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Doleful Mysteries March 30, 2013

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
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I prefer the old-fashioned Maundy Thursday to keep Batman and Robin out of it. Good Friday is Golgotha and I was in no mood for skulls, and have yet to find anyone to enlist in my proposed pilgrimage to find nine bar doors in New Orleans from which you can view a church. And then there is that vision of the Stations of the Cross. Yes, He suffered just as we do, and more they said in catechism. I checked the work calendar, the to-do list and the checking account balance and suddenly flashed on myself under Alex DeLarge’s scourge in A Clockwork Orange. Here it is Holy Saturday (Batman!) and I am deep into a purgatory of laundry for the sin of sloth. I am curious to see who might be in Holy Rosary keeping vigil on one of the two days of the year in which the consecrated host is removed from Catholic tabernacle, the sumptuous gold box at the back of the altar. Most people know that one doesn’t put the baby in the crèche until Christmas morning, but I wonder who outside of the Altar Society realize that relic of mystic flesh is taken out on Good Friday. And then what do they do with it?

Santa Claus Eve and Easter Bunny Day are problematic for an apostate like myself who is none the less deeply imprinted with a Catholic upbringing, a near equivalent of the secular Jew: steeped in the culture by a complete indoctrination in guilt and exceptionalism that no therapy could hope to erase. It doesn’t help to notice in your son’s catechism classroom that the colors of the Church calendar are purple, green and gold, to ride on the bus home and watch a Latino woman cross herself at each church passed and be reminded of an old girlfriend, to look at the St. Expedite candle on my bedroom mantle. I could easily complete some of the more gruesome qualifications for excommunication from an institution I abhor but it would make no difference. Fish on Friday still seems as right as red beans on Monday or meatballs on Wednesday even if the last time I had my throat blessed was in grammar school.

What to do on Jelly Bean Sunday? I think I still have the plaid shirt I used to wear to church on Easter Sunday when I was raising my children, as solemnly promised, as Catholics, one that looks like a horrible accident at the Paaz factory but I really have nowhere to go in it. I often buy a new straw hat Holy Week but after vacuuming all of the change out of the couch, I’ve decided to just steam the ones I have back into shape and try to scrub the sweat stains out with some Oxyclean and a toothbrush. Still, when the Goddess Diana Ecclesiastical Calender conspires with the weather to bring us Ishtar Easter at Spring, some observance is required. I will probably do what I usually do come that Sunday in honor of Jesus the Teacher and in contravention of the dictates of Peter’s church. I will listen to Pharoah Sander’s Love is Everywhere, a song that to me is the bell-blessed communion chant of the church of all mankind, and read Wallace Steven’s Sunday Morning.

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Lazarus March 29, 2013

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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Resurrection is a neat trick
but Lazarus wasn’t particularly impressed
the second time around.

A walking parable,
he stood alone on Golgotha
in mute testament, watching
the chosen disciples
debase themselves in grief.

On the third day, more or less,
Lazarus sat
contemplating the great stone
standing in grave monument
beside the hollow tomb,
relishing the serene emptiness
of the deserted cemetery.

— Mark Folse

Odd Words March 28, 2013

Posted by The Typist in books, literature, New Orleans, novel, Odd Words, Poetry, publishing, Toulouse Street.
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It’s a short list this week in Odd Words but we’re right in between Tennessee Williams Fest and Easter. Remember a children’s book, chocolate smears and all, will last long after the jellybeans are gone.

& Starting today at 7 p.m. the Alvar Public Library, 913 Alvar St., will launch a reading series on the Fourth Thursday of March, April, and May, featuring a series of local poets reading their original work. This week features Ellen Allen, Delia Tomino Nakayama and Catilin Creek Shroyer.

& Tonight at 17 Poets! at 8 p.m. featured are Katarina Boudreaux and Maurice Carlos Ruffin followed by the open mic. Katarina Boudreaux has been published in Poetry Motel, Oak Bend Review, Texas Poetry Journal and by the Ottawa Valley Writer’s Guild. Maurice Carlos Ruffin is a third-year MFA student at the University of New Orleans. He’s also a member of several writing collectives, including the Peauxdunque Writers Alliance and the Melanated Writers of New Orleans. Maurice’s work has been published in the Apalachee Review, the South Carolina Review and his story “The Pie Man” received the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop’s 2011 Ernest Svenson Fiction Award, and an earlier version was first runner-up in the short story category at the 2010 William Faulkner-Wisdom Competition

& Thursdays the Norman Meyer Branch Library hosts a Writing Workshop lead by youth upstairs in the teen area, Encouraging creative arts exploration through reading, engaging discussions, and group activities. Youth ages 12-17 are invited. Group limited to 15 participants. Call the branch for details. 596-3100

& Also tonight the Norman Meyer branch hosts a book discussion for The Big Read, sponsored Xavier University of Louisiana, in partnership with New Orleans Public Library. The book selected for The Big Read is A Lesson Before Dying by Louisiana native Ernest Gaines.

& Saturday Maple Leaf Book Shop’s Uptown location will feature the following authors in lieu of Story Time with Miss Maureen. Dianne de las Casas and her daughter, Kid Chef Eliana, will be signing at 11:30-1 p.m. Dianne will be signing her book, The Little Read Hen, while Kid Chef Eliana will be signing Cool Kids Cook Louisiana. About Dianne’s book: The Little Read Hen is a literary spin on a beloved folk tale, perfect for aspiring young writers interested in learning how their own fledgling ideas can hatch into a polished story. Holly Stone-Barker’s vibrant cut-paper illustrations add riotous fun to each page. About Eliana’s book: For kids who want to cook Louisiana-style, Kid Chef Eliana keeps the good times rolling in this kid-friendly cookbook of Louisiana cuisine. For a peek at what Chef Eliana does, watch her make jambalaya and pralines on the Wendy Williams Show!

