MY WEEKEND IN DECATUR: It's Labor Day already? Where has the year gone? I know where my weekend went...the Decatur Book Festival. I sat in a tent sweating my ass off in the swampy, Georgia humidity for two days. Luckily, the weekend was a success. I sold books, handed out cards, talked to lots of folks and got a couple of invitations to read at other events. Since I was working the tent, located on the courthouse square, I missed all the author appearances and readings (although I heard our illustrious state poet laureate David Bottoms was a no-show again...what a shock). I'm still a little disappointed that more local poets -- who are just as accomplished as those who were given featured readings/signings -- were not asked to participate. Why Atlanta continues to ignore its homegrown talent is beyond me. I'm glad I can work with Poetry Atlanta to host events like next weekend's Voices Carry at The Carter Center (Sept. 10, 2 - 4 p.m.) to showcase these great poets. More on that in a day or so.
On Saturday night, I went over to Java Monkey for the big invitational slam. I'm guessing there were 150 people in the audience. You couldn't get another person on the patio and folks were three and four deep on the sidewalk. Atlanta's best slammers -- Jon Goode, Gypsee-Yo, Theresa Davis, Bryan Pattillo, Basiknowledge and many more -- were on hand and they were all brilliant. Although I'm not a slammer, I flubbed my way through "Why I Want to Be Pam Grier" and was eliminated after the first round. At least I went out with some other fab poets (who should have been in round two), like Karen Wurl and Rupert Fike. Gypsee Yo wound up winning the big prize, with Theresa Davis nipping at her heels. Gypsee's appearance was a surprise since she's nine months pregnant and expected to give birth at any moment. She tore the place up. That is going to be one lucky baby.
On Sunday, I overslept and rushed back to the tent to set up. About 2 p.m. it started raining lightly and by 2:30 it was pouring. Most of the folks left and so did a lot of the vendors. Before the rain, the table had been busy and I had moved some books. After it stopped raining, the sun came out, but the crowds didn't return. Kodac came over and we packed up and I came home. Beth Ann Fennelly (who I love) was reading at Java last night, but I was exhausted. After 18 hours in Decatur, I was ready for bed.
Backing up a couple of days, on Friday night we had the Outside the Green Zone reading at Poetry at Portfolio Center. Franklin Abbott, editor Cleo Creech, Theresa Davis, Lisa Allender and I read to a small, but appreciative crowd, and Cleo sold some books. There is going to be another reading from the anthology on Tuesday, Sept. 12, at 8 p.m. at Outwrite Books. If you missed it Friday, come out on Sept. 12. You really need to hear this work.