This weekend is the Decatur Book Festival, the “largest independent book festival in the country,” going on ten years strong. I have read at nearly all of them on the Local Poets Stage, which is located in the Java Monkey coffee house, and I am reading again this Saturday at 10 a.m.
That early there’s not much of a crowd. I’ve heard that Maureen Seaton and Denise Duhamel are also reading at the same time (their program is Caprice: Collected, Uncollected, and New Collaborations, being held in the First United Methodist Church), so I doubt that there will be anyone in the audience for me. I don’t mind so much for myself—after all, I’ve heard my own poems often enough, but I’m sorry for the three people I’ve lined up for this time slot: Tammy Foster Brewer, Robert Lee Brewer, and Andrea Jurjević, excellent poets, all, who deserve a good audience.
(It must be said, I wouldn’t mind hearing Denise Duhamel and Maureen Seaton either—but alas, I cannot.)
Because I am a tangential member of the group that puts the Local Poets Stage together, I have historically chosen the 10 a.m. slot to “get it over with.” Generally speaking, it’s disgustingly hot out, overcrowded, and crammed with people trying to persuade you to buy their books—and the most persistent of sales pitches seem to come from the self-published. (I know, that’s terrible of me to say.) The height of summer is also not the best time to crowd 50,000 people into Decatur Square (about 3 city blocks or so), so usually I read my poems, M.C. my hour, and hightail it the hell out of Decatur.
This year, though, I’ll stay at the festival at least a few more hours, although I might go wandering, because Karen’s hour isn’t until 1 p.m., when Emily Schulten, Bob, and Karen’s friend (and mentor from University of Tennessee) Marilyn Kallet will be reading, and afterward, Karen is throwing a little soiree for Marilyn. So, I’ll stick around for all of that. Of course, a lot of good people are reading on the Local Poets stage—people I always like hearing, like Christine Swint, Collin Kelley, Julie Bloemeke, Lisa Annette Alexander, Cleo Creech, Megan Volpert, Rupert Fike, Kodac Harrison, and Theresa Davis—but they’re all reading in the afternoon, and I just can’t give up my entire Saturday for them, sad to say… not on Labor Day weekend, the last hurrah of Summer.
Anyway, I’ve picked out the poems I think I’ll read, and will make a set list afterward so you can see. I could read poems from my manuscript, but honestly, it’s hard to pull out pieces from a narrative and have them make sense—and certainly, in 10-12 minutes of reading, it’s even harder to see a common thread—so instead, I’ll be reading a bunch of prose poems. I’m looking forward to it—I’ve never read them to an audience (at least, I don’t think I have) though many of them have been published (or will be soon). So that might be fun.
Well, I haven’t much more to say on this subject, though I will report back on Saturday (or Sunday). There might even be pictures.