Eddie S. Pierce discusses “Lift Every Voice” an ILTA Literary Café Event

ILTA Literary Café Event, a component of Atlanta Black Pride’s 25th annual celebration will take place during Labor Day Weekend Saturday September 4 at the Marriott Suites Midtown, 35 14th St NE, Atlanta, GA from 1:00 PM – 3:30 PM. The annual event is presented by the “Atlanta Black Pride” and “In the Life Atlanta” organizations.

The event will be moderated by Eddie S. Pierce, Jr. Mr. Pierce is the Owner/Founder of Rainbow Room Publishing, LLC,  “a hybrid of a traditional publishing house” and outfit that offers services that are paid by the author. He earned his Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing degree from Chicago State University, home of the world renowned Gwendolyn Brooks Writing Center. His works has been published in 95Notes Literary Magazine for poetry and Sage Publishing’s Encyclopedia of Identity for an article on the phenomena of “Passing.” To date, the Dallas resident, has written three books.

The literary café will be a 90 minute event. “Roughly the first 30-40 minutes or so there will be a 10 minute presentation given by each of the authors. In that 10 minute space of time they’re going to introduce themselves and talk a little bit about their work. This is particularly important because of the different genres they’re representing in addition to looking at the diversity of the authors themselves, as far as representing different aspects of what I’ve come to call the alphabet family. The LGBTQIA + population,” said Pierce.

“Lift Every Voice” is this year’s theme. In this series of articles we talked to Eddie Pierce, Jr and each participating panelist about their writing experiences. First up is Eddie Pierce, the moderator of this exciting event.  Forthcoming conversations with Dr. Alphonso Buie, Chloe O. Davis, Jeremy Johnson, Mitchell L. Jones, Tracee McDaniels, Dr. Elijah Nichols, Anthony K. Robinson and Vince Shifflett will be published throughout the month of August leading up to this monumental occasion.

Pride Index (PI): It’s been more than a minute since we last spoke, I believe last time we actually talked was 2013. And at that time, I believe you had only written maybe two books. Is that correct?

Eddie S Pierce (EP): Yeah, that sounds about right. Yeah.

PI: Now we’re pushing that fast forward button you’re getting me up to date on what’s been going on in your world. What have you been up to, since those two books?

EP: Wow. So there was a third book in that series. The series started with the very first book, Love Something Infinite, which will be celebrating the 10th year anniversary in November. By the time we did the last interview, we did Love From Behind, which was a sequel. And then in 2018, I released the third book in this series Love Changes, which can be found at the website. And more recently we published our first client, a friend of mine from church back in Chicago. He wanted to do his memoir. And so he had a number of recordings, some handwritten stuff, some typed out stuff, and basically all of his memories together and put out a book that’s celebrating his first anniversary in September. “Miracles: Prodigal Child of God,” by Ronnie Smith. Since then, there’s been the anthology “From a Black Perspective: The Blood,” volume one of which is a book where I, myself contributed one story. Another five, up and coming authors all contributed to the first volume of a three volume book of different pieces written by African American authors, and lots of different variety in the sense of what we write about what we care about the genres in which we write and things of that nature. We just celebrated that this past February. Then from there, we had the poetry month event here in Dallas. It was one of the virtual events, that’s something that can be seen on our YouTube channel. We got to showcase some great talent in terms of poets, spoken word artists, and vocalists. This past April, so there’s been quite a few things going on. Then as a result of that, a frat brother of mine, Rickie Smith, who is the president of In The Life Atlanta, a part of the larger Atlanta Black Pride committee, known for the celebration of the same name, this Labor Day, selected me to be the moderator and the chairperson for their annual literary café event, an event where eight authors will come forward and do different author presentations, introducing themselves and their work to both an in person and virtual audience. Then we’re going to have a panel discussion on the art and business of writing. It’s an opportunity for all the authors to talk about, what works for them and that sort of thing. I’m pretty much acting as a host and moderator for that discussion. That’s something we’re looking forward to this Labor Day weekend, Saturday, September, 4 at 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm. We’re still working out some things on the location, but that information be coming out soon.

PI: You have just been sitting around twiddling your damn thumbs. Not doing a damn thing, just sitting around. (Silly Laughs) In response to that I know you’re ready to say, “Do I need to repeat all of that shit I’ve just said?” (Laughs)

EP: (Laughs.) It’s been quite a busy spring. Now the main focus is the clients that I’m working.

PI: You mentioned that you were doing some publishing, not just for yourself, but doing productions and publishing of other authors. Was that your intention all along, when you founded Rainbow Room Publishing, LLC?  

