Playing Catch Up

It's been a whirlwind of a week, and I'm just now getting to blog about it. First, I want to mention two fabulous review of Conquering Venus that were posted online this week. On Monday, Nanette Rayman-Rivera posted her take on Venus at Goodreads. Here's a little sample:

Mr. Kelley does a wonderful job of creating the atmosphere of Paris in the 1990’s and Paris under siege during street revolutions in the 1960’s under DeGaulle. Mr. Kelley finds a compelling way to wind each character’s story around and back from the past to the present.

Yesterday, The Next Best Book Blog posted a lengthy review from Lori Hettler, who gave it three stars. Here's a sample:

Overall, an intense look at a world of which I was not overly familiar with. While I don't have much experience with Gay Lit, I do have a TON of experience with reading in general, and Kelley can certainly hold his own with the best of them.

Those reviews bookended my reading from Venus on Tuesday night at Tallahassee Pridefest. I was thrilled to be back (I read poetry there in 2008) and delighted to share the stage with my pal Terry Galloway, who read excerpts from her Lambda Award-nominated memoir Mean Little Deaf Queer. Seriously, folks, if you haven't read it, go to Amazon or your local bookseller and buy it. I hope she wins! We had a packed house at The Warehouse for the reading and I also got to have dinner with the reading's organizer, Patrick Patterson, a charming and dapper host.

Today, I read from and discussed my chapbook Slow To Burn with Karen Head's literature class at Georgia Tech. The students have been reading Southern poets and I was happy that the book interested them enough to prompt some good discussion. I was particularly interested in their questions about being a "Southern poet." Anyone who has read my work knows that I rarely touch on the South, and when I do it's a passing glance. Why don't I write more about where I from? I suppose because I've travelled so much over the last 20-odd years that I don't necessarily feel like a "Southerner." The whole "citizen of the world" thing is a bit cliched, but it's sorta true.

The South finds its way into my work in little ways, in many cases about repressed boys struggling with their sexual identities, politics and racism. In Venus, Martin and Diane are from Memphis, although they can't wait to leave it. I often feel like I don't belong in the South, that its Bible-thumping, conservative, right-wing leanings are against everything I believe in. But I do love Atlanta, and it's my home. Until I win the lottery. Or I marry a rich guy from the UK. Or Oprah calls. Oprah, can ya hear me?

Since I was in Tallahassee, I missed Tuesday night's American Idol, so Project Q's Mike Fleming stepped in and did a wonderful job with the recap. I was back last night to recap the double elimination of Andrew and Katie.


jessica handler said…
Maybe this one should have been called "Slow to Build??" :)
Ami Mattison said…
Hey, Collin. Sounds like Conquering Venus is getting lots of good press. That's fantastic.

Interesting question about "Southern poet." Is it one's actual geographical location or themes that make for "Southern"? I don't write that much about being Southern, but I get labeled as such. But then, I'm a hick. ;)

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