& Saturday at Garden District Books join Latoya Easter signing her book Can’t Cry at 1 p.m.. “Lela Crimsome is a young, beautiful, independent, successful entertainment lawyer who’s never willing to give an inch of trust to anybody; let alone a man. Quinton Jacobs is a rugged, seductively handsome, blue-collar father with a low self-esteem and a ghetto fabulous baby mama. He’s a loving father, who sacrifices everything for his son; even if it means sabotaging his own life. But, can he truly say he’s the baby’s daddy?”

& Saturday at the Latter Memorial Library Gina Ferrara hosts the Poetry Buffet at 2 p.m. I’ll post a list of readers as soon as I get it.

& This Sunday’s reading at the Maple Leaf Poetry Series is Open Mic at 3:30 pm in the rear courtyard.

& The new Sunday show from Spoken Word New Orleans is Poetry and Paint Brushes. Spoken Word artists 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.

& On the second, fourth, and fifth Sunday of each month, Jenna Mae hosts poets and spoken-word readers at 8:00 p.m. at the Fair Grinds Coffee House on 3133 Ponce de Leon St.

& 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 evening the Maple Street Book Shop’s First Tuesday Book Club will be meeting at 5:45 p.m. at our Uptown location to discuss <en<Paris to the Past: Traveling Through French History by Train by Ina Caro.

& Wednesday there is a weekly poetry reading hosted at Weekly Poetry Reading the Neutral Ground Coffee House at 9 p.m.

Assaying the State of the Essay March 24, 2013

Posted by The Typist in books, literature, New Orleans, NOLA, Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
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Sunday’s panel on Creative Non-Fiction at the Tennessee Williams festival spent much time answering Adam Kirch’s infamous (well, to some of us) essay in the New Republic, “The New Essayists, or the Decline of a Form? The essay as reality television.” Novelist and Tulane professor Thomas Beller, the author of a series of personal essays titled How To Be A Man suggested that the readers and writers of the current explosion of personal essays have mixed motivations. Essayists look to be “a legitimate [interior] voice speaking to the outside world” but that too many writers suffer from what Dorothy Parker called “the frankies”, the desire to share beyond their own best interest and that of the reader.” Readers, he said, were often “looking for somebody to make a fool of themselves.”

Panelist John Jeremiah Sullivan was one of Kirsh’s first targets: “A talented writer such as John Jeremiah Sullivan might, fifty years ago, have tried to explore his complicated feelings about the South, and about race and class in America, by writing fiction, following in the footsteps of Walker Percy and Eudora Welty. Instead he produced a book of essays, called Pulphead, on the same themes; and the book was received with the kind of serious attention and critical acclaim that were once reserved for novels.” The Southern Editor of the Paris Review and contributor to GQ, Harper’s Magazine and Oxford American took exception to the idea that essayists, especially those who write for magazines are somehow beneath literary notice. He called it “cultural eugenics’ and a reject of 300 years of English literary history to attack magazine writers or suggest the essay was dead. “Lamb, Hazlitt, de Quincy were all writing for magazines” but are presented now cleaned up and anthologized.

Beller said that too many essays today are predictable. “Too many essays even in the best magazines, from the first two paragraphs you know where they’re going.” He praised Sullivan’s work for its twists and turns. comparing them to early Paul McCartny songs. “They are like three or four songs all strung together.” Panelist Elena Passarello, author of Let Me Clear My Throat and a contributor to Creative Nonfiction, Oxford American and Slate, turned to writing and essays in particular after a career in acting. says she tries to creative performative moments on the page. “The essays that fire on all cylinders show the workings of a human mind, [the author’s] or another’s.” Beller, who suggested something similar earlier (see above) said the form also allows writers to take “their eccentricities out into the world,” which lead to a discussion of his own contribution to the New York Times Food section on the peanut butter and pickle sandwich.

Exotic Romancing March 24, 2013

Posted by The Typist in books, literature, New Orleans, NOLA, Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
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Is New Orleans truly the most exotic locale in the United States, or just the victim of good press? Panel moderator David Johnson started out the Tennessee Williams Festival panel on Writing New Orleans: The Most “Exotic” Place in America with a famous quote by Williams: “America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland.”

Noted geographer and author Richard Campanella was quick to challenge the prevailing notion. Buying into the exoticism “privileges for the picturesque” when the residents of the city do not spend 365 days a year at Carnival or second lines or watching Mardi Gras Indians. He traced the notion of the city’s reputation as the initial collision of newly arrived Americans with the original Creole settlers and the Spanish Administration, and writers of that initial period set the stage for those who would follow and set the exotic tag firmly in place: Grace King, Lafcadio Hearn and Lyle Saxon. “They romanticized it and it was picked up by the city’s industrialized tourist industry.”

Kim Marie Vaz stood up for the city’s exotic reputation. “We generate our own exoticism because our culture is unique,” the author of a recent work on the carnival Baby Dolls asserted. Writer Nathaniel Rich suggested the city preserves its exotic aspects because it is “the most self-referential city in American. It doesn’t care what’s going on outside” which he said was the source of the city’s “wonder and problems.” New Yorker Thomas Beller, now a Tulane professor, said when he first moved to New Orleans he was trying to impose his own internal geography onto the city, and came to recognize the city’s troubled side as “the New York I grew up in the 1970s.” He found the city’s character was created in part by a disposition to holding onto things and investing objects with an emotional value.”

