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Odd Words: This week in literary New Orleans November 29, 2015

Posted by The Typist in Book Stores, book-signing, books, bookstores, literature, Louisiana, New Orleans, novel, Odd Words, Poetry, reading, spoken word, Toulouse Street, Writing.

This incredibly busy week in literary New Orleans, as the indie book stores crank up for the holidays, featuring an appearance and book signing by Gloria Steinem and a benefit for Room 220’s Big Class program for young writers.

& Monday at 5:30 pm the East Jefferson Regional Library hosts the final Writing Session for NANOWRIMO. Any person who is writing a novel, short story, play, screenplay, or other work of fiction may come to the East Bank Regional Library with laptops where they focus on writing. These five nights are part of National Novel Writing Month, a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30. Come mingle, meet, commiserate with fellow writers.

& This Monday at 7 pm Shulem Deen presents ALL WHO GO DO NOT RETURN, his memoir of growing up in and then leaving the Hasidic Jewish world. The program will be at the Uptown JCC. Shulem Deen was raised to believe that questions are dangerous. As a member of the Skverers, one of the most insular Hasidic sects in the US, he knows little about the outside world only that it is to be shunned. His marriage at eighteen is arranged and several children soon follow. Deen’s first transgression turning on the radio is small, but his curiosity leads him to the library, and later the Internet. Soon he begins a feverish inquiry into the tenets of his religious beliefs, until, several years later, his faith unravels entirely. Now a heretic, he fears being discovered and ostracized from the only world he knows. His relationship with his family at stake, he is forced into a life of deception, and begins a long struggle to hold on to those he loves most: his five children. In ALL WHO GO DO NOT RETURN, Deen bravely traces his harrowing loss of faith, while offering an illuminating look at a highly secretive world. Octavia Books will have books for sale at the event, and there will be a book signing following the presentation.

& Tuesday at 6 pm Garden District Book Shop hosts Stella Mowen signing her book Until the Beat Stops. Five friends who despite personal struggles are able to create the First Hill–a social media website which connects millions of cancer sufferers and survivors, giving them continual hope and strength during difficult times. Lilac, an elegantly beautiful brunette, is the idealistic founder whose own family struggled fatefully with the disease and tirelessly propels The First Hill team to stay focused and never settle. Strong willed and yet still humble, she finds professional success early on, but her own romantic relationships are at best elusive. James, a British documentarian, adds humor and modesty to the novel as he struggles to interview the team and uncover the truth about the successful startup to establish his own career. Through personal interviews and revelations of many reminiscent memories, we not only learn about the struggles of the start up but also about the personal fears, losses, and successes of each team member as well as James himself. The authentic voices of each character in the novel remind us of our own best friends growing up, while their complicated personal relationships add depth and understanding of the tough choices which face us all when balancing the dynamics of friendship and family. By the end of the novel, Lilac, Mason, Dorian, Benjamin, and Ivy, are not just another bunch of characters, they are the memories of the friends we all shared growing up as we struggled with and embraced adulthood.

& At 7 pm Tuesday the 1718 Society will be hosting a reading at the Columns Hotel featuring Mark Yakich, author of the new book Poetry: A Survivor’s Guide. Playful and serious, unforgiving and compassionate, Poetry: A Survivor’s Guide offers an original take on a subject both loved and feared. In a series of provocative and inspiring propositions, the act of reading a poem is made new, and the act of writing one is made over. Questions of poetry’s difficulty, pretension, and relevance are explored with insight and daring. In an age of new media and social networking, this handbook-cum-manifesto provides fresh reverence for one of our oldest forms of art. Maple Street Book Shop will be on hand, selling copies of the book.

& Also at 7 pm Tuesday Reading Between the Wines returns to Pearl Wine Co. inside of the American Can Company from from 7 to 8 pm. Sally Asher, author of STORIES FROM THE ST. LOUIS CEMETERIES OF NEW ORLEANS, is a writer and photographer living in New Orleans. Her first book, Hope & New Orleans: A History of Crescent City Street Names, was published by The History Press in 2014. She is a frequent contributor to Louisiana Cultural Vistas and regularly lectures on New Orleans history though the Louisiana State Museum. Her photography has appeared in many local, national and international media outlets, including Newsweek, U.S. World News, Penthouse magazine and New Orleans magazine. Also appearing is Maggy Baccinelli, author of NEW ORLEANS NEIGHBORHOODS. Before moving to New Orleans in January, 2014, Maggy Baccinelli, 28, spent almost a decade years writing about neighborhoods in Maryland and Washington D.C. Captivated by the Crescent City’s history and culture, she relocated to New Orleans in search of an adventure, and she found one through the process of writing New Orleans Neighborhoods: A Cultural Guide. Brandon Black, editor of CAIRO BY GASLIGHT, is a New Orleans-based fantasy and science fiction writer specializing in steampunk fiction. He is the editor of Black Tome Books’ By Gaslight series, which currently includes New Orleans By Gaslight and Cairo By Gaslight, both steampunk anthologies of poetry and fiction set in Victorian times.

