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Fallin’ Ditch May 27, 2015

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, The Narrative, The Odd, The Pointless, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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When I get lonesome the wind begin t’ moan
When I trip fallin’ ditch
Somebody wanna’ throw the dirt right down
When I feel like dyin’ the sun come out
‘n stole m’ fear ‘n gone
Who’s afraid of the spirit with the bluesferbones
Who’s afraid of the fallin’ ditch
Fallin’ ditch ain’t gonna get my bones
How’s that for the spirit
How’s that for the things
Ain’t my fault the thing’s gone wrong
‘n when I’m smilin’ my face wrinkles up real warm
‘n when um frownin’ things just turn t’ stone
Fallin’ ditch ain’t gonna get my bones
‘n when I get lonesome the wind begin t’ moan
Fallin’ ditch ain’t gonna get my bone
— Don Van Vliet

The Ghost in the Stone May 23, 2015

Posted by The Typist in Poetry, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street, Travel, Writing.
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Praise be to Nero’s Neptune
The Titanic sails at dawn
And everybody’s shouting
“Which Side Are You On?”
And Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot
Fighting in the captain’s tower
While calypso singers laugh at them
And fishermen hold flowers
Between the windows of the sea
Where lovely mermaids flow
And nobody has to think too much
About Desolation Row

I remember listening to this, the almost prophetic lines, almost a year ago to the day in that window of time between my graduation and leaving for Europe, wondering what lines an intent and malcontent young man a thousand years hence would–given an fortuitous manuscript in an ancient tongue–would render into his own poetry: Pound’s or Dylan’s?

I cannot see the future any more clearly clearly  than Ezra Pound could see the past. My current desire is to find a narrow swath of time, a butterfly’s worth say, in which to find some peace, the surcease of the black verses of Pound or early Dylan.  When I need to get away from the chatter of streetcars and the lowing of trombones,, I think of the Castle, Brunnenburg, last outpost on the winding castle road and guardian of the springs that watered the mountaintop fortress which loomed over it.

Madness. Pound is madness wrought fine, at once the distilled essence like  Nick’s fine grappa from the grapes that surrounded us, and the great stone in which the reader must discern the form. I followed the steep Via Ezra Pound and immersed myself for a month, my studies interrupted everyday by a gourmet lunch fresh from the Castle farm tended by his grandchildren, up late, falling asleep sitting up in my tiny room in the croft, and up again early scribbling marginal transcriptions of the sense of it from Terrell’s agate companion. Madness.
image
Ruins of Brunnenburg, 19th century engraving

I would do it again in a moment, for there I discovered not Pound’s truth but my own: dedication to something I loved beyond all reason, at least two healthy meals a day, and the steep climb to town if I wanted dinner or cigarettes. A mind well engaged and a body well fed and worked hard at least once a day. To live well and work hard at something worthwhile, not just to pay the bills.

I would leave today.I have my passport and 30 Euro found months later stashed in various pockets of my clothes.

I sit here sipping a Campari and soda (there is cava in the fridge, but not just now) listening for imaginary vaporetti passing along the canals of New Orleans. Yes, Venice: Venice is an essential part of the equation, four days our reward for hard work but still kept on task, following in Pound’s footsteps, passing our hands over the smooth sandstone pommel on the bridge leading to the small piazza where a young Pound contemplated tossing his early verses into the canal.

I am so often to tired to write much. Books of poetry topple constantly from their otherwise undisturbed stack. I sometimes go through my meager manuscript and consider what, if any of it, is worth the death of a tree. I watch from a quiet distance the steady success of a friend who for all his own troubles and the grind of his job practices his craft with a discipline I cannot conjure. In those moments I want to return to the castle, to rent the spare room off the küche and lose myself in poetry again, distracted only by the fairytale beauty of the low mountains of the Südtirol, the rescued eagles of the Castel Tirolo soaring, the warbling of the turkeys wandering the yard.

That is not going to happen anytime soon. June will be a death march through the work project at hand and I hope that keeps me too busy to dwell upon last June. Still, I must not forget the lessons of the castle: to eat well and walk long, to find time to bury myself in poetry, to stop and watch the hawks hunting in the park.

I write, Castles and mountains and iron-cloistered Virgins are all within my reach. I need only place myself before a metaphorical Via Ezra Pound, and take that first step up the daunting climb. Once started there is no point in turning back.

Through a prism, darkly May 23, 2015

Posted by The Typist in The Narrative, The Odd, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Spectrum

King Kong Mother Fucking Superman

                                                                     cries sometimes

                                               alone

in his Fortress of

                                                                                                 Solitude

Hey, Mister May 22, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, NOLA, The Narrative, The Odd, The Pointness, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Another week booked and billed, another chapter lived but unwritten, another beer opened on Eastern Time and I want a fucking cigarette. How else, then, smoke rings?

Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow

Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I’m not sleepy and there is no place I’m going to
Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come followin’ you

— Bob Dylan, “Mr. Tamborine Man”

This completely unnecessary attribution is dedicated to the handful of patient professors–Gery, Marti, Hazlett–who tolerated (just) my rambling sentences of intricate internal logic unbound from the shackles of Latin and Aristotle, and my irregular conjugations of the MLA handbook, which was no larger than Strunk and White when I started out on that road. Why does English in any usage or situation adhere to something like the MLA? Rules? In a knife fight?

Odd Words May 21, 2015

Posted by The Typist in authors, Biography, Book Stores, book-signing, books, bookstores, Indie Book Shops, library, literature, memoir, New Orleans, NOLA, Odd Words, Poetry, publishing, The Typist, Toulouse Street, Writing Workshops.
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This coming, quiet week in literary New Orleans:

& Thursday at 7 pm the Nix Branch of the New Orleans Public Library hosts An Evening with Performance Artist & Poet José Torres-Tama. Immigrant Dreams and Alien Nightmares is a debut collection that documents twenty-five years of José Torrest-Tama’s poetry in his unique bilingual voice.

& This and every Thursdays call the New Orleans Poetry Brothel and they will read you a poem 8pm-Midnight CST. 504-264-1336

& Saturday at Maple Street Book Shop from 11:30 AM to 1PM features Berthe Amoss, author of the new book Mischief and Malice. Set in New Orleans on the eve of World War II, Mischief and Malice is a brand new work from an iconic figure in young adult literature. Following the death of her Aunt Eveline, fourteen-year old Addie-who we first met in Berthe Amoss’s classic Secret Lives-is now living with her Aunt Toosie, Uncle Henry, and her longtime rival cousin, Sandra Lee. A new family has just moved into Addie’s former house, including a young girl who is just Addie’s age. Meanwhile, Louis, the father of Tom, Addie’s lifelong neighbor and best friend, suddenly returns after having disappeared when Tom was a baby. Between school dances, organizing a Christmas play, fretting about her hair, and a blossoming romance with Tom, Addie stumbles upon a mystery buried in the Great Catch All, an ancient giant armoire filled with heirlooms of her family’s past, which holds a devastating secret that could destroy Louis and Tom’s lives. Once again, Berthe Amoss has created an indelible portrait of a young girl coming of age in prewar New Orleans.

