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Odd Words September 27, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in literature, New Orleans, NOLA, Odd Words, Poetry, publishing, Toulouse Street.
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A plague of blessings, that’s been the story for the last several weeks when I type up all the conflicting listings for the busiest nights. Two weeks ago it was the choice between Carolyn Hembee’s poetry book launch and the season opener for 17 Poets! Fortunately I wasn’t forced to make a choice between NOLA poet spirit warrior Jenna Mae and Jimmy Ross’ birthday at 17 Poets! and something else, but tonight it is either John Sinclair at 17 Poets! or a fabulous line up of international prose stars hosted by Room 220 at Melvin’s. I’ve seen Sinclair several times before, and I can almost smell the tamales. I haven’t been good about keeping my the Odd Words’ public Google Calendar but I would if I thought groups would take advantage of it to try to spread the word love out across the week. Keeping up both would turn this into a part-time job paying, um, well All Access passes to the local literary shindigs with a Total Cash Value of Over $1,000! (Applause sign. A drop of sweat rolls out from beneath Bob Barker’s mask, flashes like a tiny spark of life in the stage lights. ) Still, I think I’ll have to start keeping up the calendar and emailing reminders to organizers to try to make it possible for people to do more rather than force them to choose.

No Against the Day/Kindle update again this week. Work is the curse of the reading and writing class, and I’m too old and have too many self-inflicted responsibilities to do the cold-water walk-up poet thing. Foot loose and fancy free for me means not paying attention except to worries and tripping on the sidewalk.

There are only five days left to sign up for the writer’s workshops at the annual Tennessee Williams Festival, so you better get on the stick. Workshop facilitators include: Catherine Frank: YA and Children’s Lit; Zachary Lazar: Literary Fiction; Bev Marshall: Contemporary Fiction; Chris Wiltz: Fiction: All Genres and Creative Non-Fiction. Spaces are filling up fast and classes are limited to 10 people, so register now to reserve your seat!

& J.K. Rowling’s Casual Vacancy goes on sale today. I missed posting up Maple Street Book Shop’s launch party breakfast. This is Rowling’s first novel for adults and her first since ending the Harry Potter series.[COPY DESK NOTE: ADULT NOVEL? REALLY?] Do you really want to run out to Metairie for this? Of course you don’t, not with all of the indie stores here in New Orleans.

& John SinclairTonight at the Goldmine Saloon 17 Poets! presents the return of John Sinclair to New Orleans at 8 pm. Hailed as “The Hardest Working Poet in Show Business” (Ben Edmonds, San Francisco Chronicle) and “The Last of the Beatnik Warrior Poets” (Mick Farren, Los Angeles Weekly), John Sinclair is likewise a music journalist widely recognized as one of America’s leading authorities on blues and modern jazz. Famous for his role as DJ and a forced behind the MC5 during his days in Detroit, Sinclair moved to New Orleans in 1991 and joined the volunteer staff of WWOZ radio, winning OffBeat magazine’s reader’s poll as the city’s most popular DJ five years in a row (1999-2003). In 1992 he formed his band, the Blues Scholars (founded in Detroit ten years earlier), recorded his first CD in 1994 and began to tour the United States as a performance artist backed by jazz, blues and rock ensembles. He has collaborated with musicians from Little Milton and Jimbo Mathus to the New Orleans Jazz Vipers, Ras Moshe, the Kudzu Kings, Afrissippi, the Pinkeye Orchestra and the Dutch rappers Lange Frans & Baas B. Sinclair has published several collections of his poetry along with his major work in verse, Fattening Frogs For Snakes: Delta Sound Suite, an investigation in verse of the Delta blues and the world that produced it. His latest collection SONG OF PRAISE Homage to John Coltrane was published in 2011 with Trembling Pillow Press and is accompanied by a CD with the same title. It is also available as an Ereader through Kindle.

& Tonight at Garden District Book Shop at 5:30 pm John Shelton Reed’s Dixie Bohemia: A French Quarter Circle in the 1920′s. In the years following World War I, the New Orleans’s French Quarter attracted artists and writers with its low rents, faded charm, and colorful street life. By the 1920s Jackson Square had become the center of a vibrant if short-lived Bohemia. A young William Faulkner and his roommate William Spratling, an artist who taught at Tulane, were among the “artful and crafty ones of the French Quarter,” as they styled themselves. In Dixie Bohemia Reed introduces Faulkner s circle of friends ranging from the distinguished writer Sherwood Anderson to a gender-bending Mardi Gras costume designer, from Tulane s president to one of its cheerleaders and brings to life the people and places of New Orleans in the jazz age.