& Wednesday night join Big Class for “A Dark and Stormy Night” in the Arbor Room at Popp Fountain, City Park. Big Class is a nonprofit organization dedicated to cultivating and supporting the voices of New Orleans’ writers ages 6-18 through creative collaborations with schools and communities. This spirited evening of cocktails and ghost stories will directly benefit the voices of New Orleans’ writers ages 6-18. 6:30 – 7:30: Patron Reception hosted by Wayne Amedee and Julie & Ted George, featuring live ghost stories, music, and cocktails by 12 Mile Limit. 7:30- 9:30: Cocktail and Dance Party featuring DJ Brice Nice, hosted by our “Ghostwriters.”- Jeremy Blum, Mary Carlton, Alvin David, Jayeesha Dutta, Natalie Girard, Sarah Granier, Jose Guadarrama, Kelly Harris-Deberry, Nicole Hershey, Jez Luckett, Kurston Melton, Nora McConnell-Johnson, Heather Muntzer, Sam Randolph, Glynnis Ritchie, Josie Scanlan, Emma Schain, Cherie Teamer, Kathleen Whalen and Emily Wilkerson.

& At 6 pm Wednesday Garden District Book Shop will feature John Freeman and Garnette Cadogan’s book Freeman’s: The Best New Writing On Arrival. Featuring startling new fiction by Laura van den Berg, Helen Simpson, and Tahmima Anam, as well as stirring essays by Aleksandar Hemon, Barry Lopez, and Garnette Cadogan, who relearned how to walk while being black upon arriving in NYC. Freeman’s announces the arrival of an essential map to the best new writing in the world. We live today in constant motion, traveling distances rapidly, small ones daily, arriving in new states. In this inaugural edition of Freeman’s, a new biannual of unpublished writing, former Granta editor and NBCC president John Freeman brings together the best new fiction, nonfiction, and poetry about that electrifying moment when we arrive. Strange encounters abound. David Mitchell meets a ghost in Hiroshima Prefecture; Lydia Davis recounts her travels in the exotic territory of the Norwegian language; and in a Dave Eggers story, an elderly gentleman cannot remember why he brought a fork to a wedding. End points often turn out to be new beginnings. Louise Erdrich visits a Native American cemetery that celebrates the next journey, and in a Haruki Murakami story, an aging actor arrives back in his true self after performing a role, discovering he has changed, becoming a new person.

& Wednesday at 6 pm at Octavia Books author Todd Mouton be here to discuss and sign his book WAY DOWN IN LOUISIANA, joined by double Grammy-winning guitarist and vocalist David Doucet of the band BeauSoleil, one of the bands profiled inthe book , will perform a few acoustic Cajun tunes as part of the presentation and reading. This book is about the mysteries of the soul–and the magic born when you make music from your heart. With Clifton Chenier’s amazing life and career as the centerpiece, this collection of profiles, complete with 130 photographs, gathered across two decades unites some of the world’s most innovative creative forces. The propulsive, soulful sounds of Buckwheat Zydeco, the virtuosic blues-rock of Sonny Landreth, and the accordion-and-fiddle-driven bayou backbeat of BeauSoleil were all birthed in Cajun and Creole country, a place where tradition and innovation rub against one another from the kitchen to the festival stage. Singer-songwriter, poet, and activist Zachary Richard; traditionalists-turned-innovators Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys; and cross-genre artists Roddie Romero & The Hub City All-Stars are among the many gifted players spearheading their cultures’ ongoing reinventions. In words, images, and music, the lives of these artists and culture-bearers speak volumes about the power of identity, influence, perserverance, and triumph. From Lil’ Band O’ Gold to Bonsoir, Catin and beyond, these artists make music that resonates in the hearts of listeners everywhere.