Campanella said much of the current influx of new residents to the city can be traced to its exotic reputation. Beller said the influx of new residents more inclined to progress and preservation “provokes kind of allergic reaction” among many New Orleanians. “They really are upset about the erasure that goes along with that. And I’m a bit more inclined to favor the holding onto things. New Orleans is very good for that.” Asked about the city’s continuing ability to absorb new residents into the existing culture without erasure, Campanella said “it’s not the end of history. It’s the next chapter.” Vaz said the culture would continue to change and grow. “You have a lot of people who are working 365 days a year to preserve the culture.”

Vaz and Campanella traced much of the city’s exotic reputation to early writers like Heard and King, but called out Lyle Saxon of the famous WPA Guide to New Orleans and Robert Talent, author of several books promoting the city’s exotic legend. “My work is a reaction of the exoticism of Talent and Saxon,” Vaz said of her work on the Baby Dolls, an old carnival tradition that grew out of the city’s segregated prostitution district as a marching krewe of Black sex workers. “People are surprised that [much of the culture] came out of intense segregation.” Campanella agreed that academic writers are questioning the past focus on the “exoticism and exceptionalism.”

Thomas Beller is the author of two works of fiction, Seduction Theory and The Sleep-Over Artist, and a collection of personal essays How To Be A Man. Richard Campanella is a geographer with the Tulanue University School of Architecture and the author of six critically acclaimed books, including Bienville’s Dilema: A Historical Geography of New Orleans. Nathaniel Rich is the author of two novels, Odds Against Tomorrow and The Mayor’s Tongue. Kim Marie Vaz is an associate dean and professor at Xavier University and author of The BABY DOLLS: Breaking the Race and Gender Barriers of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Tradition.

The Geography of Pleasure March 23, 2013

Posted by The Typist in books, literature, NOLA, Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
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That was the money quote at Friday’s panel on New Orleans in the 1920s: Bohemia, Baby Dolls and Storyville, from panelist Alecia Long, author of The Great Southern Babylon: Sex, Race and Respectability in New Orleans, 1965-1920, along with fellow panelist John Shelton Read’s pun about serious works of non-fiction suffering from colon:itis. Delving as far as an hour and a half allowed into the world of prostitution and the original Baby Dolls–all sex workers who broke the convention against woman masking at the time–it was Read’s somewhat drier but headline fresh description of the birth, brief flowering and decay of New Orleans as a bohemian center to rival Greenwich Village that was headline fresh for Orleanians watching the struggle over gentrification along the river.

Read described the cohort of young artists and writers who came to New Orleans to create in the French Quarter “a vest pocket Greenwich Village [where] living was cheap and the neighbors tolerant. Writers such as Pulitzer Prize-winner Oliver Lafarge, Sherwood Anderson and a young William Faulkner were among those who settled for a spell into the then run-down Quarter, and Anderson entertained visitors including Theodore Dreiser, Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein, and Bertrand Russell. What fascinated about his presentation was his almost anthropological dissection of the rise and fall of Bohemias, from the first artists who arrive in search of local color and cheap living, the Beatnik-like hangers-on and slumming Uptowners who soon follow until the French Quarter in particular was an attraction for “Uptown ladies and tourists” and one writers’ description of the neighborhood at the end of Bohemia’s blossoming would sound familiar to today’s visitors: “stale beer, garbage, drunks and tourists.” The tea shops established by the original Bohemians for their own pleasure became popular with visitors, Le Petite Salon brought book-club ladies from Uptown and Le Petite Theatre was founded the original writers and artist found themselves being pushed out by rising rents and less congenial neighbors. Read details all of this in his book Dixie Bohemia: A French Quarter Circle in the 1920s.

The pre-1920s French Quarter would surprise local residents but not the bohemian settlers of the period. Bourbon Street was a family block filled with working class people, largely Italian, and the remnants of old Creole families. Royal Street was the center of licentiousness, lined with clubs and served as bars, gambling dens and houses of prostitution combined, and even the now staid-Hotel Monteleone serviced the trade that brought to the quarter. New Orleans after the turn of the 19th century was changing, with new high rise buildings going up across Canal Street and a new sense of boosterism sought not only to drive sin out of the quarter, but even threatened to demolish much of it for a new civic center, the only remnant of which is the old Municipal Auditorium. Storyville, Long tells us, was a compromise. There was too much money to be made off of the “below the neck pleasure business”, as much if not more from alcohol sales as from prostitution, and much of that found its way into the pockets of the city and its employees down to the cops lucky enough to draw that beat. Relocating the vice industry into a single district a bit further away from downtown was the solution, although Long reminds us the district stood directly behind the old Krauss and not two blocks from the Maison Blanche department stores, and would have abutted right up to the planned civic center running from Treme Street all the way to Royal.

Storyville finally fell victim to the ultra-conservative war-time Federal government which decreed that no troops could be stationed in a city with a sanctioned red light district. Not that the business went away entirely–“you can make prostitution illegal but you can’t make it unpopular,” Long quotes an unnamed politicians–it simply moved into other parts of town. The famed district met its final end when most of it was demolished for the Iberville Housing Project.

There are vestiges of the old sex workers still alive in New Orleans culture today, thanks to the revival of the traditional of the Baby Dolls by Antoinette K-Doe. The original Baby Dolls according to Kim Marie Vaz, author of “BABY DOLLS”: Breaking the Race and Gender Barriers of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Tradition, the original Baby Dolls were black sex workers of the era who marched with their “sporting gentlemen” (pimps) in contravention of the understanding that women did not mask in the streets, and in stark contrast to the more formal Black carnival krewes that survive today with their elaborate and exclusive balls Invitations to those events were as sought after and hard to get as invitations to Rex in the white community, and the organizations were quite conservative. Today’s Young Men’s Illinois Club emerged as a break away from the original group after the scandal of a married man escorting a young woman not his wife into the ball, much as today’s Krewe d’Etat grew out of a desire to parade among the younger generation of Momus who rejected the old krewe’s decision to refuse to parade rather than integrate.

