Loading...
 

content

Arts Issue - Lost in the Letters fuels indie lit scene

Organization and corresponding fest take on publishing giants

??
Navigating these quickly changing tides are Scott Daughtridge, Stephanie Dowda, and the dream team they've assembled to bring the city the Letters Festival, a celebration of independent literature, now in its third incarnation. In its short life, the Letters Festival has proven to be integral in bringing groundbreaking authors into the spotlight ahead of their general acclaim, having hosted authors such as Roxane Gay years before she took the stage at the herculean Decatur Book Festival. Lessons learned from those past events are what still drive Dowda, Daughtridge, and co. "As Roxane said in a panel this year, there should be more Roxane Gays not just one," Dowda says. "The more spaces and times we can be reflexive, which is something Roxane is brilliant at, the better."

????
The celebration of independent literature, taking place Nov. 12-14 at the Atlanta Contemporary, boasts 22 authors, including the longform poetics of Nick Sturm, the dark heartfelt words of indie-publisher Janaka Stucky (Black Ocean), Atlanta's own Nikki Igbo, and Brooklyn's Tanwi Nandini Islam.

??
The event's lineup is largely determined by the festival's rotating position of Author Curator, a title this year held by local writer and hip-hop performer Kory Oliver, with assistance from Dowda and Daughtridge. "We begin festival planning basically as soon as the festival is complete," Dowda says. "We try to balance a lot of things in the lineup, but it boils down to finding those writers who are riveting, no matter where they are in their career or in the country." Local writers and reading hosts Becky Weaver and Jamie Jones have also played a large role in the festival's organization, corralling local restaurants as participants and orchestrating the book market.

??
For those who think literary readings are all tweed blazers and elbow patches, the Letters Fest stands to challenge your perception. At this year's the Art of Live Reading workshop, Denver's prolific Khadijah Queen, who is known for her incendiary live performances, will have a chance to both read her own work and coach attendees on how to hone their live reading chops. This year's festival also will include a long-distance collaboration with Seattle's April Festival. The cross-continent live-streamed reading will host two readers in Seattle and Atlanta.

??
With each year of growth the goal is to continue providing a place for and fueling the energy behind Atlanta's independent literary community.

??
"The spirit that says, 'hell yeah;' that moves forward and writes tirelessly without permission from the publishing giants is a powerful thing to face," Dowda says. "It's inspiring, it's enriching, and it feels like the only way to live."

More By This Writer

Food Issue - Let them eat art Article

How Atlanta artist Karen Portaleo mastered the craft of cake decorating
Thursday October 15, 2015 04:00 am EDT

Omnivore - Concrete Jungle hosts 'Weed Dating' at Doghead Farm Article

Tuesday October 6, 2015 01:01 pm EDT

Books - Write Club's literary gut-punch Article

Tender Blood Sport' celebrates four years of Atlanta's popular reading series
Thursday September 3, 2015 04:00 am EDT

Book Review - Charles McNair finally returns with 'Pickett's Charge' Article

Charles McNair reflects on the road to release of his second book, a novel 20 years in the making
Wednesday September 11, 2013 07:00 am EDT

Book Review - A field guide to Coconut Poetry Article

The Atlanta indie poetry press will be releasing nine poetry collections throughout 2013. Here's the skinny on what they have in store.
Tuesday July 9, 2013 04:00 am EDT
Search for more by Laura Relyea