Dan V_ach would be the epicurean editor of the Atlanta Review, the most nationally renowned of Atlanta's literary journals, a journal which has rejected my work 3 times, a journal in which the only way I would ever be published as a person of color would be if I rafted across the Atlantic, survived an ethnic cleansing, and post-marked my poems from Eritrea or Liberia or some other exotic African nation Dan's Eurocultured a$$ would have to consult a Swahili dictionary to pronounce and a 2004 World Atlas to locate.
READ: The only thing my regular ol BlackAmerican a$$ is good enough for is to be a token for diversity in his grant application for public money.
Or to change the brake fluid in his Volvo.
And how did I find out that I was a token? Well, one Saturday morning over coffee, Dan told me to my face!
"These public arts organizations, the city of Atlanta and Fulton County, seemed to think that we at Poetry Atlanta weren't representing the interests of the citizens of their communities," he said. "Occasionally, in maybe every other issue, we will publish a person from Atlanta or Fulton County. But we are a very diverse publication. We publish poets from Russia, Greece, and Ireland. Once, we even published a poem handwritten on a napkin, from a poet who didn't have a typewriter, from Africa. But apparently, for them, that isn't enough.
He adjusted his glasses. "I'm the editor and they're not going to
But the fact is, Dannyboy, today you do need their public money. And if you had any social consciousness - not to mention integrity - you wouldn't need the government stepping in to tell you that, if you're going to use tax dollars for something, that something needs to serve the needs of the people paying the taxes! You f*cking conscienceless snob!
As a result of this new community board and the projects he promised, the local governments gave Dan all the money he asked for. Hooray, Dan.
And so, it seems that the crown jewel project involves me organizing a slam, which would be breaking a promise I made to myself: That if I ever organized another slam event, I would treat it as a for-profit business venture.
Call me a greedy capitalist, but the fact is the last time I organized a slam in 2001, I lost roughly $1500 dollars. Fifteen f*cking hundred dollars! That would be the cost of me watching the sunset in South Africa, or bronzing on a beach in Brazil. But it would also be the cost of flying 4 poets from Atlanta to the 2001 National Poetry Slam in Seattle, housing us for 5 days, and renting a car for us to get around. I did it because I believed in something - a something I didn't need the f*cking government to make me believe in. And I so believed in it that I used my own money.
Do I regret it? No.
But do I want to do it again? Hell no!
Running a successful slam series is hard f*cking work, and I consider what I did in 2001 paying dues. Now, I would charge four figures to organize, emcee, and perform at a slam event. And Dan wants me to do a monthly series starting in October, not to put four figures in my pocket, but to help him acquire grant money? F*ck off, Dan!
Too good to go to the Negro readings, Dan? Afraid some of the color will rub off? Here's a thought: Why don't we move the slam to Bankhead Court (see if you can find that in your World Atlas) and have you emcee the slam yo-damn-self!
Naturally, Ayo would never say any of these things. And he won't.
Next Sunday, October 10, at 8:00 p.m., he will be there, Uncle Tom grin and all, hosting the Java Monkey slam in Decatur. And who will know the better?
So why is he doing it? Kodac Harrison. But that's a story for another time.
In the moments Ayodele feels he will combust, he will chant his own name to himself for peace.
If you haven't discovered it already, being Black in America is an Oscar-worthy performance.
Java Monkey Slam
Every 2nd Sunday, beginning Oct. 10