The original Dolls used none of the props seen today, no baby bottles or suckers. Instead they dressed in the finest clothes they could manage and paraded shamelessly through the streets, drinking and dancing all the way, escorted by their sporting gentlemen often attired as police. The latter is rather funny if you consider the relationship to the sex workers who were the original Dolls to the law. The revival of the Baby Dolls contributes another facet to New Orleans Black carnival of fancy dress balls and Mardi Gras Indians.

All of the panelists books are available in the Festival Book Shop located in the Hotel Monteleone.

Tennessee’s First Flower Blooms at the Allways Lounge Theater March 23, 2013

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, Odd Words, Review, Theater, Toulouse Street.
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While the smart set at the the Tennessee Williams Festival is settling into watch the third part of John Biguenet’s Katrina Trilogy, Mold in a small bar room/theater Off-Off-Royal Street Tennessee Williams’ first produced play–A Battle of Angels–is given a compelling production at the Allways Lounge Theater. The Allways has become the Southern Rep of the St. Claude and Bywater set, and director Glenn Meche’s production keeps up the high standards the theater has set for its small space. The tale which most of the world knows from its much re-written version as Orpheus Descending and the film The Fugitive Kind is still riveting theater in the Circle Repertory revival version presented by the Allways.

From the moment the excellent Nicole Gruter as Beulah Cartwright and Lillian Claire Dodenhoff as Dolly Bland burst gossiping into the mercantile store the audience is swept back in time and up to the Mississippi Delta. A more perfect pair of haughty southern matrons could hardly be wished for. As soon as Diana Shortez sweeps into the room as the flawed and fallen Cassandra Whiteside the hammer is cocked and ready for the volley of familiar Williams themes of sex, death and redemption to follow. Shortez, with her commanding physicality and chameleon abilities is perfectly cast as the the loose-moralled scapegoat and by the last act the play’s one-woman chorus.

At the end of the first act one wishes Eli Grove as snake-skinned Val Xavier had some of the animal magnetism of Shortez, but he brings his best duck-tailed Cool Hand Luke to the table and as the complexities of his character are revealed through the remainder of the play he wins the viewer over with a brooding Kerouacian charm. The strong cast of women delivers the reflection of the character’s reptilian charm in their own performances. He is convincing as the (one part Tennessee) thoughtful drifter with a head full of ideas running from a troubled past. The delight of the night is Veronica Russell as Myra Torrance. Her slow transformation from a bitter shopkeeper with a loveless marriage and a dying husband as reptilian as Xavier’s jacket into the lovelorn victim of Xavier’s charm is at the center of the plot and she carries the spotlight with a quiet but powerful performance. Years seem to melt from her face as she moves backwards in time from pinch-faced shopkeeper to the charmingly coquettish victim of Xavier’s promise of escape.

Rebecca Myers as the deeply religious Vee Talbot wears the character’s convictions well and does a fine job of carrying the difficult task of tying together the almost Old Testament bombastic imagery–from Xavier’s snakeskin jacket to the frightening cane-of-God Doug Mundy wields mostly off-stage–in this tale of temptation and fall set at Easter Week with the wild Whiteside making whoopee up at the town’s Golgotha. The text is freighted with symbolism almost past the Plimsoll mark but Myers and the rest of the supporting cast manage to keep the bowl of apples off the table and give Russell and Grove the space to play out their doomed romance. There is not a weak performance in the ensemble which also includes Barry Bradford as a genuinely threatening Sheriff Talbott and Patrica Raw and Rebecca Rae as the comic spinster sisters. Director Glenn Meche has shaped a fine cast into a compelling night of drama.

The Allways’ small proscenium theater is turned sideways as it was for last year’s The Future is a Fancy Land Place and while you might find yourself rubbing your neck at the end of the night, it gives the actors room to move and the feeling the audience is in a much larger space without the loss of intimacy. While far from the center of the Tennessee Williams weekend at the The Hotel Monteleone, festival goers would do well to find their way down to St. Claude Avenue and the rest of us have until April 6 to see the root of Tennessee’s genius in its first blossom.

Odd Words March 21, 2013

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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o.twlogo & The Tennessee Williams Festival kicks into high gear today, March 21 through Sunday, March 24, and includes master classes by notable writers, panels discussions on all things literary including Tennessee Williams, theater and music performances, and of course the annual Stella hollering contest. Panels will include highlights comprise more than two dozen literary panel discussions on a wide range of topics including Creole Women; Free People of Color; the South: Exile, Refuge and Return; New Orleans in the 1920s; courage in journalism; and reading in the digital age, along with the 18th Annual Tennessee Williams Scholars Conference, celebrity readings of three TW one-acts and several Williams-related panels including “I Remember Tennessee.” You can get all the details at www.tennesseewilliams.net. And watch ToulouseStreet.net and follow @odd_words for event write ups and flash updates and more all during the event.

& Tonight at 17 Poets! Rodger Kamenetz and JS Makkos read from their work followed by the open mic. Kamenetz is an award-winning poet, author and teacher. Kamenetz’s five books of poetry include The Lowercase Jew. He has been called “the most formidable of the Jewish-American poets.” Joseph s. Makkos as a poet primarily focuses on visual & performance work. He is author of When She Goes Down (Hobby Horse, 2010) and a book length collection of visual work, Paper Trumpet (Lavender Ink, forthcoming). J.S. is an art book designer and publisher (Language Foundry), whose projects heavily focus on outré media.