& Tonight at Melvin’s on St. Claude at 7 pm Room 220 presents the first installation of this fall’s LIVE PROSE reading series with T. Geronimo Johnson, Khaled al-Berry, and Lucy Fricke at 7 p.m. at Melvin’s. Fricke is one of 14 residents in the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program (IWP) who have made a pilgrimage to New Orleans this fall—the program’s sixth annual visit—bringing writers from around the world to the Crescent City for a week of readings, tours, and classroom visits. Fricke and al-Berry are both distinguished writers of nonfiction as well as prose, and they have been the recipients of accolades and acknowledgements both here and abroad. Egyptian-born al-Berry, who currently works as a journalist in London, has written for numerous publications, including the BBC, and is a columnist for the Tahrir Newspaper. He is the author of the autobiography Life is More Beautiful Than Paradise, and his 2010 novel An Oriental Dance was shortlisted for the Arabic Booker Prize. Fricke is the author of two novels (in German). She has also worked as an organizer for such events as the Berlin International Poetry Festival and is the current director of the HAM.LIT festival in Hamburg. They are joined by New Orleans native and University of Iowa MFA graduate T. Geronimo Johnson.

& Friday night at Octavia Books hosts what sounds like a fascinating book, John Shelton Reed’s Dixie Bohemia: A French Quarter Circle in the 1920′s. In the years following World War I, the New Orleans’s French Quarter attracted artists and writers with its low rents, faded charm, and colorful street life. By the 1920s Jackson Square had become the center of a vibrant if short-lived Bohemia. A young William Faulkner and his roommate William Spratling, an artist who taught at Tulane, were among the “artful and crafty ones of the French Quarter,” as they styled themselves. In Dixie Bohemia Reed introduces Faulkner s circle of friends ranging from the distinguished writer Sherwood Anderson to a gender-bending Mardi Gras costume designer, from Tulane s president to one of its cheerleaders and brings to life the people and places of New Orleans in the jazz age.

& Saturday at 3 p.m. organizer Dennis Formento will host the New Orleans venue for 100,000 Poets for Change, the second anual world-wide event, at Cafe Istanbul at 3 pm. The event is free and open to the public with a focus on The crisis in public education and the American obsession with violence

& Saturday at 5 p.m. Simpatico Press poets Megan Burns, Gina Ferrara and Jonathan Kline will read at the Creole Gardens Bed and Breakfast Hotel,1415 Prytania Street. Simpatico Press is making chapbooks for this reading with work from all 3 poets, so come by and get a special chap.

& Saturday at 6 pm the Garden District Book Shop Bayou St. John Location T. Geronimo Jackson will be signing his book, Hold It ‘til It Hurts, at our Bayou St. John location. T. Geronimo Johnson was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. His fiction and poetry have appeared in “Best New American Voices,” “Indiana Review,” “Los Angeles Review of Books,” and “Illuminations,” among others. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a former Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, Johnson teaches writing at the University of California-Berkeley. Hold It ‘Til It Hurts is his first book.

& Susan Larson, the former book editor of the former Times-Picayune newspaper and member of the National Book Critics Circle hosts The Reading Life on WWNO (89.9 FM) on Tuesdays at 1:30 p.m. repeating Sundays at Noon. She features interviews with authors of local and national interest.

& Also on Tuesday at 5:45 pm Maple Street Book Shop’s First Tuesday Book Club meets at 5:45 to discuss Sara Gran’s book, Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead. Newcomers always welcome. In the first of a new mystery series featuring quirky private investigator Claire DeWitt, Claire investigates the disappearance of a top prosecutor in post-Katrina New Orleans.

& Tuesday night at 7 pm the 1718 Reading Series hosted by students in the English departments of Loyola, UNO and Tulane will feature poet Andy Stallings on Oct. 2 at their usual venue, The Columns. I’ve got nothing bad to say about the Goldmine or the Maple Leaf, but there are only certain places you can relish a proper Sazerac with your poetry. Hopefully this does not disqualify me from any future Pirate Shots at You Know Where.

& Also on Tuesday night at 7 pm, the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop hosts its first night of Poetry at the Sandbar. Visiting poets Alison Pelegrin and Joseph Wood will read from their collections. The reading will be followed by a brief Q&A and book signing. Please find bios and sample poems below. Also, check out our Facebook event page: http://www.facebook.com/events/468920439796753/

A plague of blessings. 1718 is a group of students including UNO. What can I say?

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