IN A POETRY TRANCE: Last night's Voices Carry event at the Carter Center was beyond our expectations. There was a standing room only crowd of more than 100 people filling the rotunda to hear the poetry and music. There was an electricity in the room and the audience was enrapt. The diversity of words and sounds made for what I believe to be the best poetry reading Atlanta has ever seen. As Gary Coseri said, "the renaissance of poetry in Atlanta began tonight." This will become an annual event. We are already excited about next year!

Thanks to to the poets:

Cherryl Floyd-Miller (who began the evening by brilliantly merging lines from of all the poets on the bill to create a symphony of words)

M. Ayodele Heath (his evocative poems on sex and race both moved and tickled the audience)

Alice Lovelace (who had the audience hooting and cheering as she tore through her signature piece Freakin' Out)

Tania Rochelle (her understated delivery was both poignant and hilarious - she had the audience in the palm of her hand)

Ralph Tejeda Wilson (a master storyteller in poetry)

John Stone (elegiac, moving poems that had the room hushed)

Cecilia Woloch (Proving why she is Georgia Author of the Year and poet of the year in general - perfect set of poems to close the evening.

Personally, I believe this was my best reading ever in a long year of readings around the country. I was absolutely floating on air. I actually wound up reading all new pieces rather than the work from Better To Travel. You know you have the audience's attention when there is total silence as you read and then audible gasps when you finish. The work I read last night was strong and political. It was a liberating evening for me.

And what can I say about Kodac Harrison, our host. His opening song about a couple trapped in the World Trade Center Towers was emotional and brilliant. He kept the evening moving and proved once again why he is Atlanta's poetry troubadour. Many, many thanks, Kodac.

Of course we cannot forget Chante Whitley-Head, director of the Atlanta Book Festival, for keeping Cecilia and I focused, directed and providing us the avenue to present this beautiful evening of poetry. Thanks to the Carter Center for letting us use the rotunda of the Kapelovitz Pavilion. It's a perfect setting for poetry. Thanks to Atlanta's Director of the Bureau of Cultural Affairs, Camille Love, for speaking and attending. Thanks to Sal Brownfield for donating his magnificent painting in memory of the victims of Sept. 11.

But most of all - thanks to our audience. You were the real stars of the evening.


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