& Saturday at Tubby and Coo’s Book Shop frojm 2:30 – 4:30 PM local poets and writers from the MelaNated Writers Collective, the Peauxdunque Writers Alliance, and UNO perform.

& At 1 pm Sunday Garden District Book Shops hosts Dr. Leong Ying and his book From Newton, Einstein, to GOD., Dr. Ying’s family memoir written uniquely in rhyming poetic verses following his history in six chronological parts from his birth in 1961 up to 2012. The book will have readers laughing at his antics when childhood pranks were his specialty in his birthplace of Singapore, and feeling compassion toward his challenges as the only non-white student in Liverpool (UK) where his family emigrated and his struggles with dyslexia and the language-barriers but excelling in numbers and evolving into his groundbreaking scientific research. But it is his writing and scientific research that takes center stage in Dr. Ying’s life, mostly focusing on his exploration of the Twin Universe theory, which combines science and religion to prove the existence of God and answer many of the formerly unknown answers about the world such as Dark Matter and Dark Energy. He developed the Universal Laws of Thermodynamics to prove God’s existence in 2002.

& This Sunday at 3 pm The Maple Leaf Reading Series features an Open Mic. The Maple Leaf Reading Series is the oldest continuous reading in the south (making an allowance for Katrina), and was founded by noted and beloved local poet Everette Maddox.

& Monday is Memorial Day. All regional libraries will be closed.

& Tuesday at 6 pm Garden District Book Shop Amy Conner discusses and signs her book, Million Dollar Road Eighteen-year-old Lireinne Hooten has always been on the lowest rung of the ladder. Abandoned by her mother, Lireinne lives with her stepfather in an old trailer on Million Dollar Road. Every day she walks the long mile, through a canopy of live oaks, to her job at the world’s largest alligator farm. Shy and overweight in high school, Lireinne has become lean and resilient from months of hosing out the huge cement barns. And just like Snowball—the enormous, all-white alligator she feeds illicit treats every day—she’s hungry to be free. Lireinne’s boss, Con Costello, is powerful, attractive, and used to getting exactly what he desires. Now that he’s noticed Lireinne’s haunting beauty, he wants her too. But unlike Con’s needy second wife, Lizzie, or Emma, his still heartbroken ex, Lireinne isn’t interested. Undeterred, Con’s growing obsession will upend all their lives—compelling Lizzie to confront the hard truth about her marriage, pushing Emma past her self-imposed isolation and back into the world. And for Lireinne, it will lead to an unexpected chance to redefine herself, far away from her past and from Million Dollar Road.
Amy Conner discusses and signs her book, Million Dollar Road.

& Tuesday at 7 pm the Westbank Fiction Writers’ Group meets at the Edith S. Lawson Library in Westwego. Writing exercises or discussions of points of fiction and/or critique sessions of members’ submissions. Meets the second and fourth Tuesday of every month. Moderator: Gary Bourgeois. Held in the meeting Room.

& At 7 pm Wednesday Science Fiction and Fantasy Club meets at the Old Metairie Library. This month’s discussion will be on the book, Off Armageddon Reef by David Weber.

& At 8 pm Wednesday Blood Jet Poetry Series at BJ’s in the Bywater welcomes poets Clare Harmon and Charles Garrett followed by an open mic in the poetry living room. Harmon trained and worked as a classical musician. In the fall of 2012 she wrote her first poem and it’s been a delighting hell ever since. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and her poems have appeared in Quaint and PANK Magazines. Her first book, The Thingbody: A Hybrid Verse Memoir, Sounding & Illuminated, is available from Instar Books. Garrett, has published no books; has no published collections for you to buy or pretend to care about. He has no stake in making you like him or his words, but you will undoubtedly love his voice. He loves cooking for his son, and learning the extremes of his own tolerance. He is not a “teaching artist” nor a professional one, but will gladly talk and share with anyone, willing to listen. He believes poetry is in the way we bleed, not how much we do so.

& Wednesday night from 8-9 pm, come drink some coffee and make your voice heard at the Neutral Ground Poetry Hour, 5110 Danneel Street.

& ! Coming Up… June 16 in Bloomsday in NOLA, from 6-8 pm at The Irish House Pub and Restaurant. Mark your calender for this annual public reading from James Joyce monumental work Ulysses, which takes place over the course of a single day-June 16–in Dublin . Time to start your annual, biennial (our choice), quinquennial or maybe your first time tackling this amazing work. If you are this far down the list, you know it is on your To Do list. Follow the link under the title above, and let Indie Bound find you a copy now!

‽ A confession… Toulouse Street, and the blog Wet Bank Guide before it, became an affiliate of The Evil A long before Odd Words started. In coming up on ten years of blogging with Evil A Affiliate Links I have referred many readers, but not earned a penny. So goes the The Evile A. The link above to Ulysses will take you to Indie Bound. All book links in the future will take you to the Indie Bound site for the book, which features a helpful search box for your closest Indie Book Store.

Stop That May 16, 2015

Posted by The Typist in The Narrative, The Pointness, The Typist.
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“Don’t you think the Sagrada Familia is a bit Gaudi?”

#pynchonhumorsyndrome #punforthecure

it is myths that haunt us, not ghosts May 16, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, literature, quotes, The Narrative, The Typist.
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That it is myths that haunt us, not ghosts, which are only specters produced by an unexpected intersection of myths. A Celtic myth, for example, might intersect with an Aztec one. But what interests me the most is the syncretic capacity of Christian myth to embrace them all and make them all rationally accessible at once, and at the same time irrationally sacred.

— Carlos Fuentes, “Reasonable People”, from Costancia and Other Stories for Virgins

You’re Only Coming Through In Wave 1 Release May 15, 2015

Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, Moloch, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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This week has been more fun than pulling cactus spines out of your hide, but not as much fun as falling drukenly into the cactus. I am listening to the solo works of Syd Barrett VERY LOUD while sipping a beer as I finish up work. There is an unopened bottle of the sugar skull tequila, intended initially as decorative, staring at me suggestively (cut that out!) from the mantle.

This is certain to end well.

The madcap laughed at the man on the border
Hey ho, huff the talbot
The winds they blew and the leaves did wag
And they’ll never put me in their bag
The seas will reach and always see
So high you go, so low you creep
The winds it blows in tropical heat
The drones they throng on mossy seats
The squeaking door will always creep
Two up, two down we’ll never meet
So merrily trip for good my side
Please leave us here
Close our eyes to the octopus ride!

Do you remember the future, Dr. Memory? May 13, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Pointness, The Typist, Toulouse Street, WTF.
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I’m sorry, Clem, but you’re making The Doctor unhappy happy.

wavy-gravy-header

Someone get the lizards out of my guacamole May 11, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Pointness, The Typist, Toulouse Street, WTF.
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11:30 No, it’s actually 10:21 Central River Time but I put my last task entry in about 20 minutes ago and logged off, and that was today’s total. Now I’m sitting here wondering if I can make it to the Sketchy Store for cigarettes before two mood stabilizing agents, two melatonin, valerian and various hippy weed caplets and this Negra Modelo kick in. I think I had another hour in me but the fucking lizards would not stay out of the guacamole, and I had to stop and do something about that.