& At 8 pm Wednesday the Blood Jet Poetry Series at BJ’s in the Bywater hosts their penultimate show for the 2015 season with author and musician Peter Orr. Tall, distinguished, Lithuanian—none of these words describes Peter Orr. Since moving to New Orleans in 1993, he has managed to alienate audiences in nightclubs throughout the Metro area, without ever getting arrested as far as you know. He has signed with two different record labels, both of which went out of business. Prior to his arrival here, he worked as a magazine editor in New York City, contributing to such diverse periodicals as Fangoria, Details, Reflex, Starlog, High Times, Psychotronic Video, Black Teen Superstar, American Astrology, Cinefantastique, Comics Scene, International Tattoo Art, and of course Juggs. His fiction has appeared in The Sun, The Double Dealer Redux, Grue, Not One of Us, and other similarly high-profile venues. In recent years he has published a trilogy of books that take place in New Orleans during the 1990s: the collection Stay Out of New Orleans in 2012, followed by the novels The Breathtaking Christa P and Naught but a Shadow, both of which were finalists in the Faulkner-Wisdom Literary Competition. To the extent that Peter Orr has grown up at all, he did so in the glamorous Borough of Queens.

& Thursday at 4:30 pm a Spoken Word Workshops for Teens is offered at the Algiers Regional Library in Partnership with New Orleans Youth Open Mic (NOYOM). At each workshop students will channel their creativity to write and perform original spoken word pieces. Using model texts from local and national artists, students will elevate their craft while also building a community of young artists. Hosted by A Scribe Called Quess? of NOYOM and Team SNO.

& Thursday at 5:30 pm Maple Street Book Shop will host an evening with the Creative Writing Class of Lusher School. Students will read from their original work. Lusher’s Creative Writing program is designed to establish a supportive community of writers and to foster the artistic and intellectual growth of each writer in that community. Creative writing is a highly academic arts discipline, requiring strong critical and imaginative skills as well as a mastery of writing techniques. Thus, the curriculum emphasizes both reading and writing, with expectations becoming progressively more challenging within each level of study and from one level to the next.

& Thursday at Octavia Books at 6 pm friend of the store, designer of their new bags and T-shirts, and photographer extraordinaire Tom Varisco joins us to share his new book NEW ORLEANS LOOKING UP/NEW ORLEANS LOOKING DOWN. This book is actually two books in one. A partial record of the humor, resilience, strangeness, and charm that makes New Orleans so unique and memorable. Varisco and fellow photographer Erik Winkowski split their focus in half — Looking Up and Looking Down — to better capture the many moods of their ever-changing yet strangely dependable home town. The photographers, along with writer John Biguenet, who contributed two essays, offer an irreverent celebration of one of America’s most intriguing destinations.

& Also at 6 pm Thursday Garden District Book Shop hosts David D. Plater and The Butlers of Iberville Parish, Louisiana: Dunboyne Plantation in the 1800s. In 1833, Edward G. W. and Frances Parke Butler moved to their newly constructed plantation house, Dunboyne, on the banks of the Mississippi River near the village of Bayou Goula. Their experiences at Dunboyne over the next forty years demonstrated the transformations that many land-owning southerners faced in the nineteenth century, from the evolution of agricultural practices and commerce, to the destruction wrought by the Civil War and the transition from slave to free labor, and finally to the social, political, and economic upheavals of Reconstruction. In this comprehensive biography of the Butlers, David D. Plater explores the remarkable lives of a Louisiana family during one of the most tumultuous periods in American history. In 1870, with their plantation and finances in disarray, the Butlers sold Dunboyne and resettled in Pass Christian, Mississippi, where they resided in a rental cottage with the financial support of Edward J. Gay, a wealthy Iberville planter and their daughter-in-law’s father. After Frances died in 1875, Edward Butler moved in with his son’s family in St. Louis, where he remained until his death in 1888. Based on voluminous primary source material, The Butlers of Iberville Parish, Louisiana offers an intimate picture of a wealthy nineteenth-century family and the turmoil they faced as a system based on the enslavement of others unraveled.

& At 6:30 pm Thursday the EJ Writers Group meets at the East Jefferson Regional Library. This is a critique group for serious fiction writers of all levels who want to improve their story development skills. This group focuses on discussing story development and writing elements and applying critiquing skills in romance, adventure, mystery, literature (but not genres of SciFi, Fantasy, Horror of the alternate Thursday Sci-FI Writers). Short stories, novels, screenplays, plays, comics are accepted; however, non-fiction, such as poetry, biography, autobiography, essays, or magazine articles is not. Free and open to the public. No registration.

& At 7 pm Thursday Baskerville, 3000 Royal St., will host a reading and broadside release party featuring work by our three readers, designed and letterpress printed by Jessica Peterson, Laura Thomson, Brigid Conroy, and Amelia Bird.

& Friday at 6 pm Anis Mojgani will be signing at Maple Street Book Shop. Anis grew up at Maple Street Book Shop. We are so excited to have him with us for a reading. He’ll be sharing his latest work, The Pocketknife Bible. What if your future life came to you as a child in dreams? What if you wrote down those dreams in words and pictures, in the language we spoke as children but forgot once grown? What if as an adult you unearthed this book of dreams and prophecy from your past and translated them out of that long lost tongue into poems that those now grown could understand? The Pocketknife Bible seeks to answer those questions through the author’s poems and pictures, being the bridge between a grown-up book for children and a children’s picture book for adults.

