I attended a book signing party on Saturday night. I was pleasantly surprised to know that the physical book has not died the final death. People who actually want the feel and comfort of a real book in their hands still exist.
The Apex Museum on Auburn Ave. was packed with fans of M. Ayodele Heath. In case you haven't heard of it, the Apex museum is entirely devoted to African American history in order to promote cultural awareness and societal contributions by African Americans in Georgia.
I was impressed with the crowd and Ayodele himself. Good company, good performances and good food always make for a pleasant experience. Let me first say that Ayodele's entire family was there to support him. That alone was impressive and I know how much it means to an artist to have that support. Then a multitude of friends and one of his professors. I found some friends of mine in the crowd.
The MC Chezon Jackson was just what you would want: funny, informative, articulate and gracious. I walked in just as Gypsee Yo, a native of Albania, was opening up with some of her great poems. She has received standing ovations on multiple continents, having competed in slams worldwide, including National Poetry Slam 2006 and 2007, Individual World Poetry Slam 2006, and the first ever Women of the World Poetry Slam 2008. She fired the whole crowd up and brought us to our feet.
Gypsee Yo was followed by Emmy Nominee Jon Goode. Jon represents a refreshing change-up to traditional performance poetry, and has established himself as one of the most influential and positive voices in the African American community. Jon's laid back blend of humor and levity have propelled his career and made him one of the most sought after talents of our generation. I wasn't ready. I had not been forewarned. Not only did he have a satirical humor but also slipped up behind you to surprise you with a double meaning in every word. Gypsee Yo and Jon Goode stirred up the crowd for Ayodele.
Then Ayodele burst onto center stage. He performed many poems from his book. He was awesome. I think my favorite was the poem about the Bird family name. If you have the opportunity to see him perform, don't miss it. I was so happy that I made the effort to make it.
M. Ayodele Heath, an Atlanta native, is the recipient of an Emerging Artist grant from the Atlanta Bureau for Cultural Affairs. A performance poet who holds an MFA from New England College, Ayodele has been awarded fellowships from Cave Canem and the Caversham Centre for Artists in South Africa. His first book, Otherness, is available on Brick Road Poetry Press.