& Also Thursday night it is time for another Poetry Brothel at the Allways Lounge at 9 p.m. $10 cover. “Seeking absolution? Or just absinthe? Trade your sackcloth and ashes for a corset and cocktail at The New Orleans Poetry Brothel. Your Maître d’, Francis Shadfly (Jordan Soyka), and Madam Pearl du Mal (Izzy Oneiric), are hosting an evening of perverse poesy and decadent diversion. Purchase a private reading from one of our poetry whores, and listen as they confess, profess, and digress. Perform penance with our lapsed priest (one couplet per venial sin). And take in depraved performances from our coterie of acrobats, buskers, and burlesque dancers.”

& Tonight also offers another chance to catch Sarah Carr signing Hope Against Hope: Three Schools, One City, and the Struggle to Educate America’s Children Thursday, March 21st at 6:30PM at the Maple Street Book Shop Healing Center location. In this powerful narrative non-fiction debut, the lives of a student, a new teacher, and a principal in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina provide readers with a vivid and sobering portrait of education in 21st-century America.

& Also on Thursday join “quirky author and composer” Michael Hearst at Octavia Books at 6 pm to present and sign his recent book, UNUSUAL CREATURES: A Mostly Accurate Account of Some of Earth’s Strangest Animals, and companion CD, Songs for Unusual Creatures. From the Australian bilby to the deep-sea magnapinna squid, to the microscopic tardigrade. And in case learning about hagfish slime isn’t enough to pique your interest, Hearst will also perform a few songs inspired by the animals on such odd-ball instruments as the theremin and the stylophone

& Friday at 6 p.m. the Maple Street flagship shop hosts Susan Puckett signing her book, Eat Drink Delta: a Hungry Traveler’s Journey Through the Soul of the South (as featured in Saveur magazine) at 6PM. Part travel guide, part cookbook, and part photo essay, Eat Drink Delta by veteran food journalist Susan Puckett (with photographs by Delta resident Langdon Clay) reveals a region shaped by slavery, civil rights, amazing wealth, abject deprivation, the Civil War, a flood of biblical proportions, an—above all—an overarching urge to get down and party with a full table and an open bar.

& The Melanated Writers Collective will host a Literary Jook Joint in conjunction with the Tennessee Williams Festival Friday at 8 p.m. at the M. Francis Gallery, 604 Julia St. Admission is $15. Among the members reading are Kelly Harris DeBerry, Dr. G. Love, Maurice Ruffin, Gian Smith and Mary Webb.

& Miss Maureen has Saturday morning off at Maple Street Books Shop but at 11 a.m. children’s author Katy Kelly will be signing her Melonhead and Lucy Rose series at the Uptown location. Lucy Rose and Adam “Melonhead” Melon are adventuresome neighbors growing up in Washington D.C. They’ve each got their own set of stories, and they’re both sure to make you laugh! Please join us for the signing. In lieu of the usual activities there’ll be juice and cookies for the hiding in the stacks set so they don’t riot like a bunch of Who fans stomping their feet and chanting “Miss Maureen! Miss Maureen!”

& Saturday at Octavia books bring your young readers at 1:30 pm for the release party for THE LITTLE “READ” HEN with favorite children’s picture books author Dianne de Las Cassas and illustrator Holly Stone-Barker. It is a fun literary spin on a beloved folktale that is perfect for aspiring young writers interested in learning how their own fledgling ideascan hatch into a polished story.

& This Sunday’s reading at the Maple Leaf Poetry Series is Open Mic at 3:30 pm in the rear courtyard.

& The new Sunday show from Spoken Word New Orleans is Poetry and Paint Brushes. Spoken Word artists 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.

& On the second, fourth, and fifth Sunday of each month, Jenna Mae hosts poets and spoken-word readers at 8:00 p.m. at the Fair Grinds Coffee House on 3133 Ponce de Leon St.

& 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.

& Maddie_on_Things_Cover Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. at Octavia books join professional photographer and wanderer, Theron Humphrey and Maddie the coonhound, known for their wildly popular Instagram and Tumblr, come to Octavia Books for a presentation and signing featuring their debut book, MADDIE ON THINGS. In 2011 Theron Humphrey examined his life and, like many people, felt he wasn’t living up to his personal and creative potential. He decided to take a trip across America to meet, photograph and tell the story of one person each day. For company, he brought along his sweet-natured rescue Coonhound, Maddie. “I figured if Steinbeck had Charley by his side on his American travels, I needed a good dog next to me in my truck,” he said.

Traveling with the Dead March 19, 2013

Posted by The Typist in Crime, cryptical envelopment, je me souviens, Murder, New Orleans, Remember, Toulouse Street.
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This comment posted day before yesterday explains why I haven’t been posting but instead trying, in my limited time to blog, to finish my list of the dead of 2012.

