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Odd Words October 13, 2011

Posted by The Typist in books, literature, New Orleans, NOLA, novel, Odd Words, Poetry, spoken word, Toulouse Street.

I’m going to jump out of order and put up this week’s signature event above the fold. There is no other single author associated with this city you have to come to terms with, rather than read for pleasure, than Walker Percy. Deeply philosophical, with a clearly masculine voice and a moral to tell as deep if not as clear as that of any Greek tragedy, Percy is not as simple as the Rabelaisian pleasure of John Kennedy Toole or the cathartic, poetic and perfect voyeurism of Tennessee Williams. (I am now in a boat load of trouble. Bring it on. It is what the comments section is for.)

The Walker Percy Center for Writing and Publishing at Loyola University will host its inaugural conference Oct. 14-16, The Moviegoer at 50. Walker Percy’s debut novel, it beat out Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 and Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road for the 1962 National Book Award. Keynote speaker will be Jay Tolson, considered one of Percy’s most respected biographers and a lively commentator on contemporary culture, politics, society and religion. The conference also includes a screening of Win Riley’s movie: Walker Percy: A Documentary Film. There are too many panels to list here. For a complete list of panels and events and the costs for each, visit the Center’s web site.

Before we get to the listings, you can also checkout and book mark the Odd Words Google calendar. This public calendar contains the dates, times and other basic details of recurring events and special events. For more specifics about featured readers and authors, don’t forget to visit on Thursday for the weekly column.

&; After several years of hiatus, THE FREE SPEECH ORCHESTRA is returning to 17 Poets! this Thursday night. This edition of The Free Speech Orchestra will feature a Jazz Poetry Session celebrating the Living Memory of our co-founder and spiritual mentor, New Orleans flute player ELUARD A. BURT II (Feb. 15, 1937 – Aug. 5, 2007). The Free Speech Orchestra was co-founded by Eluard Burt and Dave Brinks in 1997. It’s primary mission is to provide an improvisatory, synergistic space for musicians and poets to collaborate and explore side-by-side the cultural spirit & essence of the New Orleans’ community through Jazz and Poetry. Every performance by The Free Speech Orchestra is unique since the founding vision is to represent a rotating group of musicians and poets at various venues throughout the city, thus providing an opportunity for all to participate and contribute their dear gifts, talents, and passions in celebration of the New Orleans community.

Flautist and Free Speech Orchestra Co-Founcer Eluard A. Burt II

A brief list of musicians and poets featured over the years includes: co-founder Eluard Burt, flute; Harry Sterling, guitar; Roger Poche, bass; Uganda, pecussion; Richard Theodore, bass clarinet; Hart McNee, bass flute; Earle Brown, tenor sax; Kevin O’Day,percussion; Michael Skinkus, percussion; Kufaro, percussion; and poets John Sinclair, Yolanda Harris, Felice Guimont,Valentine Pierce, Dennis Formento, Paul Chasse, Tom LeBlanc, and co-founder Dave Brinks.

This performance will feature musicians and poets: Mike Mito-reeds, John Spuzillo-percussion, Marcus Bronson-bass, Jonathan Warren-flute, Felice Guimont-poet. Lee Meitzen Grue-poet. Moose Jackson-poet, Dave Brinks-poet. Follow the performance open mic will as usual be hosted by the Goldmine’s own peripitatic hotei Jimmy Ross.

&Also this Thursday, a new literary event kicks off in New Orleans when the Peauxdunque Writers Alliance hosts “Yeah, You Write” at Tipitina’s. This coming out part for a self-described literary salon that drew out of the annual Faulkner Society Words & Music Festival will feature readings and performances by a host of talented writers, including Amanda Boyden, Bill Loehfelm, Gian Smith, Kelly Harris-DeBerry, Mat Johnson and Terri Stoor. They are running a series of interviews with their featured writes on their blog Peauxdunque Writers Alliance. This is a talented krewe:

Amanda Boyden is the author of two novels, most recently “Babylon Rolling.” She is also an aerialist and teaches at University of New Orleans. Bill Loehfelm has written three crime thrillers, including his most recent, “The Devil She Knows,” which is the first in a series. Gian Smith is a spoken word artist whose poem “O Beautiful Storm” was featured in the second-season trailer for “Treme.” Kelly Harris-DeBerry is a poet and literary activist who has launched the Literary Lab, a small business that encourages public discourse and promotes local writers. Mat Johnson is the author of several books, including “Pym,” for which he has recently won a Dos Passos Prize for Literature. Terri Stoor is a member of PWA whose story “Bellyful of Sparrow” was recently named the winner Words and Music’s Faulkner-Wisdom Awards short story category.

Doors are at seven, show at eight with a $5 cover, followed by a DJ dance party. This is a coming out party you won’t find Nell Nolan typing up on her cherished Remington with white gloves on, so maybe its best you go check it out.

& Also this Thursday New Orleans writer Melinda Palacio returns from the coast to celebrate the release of her debut novel, OCOTILLO DREAMS. Palacio is an accomplished poet and writer who grew up in South Central Los Angeles and now divides her time between Santa Barbara, CA and New Orleans. She holds an M.A. in comparative literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz. A 2007 PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellow and a 2009 poetry alumna of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, she co-edits Ink Byte Magazine, writes a column for online journal La Bloga, and recently completed a full-length poetry manuscript. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, and her poetry chapbook, Folsom Lockdown, won the 2009 Kulupi Press Sense of Place award. Thursday Oct. 13 at 6 p.m. at Octavia Books and again the following Thursday, Oct. 30, at the Maple Street Book Shops’ Healing Center location at 6 p.m.

& Early Friday night at the Love Lost Lounge, the No Love Lost Poetry Reading hosted by Joseph Bienvenu kicks of at 5:30 p.m., just in time for the bar’s happy hour and opening time for the excellent Vietnamese kitchen in the back.

& I was going to say this one’s for the night owls but at 11 on a Friday things are just getting going in this city, including New Orleans premiere spoken word event Acoustic Fridays the Red Star Gallery, 2513 Bayou Road, hosted every week by Charlie V-Uptowns Illest MC. $7 cover, $5 with college ID. Call 504-982-0922 for more information or to perform, or check out their website.

& On Saturday the Maple Street Book Shops at the Healing Center will present Paul Koudonaris, author of The Empire of Death: A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnel Houses, on Saturday, October 15, 2011, 5:30 to 7:00 P.M. Discussion of “crypts and skull-encrusted” should bring us all up to speed for the holiday.

& And while you’re out on Saturday errands, if you missed Tuesday’s broadcast of Susan Larson’s the reading life you can catch the rebroadcast on Saturday at 12:30 pm. This weeks guests were photographer Lori Waselchuk, whose new book is “Grace Before Dying,” images of the hospice at Angola, and Julie Klam, author of “Love at First Bark: How Saving a Dog Can Sometimes Help You Save Yourself.” WWNO, 89.9 FM. And don’t forget you can hear podcasts of past broadcasts here.

& Sunday the Maple Leaf Bar Poetry series features poet Ruben Quesada reading from and signing his new book, Next Extinct Mammal, with a grant from Poets & Writers, followed by an open mic. Starts around 3 pm in the back patio. Apologies for the listing mixup last week, especially to poet Murray Shugars who was there two weeks ago and to poets Joseph Makkos, Edwin Perry and Nick Demske who didn’t get mentioned last week, but who were fabulous. Perry is also the publisher of Plumberries Press in Milwaukee who brought some fabulous chapbooks along for sale and read from his authors.

& On Monday the New Orleans Haiku Society has their monthly meeting at the Milton Latter Memorial Library at 6 p.m. The group was running a haiku contest at last week’s Japan Fest at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Look for a winner announcement soon. I forget what the prize is. For me, the prize was taking a moment between the quiet of the Go room and the frantic Taiko drummers to pen a few lines.