So instead its Visions of Johanna (the ghosts of electricity crawl through the bones of her face), a fine late night song when you’re out of guacamole and you don’t care for lizard canapes. This could quite possibly flow into Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands, at a moderate volume playing in the next room, a much younger man than either Dylan or I am serenading me across the decades slowly into Mirtazipine-enhanced dreams of a badly synced technicolor convergence trembling at the edge of coherence in the mildly psychedelic shades of South Pacific.

Did they mean the film to look like that, or are the psilocybin tints a fortuitous accident like that transcendental fuzz on an overloaded mix channel in the guitar part of the Kink’s See My Friends?

Some things are just meant to happen. Escher falls up and grasps a railing that accidentally yanks everything back into a rational perspective. Tomorrow will bring its own set of incidents in search of coherence, and once again I will go dredging through the barrage of emails and the contentious spreadsheets, navigating the meetings alternatively panicked and authoritarian, until I drive the last nail into the finely crafted coffin of another day.

Monday May 11, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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half done and I am waning fast. Still night meetings to go. By Woden’s Day I should be hanging upside down by the ankle from a nearby tree. Eye gouging optional.

Freya, Lady of the Vanir,
come swiftly to our aid
and we shall hail You,
always.

Handbill art by K Switzer  for the play CRAVE for The Catastrophic Theater, found as I cleaned out old papers

Handbill art by K Switzer for the play CRAVE for The Catastrophic Theater, found as I cleaned out old papers

HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME May 8, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, Moloch, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street, WTF.
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New Orleans: 4:39 pm
New York: 5:39 pm
Poland: 11:39 pm
Malaysia: 5:42 pm
India: 3:12 am

Monday 6 am: 61:14…61:13…61:12…..

Bunker 3036 May 6, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, FYYFF, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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            I can hold out for ten minutes
With my sergeant and a machine-gun.
            And they rebuked him for levity.

— E.P., Canto XVI

you May 5, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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You Are Beautiful

Fortin Street Stage April 30, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, Jazz Fest, je me souviens, Memory, New Orleans, NOLA, The Narrative, The Odd, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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by the time I stop drinking and start thinking about sleep
by the time we’ve eaten the last of next-door jimmy’s hot meat
by the time my feet have shuffled their last hussle
on the public blacktop ballroom of Fortin Street
and the hustle has all gone downtown to Bourbon
and the bustle has all gone downtown to Frenchman
and the last of the one-song, school-kid bands
and the last of the weary ice-cold water men
have carried themselves home weary to the bone
and one sad bicycle hangs abandoned on the fence
and the can picking man passes on his sad, last round
i will stand on Fortin Street and glisten to the sound
the last frantic arpeggios vibrating in the silence
attenuated into memory, a faint flow of the distant glory
like the milky way backdrop to the asterism’s story–
then, yes, then and only then will I go to bed
with tempered brass angels at foot and at head

∆ t April 26, 2015

Posted by The Typist in The Narrative, The Odd, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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‘Personal density,’ Kurt Mondaugen in his Peenemünde office not too many steps away from here, enunciating the Law which will one day bear his name, “is directly proportional to temporal bandwidth…
‘Temporal bandwidth,’ is the width of your present, your now. It is the familiar “∆ t” considered as a dependent variable. The more you dwell in the past and in the future, the thicker your bandwidth, the more solid your persona. But the narrower your sense of Now, the more tenuous you are.

W.A.S.T.E April 26, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, The Narrative, The Typist.
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image

Why The Fuck Are We Not All In Lafayette? April 24, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, FYYFF, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street, WTF.
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My tax refund (first in years, and a nice one) has come, and I say: fuck it, and start looking at the cubes. The Jazz Tent. Congo Square. Where are the big names in Jazz that tour the rest of the country and never come here? I love Terrence Blanchard and he’s New Orleans to the bone but couldn’t we book just one, big name, never gonna see them hear otherwise act? And Congo Square? Where is the Afro-World music? Mannie Fresh and Big Freeda and Kermit and What. The Fuck. Why am I not in Lafayette where the real festival is? The price of the ticket is nothing. But I can’t find a day I wouldn’t be going in just to eat. The Blues Tent looks the best and well, folks, I’m listening to it now. It’s right across the fucking street. Elton John and The Who and all I can think of is that British tabloid with the pictures of Jagger and Richards with the Night of the Living Dead headline. Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga? OK, I think Tony’s desire to do duets with pop stars has finally jumped the intergalactic warp-powered mothershark. Phone 042415 001

Just: Fuck you New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival​. Fortin Street is still the best place to be, here at the Fortin Street Stage VIP Seating Area (King and Queen Seating Only)​ at the Fortress of Squalitude​. And if I can’t resist closing my eyes and imagining Roger Daltry isn’t pumped up on some sort of steriod–B-vitamin–Peruvian Pure cocktail straight out of Jim Carroll with autotune in both ears, I can hear the Wheeling Crash of Beautiful Doom one last time from the Secret VIP Section. If Townsend’s rotator cuff is still up to it.

Like the MoM’s Ball, I still have my memories, and I can take a pass. And at least on Fortin Street, I can still Be There, Hovering Just Above on a Cloud of Righteous Fuck You-ey-ness. FYYFF. The Shrine of Jazz and Heritage is up. Time to run the speaker out the window for between acts.

At least please keep the shirts ugly. Hollering WATERMELON at the people not unfortunate enough not only to buy them but to turn around and wear them the next day was the height of last year’s Festival. All my tax-related file are mixed with work and a week’s mail on the board that spans the easy chair behind my desk. I’ve been sick all week. I haven’t cleaned the bathroom. The carpet in front of the couch is full of Cheez It and tortilla chip crumbs. There are no Vegetarian Heaven Red Beans. But you know where I at. Maybe I can pass the vac, clean teh toilet and clear a path through the bedrooms. Just ping me if you’re coming in case I’ve wandered off. And if I have, see what Jimmy’s got cooking and get a beer from him till I wander back.

Let A Hundred Congas Bloom April 21, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, NOLA, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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I’ve just gone from six hours of dark apartment contractor hell starting at o’fuck:thirty no Herman Miller chair can redeem, the house surrounded by packs of voracious two-stroke monsters which no amount of O.K. Computer at any volume can subdue, into in-and-out of Canseco’s on a blindingly blue day with a pack of no-you-don’t cigarettes and a pack of Wholly (Unnecessary), Guacamole while on the balcony above Fair Grinds a circle of pickers work through You Can’t Always Get What You Want, holy banjo notes on a beautiful afternoon.

If you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.