& Also at 6 pm Friday Garden District Book Shop presents Katherine Clark’s The Head master’s Darlings: A Mountain Brook Novel, in a conversation with bestselling author Pat Conroy. Clark and Conroy (Author of The Death of Santini, My Reading Life, South of Broad, Beach Music, The Prince of Tides, The Lords of Discipline, The Great Santini, The Boo, My Losing Season, Pat Conroy Cookbook) , discuss Katherine’s new book, The Headmaster’s Darlings: A Mountain Brook Novel. Katherine and Pat will both sign copies of her book following the discussion. Copies of Pat Conroy’s new book, Conversations With the Conroys, will be available for purchase and autograph, as well. The Headmaster’s Darlings: A Mountain Brook Novel is a satirical comedy of manners featuring the morbidly obese Norman Laney, an unorthodox, inspirational English teacher and college counselor for an elite private school in Mountain Brook, a privileged community outside of Birmingham. A natural wonder from blue-collar Alabama, Laney has barged into the exclusive world of Mountain Brook on the strength of his sensational figure and its several-hundred-pound commitment to art and culture. His mission is to defeat “the barbarians,” introduce true civilization in place of its thin veneer, and change his southern world for the better. Although Laney is adored by his students (his “darlings”) and by the society ladies (also his “darlings”) who rely on him to be the life of their parties and the leader of their book clubs, there are others who think he is a larger-than-life menace to the comfortable status quo of Mountain Brook society and must be banished.

& Deborah Burst will sign her latest book, Southern Fried and Sanctified at Maple Street Book Shop Saturday, 11:30 am. Celebrating a decade of writing and photography, Deborah Burst has combined some of her most prolific work and talents of southern storytelling in her third book, Southern Fried and Sanctified: Tales from the Back Deck. Like life itself, each page brings tears, laughter, and the kind of adventure only the south can bring. Five chapters in all, the book begins with some of her fondest travels. Poetic trails from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast states with shrouded bayous, jungles of bearded oaks and beaches flush with seashells and stingrays. Then a rolling picture show of Georgia, South Carolina and roaming the mountainsides of Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia. The Friendly Folk chapter introduces the kind of people you never forget. From a Tennessee farm boy realizing his dream, to WWII vets sharing stories of sacrifices and heroism. In the Country Confessions chapter, Burst reveals some of her most personal reflections with tales of those youngin’ days, the dark side of writing, and the erotic beauty of nature.

& At 2 pm Saturday its the Poetry Buffet, at the Latter Memorial Library, featuring readings by poets Ralph Adamo, Laura Mullen, and Andrea Young.

& Sunday at 3 pm please join Octavia Books in welcoming journalist, activist, and international icon Gloria Steinem when she presents MY LIFE ON THE ROAD, her first book in twenty years, an all-new memoir of a lifetime of listening and learning from people, traveling America and the world. This rescheduled event has been moved to the auditorium at the New Orleans JCC – 5342 St. Charles Ave – just over half-a-mile away from Octavia Books due to demand. You must purchase the book from Octavia Books to attend the event. My Life on the Road is the moving, funny, and profound story of Gloria’s growth and also the growth of a revolutionary movement for equality and the story of how surprising encounters on the road shaped both. From her first experience of social activism among women in India to her work as a journalist in the 1960s; from the whirlwind of political campaigns to the founding of Ms. magazine; from the historic 1977 National Women’s Conference to her travels through Indian Country a lifetime spent on the road allowed Gloria to listen and connect deeply with people, to understand that context is everything, and to become part of a movement that would change the world. In prose that is revealing and rich, Gloria reminds us that living in an open, observant, and on the road state of mind can make a difference in how we learn, what we do, and how we understand each other. Visit OctaviaBooks.com to reserve your copy and chance to meet Ms. Steinem.

& At 6:30 pm Sunday Join Slam New Orleans for the last open mic/slam of 2015! New poems, new friends, same ol Team SNO. Doors open at 6:30pm, show starts 7pm. Get there early to sign up for the slam. POETS: its your last chance to compete for your chance to be on the 2016 edition of Team SNO! In order to qualify, you have to have won or placed 2nd in one monthly slam, and competed in another. AUDIENCE: It’s your last chance to hear from members of the 2015 edition of #TeamSNO whose members were Akeem Olaj, A Scribe Called Quess?, FreeQuency aka FreeQ Tha Mighty, Honey Sanaa and Preach!


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