Amena Brown

Atlanta author and poet Amena Brown is an unabashed lover of vinyl records. While vinyl has made a decidedly big comeback in the last few years, Brown held on to her collection from the 80s and has continued to add to it by frequent visits to local record shops. Her love of music and pop culture also helped define her latest book, “How To Fix A Broken Record: Thoughts on Vinyl Records, Awkward Relationships and Learning to Be Myself.”

The “memoir-esque” book, out now from Zondervan/Harper Collins, mixes all of Brown’s touchstones: music, her faith and poetry. She credits her father as the impetus behind the book.

“I was talking to my dad about some issues I was having and he said I was stuck like a needle in the groove of a record, constantly repeating,” Brown recalled. I was stuck in the groove and needed to pick up the needle and skip ahead. It made me start thinking about how many other broken records I had in my life.”

While “How To Fix A Broken Record” offers up an inspiration and guidance for those who need to get unstuck, Brown uses her own life story to propel the book, writing candidly about growing up, her belief in God, find love and her marriage. And, of course, about music.

“Music informed how I grew up and continue to grow,” Brown said, noting that the first record she ever bought for herself was Stevie Wonder’s seminal “Songs in the Key of Life.”
You can often find Brown flipping through the wax at Sunbrimmer Record in Avondale Estates or Moods Music and Wax ‘n Facts, both in Little Five Points.

Brown also remains active in the city’s spoken word poetry scene, hosting a regular open mic at Urban Grind and returning to her stomping grounds at Java Monkey Speaks at the Decatur coffee house on Sunday nights. She said attending open mics not only helped hone her own voice, but also helped make her a better listener when it comes to other people’s stories.

“I believe you should to more listening than talking,” Brown said. “Poetry and spoken word is being part of something bigger than yourself – it’s a communal experience.”

The stories she tells in “How To Fix A Broken Record” were a long time coming. “I had to learn to be vulnerable in the work,” she said. “It took me a long time to understand the value of my voice and to tell these stories.”

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Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.