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Odd Words September 2, 2010

Posted by The Typist in Odd Words, Toulouse Street.

Poet Nicole Cooley offers some thoughts on writing in New Orleans after Katrina (and the flood), in an online column at Poets&Writers.com (h/t to Ray Shea for this)

For creative writers in New Orleans, the questions raised by the storm remain. How do we approach the enormity of Katrina and its legacy in order to write about it? And how has the literary community of New Orleans changed since the hurricane? Fiction writer, translator, and playwright John Biguenet articulates this dilemma in an essay he wrote for Before During After, a collection edited by Elizabeth Kleinveld, forthcoming later this year from the University of New Orleans Press. “What conventions exist to depict something that has never happened before?” he writes. “What American novel traces the eradication of one of our cities, the exile of two hundred thousand citizens, the obliteration of a set of intertwined cultures centuries old?…We are only now just beginning to discover what it’s done to us.”

The trick of it, Ray pointed out in a private email exchange, will be to do what Haruki Murakami accomplished in After The Quake, his collection of stories inspired by and set just after the 1995 Kobe earthquake, but the one thing absent from all of it’s pages is the quake itself, its direct aftermath. Who will right the first book of this sort for New Orleans, and what shape will it take? I I knew the answer to that question I wouldn’t be typing on this blog.

A quick troll through the published listings shows not much going on, but there was so damn much last week that’s not surprising. It may be September but its still awfully hot and then there’s the opportunity for hurricanes, so we’re not exactly an attractive venue for traveling artists this time of year. I’m still disappointed to have missed Yusef Komunyakaa at Tulane’s Katrina commemorative poetry reading, but there was so damn much to do last week, not the least of which was getting my daughter moved into college.

A reminder: if you stumble into this because you find this sort of thing interesting, remember to send me your listings. If you don’t I have to rely on what I find in Gambit and the Times-Picayune, and neither is the best source of information on this sort of things anymore, which is the whole point of this blog post.

§ Sunday is an Open Mike at the Maple Leaf Bar Poetry Reading Series. Then on Sept. 12 Poet David Rowe reads from and signs his book, Unsolicited PoemsT, and on Sept. 19 our incredibly talented local poet Gina Ferrara, who was a contributor to A Howling in the Wires.

§ Nothing else. That’s it. Read a book. Join a book club if you need a book to read. How about this one. Or this one. I’m in the latter. I don’t plan to try to write reviews, but hope they will try for an online discussion of the sort the prose club has done.


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