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Decatur Rotary Spoke 'n Wheel
July 28, 2009 Edition Decatur Rotary Spoke 'n Wheel
Decatur Rotary Spoke 'n Wheel
Decatur Rotary Spoke 'n Wheel Decatur Rotary Spoke 'n Wheel Decatur Rotary Spoke 'n Wheel Decatur Rotary Spoke 'n Wheel Decatur Rotary Spoke 'n Wheel Decatur Rotary Spoke 'n Wheel Decatur Rotary Spoke 'n Wheel Decatur Rotary Spoke 'n Wheel Decatur Rotary Spoke 'n Wheel

Another Rotary year and another batch of new editors for the newsletter... This being my inaugural newsletter editing effort, I hope you will receive this report in good order. Many thanks to those who have trained me on the tools of this trade and who have contributed time and effort to get information, pictures or ideas to me for presentation to you. Please don't hesitate to send feedback, announcements or anything else my way, as I will be your editor for the first quarter of this new Rotary year.

Brian Cayce

In this Issue
Decatur Rotary Spoke 'n Wheel
Decatur Rotary Spoke 'n Wheel
  • President Bryan Presides
  • Kodac Harrison - Decatur Poet
  • Around the Room
  • July Birthdays

  • President Bryan Presides
    Decatur Rotary Spoke 'n Wheel

    President Bryan welcomed members and guests and introduced Tom Adams who gave our invocation.

    Kodac Harrison - Decatur Poet
    Decatur Rotary Spoke 'n Wheel
    daren and speaker

    Daren Wang and speaker Kodac Harrison

    Daren Wang introduced our speaker, Kodac Harrison, a man of many creative and artistic talents. Over 20 years ago, Eddie Owen's Trackside Tavern became a music haven for local talent such as the Indigo Girls and Kristian Bush (Sugarland). Kodac Harrison was among these talented musicians, and he became a driving force that set the mood for Atlanta's vital music scene. Through the years, Kodac has become widely recognized throughout the U.S. and Europe, touring and performing with numerous musicians and poets, writing songs for movies and special tributes, and he was instrumental in promoting "poetry slams" in the Southeast.

    And in case you don't know what a "poetry slam" is, Kodac's explanation is as follows: Poetry slams were started 20 years ago in Chicago to get audiences involved in poetry competitions. Judges are selected from the audience, and they score the performances on a scale of 0 to 10. The poets perform for 3 minutes or less, with no props allowed. The performances can be traditional poetry, the spoken word, even some comedy. Of course, the highest score wins.

    Kodac gave us some personal background information, noting that he had not traveled a "normal road" in his life. He grew up in Jackson, Georgia, a small community that thrived on agriculture and textile mills. Despite the tragic death of his father when he was nine years old, Kodac went on to become an Eagle Scout, become captain of the football team and an All-State linebacker, he was active in his church, and was an honor graduate of his high school.

    He received a scholarship to Georgia Tech, where he majored in textile engineering, joined a fraternity, joined ROTC and successfully graduated. During his senior year, he started playing guitar. During this time, the U.S. was fully engaged in the Viet Nam War, and Kodac had a low draft number. At the urging of his stepfather, also a Tech graduate, Kodac went to graduate school at Tulane, receiving his MBA two years later. While at Tulane, he became drawn to the music of New Orleans, including Otis Redding, James Brown, and Wilson Pickett. Their music planted a seed that changed the direction of his life. He knew he wanted to become an artist, but he also knew he hadn't developed a lot of artistic talent.

    Two months after the U.S. withdrew from Viet Nam, he fulfilled his ROTC obligations by joining the army. The post-war army duties were minimal, but he did play guitar a lot. When his army duties were completed, he tried to break into the music scene in northern California without much success. He moved to West Virginia into a community of artists who were searching for their places in life, just as he was. He moved around for a few years, finally moving to Atlanta in 1984. When he cut his first album, the reviewers called him a poet, although he thought of himself as a singer-songwriter.