EP: It was always a two part dream. It’s been like everything else in life, something that’s always been evolving. It started with the idea of having a vehicle for my own work and then also the idea of having a vehicle to put out the work of other people. That’s how we get to the subject of the first client, Ronnie Smith the author of “Miracles: Prodigal Child of God.” He paid for his book to be done, included gathering all of his notes, laying everything out, putting everything in order, editing, copywriting, designing the cover, doing the interior, setting up a mechanism for him to sell online. The other aspect of that was looking at the idea of being a traditional publishing house at some point, that’s where the beauty of the anthology I spoke of “From a Black Perspective: The Blood,” comes in. That was something that was totally done in house and paid for in house. It gave five authors an opportunity to be published. All of them are working on longer individual works, which will eventually turn into them being clients as well. It’s always been two things. A way for me to get my voice out and a way for me to get other voices out. That’s where the beauty of the literary cafe came in. This isn’t something produced by my company, this is someone else that saw what I and my company were doing and said, hey, here’s the perfect person to help us to represent the diversity of literature for this great event.

PI: That is wonderful to hear. It’s always a good thing to win in our pursuit of our own careers, but we can reach back and help others and network it’s really important to reach back to help other authors.

EP: It was a very easy decision in that I was a participant in that event. I believe in 2013, probably shortly after we spoke.  It did a lot for me that just being at that event, not even talking about how many books were sold, or being in that one space. I mentioned to somebody else recently that in between, all of the action and all the excitement, there are those times where you’re tempted to give up. It was a big leap of faith in that I drove from Chicago to Atlanta to participate. It did a lot for me financially, emotionally, spiritually. It just gave me a drive to keep going. It was awesome to see it come full circle, to facilitate that whole experience for other authors. Hopefully you’ll be able to talk to those authors very soon.

PI: Right. This is a good segway into talking about In The Life Atlanta Literary Café. You talked about it a little bit earlier, in terms of how you became involved in it. Let’s talk a little bit more about the Literary Café. Who are the authors that will be a part of it?

EP: Just like I said earlier the Literary Café is a 90 minute event. Roughly the first 30-40 minutes or so there will be a 10 minute presentation given by each of the authors. In that 10 minute space of time they’re going to introduce themselves and talk a little bit about their work. This is particularly important because of the different genres they’re representing in addition to looking at the diversity of the authors themselves, as far as representing different aspects of what I’ve come to call the alphabet family. The LGBTQIA + population. They are writing from different vantage points, perspectives, which is very interesting to me. We’re looking at a number of different things where you’re seeing things that are about doing self-work. They will be talking about their experiences, and the experience of transitioning. There’s a lot of children’s literature out there, we’re looking at two different authors that are bringing us that. One speaking on the idea of being the product of a same gender loving male couple. The other talks about a little girl who’s being exposed to the idea that the person that was once her uncle is now her aunt. It’s beautifully and very intelligently done. We’re also looking at a book called The Queen’s English, which was authored by Chloe Davis.  I’m trying to be mindful not to name names because I’ll forget someone. If you’re familiar with linguistics and the origin of words, the author has designed a dictionary that basically goes into the history of the LGBTQIA+ lexicon. It covers where we get words like, “shade” where we get the “lesbian” and things of that nature. It’s something that’s going to be very entertaining, educational, and inspirational. You’ll also have the opportunity as guests, to ask questions such as how did they get started? How did they get published? Who did they go through, tips on the writing process, any tips on the business of writing. We’ll wrap it up with the opportunity for those authors who have given up their time doing this for free to sell their works.  

PI: It’s a different kind of literary cafe or book type event. Most events like this consists of mostly fictional authors.

EP: Yeah

PI: Continues — That’s okay, we go with the flow. There’s a time and place for everything. I‘m amazed that you’re actually including nonfiction authors. Where did that come from? Why was that important to include some nonfiction artists?

EP: It’s comes back to the idea of diversity. This event it’s not meant to be looked at as a banner or higher regarded event in relation to anything else that’s happening Labor Day Weekend. It’s adding to the cultural component and so we’re trying to appeal to everyone within this demographic.  I love that this event is in existence. It is part of the literature that they’re writing, whether it’s fiction, nonfiction, whether they’re trans, cisgender, same gender loving or not, it’s giving a little bit of everybody’s experience. It’s kind of like an appetizer sampler. There’s a little bit of something for everybody. It’s one of the things I’m really excited about.

PI: Now that you have more experience under belt as a publisher, what would you say to aspiring artists in terms of learning the business of publishing? Or learning the business of presenting yourself as a brand?

EP: One thing that I like about the event is that everyone’s presentation is designed in a way that they’re, for lack of a better word, not just selling their work. They’re selling themselves. They’re introducing who they are. We had a question that went out to everyone that was something reminiscent of my experience when I applied to do the same presentation years ago. The idea of how your work in some shape or form, elevates everyone’s voices, desires, and things of that nature. That even comes back to that idea of the fact that some people can relate better to fiction, and some people can relate better to nonfiction. They are going to be showing everybody a little bit of themselves and their work. A lot of people have said over the years that where I have a story, particularly my first book, borrows a lot from my real life, the audience really wants to know who you are. Be prepared to share a bit of your self, why you write, what you write, what your experiences are, what your influences are, how you hope to influence others with your writing, ideally, in a positive way.