At 5 o’clock in the afternoon, or perhaps 7:45 April 18, 2015

Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, Fortin Street, fuckmook, FYYFF, ghosts, je me souviens, New Orleans, postdiluvian, Remember, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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Metairie encroaches from the East, swallows Carrollton Avenue. Brooklyn comes from the west across the Industrial Canal in a pathetic, staged white second line. We lost the north when they made  Lakeshore Drive the private dog park of the of  Lake neighborhoods along Robert E, Lee. To the south loom the gas-flare, metal islands  of BP, Mobile, Exxon.Sucking the black ghosts of marshes long past was not enough.The water must run  red as blood.

There is no retreat, no defense.  When America erupted in flames and east Detroit held off the National Guard for two days,  nothing happened here. Riot is not our style.  Its too damn hot and a lot of work.

You are left only one choice, to chose the place, the once familiar  corner with its shuttered store, and the moment (Esplanade in the rare, painterly  golden light of late afternoon, perhaps) when New Orleans dies inside you.

The History of Poetry: 3 April 16, 2015

Posted by The Typist in Poetry, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Sappho…fragments…matchbook promises to call…carelessly discarded like…used Trojans…by careless men…

Romantic lovers are not heroic, this merely women, and the lyric is not yet.

Impounded in the Lost and Found by cold scholars, a curiosity, a woman of passion and talent.

I do not think she dies in the kitchen, beside an oven cold as the ashes of Dido’s pyre, eaten by crows.

“A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw…

Beware! Beware!”

More likely consumed by her own fiery passion, and the gods tend to any men who stood too close.

“Herr God, Herr Lucifer
Beware
Beware..”

The incendiary fragments support this analysis.

What say you, Catullus?

The History of Poetry: 2 April 14, 2015

Posted by The Typist in Poetry, The Odd, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

A year of Circe and then

        Calypso!

The Phaeacians dance under the island sun.

Odysseus broods in the shade over his untouched sunburger and Elpenor. The Last-To-Go-ians snatch it out of his hands and conga line out the door singing “Someone’s in the Kitchen with Dinah.”

Roll another lotus, won’t you?

Fucking Cyclops, (fuck you Poseidon), voracious hole Charybdis and that man-eating bitch Scylla. Sometimes a guy can’t catch a break. But, wow, those Sirens.

Ever try. Ever sail. Sail again. Sail better.

Blood, blood is the answer, the universal language of men. (He dug the ell-square pitkin, dug the slashing of the animals, dug the flowing of their blood.)

Not now, mother, I’m talking to Tiresias.

Wait.

What?

Suitors?

Son gone off adventuring after his father. A woman patient to a fault, the faithful guardian of the patrimony, weaving and unweaving lies. Of course. It’s expected (c.f. Eden). In the end the ever seen, never heard servants. Those who remembered.

The rest? Off with their heads, the Bed King said, and they fell like axe heads, those who only labored for their daily bowl of porridge in lieu of a potentially disemboweling loyalty to No Man, the one who wasn’t there, who had no Hero’s part.

In the end, was Penny worth a pound, after all those goddesses? On this the Epic Poet is silent.

The silence of a blind man is perfect.

Death of the Cool April 12, 2015

Posted by The Typist in Beauty, cryptical envelopment, Jazz, je me souviens, music, New Orleans, Remember, Shield of Beauty, The Narrative, The Typist.
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Listening to Yusef Lateef brought this song to mind (and only one other person in the world would know why). God Damned arpeggio showoneupmanship.  The world has forgotten how to swing slow, soft and sweet. Miles. Yusef. And Prez. Always Prez. (Yes, that’s our hat.)  How did we miss the Death of the Cool?

Miles Davis / Darn That Dream: https://youtu.be/-jYCpOOsEV0

The History of Poetry: 1 April 11, 2015

Posted by The Typist in literature, New Orleans, Poetry, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Sing, Goddess

            [crickets]

the tantrum of Achilles. The woman blamed. Again. All the men rushing to the slaughter, each yearning to be reborn immortal in the lunatic cycle of blood shed by metal. The gory precision of description of the wounds. The listing ships made manifest. The detailing of Achilles’ shield. Down low Patroclus bro’ ergo Hector in drag. Look. A gift horse in Cassandra’s mouth (seen not heard). Athena (Goddess) spares Ajax the Lessor for the rape of Cassandra. (Scream.)

What fabulous brides do we have for our departing contestants?

The hindsight of a man blinded is perfect.

Been Down So Long April 8, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, Poetry, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Hell is the place where we place ourselves when we wish to look upward.
— Jack Spicer, “Prayer for My Daughter” from The Heads of the Town Up to the Aether (1960)

Postdiluvian Afternoon Manscape with Bulldozer April 5, 2015

Posted by The Typist in Back of Town, Bayou St. John, City Park, Federal Flood, geo-memoir, Hurricane Katrina, levee, Louisiana, postdiluvian, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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This was once bottom land, he says with the practiced eye and assurance of a successful environmental engineer. He is probably right. This recently mown rough at the edge of this former fairway is not far from the ridge of Bayou St. John and less than a mile south of Filmore Avenue, the line your grandfather told you was once the start of the softly indeterminate shore of the lake, the gradual transition from bottom land to open water, before the concrete seawall, the back fill and subdivision, when the land followed the natural contours of water.

Across Harrison Avenue snowy egrets play tag with a bulldozer returning another feral fairway to its appointed state of gracefully sculpted landscaping. They have carefully fenced off the trees they elected to keep just outside their crowns, but they have not bothered to put up runoff barriers along the lagoon. The other trees, the once mature oaks and cypress older than the park, did not fit into the new PGA-caliber design and were themselves bulldozed, cut and chipped into mulch (one hopes), the thicker branches and trunks, the massive root balls hauled off to some dump itself perched at the edge of useful bottom land, to cycle back into muck, the gumbo mud of marginal land that will suck the boot off a man’s foot as if to say: careful where you tread. You do not belong here.

This was all bottom land in flood a decade ago when the lake toppled the less-than-carefully designed levees, the work of a hundred bulldozers sculpting golf and parkways and neighborhoods, the labor of decades, was undone in a few hours. How we clamored to rebuild back then, even as we and the water birds reclaimed the ruins of golf for our own pleasure in spite of the lurking coyotes, after the hired guns had cleared the park of ill-tempered feral hogs washed in from the East, that last failed attempt to fill and subdivide marked by exits to nowhere on the highway out of town.

We follow a well-worn but little used path this beautiful afternoon until we find a shaded spot to plant our beach and Jazz Fest chairs, crack open the cooler filled with rare ales and settle in for a beer tasting. We used to do this in the Couterie Forest, another bit of man-scaping which was once an open field where the local AOR station staged free concerts, but the Couterie has grown crowded since the acres of feral fairway around it have been fenced off for construction of the new golf course, the confluence of FEMA dollars and the investments of men who could not play a PGA caliber game to save their lives but who can afford $150 for a round of eighteen holes, who will crowd the sponsored tents when the golf circus comes to town. (Build it and they will come, they tell themselves).

