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Odd Words February 28, 2013

Posted by Mark Folse in books, literature, memoir, New Orleans, novel, Odd Words, Poetry, publishing, Toulouse Street.
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Any book of journalism with a blurb from David Simon will make Odd Words sit up and take notice, so I want to call out the appearances of reporter Sarah Carr featuring her new book, HOPE AGAINST HOPE, a moving portrait of school reform in New Orleans told through the eyes of a family, a teacher, and a principal. She appears tonight at Garden District Book and next week on Wednesday at Octavia. The appearance at Garden District will be filmed by C-SPAN for BookTV. I have my own strong feelings about the anarcho-centrifugal Balkanization of the New Orleans school system, and can’t wait to read this.

& so to the listings…

& Sarah Carr appears at Garden District Books at 6 p.m. in a reading/discussion that will be filmed by C-SPAN for BookTV. “It’s work like this that makes journalism truly matter, that makes clear that reportage is not merely about fact and argument and theory, but about human lives in the balance. In Hope Against Hope, Sarah Carr has taken an open mind and a careful eye to the delicate, complicated issue of public education and the fading American commitment to equality of opportunity. She does so not by embracing ideological cant or political banter, but by following people through the schools of New Orleans, a city that is trying desperately to reconstitute and better itself after a near-death experience. Don’t embarrass yourself by speaking further on American education without first reading this.” — David Simon, former Baltimore Sun reporter and creator of The Wire and Treme

& 17 Poets! will host visiting poets Barbara Henning and Jamey Jones followed by the open mic. Henning is the author of seven collections of poetry and three novels. Her most recent books are a collection of poetry and prose, Cities & Memory (Chax), a novel, Thirty Miles from Rosebud, and a chapbook, A Slow Process (Monkey Puzzle). A Swift Passage is forthcoming this year from Quale Press. She is also the author/editor of a book of interviews, Looking Up Harryette Mullen (Belladonna), and The Selected Prose of Bobbie Louise Hawkins (Blazevox). Barbara grew up in Detroit and has lived in New York City since 1983, except for a few years in Tucson. She teaches for Naropa University, as well as Long Island University in Brooklyn, where she is Professor Emerita. Jones is from Pensacola, Florida, where he has long been an active proponent of all things poetry. He earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Long Island University in 2010. His most recent chapbooks are the notebook troubled the sleep door (brown boke press, 2008) and Twelve Windows (brown boke press, 2009). His poems have appeared in Yawp, The Mundane Egg, Brooklyn Paramount, The Tsatsawassins, With + Stand, and other various journals.

& Please join Room 220 as we celebrate the release of the newest Press Street publication, We’re Pregnant, with a Happy Hour Salon from 6 – 9 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28, at the Press Street HQ (3718 St. Claude Ave.). We’re Pregnant is a chapbook of short fiction by Room 220’s esteemed editor, Nathan C. Martin, along with photography by Akasha Rabut, Sophie T. Lvoff, and Grissel Giuliano. The book contains three of Martin’s short stories—which explore in morbid fashion anxieties related to sex, disease, marriage, and childbirth—with images inspired by the stories from each of the photographers. The result is a slim, elegant volume containing three dark couplets of photography and text.

& The Poetry Society of America and Tulane University present 1 THE NEW SALON: READING AND CONVERSATIONS Jericho Brown, with Peter Cooley at 7 p.m. in the Stone Auditorium, Woldenburg Art Center. Brown worked as the speechwriter for the Mayor of New Orleans before receiving his PhD in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston. The recipient of the Whiting Writers Award and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Krakow Poetry Seminar in Poland, Brown is an Assistant Professor at Emory University. His first book, Please (New Issues), won the American Book Award.

& Tonight at Maple Street Book Shop Uptown hosts a reading and signing with Chris Wiltz who will be promoting her new book, Shoot the Money, at 6 p.m. From Mamou to Miami to New Orleans, money and friendship are at the heart of Shoot the Money as it explores women’s desires for big bucks, and they see what money does to those who have it, lose it, pursue it, or steal it. And what happens when they try a little revenge on their rapid chase toward a better life.

& Thursday Octavia Books hosts a presentation and book signing with journalist Daniel Brook celebrating the release of his new book, A HISTORY OF FUTURE CITIES, a pioneering exploration of four cities where East meets West and past becomes future: St. Petersburg, Shanghai, Mumbai, and Dubai. Brook is the author of The Trap and a journalist whose work has appeared in publications including Harper’s, The Nation, and Slate. A New York native, Brook lives in New Orleans

& Also on Thursday night the Black Student Union of Loyola University will be hosting a Spoken Word Showcase on Loyola’s campus in the Audubon Room located on the second floor of the Danna Student Center. The event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 7pm and the show starts at 8pm. The event will feature 3 opening performances from students followed by sets from local poets including Hero 44, John L, Tony Wilson, Indie Writes and Smutdapoet.

