Shelley famously once said that “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of our time.” These days, bards don’t quite hold the same stature as they did in Shelley’s time, but Atlanta’s writing community is worthy of recognition. Check out these and other local poets performing around town. Whether it’s at an established venue like Eddie’s Attic or at open mic night at Java Monkey, there is always an opportunity somewhere to experience Atlanta’s vital artistic community. You may even find yourself inspired to take up writing as a way to express your own emotions and to communicate with your community.
Mikel K Poet
Voted Atlanta’s Best Poet in Creative Loafing for the past two years, Mikel K Poet clearly has a large local following. His conversational style has been compared to Charles Bukowski or Hunter S. Thompson. His writing is deceptively accessible; you may want to sit with it for awhile to truly appreciate his work. His poems are sprinkled with local references, truly marking him as an Atlanta insider, but even those from outside the perimeter will find something to identify with in Mikel’s work.
Not every city has its own national Poet Laureate in residence, but Atlanta is proud to claim Natasha Trethewey as an Emory professor and local writer. Clearly, she would have to be on any list of Atlanta’s best poets. Thethewey also won the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for a collection of her poetry. As far as poetic pedigrees go, it doesn’t get much more impressive than hers. She has appeared at the Decatur Book Festival, among other local events.
A native of Jackson, Georgia, Kodac Harrison is now Atlanta’s resident Beatnik. An accomplished recording artist as well as a poet and spoken word artist, Harrison regularly performs around town at events like the Pine Lakefest Poets by the Lake. His work is bluesy and unmistakably Southern. He also has headed up local organizations like Poetry Atlanta.
Karen Head is a well-known Atlanta poet whose work highlights the voices of Southern women. She is on the Poetry Atlanta board and she also nurtures younger writers as a Special Advisor at Georgia Tech. Locals will instantly recognize the characters and rhythms in Head’s collections of poetry. Her proudly Southern work can be found in various journals and collections. Lines like “Hell has two syllables” will strike a chord in the heart of any Atlanta native.
Theresa Davis is constantly voted one of Atlanta’s favorite performance poets. She teaches poetry to children and adults in Atlanta and she has also created her own line of dolls and hand-crafted books. In 2011, she won the Women of the World poetry slam in Columbus, Ohio. She sees herself as an activist using her words to change the world, and she has described often how supported she feels by Atlanta’s writing community.
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Keely Herrick is a freelance writer. Her work can be found on Examiner.com. “