LGBT authors add diversity to Decatur Book Festival

Every year the Decatur Book Festival brings together a diverse group or writers across genre to create a dynamic weekend with something for just about everyone. This year, as always, there will be writers from the LGBT community who are at the festival to promote their new books. Among them are Kirsten Palladino, Chen Chen, Michael Twitty and Charlene Ball.

Kirstin Palladino

Kirstin Palladino got married seven years ago before the Supreme Court ruling made same sex marriages the law of the land. At that time, same sex weddings were less common and she and her finance found prejudice at every turn as they planned their wedding. Whether it was homophobic wedding professionals or books where they constantly had to change the pronouns to make them relevant, the process was much more difficult than it should have been. Palladino resolved to change that and began her website EquallyWed.com to give advice and support to LGBT couples planning weddings. From her website came the ideas for her new book “Equally Wed.”

“Equally Wed” addresses all aspects of weddings for same sex couples from dealing with difficult relatives to making wedding traditions more relevant to the experiences of same sex couples. The book is one of suggestions not rules and is aimed to support and celebrate weddings that may range from very traditional to very innovative. Palladino provides an wealth of information including resources for celebrants and counselors. Palladino will present on Sunday, Sept. 3, at 2:30 p.m. in the Marriott Auditorium.

Chen Chen

Poet Chen Chen was born in China, raised in New England and now lives and works in Texas. His work reflects his experiences in each of those places. His new book, “When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Future Possibilities,” explores the conflict between him and his mother over his coming out as a gay man. It explores their strong love for each other and their struggle over his sexual identity in the context of the racism that he and his family experienced as immigrants.

Chen is also a teacher and an editor but centers himself in writing. He is drawn to the unexpected and his work often incorprates elements of comedy. He says he doesn’t focus on a narrative in his short poems. He draws from notes he keeps on ideas, images and songs from movies. Chen will present on Saturday at 12:30 p.m, Sept. 2, in the Decatur Library Auditorium.

Charlene Ball

Atlanta writer Charlene Ball has a new novel, “Dark Lady, A Novel of Emilia Bassano Lanyer.” She learned about her heroine in the 1970’s when she attended a lecture and heard that Lanyer may have been the “dark lady” of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Lanyer was secretly Jewish, something that was very difficult in Elizabethan England, and she was a poet and an early feminist. Ball weaves all of these elements into a compelling novel that seeks to tell a story we only know in fragments.

Ball holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature and helped found the Women’s Studies Institute at Georgia State University where she retired in 2009. She has written academic articles and reviews but this is her first published novel. Ball will present on Saturday, Sept. 2, 10 a.m in the Marriott Auditorium.

Michael W. Twitty

Michael W. Twitty’s “The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South,” is a timely book that is both a memoir of Twitty’s personal journey and a cultural history of the food of the South and its African roots. Twitty’s food blog, Afroculinaria, has been honored many times over. He writes from the vantage points of being African American, Jewish and gay.

In the book Twitty traces his ancestors back through slavery to their African origins. He studies the food cultures of West and Central African tribes he is descended from and traces that food culture into how the slaves cooked and fed themselves and their overlords in the Old South. Twitty also talks about his conversion to Judaism in his early life and his study of Jewish food and the parallels between Jewish cooking and African American cooking. The book is rich in stories, observations, cross references and of course, recipes. Twitty will present on Saturday, Sept. 2, at 1:45 p.m. in the Marriott Ballroom A.

Franklin Abbott’s new CD is Don’t Go Back To Sleep: New Songs and Selected Poems. He will be performing at DBF on the Java Monkey stage on Saturday, Sept. 2, at 12:45 p.m.

2 Comments
  1. What an inviting smorgasbord of food, culture, sexuality and spirituality! With a host like Franklin,
    I feel honored to be invited.

  2. Franklin has assembled a gourmet literary smorgasbord of sexuality and spirituality … and all I have to bring is my appreciation. Bon appetit!

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