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Re: “Atlanta gets its write on

I’m really glad that the writing and literary scene in Atlanta has found some traction and community support, and that CL has reported on it. It’s a great time to be alive in this town. Also, hello, the BeltLine??? That thing is crowded. But as the obsessive type, and for the sake of keeping an accurate history of this town, I have to point out one small little problem I have with the write-up – I don’t subscribe to the idea, as some noted, that nothing was going on in this town literarily before a few years ago, or even before the Decatur Book Festival. There was stuff, y’all! Weird and cool and intelligent stuff! Maybe a bit less of it, but it was there! I bring this up in part because I am a believer in the idea that – as is the case with the BeltLine crowds – social media has played a remarkable role here, in uniting writing and arts cliques (or pals or enemies or organizations) in this town, or at the very least putting everybody on the same event page – or stage. There really is something to the fact that, instead of sending out a BCC reading-announcement email to 100 of people you had in your address book – which was standard procedure in 2003 or 2004 – or writing something on your struggling “blog” that had like 12 followers, you can now create a Facebook page that effortlessly announces your event to an audience of hundreds, people you don’t even know but who have similar aesthetics, many of whom are actually looking for literary or arts things in town. Or you can tweet it to people who have already agreed, of their own volition, to follow you. And then some of them will RT it to their followers. Sometimes we take things like breathing for granted. But this development in our social history is incredible. It is a remarkable change not just in event promotion but community. Greenwich Village in the ‘60s, as one example, worked in part because it was a close-knit community (literally), and because talented people supported and criticized other talented people in the same coffee shops and bars. Atlanta’s challenge has always been its sprawl, and the effect on writers and artists is that they don’t all live in a close-knit community where they can interact and support and fistfight. They live a whole lot of traffic away from each other. But online, we’re all right there. To repeat, there was some good stuff going on in the indie literary and arts scenes before 2008 or 2007 or 2006. Y’all, there was stuff going on in like 2002! It’s silly to think otherwise (and a tiny bit insulting to those who were working really hard to get something going). There were indie readings where known out-of-town writers came to shine. And some of the weirdest music shows you can imagine. And “presentations” on great ideas, just for the heck of it. There was even graffiti! Check the archived pages of CL; it’s all there. In fact, the creators of the Decatur Book Festival – Daren Wang and Tom Bell – were involved in some of these semi-obscure but relevant goings-on. And it helped inspire them to create something bigger. Which, as we have seen, has turned into much more. The literary “BeltLine” is crowded! And I really love the views. Let’s just not assume that it popped up out of nowhere.

7 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by JWAIII on 11/29/2012 at 7:18 PM

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