Paul Lisicky reading at Outwrite
Mark Doty reading at opening night
Dustin Brookshire and Kate Evans
We're into day three of the Atlanta Queer Literary Festival and it keeps getting better and better. Since there are multiple events going on every evening, I can only report what I've seen. In the third picture above, which I shamelessly stole from Paul Lisicky's blog, that's Mark Doty reading at our opening night event at the Downtown Library. The crowd was surprisingly light -- maybe 50 people -- but what an incredible evening. Blair moved everyone with his spoken word and song, especially his cycle of poems about Michael Jackson. Kate Evans read from her novel For the May Queen and gave a talk on the intersection of fiction and memoir. Mark read a selection of poems and passages from Dog Years. He read one of my favorite poems, "The Embrace," which originally appeared in Sweet Machine, but is collected in Fire To Fire. I think Mark was still a little shell-shocked about the National Book Award nomination, but he gave a magnificent reading. I got to play host (and read in "In Harlem" from After the Poison), and the loverly Megan Volpert gave me a warm introduction.
Last night, Paul, Dan Vera, Sister Soami and Alex Sanchez read at Outwrite Books. There was a big crowd for this and I was thrilled to finally meet Dan in person after a year or more of emails, phone calls and blog comments. Dan read from his new collection The Space Between Our Danger and Delight, which is a fabulous debut. I'm going to ask his permission to post "Emily Dickinson at the Poetry Slam" here. One of the best poems I've heard in ages. Sister Soami, one of the founders of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in San Francisco in 1979, read about the creation of the "nunnery" and how it has grown to include orders around the globe. Alex Sanchez read from his latest novel for young adults called The God Box, about two teen boys at a Catholic school falling in love. Mark introduced Paul, who then read from Lawnboy and a new essay about his mother's Alzheimer's Disease that left everyone wiping away a few tears.
After the reading, Kate, Franklin Abbot Dan and his partner Peter, Mark, Paul and Gary Zebrun (who is one of tonight's keynote speakers with Kate Bornstein and Theresa Davis) and I all went over to Manuel's Tavern for dinner. It was another late night out, and I'm totally exhausted, but the festival is rocking. I'm reading tomorrow night at Outwrite with Jim Elledge, Christopher Davis and Ed Madden (filling in for Montgomery Maxton, who, sadly, had a scheduling conflict and could not make it). Hope to see you!