& Friday Maple Street Book Shop’s Healing Center location hosts a reading with John McCusker at our Healing Center location, Thursday, February 28th, 6:30-8PM. He’ll be signing his book, Creole Trombone: Kid Ory and the Early Years of Jazz. Edward “Kid” Ory (1886-1973) was a trombonist, composer, recording artist, and early New Orleans jazz band leader. Creole Trombone tells his story from birth on a rural sugar cane plantation in a French-speaking, ethnically mixed family, to his emergence in New Orleans as the city’s hottest band leader. Drawing on oral history and Ory’s unpublished autobiography, “Creole Trombone” is a story that is told in large measure by Ory himself. McCusker is a photographer for The Times-Picayune. He was part of the the team that shared the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Journalism for covering Hurricane Katrina.

& Friday night Garden District Books hosts Deirdre Gogarty with Darrelyn Saloom and the book My Call to the Ring: A Memoir of a Girl Who Yearns to Box. Although in the late 1980′s boxing is socially frowned upon and illegal for women in Ireland, a young women named Deirdre Gogarty has one dream: to be the first world champion. Unable to fit in at school and in the midst of her parents’ unraveling marriage, she plans her suicide. Death hovers in the back of her mind, but boxing beckons as Gogarty defies the odds and finds a gym and coach who is willing to train her. Her fierce determination leads to underground bouts in Ireland and Britain. But how can a shy, young misfit become a professional boxer in a country that bans women from the sport? Gogarty follows her calling to compete and journeys from the Irish Sea to the Gulf of Mexico, from outcast to center ring, from the depths of depression to the championship fight of her life.

& The first Saturday of the month brings the Poetry Buffet at the Latter Memorial Library at 2 p. hosted by Gina Ferrara. Featured this month are Delia Tomino Nakayama, Melinda Palacio and Genaro Ky Ly Smith.

& Miss Maureen of Maple Street Books Uptown announces that at this week’s Story Time: “We’ll read Henri’s Walk to Paris by Leonore Klein and talk about all the places we could walk to.” 11:30 a.m.

& Octavia Books will be at this Saturday’s Crescent City Farmers Market for a joint booksigning featuring Lorin Gaudin – NEW ORLEANS CHEF’S TABLE – and Elsa Hahne – THE GRAVY: In the Kitchen with New Orleans Musicians. Gaudin’s book explores the culinary traditions in our fair city, amidst the dining evolution taking place, with recipes for the home cook from 50 of the city’s most celebrated restaurants, while Hahne’s digs into the deep connections between New Orleans music and food with forty-four first-person accounts from musicians and more than two hundred photographs.

& Also on Saturday from 1-3 p.m. at the Garden District Book Shop Gayle Nolan discusses and signs her book, What Love Can Do: Recollected Stories of Slavery and Freedom in New Orleans and the Surrounding Area. Arthur Mitchell was born in Irontown, Louisiana, on August 24, 1915. During his early childhood, he moved with his family to the French Quarter of New Orleans. There, he and his siblings sat around a coal or wood stove at night, listening to family stories about the descendents of a beautiful young slave girl from East Central Africa sold in 1810 to a French farmer in the New Orleans area. Later, Mitchell realized that the stories so precious to him needed to be preserved after his death, and he began writing them down in fifteen-minute segments during his work breaks at the Cabildo in New Orleans. His original 150-page, hand-written memoir was lost in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina, when the levee broke just two miles from his house in the lower ninth ward of New Orleans. Fortunately, one copy was preserved by Gayle Nolan, who has edited and prepared the manuscript for publication.

& Also on Saturday the Rising Tide 7.5 presents a forum on creative New Orleans. The afternoon program features a segment beginning at noon by Moira Crone, author of The Not Yet, a post-apocalyptic novel set in the year 2121 on the Isles of Orleans. Part Fantasy, part social commentary, Ms. Crone’s novel will sure to provide plenty of interesting topic of conversation. She’ll talk about the book itself and also about the real world issues that inspired her. This event is free and open to the public and we encourage anyone interested in the future of New Orleans’ creative art scene come by to learn more about how they can help protect and foster it.

& Sunday at Maple Street Books Bayou St. John location Elsa Hahne, author of shop favorite You Are Where You Eat: Stories and Recipes from the Neighborhoods of New Orleans, will be reading and signing her new cookbook, The Gravy: In the Kitchen with New Orleans Musicians, at our Bayou St. John location, Sunday, March 3rd at 2PM. It’s 192 pages, featuring 44 musicians, 45 recipes, and more than 200 color photographs, with an introduction by Dr. John.

& Sunday’s reading at the Maple Leaf Poetry Series is an open mic. Next week, March 10, will feature poets Dave Brinks, Rev. Goat Carson and John Sinclair perform their work.

& Sunday The Shadowbox Theater hosts the Slam Poetry Olympics, in which four teams square off in a test of poetry prowess. Events include timed poems, forms ranging from haiku to limerick, and a few surprises. Hosted by A Scribed Called Quess. 7 p.m. at 2400 St. Claude Ave.

