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Amani Holder Study Abroad

Spelman Authors in Action

Here We Come: Decatur Book Festival

Members of the Spelman community have collectively authored numerous books, plays, poetry, prose and more. They also share their works of literary art around the globe, participate in book festivals, launch book tours, and conduct book signings to showcase their creativity and scholarship.

The Spelman community will be well represented once again at the AJC Decatur Book Festival, which runs Friday, Aug. 31 - Sunday, Sept. 2, 2018.
Decatur Book Festival 2018

Saturday, Sept. | Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., Presenting Author

Spelman College President Campbell

An American Odyssey: The Life and Work of Romare Bearden

1:45-2:30 p.m. | Marriott Conference Center B

Spelman President Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., will present her new book, "An American Odyssey: The Life and Work of Romare Bearden," which is being lauded as a "definitive, defining, and immersive biography of the relationship between art and race was central to Bearden's life and work." Dr. Campbell, who met the artist in the 1970s, was among the first to compile a catalog of his works, and in "An American Odyssey," she offers a living portrait of an artist and the impact he made upon the world he sought both to recreate and celebrate. Dr. Campbell will be introduced by Loretta Parham, CEO and director of the Atlanta University Center (AUC) Robert W. Woodruff Library.


Sunday, Sept. 2 | Local Poetry Stage - Spelman Session

3:45 to 4:35 p.m. | Java Monkey Coffee House, 425 Church Street, Decatur, GA
Seven Spelman faculty and student poets will read from their works from 3:45 to 4:35 p.m. The festival’s College Day on Sept. 2 runs from noon to 6 p.m. on the Local Poetry Stage at the Java Monkey Coffee House and features poetry readings from faculty, students and alumni from eight metro Atlanta area colleges and universities.

Student Presenters

Spelman students are afforded many opportunities to showcase their talents. The opportunity to share their work on such a grand stage alongside professional poets and writers speaks volumes about their skill and the active-learning opportunities faculty make available to individuals on campus.
Spelman Student Ariana Benson
Ariana Benson, C’2019, a psychology major and writing minor, stumbled upon her passion for creative writing as a child, crafting intricate poems and stories from prompts her teacher wrote on the blackboard each day. Upon graduation, she intends to obtain an MFA in screenwriting; and she aspires to become a television screenwriter, developing unique characters that defy conventional stereotypes about race, gender, sexual orientation, and other social categories.
Spelman Student Cylantra Dees
Cylantra Dees, C'2020, has studied creative writing since she was high school and she currently serves as the editor-in-chief of Spelman College's literary publication, "Aunt Chloe: A Journal of Artful Candor." aNow in her third year as a comparative women's studies major, the Tampa, Florida native intends to pursue a career in writing and editing through feminist studies.
Spelman Student Eva Dickerson
Eva Dickerson, C'2019, is a cyclist and farmer-in-training living in the heart of the West End in Atlanta. An economics and comparative women's studies/Spanish minor, she is passionate about doing community-building work in Black neighborhoods and learning all she can about the earth and how to cultivate it. Exploring her connection with nature has opened her up to new possibilities within her writing. Eva Dickerson won the 2018 Edith A. Hambie Poetry Prize (the annual undergraduate prize at Spelman from the Academy of American Poets, which is funded by Hambie's family to honor the late scientist's dedication to the arts).
Spelman Student Atiya Ziyad
Atiya Ziyad, C'2019, is an English major who writes poetry in her free time. She presented at the 2017 Decatur Book Festival and at The Athenian School in California. She is currently putting together a collection of poems.

Faculty Presenters

Spelman Professor Lana Lockhart
Lana Lockhart, Ph.D.a poet, lecturer in the English department and coordinator of the First-Generation Scholars Program, Lockhart gets her inspiration from the revolutionary women of the Black Arts Movement. She has performed at many local venues and community events, including the West End Black History program, the "Power of the Penny" Campaign Rally to bring MARTA back to Clayton County, as well as the Decatur Book Festival.
Pushpa Parekh

Pushpa Parekh, Ph.D., professor of English and chair of the African Diaspora and the World Program, is an award-winning poet. Her poem, "Peace," received the West Coast Tagore Festival Prize at the international contest held by Vancouver Tagore Society in 2016. She has published three scholarly books, as well as poetry and short stories in anthologies and journals in the U.S and India.

Spelman Professor Sharan Strange
Award-winning poet Sharan Strange, M.F.A., senior lecturer of English at Spelman, has coordinated the College Day Program at the Festival for the past seven years. A prolific writer, Strange is the author of the full-length collection "Ash" (Beacon Press, 2001), which was selected by Sonia Sanchez for the Barnard Women Poets Prize. She is also a founding member of the Dark Room Collective; and she served as co-curator of its Dark Room Reading Series.


Sunday, Sept. 2 | "An American Marriage"

3:45 - 4:30 p.m. | First Baptist Decatur Sanctuary presented by AJC
Spelman alumna and award-winning author Tayari Jones,C'91 will discuss her latest novel, "An American Marriage," with fellow Spelman alumna, Pearl Cleage, C'71.
Spelman Alumna Tayari Jones

Presenter - Tayari Jones, C'91
Spelman alumna and award-winning author Tayari Jones,C'91 will discuss her latest novel, "An American Marriage," in which newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control.

Jones is the author of the novels "Leaving Atlanta," "The Untelling," "Silver Sparrow," and "An American Marriage."An associate professor in the MFA program at Rutgers-Newark University, she spent the 2017-18 academic year as the Shearing Fellow for Distinguished Writers at the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Spelman Alumna Pearl Cleage

Interviewer - Pearl Cleage, C'71
Pearl Cleage, C'71, is an Atlanta-based, award-winning novelist and playwright who is currently the Mellon Playwright in Residence at the Alliance Theatre. Her plays include "Flyin’ West," "Blues for an Alabama Sky," and "What I Learned in Paris." She is the author of eight novels, including "What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day," which spent nine weeks on the NYT bestseller list and was an Oprah Book Club pick. She is currently at work on a new play for the Alliance’s next season entitled "Angry, Raucous and Shamelessly Gorgeous."