Macon well represented at Georgia Writers Association awards

This painting is part of the “Brushstrokes” exhibit at The 567 Center for Renewal.
This painting is part of the “Brushstrokes” exhibit at The 567 Center for Renewal. Special to The Telegraph

Since 1964, the Georgia Writers Association has recognized authors in 14 categories, ranging from first novel to poetry, with the gold pen award for Georgia Author of the Year. Kennesaw State University hosted the ceremony on June 4 for 154 nominees and their guests at the university’s Center for Continuing Education.

Kirk West, who released his photographic journey as road manager for the Allman Brothers Band, “Les Brers,” last year, was a nominee in the Specialty Books category. William H. (Willie) Perkins, tour manager for the ABB in 1970-1976, a personal manager for Gregg Allman in 1983-1989 and a friend of West, was a nominee in the same genre for “The Allman Brothers Band Classic Memorabilia, 1969-76,” which he compiled with co-author Jack Weston.

John C. Griffin’s book of free verse poetry, “After the Meltdown,” garnered a nomination in the Poetry category.

Among the sponsors for the evening was the Allman Brothers Band Museum at the Big House, represented by Executive Director Robert Schneck and his wife, Jen, who manned the museum’s information table in the lobby, distributed fliers and answered questions about the house and its legendary history.

Many of the judges for the various categories are faculty members at Kennesaw State. However, Kevin Cantwell, interim provost at Middle Georgia State University, and a poet whose work received the coveted James Dickey Poetry Prize in 2011, judged the poets’ entries. Former President Jimmy Carter was a nominee in the Memoir/Autobiography section for “A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety,” one of several books published by Mercer University Press for the numerous writers, including Perkins.

Although Macon’s authors did not bring home a GAYA gold medal, acknowledgment of the skill and commitment required to catch the attention of the writers’ association encouraged the group to try again, with the satisfaction that the work was exemplary enough to be in the company of some of Georgia’s most esteemed authors.

Kirsten West joined her husband and friends, including Tommy Talton, of Cowboy Band fame, his wife, Patty, Amy Bell and Jeff Payne at the Big House Museum table, strategically reserved on the front row by Schneck. Griffin’s uncle, Harold Griffin, traveled from north Georgia to join Brenda Steppe, James Thompson, Alexis Vear and Perkins at a second table sponsored by Springer Mountain Farms. Griffin’s uncle remarked on his nephew’s penchant for poetry, nurtured by his father’s interest when he was growing up in Hahira, a proclivity that took Griffin to Valdosta State University for a degree in literature in 1984. Griffin views his poetry as a reflection of his background, “when family farms on dirt roads, grocery trucks and home cooking still existed.”


On First Friday this month, the sidewalks on First Street were full of curious art buffs, anxious to see the new home for the 567 Center for Renewal, which celebrated its move from the same address on Cherry Street to 456 First St., in the heart of a mini-shopping district anchored by the Macon Arts Alliance headquarters and gallery.

Since the center is best known by “the 567,” the name will remain the same while the gallery offers more user-friendly space, all on one floor, full of natural light and located close to other retail outlets that bring more foot traffic.

Wear, the upscale thrift boutique two doors away, raises money for Daybreak, a local charity for the homeless, and has two floors of stylish and practical, gently used clothes for men and women — it is not unusual to find never-worn designer fashions, worthy of the runway, on the racks.

Just Tap’d, which sells craft beer and light meals, is a popular hang-out for singles and families, who fill the tables outside in a pet-friendly environment. Robinson Home, the cook’s favorite shop for the finest in kitchen utensils and a flurry of activity when specialty classes are held in the teaching kitchen, is in this cluster of First Street shops, where door-to-door shopping is a pleasure.

On June 3, two contemporary painters, Joe Adams and Cherry Brewer, the featured artists for “Brushstrokes” at the 567, exhibited their work, each with a distinctive flair. Adams’ use of the palette knife in the boldest of colors, in “Window Dressing,” is a sharp counterpoint to Brewer’s equally colorful but ethereal brush strokes in “Summer Plaid,” a deliberate and disciplined pattern that is reminiscent of children’s play clothes.

Guests, including Ruth Sykes and Kathy Hoskins Nolan, remarked on the transformation of the gallery to a light-filled studio, after spending its first years in a second story, dark space. Look for the 567 to be a major player in exhibitions, workshops and in other community endeavors.

Katherine Walden is a freelance writer and interior designer in Macon. Contact her at 478-742-2224 or