& The new Sunday show from Spoken Word New Orleans is Poetry and Paint Brushes. Poets perform as a resident artists paints the crowd and performers. At 6 p.m. at Special Tea, 4337 Banks Street. No longer at the Bayou Road location.

& Monday, March 4th at 7 p.m. the Black Widow Salon at Crescent City Books welcomes Liz Williams, the founder and director of SOFAB (Southern Food and Beverage Museum) and author of the new New Orleans: A Food Biography; and Sara Roahen, author of the acclaimed Gumbo Tales and former restaurant critic for Gambit Weekly, who has been published in Food & Wine, Oxford American, Wine & Spirits, Gourmet, Tin House, Garden & Gun.

& Monday, March 4 The Tulane School of Architecture Master’s of Preservation Studies program invites you to hear award-winning journalist and urban critic Roberta Brandes Gratz speak on historic preservation and post-Katrina disaster recovery in New Orleans this upcoming Monday, March 4 from 1-2:30 p.m. in Richardson Memorial Hall room 305. Gratz is author of The Battle For Gotham: New York in the Shadow of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs and two other books, and a regular contributor to online news sites such as Citiwire.

& Also on Monday Garden District Book Shop features Veronica Kavass: Artists in Love: From Picasso & Gilot to Christo & Jeanne-Claude, A Century of Creative and Romantic Partnerships at 5 p.m. For centuries, great artists have been drawn together in friendship and in love. In her gorgeously designed book, curator and writer Veronica Kavass delves into the passionate and creative underpinnings of the art world’s most provocative romances. From Wassily Kandinsky and Gabriele Munter to Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, Kavass’ intimate and daring text provides a generous glimpse into the inspiring and sometimes tempestuous relationships between celebrated artists throughout the 20th and 21st centuries

& Every Monday, 9 p.m. Writer’s Block, usually held on the amphitheater steps on Decatur Street across from Jackson Square. Check the Facebook page for details.

& 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. She features interviews with authors of local and national interest.

& Maple Street Uptown’s First Tuesday Book Club will bmeet March 5th at 5:45pm to discuss Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann.

& Tuesday evening The 1718 Society, a student-run literary organization of Tulane, Loyola, and UNO students, hosts their reading 7 p.m. featuring curator and writer Veronica Kavass will read in March. She’ll be reading from her book, Artists in Love: From Picasso & Gilet to Christo and Jean-Claude, A Century of Creative and Romantic Partnerships, in which she discusses 29 20th- and 21st-century artist-couples—among them Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O’Keeffe; Josef and Anni Albers; Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera; and Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg-exploring “the way they, as partners, collaborated, influenced one another, or guarded their art from a lover’s influence, or how they used muse-manipulation to come into their own, or sacrificed their art for the other’s.”

&Octavia Books hosts a presentation and book signing with reporter Sarah Carr featuring her new book, HOPE AGAINST HOPE, a moving portrait of school reform in New Orleans told through the eyes of a family, a teacher, and a principal. .

& Wednesday nights from 7-10 it is Lyrics and Laughs, bridging comedy and poetry by featuring performers from both genres at Special Tea, 4337 Banks St.

It hardly rains in Eureka, California February 25, 2013

Posted by Mark Folse in Bayou St. John, Crow, cryptic envelopment, Fortin Street, Louisiana, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Certainly it’s rainy west of the Cascades: Oregon, Washington, Northern California; all those dreary grey days, redwoods and ferns, heroin and grunge. Portland and Seattle are the sentimental favorites. Along the Hurricane Coast it rains buckets, pissing pythons my girlfriend’s text message said the other night. It’s February 24th and we have had twenty cloudy days and thirteen of rain, including Mardi Gras Day. January we had twenty-six cloudy days, thirteen of rain. December: twenty cloudy days and eleven of rain. You get the idea. A rain of frogs would be an interesting relief.

Winter here makes you long for summer when the unrelenting heat and humidity are relieved by the afternoon monsoons, the fairly regular afternoon thunderstorms, watching the inbound cumulonimbus crowning over the coastal wetlands and the lake, the dense tropical splendor of the cooling downdrafts and downpours. One night not long after the flood I was stopped on a dark Marconi Avenue (the lights not yet restored) by a parade of ducks crossing the road to see what the raucous chorus of frogs were singing about in the small wetland that lies between the road and the levee. I rolled down the window and stopped the engine in the middle of the then-deserted road and simply listened in the cool aftermath, watched the egrets high-stepping through this cypress-studded niche eco-system.

The black sky is just turning gray as I write this but I can already hear the crows calling the laggards over the breakfast at the racetrack stables. When it’s this wet the seagulls will be with them, and I can stand just inside my door with a cigarette and watch their chessboard battle over the soggy infield and the best bits left by the horses. If I were a true naturalist masochist I could grab my hurricane slicker and an umbrella and walk the blocks to the park and watch the pelicans over the bayou but I have an inexplicable love of crows, love to watch the stark battle of black versus white against the gray sky. I don’t understand the attraction for the seagulls with the bayou a half-dozen blocks over. I understand the attraction to me, to stand with the heat of the house pouring out behind me just under shelter from the next downpour watching the crows loud party. We are rather fond of large and animated dinners down here.