PI: Most of these types of events aren’t paid events. I encourage folks to come in and get to know these authors. And purchase their books.

EP: Right, exactly.

PI: How do you prepare to moderate this type of event? What are some of the things you do to prepare? Is it okay for you can share some of those trade secrets?

EP: That’s not a problem at all. To be quite honest that is something that started after selecting the authors on the panel. We have selected the eight panelist, which is a lot, in my opinion for this amount of time. They’re pretty much doing all the work for me, as you’ll see, when you get their press kit. It has well-organized samples of work which goes back to what I’ve said earlier about selling your story. Just reading through the bios some they’re very impressive. The panelist’s experience include being a speaker at the White House for the Obama administration and being on the “Iyanla Vanzant’s Fix My life.” They’ve done quite a number of things. It’s something I noticed when I did a zoom call with them. The panelist came through really quick by having all their materials together. I guess that’s another big piece of advice to any author. It’s promoting their work and promoting themselves. The press kit is a very important tool. The idea of having those photos, that bio and having stuff that people can look at quickly to evaluate who you are; what your work is, and what you’ve accomplished so far. The panelists made my job very easy. I look at the analogy that for me, in a sense I’m setting a stage. They’re the stars that walk on stage. I just need to be a part of the infrastructure that builds that stage, platform and opportunity for them to use their voices. Honestly, in my opinion, it’s a piece of cake. I think the biggest thing would be when it comes to the panel discussions. I’m not really worried about it. They have been representing themselves and their work very well, as you’ll see from the press kits. One of my biggest concerns is just monitoring the time.

PI: Right. For me it’s sometimes hard to say ‘no’ to people. How did you determine who should be part of this event?  Did you tell someone ‘no’ they could not participate?

EP: Honestly, thankfully, I was not the only person who was responsible for getting panelists involved. There were a number of people that we looked at. I wanted to have a balanced panel. We just got to a point where we had to cut it off somewhere. There are a lot of people that are really great. We all had a lot of different suggestions and knew of people that could have been ideal to extend the opportunity to.  Some were available and some weren’t. I reached out to a few people and they had other things going on. It was actually fairly easy. I honestly didn’t feel like I had any hair pulling moments where it’s like, ‘Oh God, I’ve got to fit this person in. It wasn’t like that. I feel like it just rolled out perfectly. I love the idea of even numbers or symmetry with eight people. That’s perfect. It’s a 90-minute event. And unfortunately, they can’t speak or do very long presentations. The higher up you went in numbers, the more logistical problems you would have.

PI: I know you want people attend the actual live event. Is there a possibility of this event being available for archival purposes for future reference online?

EP: That’s the plan and the beauty of being a part of this event. That’s another reason it was easy to say ‘yes´ for me. The logistics of having this event stream is the responsibility of another committee.  I’ve already been assured there won’t be a problem with seeing everything virtually.

PI: Is there anything else you would like to tell us about the event that’s available right now for announcement?

EP: The next thing to look forward to is the announcement of the location. That’s pretty much the last thing, as far as I understand, it’s all been done. It’s just one of those things in any business, nothing is done until the ink is dry on the contract. We’re just waiting to hear more back from the committee persons in charge of that aspect of the event and more opportunities for myself and the authors involved to come through media outlets such as yours and promote what we’re doing individually as well as collectively through the event.

Date: Sat. September 4, 2021

Time: 1:00 PM – 3:30 PM

(A key component of Atlanta Black Pride’s 25th annual celebration)

Venue: Atlanta Marriott Suites Midtown, 35 14th St NE, Atlanta, GA 30309

Event description:
During this free, 90-minute event, attendees will be treated to presentations by each of the amazingly talented authors listed below, as well as a panel discussion. We are also setting aside time for bookselling and signing on the part of the authors. Collectively the presenters represent the literary diversity of the LGBTQIA+ community. Ultimately, this annual artistic and cultural event is designed to expose in-person and virtual attendees to the entertaining, educational and inspirational benefits inherent to the art and the business of writing. Additionally, the Literary Café seeks to further the success of each author volunteering their time and talents. Finally, it aids the cultural and community service oriented aims of the “Atlanta Black Pride” and “In the Life Atlanta” organizations. Streaming information will be provided closer to the date for the benefit of virtual attendees.

Aim: promoting the collective endeavors of the “Atlanta Black Pride” and “In The Life Atlanta” organizations as well as each presenter to serve our specific and shared global communities by giving voice to the former’s diversity, concerns, and accomplishments while illustrating the same to the latter utilizing the vehicle of the literary arts.

Theme: “Lift Every Voice”
Each author has been tasked with considering the following question:

“How do your experiences as a writer coupled with your literary work contribute to the uplifting of the Black Gay Community, the LGBTQIA+ Community and the world at large?”