcome by a pair of “violet panties” from his upcoming book entitled Drum Store Junkies.
DAY #2: Saturday August 31, 2013
Next door I met Nisa Asokan who co-runs the excellent Fifth Planet Press, which focuses on writings by musicians.
The very charming writer and musician Jenu Castillo’s graphic novel, Animals’ Guide to Suicide, was just put out by the press. It contains strikingly progressive design elements by Nathan Brown, who is Eyedrum’s music director. Castillo described her work as “a collection of animals that are depressed alcoholics who are heartbroken.”
I stumbled across the Free Poems On Demand table where anyone could give a poet a topic, come back a few minutes later, and be presented with a poem!Writer/Philosopher/Artist Jonathan Ciliberto recently came out with Six Weeks in the Spiti Valley, a travelogue about his trip to the Himalaya Mountains. At the new art|DBF pavilion I saw Andy Ditzler who curates the Film Love series. I got to see Outer and Inner Space directed by Andy Warhol. It featured one of my favorite style icons, Edie Sedgwick!. The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center had an exciting text-based exhibition, entitled Word!, installed at their booth. Artist Nikita Gale created Auto Statements, sentences that describe themselves (that I apprised) as a clever way of using text conceptually. Eyedrum’s eXPERIMENTAL WRITER ASYLUM brought together poet Colleen Payton, poet Lee Furey, and illustrator Mike Rovinsky for a panel on the nature of collaboration. Rovinsky did the cover art for Payton’s wonderful new book of poetry entitled, The Naked Prince.
Payton and Rovinsky had also created an artistic piece based on her poem, I Punk Like For Real.Furey and Rovinsky are currently collaborating on a project called Love and Revolution. Furey talked about how she had been somewhat stuck on her material, but when she started working with Rovinsky and reimagining the book as a graphic novel, so many possibilities opened up! Performance and multimedia artist Allison Rentz, sported an otherworldly pink costume and held a panel discussion on an ongoing experiment in collaborative book arts called putAtoring. DAY #3: Sunday, September 1, 2013
Sunday was rainy, and with umbrella in hand, I strolled past a fresh crop of Free Poems On Demand poets!I turned around to find the plucky Malina Rodriguez! She swings two jobs: one as Artistic Director of Dance Truck and the other as Co-Artistic Director of The Lucky Penny. Dance Truck hosts a platform for performers that turns into an all night DJ dance party! One of the coolest exhibition ideas I came across that day was at gloATL’s booth! For their next project, The Traveling Show Grand Exhibition, they will be working in conjunction with Living Walls, a non-profit organization that aims to start conversations in communities by bringing together the public, street artists and scholars. My last stop of the day was to hear Emory University’s team of talented poets read. “I feel kind of like Beyoncé standing in front of this fan,” stated the dazzling and jocose Dana Sokolowski, which started everything off with a bang!
I relished Sokolowski’s reading of her tongue-in-cheek, step-by-step guide, How To Be A Bad Bitch! She also designs the always-hip flyers for the Emory Poetry Council’s exceptional reading series, What’s New in Poetry.I felt that the intense honesty that ran throughout poet Gina Myers’s work was balanced perfectly by spirited references to the music that she loves, a shatterproof strength to carry on with the experience of life, and by her naturally endearing personality. Myers read from her captivating book, Hold It Down. Popular Atlanta-based poet Bruce Covey has been essential in fostering poetry in Atlanta. He is the publisher and editor of both the highly esteemed Coconut Books, as well as Coconut Magazine. I regard the magazine, also edited by Myers, as an unparalleled resource for some of the most outstanding poetry being written today. Covey’s sixth book of poetry, Change Machine, is due out by Noemi Press in Fall 2014.
I found his poems spirited and sharp, difficult to categorize (which I thought made them so interesting), and the found text utilized in some of his work is discerningly curated. That evening he entertained us with references that ranged from six-packs of Red Bull to the moon. When Covey spoke the lines, “She was somewhere between a quarter and a crescent,” and “Why do I always have to be such a crazy magnet?” the audience roared with laughter!Well, that just about wraps it up! Booths that I unfortunately missed visiting (that I plan on stopping by next year for sure) were Vouched Books, and WonderRoot. I briefly got to check out Loose Change, WonderRoot’s literary magazine. They were handing out super cool, minimalist postcards with black text on a white background. I’ll be sending mine to a friend soon!
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