Odd Words February 21, 2013

Posted by Mark Folse in books, Indie Book Shops, literature, New Orleans, novel, Odd Words, Poetry, publishing, Toulouse Street.
2 comments

A Lesson Before DyingThe Big Read comes to Xavier University of Louisiana with a busy program in celebration of Ernest J. Gaines’s novel A Lesson Before Dying, beginning with a keynote event Saturday, Feb. 23, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the University Center Ballroom. The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. Xavier, along with its partner, the New Orleans Public Library, was one of only 78 not-for-profits awarded a grant to host a Big Read project between September 2011 and June 2012. The Big Read in New Orleans focuses on A Lesson Before Dying by Louisiana native Ernest J. Gaines. The Feb. 23 kick-off event will feature an appearance by the author – a Louisiana native – who will be interviewed about his life and his work on stage by Fox 8 News Anchor Nancy Parker. Other events will be hosted at bookstores and other venues around down over the next month.

Also, March is almost upon us and the box office is open for the annual Tennessee Williams Festival. You can view the online schedule here and even make a personal list of events. You can buy your tickets and passes here online.

Bayou Magaine Launch 0221& Bayou Magazine, the literary journal of the University of New Orleans English Department, will launch their latest issue tonight, Feb. 21 at the Allways Lounge at 9:30 pm. with readings and music by the Natural Light All-Stars. This is Issue 58 of this biennial, which is a depressing number for those of us who remember the Ellipsis but an outstanding achievement for the UNO English Department staff and students who make it possible.

Andrei Codrescu

Andrei Codrescu

& Tonight 17 Poets! features the founders of the original Institute for the Imagination Andrei Codrescu and Dave Brinks, reading from their latest work: Codrescu’s So Recently Rent a World and Brink’s The Secret Brain: Selected Poems 1995-2012. When these two share the mike it is like the high-speed collision of elementary particles, a subtle but profound fireworks are certain to ripple through the space-time continuum at The Gold Mine. Open mic to follow hosted by Jimmy Ross, Proud Veteran of the U.S. Navy and other, sundry and interesting things. Codrescu is a towering figure not only in the New Orleans literary landscape but through his adventures in poetry, radio and film he is a cult icon of international stature. Brinks is founder and co-host of 17 Poets whose own most recent book was launched at City Lights Books in San Francisco and in Paris. [Interrupts the listings to read Charles Olson's "The Lordly and Isolate Satyrs".]

& Also on Thursday UNO Press invites you to a reading from two of their authors together for just one night! Come for the reading and stay for a Q&A session and book signing. Featured are MOIRA CRONE, author of The Not Yet, a science fiction novel that takes place in New Orleans in the year 2121. Find out why this fascinating novel was selected as one of the Best Books of 2012 by the influential blog Sans Serif, by NOLA.com as one of the “Top 10 Books of 2012,” and is one of seven Philip K. Dick Award nominees, one of the most prestigious science fiction awards in the nation. MARK STATMAN will read from Black Tulips, his translation of selected poems by José María Hinojosa. Black Tulips, released in October 2012, is swiftly becoming a mainstream in translation and has also been receiving some great press. In December, “Possibly Elegy” was featured as the poem of the day on Poetry Daily (poems.com), and New Pages named the translation a “New & Noteworthy” book of 2012.

& Finally, Garden District Book Shop hosts Margot Berwin and her book Scent of Darkness tonight at 5:30 p.m. “From the best-selling author of Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire, a magical, seductive novel about the power of scent–and what happens when a perfume renders a young woman irresistible to everyone around her.”

& Friday, Feb 22. The Maple Street Book Shop Bayou location continues The Diane Tapes reading series featuring Maia Elgin, Melissa Dickey, and Nik De Dominic at 6 p.m.

& Also on Friday at 6 p.m., Garden District features Sharisse Coulte book Rock My World and Lee Coulter’s CD Mr. Positivity. The writer/song-writer duo a husband & wife creative team for the past 9 years, are embarking on a 6 month 55 city tour of the U.S. with their 4 year old son to share their respective passions.

& Miss Maureen says, “We’ll read Mossy by Jan Brett and talk about turtles”! at Saturday’s Story Time with Miss Maureen at Maple Street’s Uptown location at 11:30 a.m.

& A reminder that Saturday is Xavier University of Louisiana’s kick off event for The Big Read, featuring Ernest J. Gaines’s novel A Lesson Before Dying, beginning with an appearance by the author – a Louisiana native – who will be interviewed about his life and his work on stage by Fox 8 News Anchor Nancy Parker, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the University Center Ballroom.

& Saturday night from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., as part of “Crescent City Books After Hours,” the denizens of The New Orleans Poetry Brothel invite you to a clandestine evening of intimate literature. Our poetry whores will be offering private readings in the cloistered, candlelit stacks of Crescent City Books. For a $10 cover, you can take in as many readings as you desire. Our busker will syncopate the atmosphere with sultry violin and light libations will be available. All proceeds will go towards the next Poetry Brothel event, this March.