“My Love, My Soulmate, My Hubby….
*Arthur Jackson* 05/08/78-07/01/07

It’s been 5yrs and it feels like yesterday…some days are better than others, but the pain remains…I’ve know this man since 1st grade, we attended elementary & high school together….He was my friend,soulmate,my LIFE…Our kids miss him so much, I wish he was here to mentor,guide, his boys(2) or see his daughter as she blossoms into a beautiful,bright,intelligent, young lady….although he died during his 2nd surgery it was still a result of gun violence…this type of savagery has claimed the ives of so many of Nola’s fathers, my youngest son’s kindergarten class had 6 kids including my son whose dad was killed…my really goes out to the kids, because they’re the ones whose really suffering….this has to STOP, just the thought of some poor child being told they’re dad is DEAD, gone foever and haing to endure the pain on their face, (as I recall my kids experience) breaks my heart….PEACE*”

Odd Words March 14, 2013

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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o.twlogo & Next week begins the Tennessee Williams Festival running Wednesday, March 20 through Sunday, March 24, and includes master classes by notable writers, panels discussions on all things literary including Tennessee Williams, theater and music performances, and of course the annual Stella hollering contest. Panels will include highlights comprise more than two dozen literary panel discussions on a wide range of topics including Creole Women; Free People of Color; the South: Exile, Refuge and Return; New Orleans in the 1920s; courage in journalism; and reading in the digital age, along with the 18th Annual Tennessee Williams Scholars Conference, celebrity readings of three TW one-acts and several Williams-related panels including “I Remember Tennessee.” You can get all the details at www.tennesseewilliams.net. Notable participants this year include:

  • Michael Cunningham, the author of the novels A Home at the End of the World, Flesh and Blood, The Hours (winner of the Pen/Faulkner Award & Pulitzer Prize), Specimen Days, and his latest work, By Nightfall. He will judge the Festival’s 5th Annual Short Fiction Contest;
  • Don Murray, who made his Broadway debut in 1951 opposite Eli Wallach and Maureen Stapleton in Tennessee Williams’ The Rose Tattoo, and is perhaps best known for his role in the 1956 film Bus Stop with Marilyn Monroe;
  • John Patrick Shanley, multiple award-winning playwright/screenwriter/director (Doubt, Moonstruck), who wowed Festival audiences in 2010 with his poignant and powerful tribute to Tennessee Williams;
  • Leonard Pitts, best-selling author, columnist and 2004 Pulitzer Prize recipient for Commentary;
  • Douglas Brinkley, prolific non-fiction author and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, whose most recent book, Cronkite, traces Walter Cronkite’s story, drawing on unprecedented access to the esteemed broadcast journalist’s private papers as well as interviews with his family and friends;
  • John Shelton Reed, acclaimed Southern sociologist whose 19th book, Dixie Bohemia: A French Quarter Circle in the 1920s, takes readers to the heart of the place that inspired a host of literary legends and other creative souls;
  • Maureen Corrigan, a book critic for the Peabody Award-winning NPR program “Fresh Air;” author of a memoir, Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading; and currently at work on a book about the enduring greatness of The Great Gatsby;
  • Silas House, bestselling author and playwright, whose work, which deals mostly with the plight of the rural place and its people, has been published in The New York Times, Newsday, and Oxford American, and his commentary regularly featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered;”
  • John Jeremiah Sullivan, a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and the southern editor of The Paris Review. He writes for GQ, Harper’s Magazine, and Oxford American and is the author of Blood Horses and the much-heralded new work, Pulphead;
  • Dwight Garner, a senior writer and book critic for The New York Times, whose essays and journalism have also appeared in Slate, Harper’s and Oxford American, among other places. He is at work on a biography of James Agee;
  • Zachary Lazar, novelist (Sway) and memoirist (Evening’s Empire: The Story of My Father’s Murder), whose writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, BOMB, among others; and
  • Ayana Mathis, whose debut novel, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, was recently selected by Oprah Winfrey for her Book Club 2.0.

& Thursday, March 14 at 5 p.m. Tulane’s Political Science department hosts a talk by Micheal Lin, author of Land of Promise: An Economic History of The United States in Herbert Hall 201, open to the Tulane community and alumni.

& Thursday, March 14 at 6:30 p.m. Rodger Kamenetz will be signing his book The Jew in the Lotus at Maple Leaf Book Shop’s Healing Center Location. While accompanying eight high-spirited Jewish delegates to Dharamsala, India, for a historic Buddhist-Jewish dialogue with the Dalai Lama, poet Rodger Kamenetz comes to understand the convergence of Buddhist and Jewish thought. Along the way he encounters Ram Dass and Richard Gere, and dialogues with leading rabbis and Jewish thinkers, including Zalman Schacter, Yitz and Blue Greenberg, and a host of religious and disaffected Jews and Jewish Buddhists.

& Thursday at 8 p.m. 17 Poets! presents readings and musical performances by Hillary Gravendyk, Anis Shivan and Peter Orr followed by the open mic. Gravendyk is an Assistant Professor of English and Poetry at Pomona College in Claremont, CA. She is the recent winner of the Lana Turner poetry prize. Shivani is a fiction writer, poet, and critic, based in Houston, Texas. He is the author of the short story collection, Anatolia and Other Stories, published by Black Lawrence Press. Booklist describes the collection as “extraordinary” and “caustically funny.” The collection was long-listed for the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award and one of the stories–”Dubai”–was awarded Special Mention for the Pushcart Prize. Singer, songer writer and novelist Peter Orr will be performing his music.. “Simply put, Peter Orr is a hands-down, flat-out superb performer.” –David Cuthbert, New Orleans Times-Picayune, January 19, 2001

coverFriday March 15 at 7 p.m. Gallatin & Toulouse Press will celebrate the launch of their next title–an art book, comic book or coloring book as the reader prefers (crayons include)–Coloring Book for the Criminally Insane, featuring 28 drawings of local poet and artist Thaddeus Conti. The book launch will be at the St. Roch Tavern 7-9 p.m. “Poet, artist and raconteur Thaddeus Conti’s art explores the precarious margins of sanity, crawling right up to The Edge and peering deep into the darkness that lies inside that well. He is a bard for the modern age, willing to taste just enough of the poison of modern life to bring back visions & poems that draw us all closer to the fire & away from the darkness.”

& Saturday morning March 16 at 11:30 a.m. brings Story Time with Miss Maureen to Maple Street Book Shop Uptown. In early celebration of St. Patrick’s day, she’ll read Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato by Tomie dePaola.

& Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Octavia Books will host a booksiging with Kid Chef Eliana celebrating the launch of her new book, COOL KIDS COOK. Kid Chef Eliana keeps the good times rolling in this kid-friendly cookbook celebrating our Louisiana cuisine. With nearly thirty exciting recipes you can follow, from Jambalaya to Maque Choux to Boudin Balls to Pralines, Eliana guides you on a culinary journey through Louisiana. No matter your age, she shows you how to safely prepare some most delicious dishes that will excite the taste buds of family and friends.

& Saturday March 16 Earl W. Hampton, Jr. will be signing The Streetcar Guide to New Orleans (written by Hampton, Jr., Louis Costa, Andre Neff, and Peter Raarup) at Maple Street Book Shop’s Uptown location from 1 to 3 p.m.

& Saturday evening Tom Andes will be reading his story “The Hit” from The Best American Mystery Stories 2012 at the Maple Street Book Shop at Bayou St. John at 6 pm. There will be copies of the anthology for sale and wine and cheese for refreshments.

& Saturday night at the Contemporary Arts Center, check out Literally Speaking: Poetry and Purpose with Dave Brinks; Lee Meitzen Grue; Asia Rainey; & Kalamu ya Salaam and Kelly Harris-DeBerry, Moderator. Refreshments & Book Signing After Reading

& Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. Staple Goods Gallery Presents the Neutral Ground Quarterly Reading Series 6 X 15 (Six writers/performers, fifteen minutes each) Featuring performer Bremner Duthie, poet Kelly Harris, prose writer Yuri Herrera, prose writer Ruthie Landry, poet & playwright Dalt Wonk, and prose writer Michael Allen Zell. Actor, singer, and performer of award-winning one man shows, Bremner Duthie; Poet, educator, founder of The Literary Lab, and MelaNated collective member, Kelly Harris; Internationally known and award-winning novelist and short story writer, Yuri Herrera; NOCCA student and 2011 Words & Music Festival High School Short Story Winner, Ruthie Landry; Decades-strong poet, playwright, illustrator, and critic, Dalt Wonk; and, Novelist and short story writer, Michael Allen Zell

& This Sunday’s reading at the Maple Leaf Poetry Series is Open Mic at 3:30 pm in the rear courtyard.

& The new Sunday show from Spoken Word New Orleans is Poetry and Paint Brushes. Spoken Word artists 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.

& Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. Staple Goods Gallery Presents the Neutral Ground Quarterly Reading Series 6 X 15 (Six writers/performers, fifteen minutes each) Featuring performer Bremner Duthie, poet Kelly Harris, prose writer Yuri Herrera, prose writer Ruthie Landry, poet & playwright Dalt Wonk, and prose writer Michael Allen Zell. Actor, singer, and performer of award-winning one man shows, Bremner Duthie; Poet, educator, founder of The Literary Lab, and MelaNated collective member, Kelly Harris; Internationally known and award-winning novelist and short story writer, Yuri Herrera; NOCCA student and 2011 Words & Music Festival High School Short Story Winner, Ruthie Landry; Decades-strong poet, playwright, illustrator, and critic, Dalt Wonk; and, Novelist and short story writer, Michael Allen Zell

& 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, March 26 Garden District Bookshop hosts Sally Newhart’s book The Original Tuxedo Jazz Band. In 1910, The Tuxedo Jazz Band played its first show at the Tuxedo Dance Hall in Storyville, under Oscar Celestin. The popular ensemble went on to play all over New Orleans, as well as across the South and the nation. In 1953, it became the first jazz band to play the White House. The band has punctuated Jazz history and produced some of the most memorable musicians of the past century: Bob French, Albert French, William Ridgley, Octave Crosby, Louis Armstrong and more. Author Sally Newhart has written a definitive and captivating history of the band from inception to present, including oral histories, archival photos, discography and a previously unpublished complete list of members since 1910

& Wednesday, March 20 brings Robert M. Ferris and FLOOD OF CONFLICT: The New Orleans Free School Story to Octavia Books. In 1971, he helped start The New Orleans Free School, which became a public school in 1973. He taught seventh and eighth grade and participated in communal governance of the school until 1980. Then the school system bureaucracy engaged the school in a bitter fight to take over leadership of the school. This struggle ended with Bob being appointed principal in 1982. However, this battle was not an isolated onslaught. It was a precursor to a human flood of conflicts in which the bureaucracy attempted to drown the Free School over issues about staff, size of enrollment, educational practices, teachers, building conditions, neglect of duty and location of school. Ferris concludes this book with passionate and well-informed arguments about educational issues confounding our country, including charter schools, the achievement gap, high-stakes testing, poverty, fair and equitable spending, early childhood eduction and quality education.

Odd Words March 7, 2013

Posted by The Typist in books, literature, memoir, New Orleans, novel, Odd Words, Poetry, publishing, Toulouse Street, Writing.
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coverGallatin & Toulouse press returns with a unique and startling coloring book by artist and poet Thaddeus Conti, Coloring Book for the Criminally Insane: Session 0. The book will be available pre-launch this Saturday, March 9 at an art show at the 1239 Congress Gallery of the same address featuring Conti. A formal launch of the book and re-launch of G&T Press, established in 2010 by editors Sam Jasper and Mark Folse with the publication of A Howling in the Wires: Selected Writers from Postdiluvian New Orleans, will be celebrated at the St. Roch Tavern later this month. G&T Press took an unavoidable hiatus after the publication of Howling, but plans to return in 2013 with a focus on works featuring New Orleans and its authors, poets and artists. Facebook users, please visit and “Like” the Gallatin & Toulouse Press page to keep up with events and books.

