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Odd Words March 25, 2010

Posted by The Typist in Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
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If you’re bothering to read this you certainly already know this is the weekend of the Tennessee Williams Festival in New Orleans. My own first experience I summarized here:

I hunched in the back with a tattered dimestore notebook balanced on my lap, an Oddity in the mostly female crowd dressed to meet for lunch under the clock at D.H. Homes. I had surrendered my cafe au lait at the door and as I sat damp from the steady spring drizzle outside, I waited for someone to announce that tea would be served, and hoped they would serve me.

At 51 I was one of the youngest people in the room and the most ill dressed, until that spot was taken by a guy in a ball cap who arrived and sat two rows up. One of the older book clubbers who filled the seats asked him to remove it, and I felt instantly more comfortable in my own shabby jeans and t-shirt. I had taken off my own driving cap when I sat down.

I find the program to be a bit heavy on Best Selling Authors and Notable Editors/Agents sharing their secrets it was an interesting experience, and I plan to try to get their on Friday to hear author/publisher/screenwriter/activist/educator Dave Eggers’ two presentations on this work. On Saturday the historic presentation on The Vieux Carre in the 1930s sounds interesting : “…a slide presentation on the literary milieu that so attracted the young Tennessee Williams to the French Quarter [along with] Sherwood Anderson, Lyle Saxon, William Faulkner, Caroline Dureiux and Roark Bradford.”

A 2:30 on Saturday “New Angles in New Orleans Writing” also sounds very good, with panelists Rick Barton, Andrea Boll, Bill Loehfelm and Paula Morris. Toulouse Street neighbor and author of a fine short story debut Barb Johnson will join Jill McCorkle and N.M. Kelly in a short story panel titled The Long and the Short of It at 11:30 AM Saturday.

The sole poetry event is 1 p.m. Sunday and features Peter Cooley, Louisiana Poet Laureate Darrell Bourque and Allison Pelegrin. I don’t know why the TWF cut out the poetry contest, which I think is a big mistake. I guess the books-and-tea club types I find at a lot of these events don’t read much poetry anymore, except maybe a little Tennyson or Frost (if they’re feeling daring) now and again. Also on Sunday at 11:30 am is a panel on the HBO Series Treme “All that Jazz…and Beyond: The Making of Treme” with the writing team of Lolis Eric Elie, David Mills, Eric Overmayer, Tom Piazza and David Simon.

Finally, there is the Stella shouting contest late Sunday, and a performance of Ignatius On Stage.

§ This Thursday 17 Poets! Literary & Performance Series hosts a reading & book signing featuring Manhattan poet, editor, publisher, and translator BILL ZAVATSKY. The featured poet will be followed by Open Mic hosted by Jimmy Ross. Bill Zavatsky is an American poet, teacher, translator, jazz pianist, and former publisher, editor-in-chief of SUN press and SUN magazine. He currently lives in New York City, where he teaches English at the Trinity School. Zavatsky’s co-translation, with Zack Rogow, of Earthlight: Poems by André Breton (Green Integer), won the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize. His translation of The Poems of A.O. Barnabooth by Valery Larbaud (Black Widow Press) with Ron Padgett was republished in 2009. Zavatsky has written poems for twelve CDs by the jazz pianist Marc Copland. His recent full-length book of poems Where X Marks the Spot was published by Hanging Loose Press. Zavatsky recently received the prestigious John Simon Guggenheim fellowship for his poetry.

§ On Sunday the Maple Leaf Poetry Series, the longest running reading in the South, will host local poet Poet Sulla reading from and signs his new chapbook followed by an open mike. As Spring comes on and the Saints season behind us, what better place to spend a Sunday afternoon than in the patio Everette Maddox made famous.

§ — Missed a Good One for Tonite The Jazz & Heritage Foundation’s Tom Dent Congo Square Lecture Series will present poet, author and activist Amiri Baraka at Dillard University’s Lawless Memorial Chapel Thursday, March 25, 7pm. Baraka, perhaps best known for his 1963 book “Blues People: Negro Music in White America,” will speak as part of the lecture series’ current theme of presentations, “Jazz in Black & White.” Contact (504)558-6100

§ Missed another one: Dave Eggers returns to Octavia Books to sign ZEITOUN Friday, March 26, 5:00pm – 6:30pm at Octavia Books, 513 Octavia Street. I’m going to have to try to get one signed at the TWF as I won’t be able to get away and back uptown by then.


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