& Also on Saturday night the Ashe Cultural Center, 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, hosts Redd Linen Night, a Visual Arts Fundraiser with a Twist featuring An Extraordinary Night of Art, Music, Poetry and Incredible Performances. 6 – 10 p.m.

& Sunday’s scheduled Southern Fried Divorce After Party, sponsored by Garden District Books, is cancelled due to a fire at the scheduled venue.

Monday, Feb. 25th Octavia books features a reading, presentation and book signing with translator/poet Mark Statman featuring BLACK TULIPS: The Selected Poems of José María Hinojosa.

& The new Sunday show from Spoken Word New Orleans is Poetry and Paint Brushes. Poets perform as a resident artists paints the crowd and performers. At 6 p.m. at Special Tea, 4337 Banks Street. No longer at the Bayou Road location.

& A Studio in the Woods is proud to present a joint poetry reading by Melissa Dickey and former resident Benjamin Morris. On February 25, 2013, at 7 p.m. Morris and Dickey will read from their works and take questions from the audience. A brief book signing will follow the reading. The reading will take place from 7-8pm in the common room of Cudd Hall on Tulane’s campus, located on Gibson Quad.

& Every Monday, 9 p.m. Writer’s Block, usually held on the amphitheater steps on Decatur Street across from Jackson Square. Check the Facebook page for details.

& 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. She features interviews with authors of local and national interest.

Don Paul's Poetry Ball 2-26& Tuesday, Feb. 26 it is time for another Don Paul Poetry Ball at Cafe Istanbul featuring Gina Ferrara, Niyi Osundare, Goeff Munsterman John Sinclair, with music by Katarina Boudreaux and Jonathan Warren. Open mic follows. 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. with cash bar.

& Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. Garden District Book Shop hosts Elsa Hahne’s The Gravy: In the Kitchen with New Orleans Musicians. “Based on the much-loved OffBeat magazine series with the same name, The Gravy—In the Kitchen with New Orleans Musicians will fill your ears and your belly, whether you choose breakfast with Mystikal, or lunch with Irma Thomas and her Macaroni and Cheese, or Creole Squash for supper at Big Al Carson’s house with a side of Antoinette K-Doe’s Cornbread.”

& Wednesday, Feb. 27 Maple Street Book Shop Uptown will host a discussion of Xavier University’s selection for The Big Read, Ernest Gaines’s A Lesson Before Dying at 6 p.m.

& Also on Wednesday The Maple Street Book Shop’s downtown bookclub will be reading Jo Nesbo’s The Snowman for their next meeting at 7PM in the Healing Center.

Odd Words February 14, 2013

Posted by Mark Folse in books, literature, New Orleans, novel, Odd Words, Poetry, publishing, Toulouse Street.
3 comments

The Black Widow Salon at Crescent City Books gets some virtual ink from the Times Picayune/NOLA.com, which seems to be making some rudimentary moves toward realizing that people who read newspapers read books. They have a listings editor that pays attention to books, and entertainment writer Chris Waddington has two bookish articles in his NOLA.com homepage (among likelier fare). One of his stories I missed (and so you may have too) was the announcement that the University of New Orleans has hired Abram Himelstein, the New Orleans publisher who led the Neighborhood Story Project to national prominence, as editor-in-chief of UNO Press.

& 17 Poets! celebrates 10 years when it returns tonight, Feb. 14. at 8 p.m. with an anthology reading from Lavender Ink’s new collection, FUCK poems, edited by VIncent Cellucci. Also, John Sinclair will perform his annual post-Mardi Gras show. As always, the open mic awaits and is our main attraction. So join us and read with us http://www.17poets.com, Gold Mine Saloon, 701 Dauphine St.

& Late Addition Friday night Antenna Gallery hosts a Optical Saturday Slide Show: A Performative Comic Book Reading featuring Otto Splotch, Ceazar Meadows, Kira Mardikes & Amelie Ray, and D.G.W. Hedges. 7:30 p.m. at the new Gallery location 3718 St. Claude Ave. between Independence and Pauline Streets.

& Saturday’s Story Time with Miss Maureen at Maple Street Bookshop Uptown this Saturday features Lucky Duckings: A True Rescue Story by Eva Moore, illustrated by Nancy Carpente. 11:30 am.

& Saturday at Maple Street Bookshop Uptown Virginia Barkley will be signing her book Clutterbusting for Busy Women: How to Create a C.A.L.M Life to Have More Time and Energy from 1 – 3 pm. This appear ripe for a literary snob snarky remark, like, um, does she do consulting? No, I am not getting rid of any books.

& Sunday at Garden District Books you are invited to tea with romance authors Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway discussing and signing their joint project, The Lady Most Willing: A Novel in Three Parts.

