Decatur Book Festival, 2013 Journal

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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.

SCAD - Derrick Adams

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.

Image 1
Julian Cage reading. Photo by Sherri Caudell.

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
At the Local Poetry Stage hosted by Poetry AtlantaLee Furey, using utterly beautiful language, addressed making peace with her surroundings. Furey is the author of Little Fish.
Lee Furey reading. Photo by Sherri Caudell.
Lee Furey reading. Photo by Sherri Caudell.

Next door I met Nisa Asokan who co-runs the excellent Fifth Planet Press, which focuses on writings by musicians.
Books at the Fifth Planet Press booth. Photo by Sherri Caudell.
Books at the Fifth Planet Press booth. Photo by Sherri Caudell.

 
[Insert Image 19, Fifth Planet Press had a copy of Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism & Beyond, a fresh collection of science fiction edited by Bill Campbell (www.twitter.com/bcampbellauthor) and Edward Austin Hall (http://www.artsatl.com/author/ed-hall/). Photo by Sherri Caudell.
Fifth Planet Press had a copy of Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism & Beyond, a fresh collection of science fiction edited by Bill Campbell and Edward Austin Hall. Photo by Sherri Caudell.
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.”
Jenu Castillo. Photo by Sherri Caudell.
Jenu Castillo. Photo by Sherri Caudell.

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!
Poet Zac Denton [http://www.main.nc.us/wiresandwich/issue_apg/denton.html], Photo by Sherri Caudell.
Poet Zac Denton. Photo by Sherri Caudell.
Writer/Philosopher/Artist Jonathan Ciliberto recently came out with Six Weeks in the Spiti Valley, a travelogue about his trip to the Himalaya Mountains.
[Insert Image 57, Jon Ciliberto, Photo by Sherri Caudell.]
Jon Ciliberto’s Six Weeks in the Spiti Valley. Photo by Sherri Caudell.
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!.
[Insert Image 32, Andy Ditzler, Photo by Sherri Caudell.]
Andy Ditzler. Photo by Sherri Caudell.
 
[Insert Image 34, Scene from Outer and Inner Space, Photo by Sherri Caudell.]
Scene from Outer and Inner Space. Photo by Sherri Caudell.
The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center had an exciting text-based exhibition, entitled Word!, installed at their booth.
[Insert Image 39, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center’s Managing Director, Stacie Lindner, Photo by Sherri Caudell.]
Atlanta Contemporary Art Center’s Managing Director, Stacie Lindner. Photo by Sherri Caudell.
Artist Nikita Gale created Auto Statements, sentences that describe themselves (that I apprised) as a clever way of using text conceptually.
[Insert Image 45, Installation Shot, (top piece) Joe Sola (http://www.joesola.info/), YOU AND ME, 20006, Lithograph and (below) Nikita Gale, Auto Statements, 2013, vinyl, Photo by Sherri Caudell.]
Top: Joe Sola‘s YOU AND ME, 2006, lithograph, and below: Nikita Gale’s Auto Statements, 2013, vinyl. Photo by Sherri Caudell.
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.
[Insert Image 58, Lee Furey, Mike Rovinsky, and Colleen Payton, Photo by Sherri Caudell.]
Lee Furey, Mike Rovinsky, and Colleen Payton. Photo by Sherri Caudell.
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.
[Insert Image 61, Colleen Payton and Mike Rovinsky, I Punk Like For Real, a collaborative artwork, Photo by Sherri Caudell.]
Colleen Payton and Mike Rovinsky’s I Punk Like For Real, a collaborative artwork. Photo by Sherri Caudell.
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!
[Insert Image Page 7 fixes, A page from Lee Furey’s upcoming graphic novel Love and Revolution, with illustrations by Mike Rovinsky, 2013, Image courtesy of Mike Rovinsky.]
A page from Lee Furey’s upcoming graphic novel Love and Revolution, with illustrations by Mike Rovinsky, 2013. Image courtesy Mike Rovinsky.
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.
[Insert Image 62, Artist Allison Rentz and publisher Nisa Asokan preparing for their workshop on putAtoring. Photo by Sherri Caudell.]
Artist Allison Rentz and publisher Nisa Asokan preparing for their workshop on putAtoring. Photo by Sherri Caudell.
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!
[Insert Image 69, Poets Michael Hessel-Mial (http://michaelhesselmial.tumblr.com/), Nick Charis (he just refused to open his eyes for the picture and I kind of loved that!), Jimmy Lo (http://www.jimmylorunning.com/), and John Harkey (http://johnharkey.wordpress.com/) at the Free Poems On Demand table, Photo by Sherri Caudell.]
Poets Michael Hessel-Mial, Nick Charis (he just refused to open his eyes for the picture and I kind of loved that!), Jimmy Lo, and John Harkey at the Free Poems On Demand table. Photo by Sherri Caudell.
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!
[Insert Image 81, The Lucky Penny and Dance Truck booth, Photo by Sherri Caudell.]
The Lucky Penny and Dance Truck booth. Photo by Sherri Caudell.
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.
[Insert Image 83, Erin Rauch and Nicole Johnson managing the gloATL booth, Photo by Sherri Caudell.]
Erin Rauch and Nicole Johnson managing the gloATL booth. Photo by Sherri Caudell.
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.
[Insert image 87, Dana Sokolowski reading, Photo by Sherri Caudell.]
Dana Sokolowski reading, Photo by Sherri Caudell.
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.
[Insert Image 89, Poet Gina Myers. Photo by Sherri Caudell.]
Poet Gina Myers. Photo by Sherri Caudell.
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!
[Or insert Image 90, Poet Bruce Covey reading, Photo Sherri Caudell.]
Poet Bruce Covey reading, Photo Sherri Caudell.
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!
 
 -Sherri Caudell


 
 
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