WEEKEND UPDATE: Saturday was a hectic, exhausting and very rewarding day. I was concerned that the Body Maps reading for the National Black Arts Festival would not be well-attended because we were up against a reading and discussion with the great playwright and actress Regina Taylor. I arrived at City Gallery East (in a thunderstorm of course...which also made me think our audience would be meager) and met host Gil Roberston in the parking garage. We went in together and met up with the beautiful and soulful author/playwright Sindiwe Magona, who told me about her hellish trip from South Africa (she had flown from Cape Town via London, having to shuttle between Heathrow and Gatwick...bless her) and that she was still jet-lagged. This was really Dr. Magona's day and I was honored to be in her company. She's a tiny ball of fire.

It was thrilling and emotional to see the Body Maps paintings again. They are so vibrant and full of life despite the morbid subject matter. I only had a moment to look at them again before being whisked away by Alvelyn Sanders from NBAF, the fabulous woman who got me this gig in the first place. She went over the running of the afternoon with Gil, Dr. Magona and me and we listened to the actors doing a final run-through of the cutting from Dr. Magona's play, Vukani! (Wake Up!). When we went back out into the gallery, I was excited to see that all the chairs were full and people were standing up in the back!

Gil talked about his new book Not In My Family: AIDS in the African American Community, and then introduced Vukani!. The actors sat on stools behind music stands, dressed all in black and read the devastating words about a young South African woman raped by an aquaintance because she's a virgin. The boy is infected with HIV and believes the deadly myth that having sex with a virgin will cure you.

After the play, I read five of the Body Maps poems. Looking around at the faces in the crowd, who were already on an emotional rollercoaster after Vukani!, and seeing the paintings again was quite moving. I got a little choked up during the last poem. Many came up afterwards and wanted a broadside. I'm making a donation of that money (and a little more) back to NBAF. Dr. Magona and I did a Q&A moderated by Gil and talked about the HIV/AIDS crisis here and in South Africa. I didn't mean to get political, but I did at the end, ripping Dubya and Co. for their "faith-based support" of HIV/AIDS programs in Africa and the lack of support of the administration for the GLBTQ community. After the program, I encouraged Dr. Magona to seek a full production of Vukani! at next year's NBAF. Atlanta needs to see this play.

In the evening, I headed over to Decatur for the opening of Charles Jupiter Hamilton's exhibition at Sycamore Place Gallery. I don't know if I mentioned this in an earlier post, but on Thursday I had sprained my ankle while on a photo shoot for the paper. I thought it was better on Saturday, but after all the walking at City Gallery East, it was throbbing. Gallery owner/hostess Sylvia Cross found me a chair, where I perched for the next three hours with Lardy Hardin, Sheila O'Shea and Kory Drake. The evening did drag a bit (I didn't read until after 10 p.m.), but it was nice to see so many supporting Charles and the gallery. Kodac was there and played some songs, Lady read, Travis Denton and his wife were there. I got home and fell into bed.

On Sunday, I taped three episodes of The Business of Words with Rupert Fike, Ed Madden and Beau Cutts. Rupert's interview is available now at www.leisuretalk.net, Ed's will be available from July 31 and Beau from Aug. 14. You can listen to them at the site or download them to your iPod or other portable music device. It's been so hot here in Atlanta for the last few days, I knew I wouldn't be able to face Java Monkey, so I stayed home and did some writing. I revised an older poem, wrote the first draft of a new one and worked on the Poetry Atlanta website redesign.

Whew! I'm tired just typing all that up.

Comments

This all sounds wonderful Collin... I'm quite envious.
Jilly said…
That sounds awesome. Great photo too.
jenni said…
Wow. You are busy enough for both of us -- now I don't have to feel quite so guilty for laying on the couch half of the day! LOL.

Seriously, good work. I'm SO glad to hear you went off on Bush.

The myth of sex with a virgin to cure HIV/AIDS is frightening. I watched a documentary on AIDS in S Africa and their governemne is as screwed up as our -- they denied it even existed for almost ten years! Just head-shakingly frightening.
1 That myth has haunted my activism for years. Ugh.

2 I thought the swan pr stunt was smokin great, though. Do I get half a rainbow credit for that?

3 I'm suppose to come to Atlanta later this year; chilled coffee over Bjork or something, fo shizzle?
Collin said…
I suppose you can get one rainbow credit for even knowing Bjork wore a swan dress to the Oscars.

Are you coming for a reading? Details, please.
Anonymous said…
Very cool stuff.

GAV

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