By Linda Harris
In Decatur, authors are rock stars. Authors live here, work here, and visit here, and we celebrate them in style.
The AJC Decatur Book Festival, held over Labor Day weekend, is the largest independent book festival in the country. Tens of thousands from metro Atlanta and beyond share the historic Decatur Square with world-class authors, illustrators, editors, publishers and booksellers for a weekend filled with literature, music, food and fun. Stop in at one of Decatur’s pubs and restaurants and you will most likely find yourself next to one of the hundreds of authors invited to present each year.
2016 marks the festival’s 11th year and the keynote address will celebrate the life and works of author Pat Conroy, who died of pancreatic cancer in March at age 74. Cassandra King Conroy, Rick Bragg, and other friends and family will gather to pay tribute on Friday, September 2 at 8p.m. at the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts at Emory University.
You can find an amazing variety of authors at each of the designated tracks including science, poetry, history, cooking & food, civil & human rights, fiction, nonfiction, and special panels in partnership with organizations and individuals that highlight unique literary voices. You will even find performance artists and pop up art installations.
This year’s featured Kidnote author is Dav Pilkey, who has written and illustrated numerous popular, award-winning books for children, including the Captain Underpants and Dumb Bunnies series. A special children’s parade led by different authors kicks off the festival both Saturday, Sept. 3 and Sunday, Sept. 4, plus there is special kids programming all day both days. Visit decaturbookfestival.com; “like” Decatur Book Festival on Facebook or follow @DBookFestival on Twitter.
Decatur is also home to the headquarters of Georgia Center for the Book which is hosted and sponsored by the DeKalb County Public Library. Georgia Center for the Book is the state affiliate of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The Center supports libraries, literary programs and literature, particularly Georgia’s rich literary heritage. See more at georgiacenterforthebook.org.
The Decatur Arts Alliance celebrates both art and book with The Book As Art v. 4: Boundless – a juried exhibition which will be held at the Periodicals Gallery, Decatur Library from August 19 – September 30. The opening gala will be August 26.
Artist books take many forms – from handmade and tactile to linear and informative, abstract and questioning to sculptural and monumental. This show celebrates the book with a wildly varied collection of inventive and spectacular work that challenges expectations.
White Glove Nights give viewers a chance to get closer looks at the work and someone to talk about the finer points. This series of gallery talks will include docents handling and demonstrating interactive features of the artwork. Details are available at bookasart.com.
And finally, the 27th annual National Poetry Slam will take place in the heart of metro Atlanta this summer. Decatur will be the outpost for most events and open mics will be hosted at local restaurants with Java Monkey coffee shop acting as NPS “headquarters.”
You will find bouts of slam competitions, writing workshops, a neighborhood block party and more. NPS features three competitive rounds of slam – preliminaries, semi-finals and finals, where slam teams from across the country compete for a cash prize, (npsdecatur.com). This is the first time the competition is being held in Georgia and Decatur is proud to be their “hometown” because remember in Decatur, authors are rockstars.
Linda Harris loves all things Decatur and, as a native, she is quick to point out the quirks as well as the hip spots and happenings. As director of the Decatur Tourism Bureau, she hates to leave the city and finds endless sources of entertainment and adventure right in her hometown. www.visitdecaturgeorgia.com.