While the word “literary” may bring up bad memories of memorizing Chaucer in high school English class, Franklin Abbott, co-founder of the Atlanta Queer Literary Festival, promises that his event is nothing like that.
“Not that we aren’t literary,” Abbott says. “But many people think it is somehow or other like graduate school, high brow, and doesn’t resonate with them personally … like the dreaded English class you had to take in college. I can promise there is useful stuff and it is entertaining and engaging. We don’t put on boring events.”
This year marks the fifth anniversary of the grassroots festival. Keynote speakers for 2011 are Atlanta’s own Theresa Davis, the reigning champion of the Women of the World poetry slam, and Bryan Borland of Little Rock, Ark., a Pushcart-nominated poet and owner of Sibling Rivalry Press.
“We’re having a smaller fest this year because of energy and money and plans to diversify in the years to come,” Abbott says. “The main thing we are trying to do is be more community focused.”
Recognizing and honoring queer literature is crucial to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience, Abbott says.
“I think we have a window on the world that is unique to our experience. Part of what’s unique is we are as different as any minority and we come from families from all different backgrounds,” he says.
“I also think that most of society takes binary gender rules for granted and we call them into question. Male and female is artificial,” he says. “The tension in queer writing is not pledging allegiance to a binary gender code.”
Atlanta Queer Literary Festival
Friday, June 24
7:30 p.m. at Decatur Public Library
215 Sycamore St.
Decatur, GA 30030
Features host Franklin Abbott, keynotes Bryan Borland and Theresa Davis, and Broadside Contest winner announcement and reading
Saturday, June 25
Readings, Panels & Workshops
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Decatur Public Library
11 a.m. to noon – Brunch in the lobby
11 a.m. Social Media Panel: Collin Kelley, Karen Head, Stan Fong
12 p.m. Publishing Panel: Bryan Borland, Craig Gidney, Philip Rafshoon
1 p.m. Film Panel: Andy Ditzler, Alex Arias, Taryn Crenshaw, Jim Farmer
2 p.m. Fiction Panel: Daniel Allex Cox, Craig Gidney, Collin Kelley
2 p.m. Poetry Reading: Akinfe Fatou, Bryan Borland
3 p.m. Diversity in Literature: Kerrie Cotton Williams, Akinfe Fatou, Bucky Motter, Charone Padgett, Craig Gidney
4 p.m. Poetry Workshop: Akinfe Fatou
4 p.m. Fiction Reading: Daniel Allen Cox, Megan Volpert, Daniel Black
7 p.m. at Java Monkey Coffee House
425 Church St.
Decatur, GA 30030
Features host Karen G and poets Gabe Moses, Erin Northern, Fran Varian and Chris August
Top photo: This year’s keynote speakers at the Atlanta Queer Lit Fest are Women of the World poetry slam champion Theresa Davis and Bryan Borland, owner of Sibling Rivalry Press. (Courtesy photos)