It’s hard to believe that it’s been three years since Vouched Atlanta made its debut in the city. (Sometimes it’s almost as if I’m still wiping the sweat off of my brow, admiring Heather Christle’s delicate cadence, Amy McDaniel’s boundless charm, or Bruce Covey’s jovial manner as they read to us at the very first Vouched Presents reading.) We’ve come a really far way since then – over fifty readers hosted, nearly a hundred titles in rotation, dozens of presses represented – it’s pretty damn grand. Of course none of the accomplishments above could have happened without the unwavering support of all the Vouched contributors, the authors and presses whom we represent, and the wonderful people within the community itself. And since I don’t have a stage upon which to thank them this year, I’m choosing to do so from this modest corner of the internet. (Thanks everyone.)
A lot has changed since then – both within the literary landscape nationally and within Atlanta, and then, of course, within my personal life, too. Writers and friends have weaved in and out of our city limits, reading series have launched, new presses have begun printing, and the literary movement in the city has blossomed. I’ve had the humble honor of watching what once was a fledgling literary landscape bloom and burgeon from the sidelines, shielded behind an tiny pop-up bookstore in the faint glow of a deer lamp (love you, Doey Zeschanel). Watching all of it evolve has filled me with endless joy, while also bringing me pause for evaluation.
Since birthdays are a great time for reflection, I’ve devoted a lot of time to reassessing my efforts with Vouched Atlanta as of late. It’s important to me to focus my efforts where I am most needed, given how much the landscape has changed. And pondering that is what has led me to make this announcement: that Vouched Presents, the reading series portion of Vouched Atlanta, will be retired as of Labor Day weekend with the collaborative reading we will be hosting with #WeLoveATL at this year’s Decatur Book Festival. This is by no means the end of Vouched Atlanta. Simply put, organizing and promoting readings takes up a lot of bandwidth and dedication on my part, and Atlanta now has a bevy of active, well-attended readings at her disposal, I would rather focus that energy where it is most needed: bringing more small press books to the city and championing them. It’s my hope to set up shop more consistently at the reading series that we’ve come to partner with over the years, and to act as a consult to different readings that take place – through assisting with their marketing, promotional and reviewing efforts.
I’m really, really thrilled about these advances. (I’ve already brought nearly a dozen new titles to the table since the Atlanta Zine Fest last month, and continue to place orders and plan reviews for the approaching weeks.) As stated earlier, a lot has changed in the past few years in my life, but if one thing has never wavered it’s my love of words. It could be easily argued that has been the cornerstone of my persona since childhood – having grown up so nomadically, uprooting from state to state every few years with my family, I never had the benefit of having life-long friends (aside from my sister). What I did have were books, my constant companions. Whenever we moved to a new town, the second we had things at home in order, my mom would haul my sister and I off to the library and get us our cards. To this day you can find me accompanied with a pile of four or five titles I’m devouring on hand. In short: books are my anchor. So it only makes sense for me to advocate them with boundless fervor – literature has given me everything, I’ll never stop giving back.