This week we feature conversations with two authors whose books are on a new list of “10 Books Every Georgian Should Read.” The list is compiled annually by the Georgia Center for the Book, a Decatur-based organization affiliated with the Library of Congress.
First up is Jim Auchmutey, a former reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and author of "The Class of ’65: a Student, a Divided Town and the Long Road to Forgiveness." The book tells the story of Greg Wittkamper, a young man who grew up at Koinonia, a remarkable Christian-based interracial communal farm in Sumter County, Georgia, during some of the worst days of racial tension in South Georgia. As Jim tells it, Greg was bullied mercilessly by fellow students at Americus High School because of the hatred toward Koinonia. But he persevered, and ultimately, Jim’s book is the story of redemption and reconciliation.
Emory University-based poet Kevin Young has been acclaimed as one of the most important voices of his generation. His poems and essays have been published by the New Yorker and virtually every major poetry journal in the United States. His book "Blue Law, Selected and Uncollected Poems," is another of the books on the Georgia Center for the Book’s list.
Young’s poems take for inspiration the lives of exceptional African Americans in our history, from artists like musician Miles Davis, visual artist Jean Michel Basquiat and the enslaved 19th century poet Phyllis Wheatly, to figures in popular culture like boxer Jack Johnson. It was a joy to talk with Kevin, and even better, to listen to him recite portions of his poems.