& On Sunday at 3 p.m. the Maple Leaf Poetry Reading Series, the oldest continuous series in the south, will host poets Valentine Pierce and Radamir Luza in the back patio (weather permitting) or the back room.

& The new Sunday show from Spoken Word New Orleans is Poetry and Paint Brushes. At 6 p.m. poets perform as our resident artists paints the crowd and performers. Also at Special Tea, 4337 Banks Street. No longer at the Bayou Road location.

& Monday begins the spring series at the Black Widow Salon at Crescent City Books, with 5 X 20. Five emerging writers, twenty minutes each of reading and discussion w/ Michael Jeffrey Lee, Geoff Munsterman, Justin Nobel, Maurice Carlos Ruffin, and Kat Stromquist. Starts promptly at 7 p.m. upstairs, with refreshments and limited seating.

& Every Monday, 9 p.m. Writer’s Block, usually held on the amphitheater steps on Decatur Street across from Jackson Square. Check the Facebook page for details.

& 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. She features interviews with authors of local and national interest.

& Tuesday at 5:30 pm Garden District Bookshop hosts Ruta Sepetys discussing and signing her book, Out of the Easy. Join us for the conversation between Chris Wiltz, New Orleans author of The Last Madam: A Life in the New Olreans Underworld and Ruta Sepetys.

& Wednesday at Garden DistrictlLocal actress Laura Cayouette, of the Academy Award Nominated film Django Unchained joins us to discuss her recently released first book, Know Small Parts: An Actor’s Guide to Turning Minutes into Moments and Moments into a Career.

& Metta Sama will read her poetry on Wednesday, February 20, at 8 p.m., at the UNO Sandbar (on Founders Road, across from the Engineering Building, inside the Cove). This event is free and open to the public

& Wednesday nights from 7-10 Lyrics and Laughs bridges comedy and poetry featuring performers from both genres at Special Tea, 4337 Banks St.

& This Wednesday, Feb. 20 Octavia Books hosts Cory Doctorow featuring his new book, HOMELAND, the sequel to the New York Times bestselling YA title LITTLE BROTHER. I don’t often post blurbs, but it’s Neil Gaiman. Someone’s decided it’s a YA title but that doesn’t mean this doesn’t make me curious: “A wonderful, important book . . . I’d recommend Little Brother over pretty much any book I’ve read this year” — Neil Gaiman on Little Brother

Adiu paure Carnaval February 13, 2013

Posted by Mark Folse in Carnival, cryptic envelopment, literature, Mardi Gras, New Orleans, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
1 comment so far

At the conclusion of Carnival in Nice, France, an effigy of Monsieur Carnaval is burned, the ancient story of the burning man, the sacrifice in fire. As told by Mama Lisa’s World Blog, in that rite Monsieur Carnaval “is responsible for all the wrongdoing people do throughout the year. At Carnival time in France, Monsieur Carnaval is judged for his behavior throughout the preceding year. Usually he’s found guilty and an effigy of him is burned.”

Accompanying the ritual is a song, and I offer the lyrics collected by Mama Lisa below, both in Occitan (the language of the Troubadors) and in English. I suggest you click the link to open in a new tab or window so you can follow along as far as the MP3 goes.

And so, from New Orleans, Adiu Paure Carnaval.

Adiu paure Carnaval
(Occitan)

Adiu paure, adiu paure,
adiu paure Carnaval
Tu te’n vas e ieu demòri
Adiu paure Carnaval
Tu t’en vas e ieu demòri
Per manjar la sopa a l’alh
Per manjar la sopa a l’òli
Per manjar la sopa a l’alh
Adiu paure, adiu paure,
adiu paure Carnaval

La joinessa fa la fèsta
Per saludar Carnaval
La Maria fa de còcas
Amb la farina de l’ostal

Lo buòu dança, l’ase canta
Lo moton ditz sa leiçon
La galina canta lo Credo
E lo cat ditz lo Pater

Farewell, Poor Carnival
(English)

Farewell, farewell,
Farewell, poor Carnival
You are leaving, and I am staying
Farewell, poor Carnival
You are leaving, and I am staying
To eat garlic soup
To eat oil soup
To eat garlic soup
Farewell, farewell,
Farewell, poor Carnival.

The young ones are having a wild time
To greet Carnival
Mary is baking cakes
With flour from her home.

The ox is dancing, the donkey’s singing
The sheep is saying its lesson
The hen is singing the Credo
And the cat is saying the Pater.

Splish Splash February 11, 2013

Posted by Mark Folse in Faubourg St. John, Fortin Street, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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There is something about the laundromat, a plastic electric resonance it shares with the two-tap-and-a-tv dive bar and the bus terminal which makes these places as familiar to their likeliest visitors as the parade of names at the mall is to the people they most likely work for. I love the fluorescent shabbiness, the incessant televisions, the chairs designed for some proximate species but we’re not here for the ambiance, exactly. The comfort in these places is the instant camaraderie of people who are there by necessity. It doesn’t matter if you are Charity-born poor or fell into it by way of that degree in art which led to a career in tattoo, once you walk in you’re one of us.

