DECATUR BOOK FESTIVAL DEBRIEFING: I am home after two jam-packed, non-stop days of the Decatur Book Festival. I am totally...and I mean totally...exhausted. And sunburned. And maybe a little dehydrated. Here's the rundown.
Saturday: Since parking is always at a premium in downtown Decatur, I decided to take MARTA. Mistake number one. Although I'm quite sure MARTA officials knew that 50,000 people were expected at the DBF, they didn't seem to care about having the trains run on a more timely basis. On the other hand, all the freaks and geeks headed to Dragon-Con downtown were being whisked away faster than the Enterprise transporter. I digress. When I finally arrived a little after 10 a.m., Dan Veach had already set up the merch table and Kodac was busily getting the Java Monkey Coffee House stage ready for the onslaught of poets.
From about 10:15 a.m. to 6 p.m., there were poets reading every 15 minutes. There was a surprisingly good turnout, despite the blazing heat. Although I thought I was doing pretty good keeping in the shade, my arms and neck got toasted. Some of yesterday's readers included Megan Volpert, Bruce Covey, Tania Rochelle (hilarious!), Jon Goode, Khadijah Queen and Ginger Murchison. I managed to come home for a couple of hours, but then I turned around and went back (this time by car) for the invitational poetry slam, where Kodac recruited me as timekeeper.
As with any slam, the Java Monkey patio area was standing room only and they were even lined up on the street trying to listen in. Ten fabulous poets slammed, but it was ladies night for sure. Gypsee Yo came in first, followed by Queen Sheeba and Shannon Leigh. Everyone was brilliant. I have to single out Theresa Davis for totally rocking the house with her "Super Hero" poem. We were taping for the Poetry Atlanta DVD, and that performance is sure to make the cut. On a disappointing note, Patricia Smith never made it to Atlanta. She was ill and couldn't travel. Hope you're feeling better, Wordwoman.
Sunday: After not getting home until 11:30 last night, I thought I would be able to go straight to bed. No such luck. I'm one of those people who have to decompress and I wound up not going to bed until nearly 1:30 a.m. I was back up and in Decatur by 11 a.m. this morning, and decided to drive in and found a spot with no problem. Figures. Dan (bless him!) worked the merch table most of the day so I could sit under the awning and listen. Again it was non-stop readings from noon to 6 p.m. Karen Head and Rupert Fike were two big stand-outs for me today, and Gypsee-Yo featured with some new work that was fantastic. Today was also when I featured (I did mostly new work from Wake)and hosted the final two-hour set. I'm pleased to say that we had the biggest crowds at Java Monkey for the final two hours and we had some real "rock star poets" (as Theresa would call them): Travis Denton, Beth Gylys, Laurel Snyder, Lisa Allender, Stephen Bluestone, Karen G., Theresa, and amazing sets by Alice Lovelace and Franklin Abbott. Thanks to all of them for being flexible and just damn good poets! Also, thanks to all those folks who bought a copy of Slow To Burn this weekend.
I never saw anything else at the festival. I missed Kinky Friedman, Charles Frazer, Ferroll Sams and even Natasha Trethewey. No regrets though. The Java Monkey stage totally had the stars! I'm going to bed now. Thank goddess tomorrow is a holiday.