    When Kodac had a serious accident that threatened his life, he began to reevaluate his directions in life. He moved to Decatur because of his friendship with Eddie Owen, and he has performed at Eddie's establishments consistently since then. In this artistic atmosphere, Kodac met some poets, most notably Patricia Smith from Boston. His interest in literary art grew, and he envisioned promoting poetry readings in Decatur and Atlanta. In 1996, he started "Twelfth Night Reading" produced at a local theater. In 2001, the Brick Store Pub asked him to do weekly poetry readings, and he has organized numerous "Poetry Out Loud" events for high school students. He founded Poetry Atlanta, and he's particularly proud of the Decatur literary scene, home of the highly acclaimed Decatur Book Festival.

    Currently, he hosts the award-winning Java Monkey Speaks poetry slams on Sunday evenings. In addition, he organizes, books and judges numerous poetry venues.

    Kodac can finally admit that the musical reviewers of his first album were correct. He accepts the title of "poet". He has been named the 2009-2110 McEver Chair of Poetry at Georgia Tech, and he will teach poetry to Tech students throughout the year. Now that Kodac has achieved success as a singer, a songwriter and a poet, he has started pursuing another artistic avenue. He recently had an art show, and he has sold five paintings so far. Perhaps another career is evolving.

    Kodac entertained us with two poetry performances: "Dream Turtle" and "Run Rudy Run". Both were inspiring and entertaining pieces that were greatly enjoyed by Club members and guests. In honor of Kodac's presentation, President Bryan announced Darrow Willey's selection for donation to the DeKalb County Public Library System: One of Kodac's CDs, Dreams and Nightmares.

    Reported by Betty Spiker

    Around the Room
    Decatur Rotary Spoke 'n Wheel

    Walt Drake introduced visiting Rotarians

    head table





    Scott Thompson brought his son John Morgan a rising 9th grader and a fan of today's speaker.

    July Birthdays
    Decatur Rotary Spoke 'n Wheel

    • July 03: Warren Davidson
    • July 04: Bob Castellani and Robert Soens
    • July 05: Betty Spiker
    • July 08: Linton Broome
    • July 09: Al Raab
    • July 10: Walt Drake
    • July 16: Ted O'Callaghan
    • July 17: Joe Kusmik and Barbara Tedrow
    • July 19: John Kline
    • July 21: John Bennett
    • July 27: Jim Thibadeau and Jim Topple
    • July 30: Mark Whatley

    Decatur Rotary Spoke 'n Wheel

    Upcoming Programs

    • July 31st - Desiree Peagler on juvenile justice
    • August 7th - Dr. Phyllis Edwards, Decatur School Superintendant
    • August 14th - Nancy Chandler, CEO, Georgia Center for Child Advocacy
    • August 21st - District Governor Roy Strickland
    • August 28th - Hank Klibanoff, Pultizer Prize Winner
    • Welcoming Guests

      Walt Drake introduced our one visiting Rotarian: Martha Brooks from the Downtown Atlanta Chapter.

      Decatur Rotarians introduced their guests. J. Tom Morgan introduced Christopher Ward, an attorney with Georgia Power and Scott Thompson introduced his son, John Morgan Thompson.


      President Bryan made the following announcements:

    • Club budget: The Board approved the 2009- 2110 budget today. Thanks to Elliott Augustine, you will soon be able to pay your bill online through a PayPal link.
    • Kudos: Justice George Carley has been named the Presiding Justice for the Supreme Court of Georgia..
    • Condolences: We're sad to report that Phyllis Edwards' mother and Sue Ellen Owens Williams' mother passed away recently. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

      If you have news to share about our Club members or a member spotlight, please let us know so we can feature it here. It is even better if the information is already in written form with a photo!

      Officers for Decatur Rotary:

      President - Bryan Downs

      President-Elect - C.J. Becker

      Past President - Mark Hastings

      Secretary - Alan Dishman

      Treasurer - Jason Conn

      Sergeant-at-Arms - Doug Torbush

      District Governor - Roy Strickland

      . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

      Join us! Decatur Rotary Club meets each Friday at noon at the Old Courthouse on the Square in downtown Decatur.

      . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

      The four-way test of the things we think, say or do:

      Is it the TRUTH?

      Is it FAIR to all concerned?

      Will it build GOOD WILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?

      Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

      . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

      Directions: Old Courthouse on the Square

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