Another reason I love my town, Decatur is the Decatur Book Festival. Every summer East Ponce DeLeon is blocked off and filled with people, books and street vendors who love books. This year I found a few treasures that I just can’t keep a secret.
First up author, Bill Campbell. Campbell, author of satirical novels, like Mothership and Koontown Killing Kaper sat right beyond his provocative (suicidal, for some) book titles waiting for a curious bibliomaniac, bookworm, literary critic or passer-by to stop for a peak or a chat. I couldn’t help but be drawn to these book titles though I felt the tension in the air surrounding them. As he explained his “modern-day minstrel shows” as “making fun of pop culture today” to a curious woman and her husband, I started to gain more interest in exactly what was written between these pages. As the woman peered through the pages of “Koontown Killing Kaper” she was aghast to read that “Stokely Carmichael had proudly claimed that the only position for women in the Civil Rights Movement was prone.” As they verbally flailed, Black Panther, Carmichael and Campbell shrugged his shoulders, the interest rose, dialogue intensified and the booth attracted attention. Visit http://www.koontown.com for more.
The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center
At the Contemporary’s station Director, Stuart Horodner signed his book “The Art Life” (or atleast he signed mines) while Paul S. Benjamin talked about his video installation, ABCLK. This work I found especially interesting because of the positioning of the monitors and the images scrolling up on the screens. The entanglement of the cords lying on the ground before the screens along with a remote control reflected the mystic nature of the work. Singular letters scrolled up before a variety of images reflecting images associated with the Black experience which were viscerally disconcerting, but still unclear. After speaking to Benjamin I understood that “ABCLK” was “BLACK” reorganized in alphabetical order. These images represented by each letter “A/B/C/L/K” were symbolic of words that started with the letter preceding the images. I was ecstatic for this work to be included in The Contemporary’s mini exhibition.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution sponsored Decatur Book Festival’s Youth Poetry was also a delightful event. Watching young people express and flex their oratorial muscles was inspiring and enlightening. These young people spoke about their passions and their challenges, while beautifully emotionally confessing their experiences.
Soul Food Cypher is an organization that promotes expression through rap cyphers. Unlike the nature of cyphers these are organized sessions that requires membership and supports their members creative development. I had a chance to sit and chat with Acosta and he explained his motivation for starting this movement. Cyphers are a great way to express grievances and social injustices and can even be therapeutic, Hip hop was built on these ideas and I believe Acosta is doing the art form a major justice by providing a real-life platform that people can participate in. Visit Soulfoodcypher.com
Lastly, are some shots of the happenings in the pavilion. There were spoken-word and interactive musical performances with people just having a good ol’ time. Smiling faces, dancing feet and good music always leaves you feel good inside.