& Also on Monday, the Writer’s Block is back at the amphitheater across from Jackson Square at 9 p.m. Hosted by Kate Smash there is no mic and no list and performers of all forms are welcome to participate. Come on out and give the wandering tourists a taste of New Orleans literary culture.

& On Tuesday Donald Goodman and Thomas Head discuss and sign their book, The Happy Table of Eugene Walter: Southern Spirits in Food and Drink; An Ardent Survey of Southern Beverages and a Grand Selection of Southern Dishes Employing Spiritous Flavoring (my god, that’s a mouthful). A southern Renaissance man, Eugene Walter (1921-98) was a pioneering food writer, a champion of southern foodways and culture, and a legendary personality among food lovers. The Happy Table introduces a new generation of readers to Walter’s culinary legacy, is a revelation to anyone interested in today’s booming scene in vintage and artisanal drinks–from bourbon and juleps to champagne and punch–and a southern twist on America’s culinary heritage.. The authors are Walter’s literary executor, Donald Goodman, and food writer Thomas Head. Garden District Books at 5:30 p.m.

& Tuesday’s at midnight (or does that make it Wednesday?) VASO Ultra Loung hosts a weekly spoken word event Poets Corner & Open Mic hosted by Smut the Poet, with The Letter 10 Band. Poets who perform with the band are given priority. (I’m not a spoken word guy, but I did this in DC recently with an open mic jazz combo who quickly grabbed my rhythm and fell right in. It was a blast). The hosts are trying to keep a “positive vibe” and their Facebook page states “you can keep all your songs that’s all bout killing and how many drugs you sell at home home at home.” To which OW says: Word.

& Get out your Beatle boots out on Wednesday and head over to Octavia books for a presentation and booksigning with New Orleans-based Beatles expert Bruce Spizer featuring his new book, Beatles for Sale on Parlophone Records. Local singer/guitarist Joe Barbara will also join us to perform all of our favorite Beatles favorites. It all coincides with the 49th anniversary of the Beatles first record, “Love Me Do,” — released on Parlophone 4949. Beatles For Sale on Parlophone Records covers all of the singles, albums and extended play discs issued by the Beatles in the U.K. from 1962 through 1970. Each record is given a separate chapter, which tells the stories behind how the songs appearing on the disc were written and recorded. Tuesday, Oct. 18 at 6 p.m. at Octavia Books

& On Thursday meet the man who single handidly saved my Thanksgiving turkey one year (man those elecric roaster cook fast), Alton Brown, who will be at Octavia Books. Three years ago Brown chose Octavia Books for the launch of FEASTING ON ASPHALT: The River Run, a River Road food Oddyssey that started in Plaquemines Parish on motorcycles and roared right past Baton Rouge’s Junior League and onto the book shelf of every foodie in America. Now, he is returning for a talk and booksigning to celebrate his new book, GOOD EATS 3: The Later Years. As Good Eats enjoys its 14th season on the Food Network, its popularity continues unabated. Fans can’t get enough of Alton Brown’s wildly inventive, science-geeky, food-loving spirit. It’s no wonder, then, that the first two volumes in STC’s Good Eats series were New York Times bestsellers. Wednesday, Oct. 19 at Octavia Books at 6 p.m. Note: Because of expected demand, you must purchase a ticket (available in advance) to guarantee a signed copy. Tickets are available in advance at Octavia Books. I can’t imagine this isn’t going to be one of the busiest events in a while.

I should have been in bed an hour ago but it’s a frenetically fantastic week so I’m going to put this to bed and put a quarter in the stupid jar for every typo I find tomorrow. At this rate, I can probably afford to pay a copy editor soon. And with so many events to choose from, ;ke the guy on the radio says, get out and here some live, local literature. And don’t forget to buy a book at one of these events or at your local bookstore.