The FEMA relief we all fought for requires the reconstruction of what was and nothing more, although the men who run the Park have found a loophole big enough to drive a bulldozer through, to try to steal away the local PGA stop via a “public-private partnership,” that popular euphemism for privatizing profit while socializing risk; a great racket if you can get in on it, and our carefully-groomed and well compensated politicians love these sort of arrangements. Without them the contributions would dry up and instead of campaign billboards they would litter the landscape with solicitations for litigation, become just another schmuck lawyer grafting a living off of our ridiculous insurance rates.

In the middle distance is a beautifully bifurcated cypress, rising out of the roots of a clump of dying, non-native palms planted by some long-ago golf architect. The land here takes its revenge slowly but surely, as slowly and certainly as the land upon which we sit and the cypress prospers gradually subsides from bottom land to bottom of the lake. In another hundred years the furor over golf versus a carefully manicured wildness will be settled not in court but simply settled, back into the Back of Town, more wetland than bottom land. The golfers will move north as the water moves back in. Anyone who treads this path along the spoil bank of the artificial lagoon down which this afternoon past three women in a rented canoe, two paddlers and one lounging beneath an orange parasol, will likely find a very different landscape, too boggy to mow and covered in water-loving grasses. The lone cypress in the middle of the field, suited by temperament to flooding, will perhaps have grown into a stand, safe from bulldozers which will have moved on long ago to more certain and stable investments, far from the gulf that will someday reclaim this all, when my imagined stand of cypress will stand as denuded grey ghosts, victims of the relentless salt sea from which we all came and to which all this will return.

The Faster We Go The Rounder We Get April 3, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Pointless, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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2001 Kubrick wormhole sequence on mute with China Cat Sunflower/I Know You Rider at 11 1/2 and repeat on my mini-monster Yamaha CRX with the Polks on rockers vibrating the insides of my eyes in the Blue Agave Terror of the Burkian Sublimity of the Precipice. I once worked with a dry drunk who spit cheap chaw into a duct-taped wrapped Diet Pepsi bottle and said when you come to The Edge (the Bottom of The Book) you only have Two Choices. You’re wrong, I said. There is a Third Choice. You can Leap into the Light.

When they get to the end of the North Bound Train verse throw the Hadron Supercollider into the tub.

FYYFF April 2, 2015

Posted by The Typist in fuckmook, FYYFF, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Pointless, The Typist, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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WANO

Excerpt in draft of The Bayou: Tell Us About the Light March 31, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Tell us about the light.

There was the lemon fresh light of early morning, the sun’s abundance after the long night, grasses, vines, leaves, and saplings all stretching toward it as the morning cupped them like a breast and the bayou echoed with the moan of a distant outboard, droning unseen toward some secret breakfast haunt of the speckled trout. It was then, in the early hours when the water was darkest in the shadow of its own shining, that its browns were most golden, its greens iridescent. The long stalkers fished the shallows, the egret and the ibis, while pelicans stirred but rested in their nests waiting for the coasting updraft of the warming land, for the water clear of the sun’s reflection, for the vision of fish. This was the hour of the gamey peat and green smell percolating as the heat slowly seeped into the water and its soft land, and then the boiling of the coffee.

Where did the darkness hide?

It lay quietly beside the water every which way, where the pirogue-narrow channels slithered into the tangle of cypress knees and creeping things green and black, rooted and rootless, where the logs had eyes and the only way to tell a water snake from a cotton mouth was with a stick, watching for that flash of white in the day-long twilight, far back from the canals where men went about their business, far from the fishermen and the oilmen and their noisy, oily boats rusting away to nothing beneath the scraping of the deck hands. Back there the water gleamed faintly with leaf-rot, another delicate color in the palette of this water forest, not the false rainbows of sputtering two-strokes. On the bayou the pelican traced the bayou coasting up and down, hunting for lunch, a marker of the bayou as certain as clouds and flotsam speak of an island over the horizon. Ice tea tinkled in glasses besides sandwiches.

And later? When all grew dark?

In the mosquito evenings the bayou floated golden brown beneath the creeping shadows of its soft land, the water prairie grasses mellowing from green to yellow, and the dense growth explored each new shade of green blacker than the last, the land camouflaging itself in the growing darkness as the sky turned a burning autumn and the first and strongest star winked. It was the hour of the needling whiz of the mosquito and growling drone of the homeward bound boat. The bayou itself was silent except for the chirp of fish picking dinner out of thin air. Somewhere in the darkness, a roux was stirring through the colors of the evening.

Someday there would be the horns of morning traffic, come afternoon the smell of warm asphalt and finally the flickering buzz of street lamps: that was the darkest of all.

I got the blues March 30, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, Jazz Vipers, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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No matter that I could not get to sleep after last night’s final shift of weekend work. An eye mask of supreme comfort and impenetrability to light cannot make up for the fact that the circus has come to town. The horsey people are still fighting their once-a-year hangovers and the fancy hats reserved for Opening and Derby Day have not yet been put back in their boxes, but the mechanical elephants of grinding diesel are dropping the piles of steel struts that will soon be assembled by roustabouts with their own roaring machinery and directed by megaphone into the Blues Tent.

My shotgun neighbor Jimmy has been counting the days like an excited child marking off a calendar for Christmas for two weeks now, anxious for the days when Fortin Street (you know it, you just never knew its name) becomes for two weekends something like upper Royal Street on Carnival Day but with a circus twist. The coozy on a neck strap man will start-up his sing-song pitch before too long: “How’r you gonna clap with your hands full!”, the man begging for donations to his home for trouble veterans will arrive with his bucket and handbills to repeat his spiel a dozen times to the people lined up to hit the Fest the moment they open the gates.

We love those days here on Fortin Street, although work will be hard over the noise but not everyone gets to live across from the Blues Tent, can walk two blocks to park themselves in hearing distance of the Jazz Tent, or take a stroll to the secret back fence spot that puts you closer to the Accura Stage than most of the people inside.

It is coming, weekends of no rest and too much beer, of Jimmy cooking for “donations”, of trying to drive for some errand through the ambling crowds going just a hair slower than my cars idle. I was just unprepared this groggy just past ten a.m. for the bang and crash, the mechanical bump and grind that means it is Jazz Fest time.

Odd Words’ Tennessee Williams Festival Preview Part 2 March 27, 2015

Posted by The Typist in books, literature, Louisiana, memoir, New Orleans, novel, Odd Words, Poetry, The Typist, Theater, Toulouse Street, Writing, Writing Workshops.
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Here are some highlights of the weekend activities for the Tennessee Williams Festival. For the complete list, visit the TWF website for the electronic program.