Local writer Ari Braverman was recently selected as the winner of the 2012 James Knudsen Prize in Fiction, awarded by Bayou Magazine and the University of New Orleans. More details on the Room 220 literary blog.

& so to the listings…

& Tonight, March 7 at 6 p.m. Octavia books hosts 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.

& Tonight at 7:30 pm 17 Literary & Performance Series’ at Gold Mine Saloon features Book Signings & featured performances with poets Bernadette Mayer and Phillip Good. Mayer was born in 1945 in Brooklyn, New York. She is the author of numerous books of poetry and prose, including: Ethics of Sleep (Trembling Pillow press, 2011) Poetry State Forest (New Directions, 2008), Scarlet Tanager (2005), Two Haloed Mourners: Poems (1998), Proper Name and Other Stories (1996), The Desires of Mothers to Please Others in Letters (1994), The Bernadette Mayer Reader (1992), Sonnets (1989), Midwinter Day (1982), The Golden Book of Words (1978), and Ceremony Latin (1964). She has a new collection forthcoming from New Directions: The Helens of Troy, NY. Good is a graduate of The School of Visual Arts. He co-edited with Bill Denoyelles, the last of the mimeograph poetry magazines, Blue Smoke. He has given poetry readings all across America and abroad. He now lives in a former shtetl next to the Tsatsawassa and Kinderhook creeks. His book Untitled Writing from a Member of the Blank Generation was released in 2011 by Trembling Pillow Press.

& Nationally renowned poet, author, and actor Roosevelt “Hero 44” Wright III will be instructing a spoken word course at Special Tea Cafe Thursdays at 6:30. This is a great opportunity to learn from one of the most innovated spoken word artist in the country.

& Friday, March 8 at 4 pm Tulane University will present a lecture featuring Timothy Hampton, University of California-Berkley “Tangled Generation: Dylan, Kerouac, Petrarch and the Poetry of Escape”. Hampton will sketch out an approach to the problem of the “generation” as a category of literary historical understanding. His focus will be Bob Dylan’s 1975 album Blood on the Tracks, which is both a milestone in his career and a complex meditation on the relationship between poetry, politics, and history. It is also the only place in his long career in which Dylan writes songs about the “1960s Generation”–that social group of which he was understood to be the “voice” or spokesman.Prof. Hampton will explore the ways in which Dylan deploys earlier traditions of writing about “generational” experience, from Dante and Petrarch to Rimbaud and Jack Kerouac, as a way of marking a break with his own earlier work.

& This weekend brings the sixth annual Jane Austen Festival in Mandeville, featuring the signature costume contest in which contestants compete in their best Mr. Darcy and Jane Austin threads, along with a Love Letter Writing Contest. Activities will begin Saturday, March 9, at the Mandeville Trailhead Cultural Interpretive Center’s Depot Room at 9 a.m. and continue at at 2:30 pm at the North Star at Girod and Madison streets, three blocks south of the Trailhead. Saturday’s events are free and open to the public. Sunday, March 10 the festival moves to the second floor of The Lakehouse, restaurant, 2025 Lakeshore Drive from noon to 6 pm . Admission is $35 or $25 for students and teachers with picture ID and includes a brunch, finale cake and champagne reception and several events during the afternoon. A complete schedule of activities is on the event’s web site, JaneAustenFestival.org.

& Saturday, March 9 at 11:30 am Miss Maureen will read A Birthday for Frances by Russell and Lillian Hoban at Maple Street Books Uptown’s weekly Story Time with Miss Maureen.

& Saturday, March 9 at 1 p.m. Garden District Books hosts C. S. Harris and his novel What Darkness Brings. “The death of a notorious London diamond merchant draws aristocratic investigator Sebastian St. Cyr and his new wife Hero into a sordid world of greed, desperation, and the occult, when the husband of Sebastian’s former lover Kat Boleyn is accused of the murder.”

& Don’t forget the pre-launch debut of Coloring Book for the Criminally Insane at the 1239 Congress Gallery from 6:30 – 10 p.m. The gallery’s name is it’s address.

& This Sunday’s reading at the Maple Leaf Poetry Series will feature poets Dave Brinks, Rev. Goat Carson and John Sinclair perform their work. 3:30 pm in the rear courtyard.

& 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.

& 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, March 12 at 5:30 p.m. Garden District Books features Paul Dorrell’s Living the Artist’s Life. “Dorrell opened [the Leopold Gallery in Kansas City, MO] in 1991 and has been advancing artists’ careers on a national level ever since. This is an updated edition of his original book, covering critical subjects that he didn’t before and expanding on others, written in the same honest tone. With clients such as Warner Brothers and H&R Block, Dorrell knows how to land the big deals, as well as how to win the trust of private collectors.”

& Tuesday 6 pm Octavia hosts a reading and book signing with Aimee Agresti featuring her gripping new novel, INFATUATE in which angels in training face evil in New Orleans. From Bourbon Street to St. Louis Number One to the LaLaurie Mansion—our city really serves as an additional character in the book. This sequel to ILLUMINATE has all the hallmarks of a great YA read: romance, action, paranormal elements, and mystery.

& Also on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., Maple Street Bookstore at the Healing Center hosts Gael Thompson and The Dream of the Turquoise Bee by Dianne Aigaki. Thompson appears on behalf of the author. The book is a mystery set in Tibet revolving around the disappearance of the protagonists husband during the Chinese invasion of Tibet, and her return 30 years later to China hoping to uncovered his murderers.

& 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.

If your event doesn’t appear here, please email odd.words.nola@gmail.com. I do my best to scrape the internet for everything of interest, but it helps if you send me your listings direction.