The summer poetry series “A Seat in the Shade” kicks off this month with a slate of notable writers that include Georgia’s poet laureate.
Hosted by Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor, a professor in the University of Georgia College of Education, the weekly readings kick off Wednesday, July 11, and continue July 18 and 25. The final performance takes place Thursday, July 26, with a special reading by Cahnmann-Taylor and student poets who attend the readings as part of a class. Readings take place 5:30-7 p.m. at Hendershots Coffee, 237 Prince Ave., Athens.
The poetry event began six years ago in conjunction with Cahnmann-Taylor’s summer poetry class that encourages students—often Georgia teachers pursuing a graduate degree—to think outside the box in their writing.
“These won’t be stuffy black turtle neck readings, but public celebrations of music and story,” said Cahnmann-Taylor. “Poetry on the page comes alive on the stage, and this year features a range of emerging and accomplished Georgia writers.”
Poets Soham Patel and Jenny Sadre-Orafal will read on July 11. Patel is an assistant editor at Fence and The Georgia Review, and is the author of several chapbooks and two full-length collections of poetry. Sadre-Orafai has written two books and five chapbooks, and her collection of poetry, “Book of Levitations,” will be published next year.
The July 18 performance features Sabrina Orah Mark and Lemuel “Life the Griot” LaRoche. Mark has written two collections of poetry and her collection of stories, “Wild Milk,” will be published later this year. LaRoche is known in the Athens area for his groundbreaking work with the nonprofit Chess and Community, but is also internationally known for his poetry and spoken word and has written two books.
On July 25, Sharon Nuruddin and Dave Bottoms will take the stage. Nuruddin is a bilingual author and a doctoral student of language and literacy education in the UGA College of Education while Bottoms, Georgia’s poet laureate, has published many collections of poetry and won numerous awards for his work. His poems draw from Southern imagery and narratives, including church hymns, bluegrass music and the natural world.
The series concludes with a July 26 performance led by Cahnmann-Taylor, the author of three educational texts and a book of poems; Josina Guess, a freelance writer from Comer; Alexander Johns, an associate professor of English at the University of North Georgia; and Charlee Cain, a language educator and emerging poet. The performance is also a chance for Cahnmann-Taylor’s students to flex their poetry muscles and perform what they wrote during the summer class.
This year’s A Seat in the Shade series is supported by grants from the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission’s Arts In Community program as well as a Literary Events Grant from the Georgia Writers Association.