I live on the sketchy edge of the fashionable Faubourg St., John just over the renters-insurance redline and facing the track. Just up the block the owners of the grand homes beneath the oaks have their own front-loading washers and dryers. Smack in the middle of this atmosphere of elegance sits the Splish Splash, next to the now closed neighborhood drugstore and the abandoned, half-renovated Circle K, a reminder that all around the stately homes of Esplanade and Ursulines lies a neighborhood of once working class shotgun doubles. Inside the stucco-faced washeteria there is nothing faubourg about it: a vinyl floor, clean enough early in the morning but past all point of mopping, rows of large and small washers and dryers rolling along except the one half disassembled for months with the parts inside the drum. The only place to sit inside is in front of the television, and there is never enough table space and no sitting on tables allowed. The crowd is about equally divided between those who pick up a coffee at Fairgrinds or a single beer from somewhere or an orange drink from the vending machine. The last are the Latino workers from the back of the track. The women stay inside and chat and laugh while their children run about. Their men or the single men tend to congregate on the bench outside and talk about trabajo and futbol as best I can make out when I step out for a cigarette.

The Splish Splash is not some chic urban cruising laundromat but there is always a certain amount of side-eyed appraisal between the singles of the coffee variety. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anyone striking up a conversation with a stranger for more than a few sentences. Laundry is a chore and double if you have to haul it down to the corner and fight for a dryer. The Latina women always seem to come in pairs, with or without their men, and their endless and gay conversation is a soothing relief from the chattering television and the endless thump-thump-whop of the machines. (We will, we will, dry you, dry you). Many patrons come and go between wash and dry, coming back with a fresh coffee or groceries from Cansecos. It is that kind of corner, with two neighborhood groceries and until deBlancs closed, a drugstore. Easy enough to get all your errands in if you drive over and park in the deBlancs lot

It’s easy to live in this city and never see past your unconscious blinders what sort of city this is. Many people like to compare New Orleans to San Francisco but in reality this city is much closer to the blue-collar bricks and sticks of Baltimore than to tony Frisco. It’s a working man and woman’s city with most of the real money–outside of the faubourgs with their Lloyd’s real estate signs and hired police patrols–long fled to the outskirts. Those who cling to the lakefront often take Orleans Avenue on the other sketchy edge of my neighborhood, one only real estate agents would call Bayou St John. They travel that road to and from work every day and I wonder if they see the old men in straw hats laughing in the shade on the neutral ground, the beers from the corner store their fountain of eternally recalled youth, or that elderly couple sitting on their porch, silent, their bent metal clam chairs angled apart as if what was between them were a repulsive anti-pole, a force they could only overcome together but can’t or won’t.

Back on Esplanade the Splish Splash never rises to discussion on the neighborhood mailing list, although every other local business does. Unless someone pulls a gun or the place burns to the ground in a flash fire of neglected lint it is invisible, a little puddle in the gutter of elegant Esplanade Avenue, lacking the bohemian charm of the bicycle clutter outside of Fairgrinds. Inside we know it is as warm and friendly as Liuzza by the Track, with its own crowd of first name or nodding acquaintance regulars as familiar as the check-out girls at Cansecos, as much a part of why some of us live here as Cafe Degas.

The Kingdom of God Is A Hand. February 9, 2013

Posted by Mark Folse in 504, Carnival, Central City, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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MLK Band

The evening begins with Ruby Bridges and ends with this picture of two young men in the Dr. Martin Luther King Charter School Marching Band. I wonder how many in the crowd remember who Bridges is, the small girl sent by parents as obedient as Abraham through the spit and vitriol walk to Golgotha past the Ku Klux mothers, into the segregated 1960 William Frantz Elementary School in the Ninth Ward. This evening she rides a float of honor in a Carnival parade staged by women the eldest of whom were likely raised like myself in Catholic and suburban schools as white as 1960 William Frantz and everyone in the crowd and on the floats likes to think we are far past all that.

The two unnamed young men attend a Ninth Ward school named for the famous civil rights leader, a school as uniformly black as William Frantz was white in 1959, a new school in the charter anarchy unleashed after the Federal Flood in the name of free-market reform. I wonder if their parents, likely raised in the Bantustan New Orleans Public School System and turned loose after their allotted sentence with half an education, carefully reviewed the dozens of new schools before selecting this one, or if they chose it because of Dr. King’s name, because it opened in the mostly de-peopled Ninth Ward, its name and location a symbol of a struggle that began in 1960 but which has never really ended.

The pair stopped right in front of me on St. Charles Avenue and 2nd Street during a stop in the parade, the older keeping up the parade rest beat while verbally schooling the younger one who struggled to keep up. I study the picture for some resemblance, perhaps they are brothers, but I don’t find any and think a wise band director chose to place the novice next to the older one, someone willing to take the younger under his wing and teach him the ropes. The seriousness of his face before I raise my phone camera as he speaks to the younger, all the while keeping up the rigorous tattoo, the way the younger one tries hard to match the drum strokes, shows the older to be someone with the innate authority to lead by example. He will make a fine teacher or preacher or military officer someday, in one of the few openings in America where the color of character really matters.