& First, to get your full on fill of Tennessee:

  • TENNESSEE WILLIAMS’ EUROPEAN INFLUENCES Williams was both a product of and a muse for Europe over the last half century, and their mutual exchange of themes, ideas and images altered the artistic landscapes of several post-war nations. This panel of Williams specialists discusses the early Williams and the uses he made of various European sources in his theatre; the late Williams and the promise European theater afforded him with his
    experimental plays; and the posthumous Williams and his influence on late 20th and early 21st century European theater and cinema. Panelists: John Bak, Michael Hooper, and Barton Palmer. Moderator: Robert Bray. Williams Research Center Saturday at 10 am.
  • TENNESSEE TODAY: HIS CRITICAL REPUTATION AND POPULAR IMAGE “Snatching the eternal out of the desperately fleeting is the great magic trick of human existence,” Tennessee Williams wrote in his essay “The Timeless World of a Play.” In the 32 years since his death, Williams’ plays continue to be produced, his critical reputation grows, and his influence on today’s playwrights is undeniable. From many productions of his works on Broadway, London’s West End and beyond, to the hundreds of references to Streetcar in every form of popular culture including Woody Allen’s film, Blue Jasmine and in TV shows such as “The Simpsons” and “Modern Family,” Williams’ genius not only endures but continues to captivate global audiences. Williams experts and friends discuss the playwright’s hold on our contemporary cultural reputation, and how the future may view the resonating worlds he created. Panelists: Kenneth Holditch, David Kaplan, and John Lahr. Moderator: Thomas Keith. Williams Research Center, Saturday at 11:30 am.
  • TENNESSEE TODAY: HIS CRITICAL REPUTATION AND POPULAR IMAGE “Snatching the eternal out of the desperately fleeting is the great magic trick of human existence,” Tennessee Williams wrote in his essay “The Timeless World of a Play.” In the 32 years since his death, Williams’ plays continue to be produced, his critical reputation grows, and his influence on today’s playwrights is undeniable. From many productions of his works on Broadway, London’s West End and beyond, to the hundreds of references to Streetcar in every form of popular culture including Woody Allen’s film, Blue Jasmine and in TV shows such as “The Simpsons” and “Modern Family,” Williams’ genius not only endures but continues to captivate global audiences. Williams experts and friends discuss the playwright’s hold on our contemporary cultural reputation, and how the future may view the resonating worlds he created. Panelists: Kenneth Holditch, David Kaplan, and John Lahr. Moderator: Thomas Keith. Williams Research Center, Saturday at 11 am.
  • A CONVERSATION WITH JOHN LAHR Interviewed by Robert Bray How do you chronicle a life that defies illummation? John Lahr, the longtime senior drama critic for The New Yorker, has emerged victorious in this task. Lahr’s critically-lauded biography, Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, is a triumphant weaving of Williams’ journeys as an artist and as a man. The mammoth undertaking involved a decade of research and writing, and illuminates Williams’ works and life, giving readers the added gift of titillating insight into the lives
    of the theatre greats who were Williams’ contemporaries. Join Lahr as he discusses his book, a 2014 National Book Award finalist, with Williams scholar Robert Bray. Sunday, 10 am.
  • And of course: Shouting Contest Contestants vie to rival Stanley Kowalski’s shout for STELLAAAAA!!!!” in the unforgettable scene from A Streetcar Named Desire. Women are welcome to try a little
    role reversal and yell for Stanley. Free and open to the public. Prizes will be awarded. Jackson Square, 4:30 pm.

& Also, in addition to the numerous stage productions around town, don’t forget about LITERARY LATE NIGHT: MIXED COMPANY “There’s a time for departure even when there’s no certain place to go.” ― Tennessee Williams The 21st century moment is an exciting and uncharted time in literature and publishing with new and traditional media forms both co-existing and duking it out to create new avenues for artists to get their work to the public. Mixed Company is an independent publication featuring the writing, art, and photography of women of color currently based in New Orleans. This late night offering will highlight the interplay between tradition and innovation and the syncretic results of a culture of diaspora. “Mixed Company” will be a multi-media presentation of literature, art by artists of color based in New Orleans, film, and music that will expand our notions of reading and seeing into the present, past and future. Location, TBD, 8 pm.

& Saturday and Sunday means panels, panels, and more panels featuring exciting writers and topics. Odd Word’s picks with a focus on panels for writers. All events are by admission, and in the Hotel Montleone unless otherwise noted.

SATURDAY:

  • CRAFTING MEMOIR: OURSELVES AND OTHERS Memoir–You writing about you. But you are not a deserted island. How do memoirists portray themselves in the context of significant and non-significant others? Outside the personal sphere, a writer’s own perspective is set against larger realities—race, gender, sexuality, and nationality. How important is the recognition of the writer’s point of view—and position in the world—in memoir? Can a reconciliation between the You and the many Others happen on the pages of a memoir? Or are memoirs just fine as single and singular stories? Writers on this panel have taken on love, race, and activism in their works. They’ll be considering these questions and more in this panel. Bring your own for the Q&A. Panelists: Molly Crabapple, Jim Grimsley, and Mac McClelland. Moderator: Lauren Cerand.
  • MIGRATING WORDS: HOW POETS INFLUENCE AND ADAPT TO LANGUAGE The rules of the English language are always in flux— from assimilated words to idioms born from social media. Poets are the shepherds, more than the arbiters, of language. Panelists Vijay Seshadri and Saeed Jones write poems that manage to acknowledge the traditional form while simultaneously innovating its use. They will discuss how language came to them and read from their pioneering works. Panelists: Saeed Jones and Vijay Seshadri Moderator: Ava Leavell Haymon. Muriel’s Jackson Square Restaurant,
  • THE TRANSNATIONALISTS: AMERICAN WRITERS ON BORDER CROSSINGS The U.S. literary landscape has always been a transnational space—America goes on excursion into the world and the world comes in—as seen in works of authors from Faulkner on to the many multiply-hyphenated, diasporic writers. In this panel of consummate border crossers, authors will discuss what it means to be an American writer in the world today, at home and abroad. Phil Klay, an Iraq veteran and author, Molly Crabapple, an activist, writer, and artist, and Laila Lalami, a Moroccan-American novelist and linguist, will discuss point of view, writing from within (and about) the U.S. borders and looking inward from abroad. Panelists: Molly Crabapple, Phil Klay, and Laila Lalami. Moderator: Pamela Paul.
  • STORM AND STORYTELLER, TEN YEARS ON: TWO WRITERS AND A PHOTOGRAPHER REVISIT KATRINA In recognition of the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, this panel brings together three of the storm’s most eloquent narrators: Dan Baum, Nine Lives: Mystery, Magic, Death, and Life in New Orleans, Cheryl Wagner, Plenty Enough Suck to Go Around: A Memoir of Floods, Fires, Parades, and Plywood, and photographer Ted Jackson, Hurricane Katrina Then and Now. The panelists will reflect on their Katrina work, consider the responsibilities of journalists and writers in such crises—both as reporters and as storytellers—and share their perspectives on the city of New Orleans ten years after the storm. Reporter, writer, and New Orleans native Lolis Eric Elie, most recently of HBO’s “Treme,” will
    moderate the discussion. Panelists: Dan Baum, Ted Jackson, and Cheryl Wagner. Moderator: Lolis Eric Elie
  • CONVERSATION WITH RICK BRAGG In his biography of aging music legend Jerry Lee Lewis, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Rick Bragg has dared readers to “find one boring page in this book.” Indeed, the life story of the Louisianaborn music sensation known as “The Killer” is one that keeps eyes bulged and mouths agape. The son of Delta sharecroppers, raised as a “holy roller” Pentecostal, Lewis would go on to earn a reputation as a hell-raising rock ‘n’ roller who would shake the music world with his outlandish piano-banging theatrics and offstage scandals. David Johnson, editor of Louisiana Cultural Vistas and KnowLA, The Digital Encyclopedia of Louisiana, will interview Bragg and discuss Lewis’ life and times. Williams Research Center.
  • LADIES WITH AN ATTITUDE Women have come a long way in the crime world from the days when they were either femme fatales, damsels in distress, or simply the murder victim. Where do things stand in the modern day world of crime writing? Join three successful women crime writers as they discuss the state of the art for women in the world of crime fiction. Panelists: Laura Lippman, Annamaria Alfieri, and Rebecca Chance. Moderator: Greg Herren. Muriel’s Jackson Square Restaurant

