AQLF 2009 Report
Exciting and exhausting are the only words to describe the last four days of the third annual Atlanta Queer Literary Festival. The highlights for me: the keynote addresses/readings by Manil Suri and Staceyann Chin, reading with Michael Montlack, Regie Cabico, Cleo Creech and Jim Elledge from the My Diva anthology, hearing poet Charles Jensen read from his amazing work, and ditto for Terry Galloway, who read from her memoir, Mean Little Deaf Queer.
The festival began Wednesday with a packed house at Charis Books, which was also celebrating its 35th anniversary. Lisa Allender hosted the evening, which featured readings by Alice Teeter, Maudell Driskell and more. A group of us went for drinks and a late dinner at the Brewhouse in Little Five Points afterwards to debrief and talk about politics, including healthcare reform (which the House approved last night! Get on the stick, Senate, and let's get this passed!).
Thursday night was the My Diva reading at Outwrite Books. Beforehand, Megan Volpert and I (that's us in the photo by Cleo) had dinner at the always delish Flying Biscuit (breakfast foods for lunch or dinner has always been a favorite) with Regie, Michael, Scott Wiggerman and his partner David and Joanna Hoffman. There was a good crowd at Outwrite, too.
Friday night's keynote event by Manil and Staceyann was our biggest evening. I think there were nearly 100 in the audience at the Auburn Avenue Research Library. Manil talked about his career as a mathematician and keeping his writing life "in the closet" to his colleagues. Staceyann read alternately hilarious and harrowing vignettes from her memoir, The Other Side of Paradise.
I spent 10 hours at the Decatur Library yesterday, but was disappointed by the turnout. Despite having free workshops and readings non-stop from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., attendance was low and some of the workshops were cancelled. We're already brainstorming ideas to streamline the Saturday event and draw bigger audiences. Still, hearing Charles Jensen read from his new collection, The First Risk, and the passionate Terry Galloway more than made up for this disappointment. I didn't make it to last night's All-Star Slam, but I heard it was amazing with performances by Kit Yan, Regie, Joanna, James Caroline, Theresa Davis, Ami Mattison and Karen G.
You can see photos from the festival at the AQLF site and if you're on Facebook, check out Cleo Creech's wall to see his extensive album of pics. Thanks to everyone who came out. Now, it's time for a rest.