1. dangermond - October 13, 2011

This post makes my head spin at all the wonderful literary things going on in New Orleans – makes me feel like I’m in some warm writer’s womb. And Walker Percy, I can think of no writer who was able to probe so deeply into the souls of our people and regurgitate mystified mirth as well as he did.


2. Mark Folse - October 13, 2011

It’s amazing, isn’t it? I as hard as I try I am sure there is something going on I’ve left out (or things I don’t usually list, like the Wallace Stevens Society meeting and the New Orleans Poetry Workshop. I mean to call those people this week and see if they want to be listed. And who knows what else I might just be missing?

If you’re reading this and feeling left out, let me know about your event: odd.words.nola@gmail.com


3. Susanna - October 13, 2011

Hi Mark, I’ve enjoyed learning about John Kennedy Toole over the last few years, mostly from Joel Fletcher, Joe Sanford, Cory MacLauchlin, and from Toole’s personal papers, but the general public may never have learned of his existence, life and writing, if it had not been for Walker Percy’s allowing for the discovery. I enjoy reading when you throw him (Toole) into a sentence every once in a while. sp


4. MZell - October 14, 2011

Bringing it on. I disagree that the pleasures of “Confederacy…” are simple, but that instead Toole achieves a rare bird, a unique balance that many attempt and few achieve, a book densely written, yet eminently approachable.

Perhaps upon rereading Percy I’ll take this all back, but though I have generally found his essays to be learned and thoughtful, his novels (as typified by “The Moviegoer”) struck as a more-boring Updike. Percy’s fiction typifies that which I dislike about too many New Orleans-area authors (i.e. those that make a city of immensity appear so small and so reduced…or simply said, turning a non-boring city into a boring setting), though of course he does it much better than most. It may well be an Uptown/Downtown thing. There’s a totally different style on either side of Canal St. You notice that no jabs at Covington, LA are present, but…


Mark Folse - October 16, 2011

Toole raises fundamental philosophical questions–how is a man to live in this mixed up modern world, -much as Percy did (which is one of many reasons Percy ultimately championed the book). While it is possible to read Toole as straight and brilliant comedy, Percy is much more subtle and Jesuitical about it and demands much more of the reader up front. We do not laugh along as Binx journey through life but struggle to sympathize with him as readers even as we identify him. Percy’s is not the easy identification of the male reader with Richard Ford’s Frank Bascombe. Percy challenges the reader to struggle through the his catalog of southern and particularly New Orleans biases to find sympathy with his character’s struggle (and with every passing decade his apt depiction of the casual racism and sexism of a typical middle-class Southerner must be more difficult for a new, young reader to penetrate rather than simply deconstruct from some quasi-Marxist perspective as a sample of his class and gender. And yet like Ford he draws the reader into to the particular and superficially banal concerns of his characters through the power of his writing.

Reilly and Confederacy to my mind stands almost as direct caricature of The Moviegoer and Binx, and more credit to Percy for seeing through that and finding the brilliance underneath. In fact I wonder whether Percy championed the book not only because it was good, but because he was flattered by Toole’s attempt to write a masterfully comic parody of his own novel.


5. A thought on Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer at 50 « Odd Bits of Life in New Orleans - October 16, 2011

[…] Micheal Zell of Crescent City Books rises to champion John Kennedy Toole in the comments on the last Odd Words and now I a tempted to spoil my Sunday’s other plans by diving back into both books to make […]


6. MZell - October 16, 2011

Ultimately, this is of course subjective, but…I’ll first say that most fiction I read would be categorized as at least somewhat philosophical (Saramago, Kundera, Lobo Antunes, Vila-Matas, Handke, Jelinek, Bernhard, Borges, Pessoa, etc.). That said, I find that Percy’s fiction lacks a stylistic glint in the eye, a certain verve. Wendell Berry would be in the same vein for me. His essays are wonderful, but his fiction leaves me wanting. That said, I’ll have to reread “The Moviegoer”. Sadly, all of this further emphasizes the tragedy of Toole’s death and the challenge to publish “Confederacy…”.


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