SUNDAY:

  • A CONVERSATION WITH JOHN LAHR Interviewed by Robert Bray How do you chronicle a life that defies illummation? John Lahr, the longtime senior drama critic for The New Yorker, has emerged victorious in this task. Lahr’s critically-lauded biography, Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, is a triumphant weaving of Williams’ journeys as an artist and as a man. The mammoth undertaking involved a decade of research and writing, and illuminates Williams’ works and life, giving readers the added gift of titillating insight into the lives
    of the theatre greats who were Williams’ contemporaries. Join Lahr as he discusses his book, a 2014 National Book Award finalist, with Williams scholar Robert Bray.
  • A BYLINE OF ONE’S OWN: WOMEN IN LITERARY LIFE Where are the women on the page? Apparently not very many places as counts of magazines bylines by VIDA Women in Literary Arts have revealed. What does this mean for writers, readers, and the intellectual landscape of our time? Join us for a conversation about women as authors, critics, and readers in contemporary literary life with author Pamela Paul, who edits the New York Times Book Review, Brigid Hughes, founding editor of A Public Space who was formerly at the helm of The Paris Review, and independent publicist Lauren Cerand. Panelists: Lauren Cerand, Brigid Hughes, and Pamela Paul. Moderator: J.R. Ramakrishnan
  • BUILDING STORIES: A PANEL WITH A PUBLIC SPACE In a piece for the Brooklyn-based literary journal A Public Space, now collected in Best American Essays 2014, Yiyun Li wrote that “there are many ways to carry the past with us: to romantize it, to invalidate it, to furnish it with revised or entirely fictional memories.” But how can writers begin to shape experiences into engaging sentences, and what role can editors and mentors play in bringing
    stories to life on the page? Li will be joined on stage by A Public Space founding editor Brigid Hughes and APS Emerging Writer Fellow Vanessa Hutchinson for a candid discussion of fatalism in fiction, the importance of revision, and how writers – like their stories – can emerge in unexpected ways. Panelists: Yiyun Li and Vanessa Hutchinson.
  • NEW ORLEANS: CRAFTING A MYTHICAL CITY New Orleans looms large in the popular imagination, a city envisioned as a peculiar bohemian outpost, loosely attached to the United States in locality and mentality. Tourists seeking a foreign experience within America are drawn to this exotic metropolis, and many arrive with a perception shaped by a long literary tradition of writers who have played off the city’s reputation for eccentricity, debauchery, mystery, and corruption. From Mark Twain and Anne Rice to Tennessee Williams, Frances Parkinson Keyes, and journalists covering the Katrina disaster and its aftermath, this panel will examine how such writers have molded the image of the Crescent City and inadvertently commoditized it as a tourist destination. Panelists: Brian Boyles, Rien Fertel, and others TBA. Moderator: David Johnson

If you hear a cry of Stellaaaaa!!!! in the distance before Sunday, that will be me taking a break from a weekend long special project for the day job that pays the bills that lets me pay Mr. Zuckerman to make sure you see this post on Facebook.

DO NOT STOP OR START OR DO ANYTHING ELSE THAT COULD BE DANGEROUS March 26, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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Two cups of coffee, an over-charged e-cigarette (27 milligrams of nicotine) and the lizards of adrenaline trace the paths of my nervous system with familiar claws. An ogre well-known hereabouts grinds the clockwork of my molars and a pill box monkey dances unwanted telegrams of ALL CAPS urgency to the discordancy of my broken pianos. [Draw upon the e-cigarette with irritable pencils.] The brown stains at the bottom of the cup forecast anxiety, desire and disappointment.. Big Pharma arrives in the waiting room wearing bespoken suits and pink salad bowls carrying sample cases full of cash to reward the doctors for their advice about my bad choices. The reps are peddling punch-foil sample papers of simple solutions to complex problems which the night sky, covered in starry equations, cannot solve, not before it is time to get up and greet the sun with another cup of coffee. I would go back to bed but the pillows are stained with forgotten exams and misplaced passports. The day is leaving without me and I have forgotten to purchase a ticket two weeks in advance. An unreliable narrator suggests solutions to the world’s Facebook agendas involving a black bandanna and a healthy disregard for the law. My sour stomach hollers obscenities from the balcony at the unanimous consent to pour a drink. The lap bar is locked and the cars do not stop (leering clown-faced attendant taking his leisure at the brake lever) and we are dragged clanking back to the top of the roller-coaster from which sunrise is visible over the event horizon from which there appears to be no escape from the plummet into centripetal gibberish.

Somebody scream!

Odd Words’ Tennessee Williams Festival Preview Part 1 March 25, 2015

Posted by The Typist in books, literature, New Orleans, Odd Words, Poetry, reading, The Typist, Theater, Toulouse Street, Writing, Writing Workshops.
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It’s Tennessee Williams Festival Week. Sadly, Odd Words will not be covering the festival as in recent years as the paying day job makes that impossible. Here, however, are the highlights for the first two days of the Festival (Thursday and Friday):
Program-Logo-Cropped
& Master classes kick of on Thursday at The Historic New Orleans Collection, including:

