Jamie Iredell is everyone’s favorite ATL uncle-type. He is the kind of guy who balances the grown-up living (watch him beam about his daughter; dude is Mr. Poetry at SCAD; serious working writer with a handful of books in the works/contracted) and the rad go-go-going (the man loves to hike; he co-hosts ATL’s reading series Solar Anus; one of the coolest talk-over-a-beer guys ever).
I came across Jamie’s work a few years ago when I won a copy of his book The Book of Freaks over at HTML Giant. I dove into that thing. I dive back into that thing when I need a reminder of how wacky life can be cool. Here is a freak for you.
Also the trailer:
Pre-Visit Interview with Jamie Iredell
1. How long have you lived in Atlanta?
2. What are your favorite pieces of Atlanta?
The thighs, drumsticks, and wings.
3. What brought you to Atlanta? What keeps you in Atlanta?
PhD. in creative writing. That my wife has a good job and that she pays the bills.
4. How has Atlanta influenced your writing?
I frequently write the word “y’all”
5. If you could live in any city, what would it be and why?
Chicago, and I think you know why.
6. How’s the literary scene in Atlanta?
It actually sucks, compared to comparable cities of the same size. Much smaller cities (San Francisco, Portland, OR, Austin, TX, etc.) have far more lively literary scenes. Atlanta’s not much of a reading city, and I don’t know why that is, but my guess is the city’s youth, lack of a tradition in the publishing industry, and such.
7. Describe Atlanta in three words.
Hey, tee, hell.
8. What are you most stoked to show me in Atlanta?
I don’t know. My baby? She’s cute. You probably don’t like babies. I’ll show you a strip bar where most of the strippers also have babies, the evidence of which is sometimes way too apparent.
All of my previous interactions with Jamie were like my first two this visit–chattering, drinking beers, being at a reading. This guy is a busy dude with family, with teaching, with writing, but he makes it, he makes it happen, he makes it out to readings and organizes readings and supports supports supports.
This visit, I saw my first Solar Anus reading, a series Jamie runs with Blake Butler and Amy McDaniel, usually at the Beep Beep Art Gallery in Atlanta. Packed to the gill-slits, this month’s reading hosted the Southern Comfort tour with Elizabeth Ellen, Mary Miller, Donora Hillard, Brandi Wells, and Chloe Caldwell, with special guest Scott McClahan. And from this one and the chatter I hear about the others, this series is how I dig them: a little rowdy, beer-provided, cooool space, and post-reading hangage.
The next night was the big Vouched ATL birthday party, a special event that featured twenty of Atlanta’s brightest writer-people reading selections of work written by students in Wink and the Wren’s Nest , creative writing tutoring programs in the city. The event was a fundraiser for these two groups, and seeing so many kickass writers, like Jamie, using their reading spirits to celebrate these rad kiddos and organizations was a really special moment.
My last day in town was reserved for our big adventure, hiking to the top of Kennesaw Mountain. Jamie, a West Coast guy who grew up wandering the forests and nature out there, is a fun fun dude to follow on a trail. He knows the history, like about the battles that took place there in the Civil War. He knows the nature (hope this is allowed to be mentioned: he’s writing a series of prose poems right now about the trees of Atlanta). Even better, I have this love of nature that gets amped up in the rain and it started raining in the middle of our trek. A perfect BIG way to chop my way out of the city.
After a long week of readings and drinking and this mega-rad hike, before leaving ATL, I had to have me a final big hefty meal. Jamie delivered, taking me to DBA BBQ, one of those stick-it-to-your-ribs places.
My longest, busiest stay of the road trip (and sadly last of these Vouched posts), Atlanta was a kind, exciting place, a full scorecard of the literary and the wacky and the rowdy and the relaxing. And that is exactly the kind of time Jamie showed me, a lot of major goodness packed into one awesome writer-guy.