No, this is not a gang of gun-wielding, fedora sporting lobsters ingeniously bamboozling you out of your money. Lobster Mobster is a local collective of poets fusing together words and symbols into a verbal bullet aimed at the streets of Atlanta.
The collective is an aggregate of local writers from all parts of the city who aspire to bring their personal work into a public sphere. Ben Leake, the founder of the group, met all the members on the campus of Georgia State or at art events around the city.
An important aspect of poetry — one that is often overlooked —is its delivery to an audience. After submitting poetry to local literary magazines, poems are either accepted or rejected, a process that local creatives of any accord are all too familiar with. Lobster Mobster brings words directly to audiences through reading events, skipping the publishing hurdle altogether.
“I did not want the barrier of having a publisher decide whether or not my poems get to make it to an audience. So I thought that Lobster Mobster would be a good way to bring local poetry to a local audience,” said Leake.
On Saturday, Nov. 25, Lobster Mobster hosts its third poetry reading. The event takes place at the Goat Farm, a former cotton-gin manufacturing area turned creative sanctuary for art, located on the west side of the city. Atlanta-based orchestral folk band Little Tybee will be providing the soundtrack during the night and there will be an opening music arrangement by Jack Preston, the drummer of local dark and dreary, punk-underscored act Buffalo Bangers.
Although the readings typically come from the members of Lobster Mobster, active audience participation is needed.
“Readings are kind of an odd thing, they require active participation by the audience. Not so much as in a gallery where there is some participation but it’s on [the gallery’s] terms,” said Jarrid Dawson, an active member of Lobster Mobster and the designer of this event’s flier. “People are actually listening and not just smoking outside.”
And audience contribution is booming. More and more people have been frequenting the readings, and the turnout for this upcoming event is expected to be high.
“We’ve been very fortunate to have a super receptive audience. One of things that I have noticed is that the audience makes a huge difference as far as your confidence level and the quality of the performance,” said Leake. “If you start to get nervous or more confidence as you are reading, you start to feel the emotion of the crowd.”
Along with incorporating other artistic avenues into their poetry and writing, the members of the Lobster Mobster collective are avid supporters of Atlanta’s art and music scenes. Music is often featured during their readings, and any opportunity to promote local artists is used.
“I use the flier as an opportunity to promote a local artist — we are able to not only advertise for our event but let an artist show off their work to a public audience as well,” Leake said about his penchant for having local artists design the flyers for their readings.
The collective performed unnamed for their first reading, and a name wasn’t decided upon until the sight of a stuffed lobster toy caught Leake’s eye. Beginning as a joke, the name Lobster Mobster caught on — and now the group serves as a steady route to more creative expression.
“It’s interesting to see how people interpret the name when they are doing artistic work for the readings. It’s a fun, playful concept but it allows a lot of room for creativity,” said Cameron Stuart, another poet in the collective.
Aside from their upcoming reading at the Goat Farm, what does the future hold for Lobster Mobster?
“We’ll probably take over the world and then genetically mutate everyone into lobsters,” joked Stuart.
The next Lobster Mobster poetry reading will be at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 27. The event, which is free and open to all ages, takes place at the Goat Farm (1200 Foster St.). In addition to the reading, Little Tybee and Jack Preston will perform.