When I raise my camera the young men are both suddenly eyes-front and Marine Band erect, representing at their best. In a city where too many young men his age mistake fear for respect, he has mine immediately, both as teacher of the tradition and as the clearly proud person picture who wears his uniform patches as if they were a Nike swoosh drawn by the hand of God. It’s not fair to judge their school or the entire charter school movement by one young man but I have to think that the Dr. King school is doing something right. His pride and discipline shine like the best military band or ROTC unit you will see this carnival. His willingness to take responsibility for the younger drummer while never missing a beat, the way he snaps to attention and the young one follows his lead, is a badge of character as clear as the letters on his jacket, stands out from the crowd like the white plum on his hat.

I can’t help but think of how the most successful charter schools cherry pick students, of all the kids left behind in the Orleans Parish and Recovery School Districts, the ones unlucky enough to land in a corporate McDonald’s charter to be processed like so much meat, those who wind up bleeding out on someone’s porch over slights real or imagined. The teacher Jesus did not set out to save the whole world. Translations later he is said to proclaim that the kingdom of God is at hand but I have to wonder if he meant his own hand; take this, he said, and be lifted up. Someone has lifted this young man up and he extends his to the younger and even as I type up this years list of the murdered I find in the middle of a Carnival parade not a moment of escape but a moment of hope.

Sin. Repent. Repeat. February 7, 2013

Posted by Mark Folse in Carnival, cryptic envelopment, Dancing Bear, Mardi Gras, New Orleans, Toulouse Street.
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Cartoon moonjam madam meet Sir Sluralot on Chartres by noon or you’re on your own with the feather men & rum demon lizard stampede squeezing through Bourbon Street toward some bar-hell bathroom line where someone wearing that very feather (you’re sure of it) you lost at MoMs offers you to cut in line with a smile and a slip of his tipsy cup. This is just when Sir Sluralot and his calypso courtiers appear singing Indian and you turn around and the feather’s gone and so are you leaving that crew to call you tomorrow wondering where you went but your phone is dead beside the feather bed you found on Frenchman following the drums.

Odd Words February 7, 2013

Posted by Mark Folse in books, literature, New Orleans, NOLA, Odd Words, Poetry, publishing, Toulouse Street.
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Well, it’s Carnival time and everybody’s having too much fun to get to bookstore events, but here is a short rundown of regularly scheduled events. I have queries out to Spoken Word New Orleans and the Writer’s Block to make sure they are keeping their schedule. Watch the Facebook and Twitter accounts for updates.

As there is not much going on, here’s a list of books you could be reading if you are stranded far away and want something to read that really ought to have a gumbo stain somewhere on the pages:

  • Mystic Pig, by Richard Katrovis, the great undiscovered New Orleans novel that always tops my list.
  • A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole. Usually this is the top of most lists and for good reason. I’m just a great fan of No. 1
  • Higher Ground, by James Nolan. Yes, it’s a Hurricane Katrina novel but its the one you need to read for comic relief from the rest.
  • Mimi’s First Mardi Gras by Alice Couvillon and Elizabeth Moore. This is the illustrated children’s book I always read to my children over and over from Twelfth Night until Mardi Gras Day when they were living in the far north.
  • New Orleans, Mon Amour by Andrei Codrescu. No one takes you deeper into the spirit world of the city that erupts every Mardi Gras Day than Codrescu.

Just around the corner after Carnival is the annual Tennessee Williams Festival, and the program has just been published and the box office is open for ticket sales. You can get all of the details here on this year’s program. Odd Words will be there again this year covering the best of the fest, and I’ll have some previews of speakers and programs in the weeks to come.

& On Sunday at 3 p.m. the Maple Leaf Poetry Reading Series, the oldest continuous series in the south, will host a Mardi Gras open Mike. Next week, Feb. 17 poets Valentine Pierce and Radamir Luza will be featured

& The new Sunday show from Spoken Word New Orleans is Poetry and Paint Brushes. Poets perform as our resident artists paints the crowd and performers. Also at Special Tea, 4337 Banks Street. No longer at the Bayou Road location..

& Every Monday, 9 p.m. Writer’s Block, usually held on the amphitheater steps on Decatur Street across from Jackson Square. Check the Facebook page for details.

& 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. She features interviews with authors of local and national interest.

& UPDATE: No Wednesday show at Special Tea due to Carnival. Wednesday nights from 7-10 Lyrics and Laughs bridges comedy and poetry featuring performers from both genres at Special Tea, 4337 Banks St.

Sacred and Fatal February 1, 2013

Posted by Mark Folse in art, cryptic envelopment, New Orleans, quotes, Toulouse Street.
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Annie Leibovitz portrait of Bourgeois.

Annie Leibovitz portrait of Bourgeois.

“Self-expression is sacred and fatal. It’s a necessity.”
Louise Bourgeois

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