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
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
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