  • RANDY FERTEL: IMPROV AND THE ESSAY If improvisation generates spontaneous works of art inspired by the
    muses, born of instinct and intuition, and spurred on by revelry, then what city could be more nurturing of improv artistry than New Orleans? Join scholar, author and philanthropist, Randy Fertel, as he investigates the role of improv in the confecting of the essay and works of creative non-fiction. With the city that care forgot as a Dionysian backdrop, Fertel’s call to action, based on his A Taste for Chaos: The Art of Literary Improvisation, may encourage hesitant artists to develop a taste for chaos and discover a recipe for pure and undiluted creativity. & This would be OW’s Go To Master Class. I’m reading the essay right now and I think this will be a fantastic event.
  • NIGEL HAMILTON & PATRICIA BRADY: WRITING TRUE STORIES So you want to write a real Life? Where to start, how to conduct research, organize your materials, scaffold the story—and bring it to life? And finally: for whom? Who is your audience, and what, in theend, do you want to communicate, and why? Two distinguished biographers, Nigel Hamilton whose latest work is The Mantle of Command; FDR at War, 1941-1942,and Patricia Brady (A Being So Gentle: The Frontier Love Story of Rachel and Andrew Jackson), explain—and take you to the heart of biography today.
  • ROY BLOUNT, JR.: ALPHABET JUICE—GETTING THE GOOD OUT OF LETTERS Writing may be about any number of things, but it always consists of the alphabet, variously arranged. Always comes down to wrangling the ABC’s. So let’s take a close look at the building blocks of writing in this master class. In addition to writing bestselling books, Blount is a usage consultant to the American Heritage Dictionary. You will enjoy his take on dictionaries, slang, rhyme, rhythm, and yes, weasel words. This will spice up your style, liven your language, and tickle your funny bone.
  • MICHAEL FARRIS SMITH: PUTTING THE PIECES TOGETHER How do you write a novel? Maybe the better question is how to write pieces of a novel. Thinking about the form as a sum of parts can help relieve the anxiety of the whole. How can you shake things up, give the novel the propulsion it needs to sustain? Discover some different strategies to use when thinking about the next step for your novel-in-progress and practice creating intruders for your story with in-class exercises that may give your work the push it needs.

& And you won’t want to miss this (I won’t since it’s after work): Don’t miss your chance for a first look at the next wave! New Orleans literary blog Room 220 will host the #TWF15 Contest Readings. The contests, part of our organization’s mission to encourage and support new talent, unearth the freshest new talent from hundreds of entries. Writers who have yet to publish a book compete for cash prizes, publication, and the honor of being selected by a judge. This year Molly Antopol (The UnAmericans) judged the Fiction Contest and Vijay Seshadri (3 Sections) judged Poetry. In this panel, the winning writers will read and discuss the contest with Seshadri and novelist Zachary Lazar (I Pity the Poor Immigrant). Press Street HQ, 3718 St. Claude Ave., free and open to the public.

& Another Not To Be Missed Event Thursday: JOHN WATERS: THIS FILTHY WORLD: FILTHIER AND DIRTIER Visionary filmmaker and one-of-a-kind personality John Waters (Pink Flamingos, Polyester, Female Trouble,
and Hairspray) is bringing his show “John Waters: This Filthy World: Filthier and Dirtier” to New Orleans, presented in a presentation by Daniel Nardicio. Waters takes on taboo topics as only he can do in this hilarious and completely uncensored one-man show. Waters, who has been dubbed “the Pope of Trash” and branded “O for Offensive” by the Catholic Church, earned his bad reputation by turning bad taste into high art. Part confession,
part Vaudeville act, he’ll share his origins in the trash genre and his subsequent adventures.

& Friday’s Master Classes include:

  • LAUREN CERAND: LITERARY BUZZ AND HOW TO GET IT Lauren Cerand is the independent literary publicist you want in your corner. •In this Master Class, she’ll talk about innovative publicity now, from tricks-of-the-trade of the old school in traditional publishing right up to the evolved media landscape and social media of the present day.
    Attendees will have a chance to discuss their personal challenges and aspirations, and work towards formulating a sensible public relations plan that can serve as a “North Star” in order to orient themselves, and focus on strengths and strategy.
  • LAILA LALAMI: DECEPTIVE HISTORIES, TRUTHFUL FICTIONS If history is fated to be written by the victors, then fiction offers tantalizing alternate readings of official records. Laila Lalami’s The Moor’s Account follows
    conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez’s 1527 expedition to the New World. The 300-man enterprise ended with four survivors, three Spaniards and an enslaved African named Estebanico. The latter’s account—and role as the first African American explorer—is obscured in the authoritative historical chronicle. In her novel, a NYT Notable Book of 2014, Lalami imagines Estebanico’s story. She will discuss history as narrative force, her re-creation of the multilingual voices of the past, and the points at which facts turn into fiction with Festival literary programming
    director, J.R. Ramakrishnan.
  • JIM GRIMSLEY: THE WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH Writing fiction and nonfiction about painful subjects involves a willingness to expose the harder and more painful sides of ourselves. Grimsley will share from his own experience in writing nonfiction about the racial attitudes he learned in the South of his childhood, detailed in his memoir How I Shed My Skin, to be published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill in April 2015. He will also discuss the different processes for approaching such difficult material in fiction and in nonfiction.
  • MARLY RUSOFF AND JONATHAN ODELL: AUTHOR AGENT ALLIANCE An agent and author explore their dynamic partnership in the today’s changing world of publishing. Roles are no longer as fixed in this brave new world of publishing. How does one navigate times of increased fluidity, where roles often need restructuring in the face of market demands? It’s exciting, fast-moving, and can be daunting, as events happen very much in real time. There are no easy templates but in this class, agent and publisher Marly Rusoffand author Jonathan Odell will share their experiences and innovative ideas about how to succeed in publishing in today’s world.

& Friday is also the annual Tennessee Williams Scholar’s Conference. Panels at the The Historic New Orleans Collection Williams Research Center 410 Chartres Street include:

  • Tom’s “good time girls”: Burlesque and Chorus Girls in Williams’s Early One-Act Plays — Dr. Annette Saddik, City University of New York, Mr. David Kaplan, Provincetown Theatre Festival, Dr. Michael Hooper, St. Margaret’s School (UK) Moderator: Dr. John Bak, Université de Lorraine (France).
  • The Paintings of Tennessee Williams — Dr. Cori Convertito, Curator, Key West Art and Historical Society John Bak, Mr. Bradley Sumrall, Ogden Museum of Southern Art Moderator: Ms. Margit Longbrake, The Historic New Orleans Collection.
  • Suddenly, Last Summer, Play and Film Discussion — John Lahr, former New Yorker drama critic Brenda Currin, actor Dr. Barton Palmer, Clemson University Moderator: Dr. Henry Schvey, Washington University.
  • Southern Literature and the White Trash Aesthetic — Dr. Andrew Leiter, Lycoming College, Dr. Meredith McCarroll, Clemson University, Mr. Jim Grimsley, Emory University, Moderator: Dr. Robert Bray.

& Literary Panels , Theatrical Performances, and Special Events for Friday (Odd Word’s picks; for the full list go to the Festival Website):

  • LOUISIANA WITNESS: HOMEGROWN NARRATIVES The gumbo of the American South’s identity comes from cultural histories as diverse, and in some cases more diverse, than America itself. So when writers, born of the region’s native locales, render and evoke the South, their personal narrative perspectives inform the stories that we receive and read. Panelists discuss how their characters bear witness to an ever-changing Southern social and cultural climate, evolving views of histories, and how these views inform the overall work. Panelists: M.O. Walsh, Rick Barton, Laura Lane McNeal, and Vicki Salloum.
  • SWEET AND SAVAGE: WRITING THE WOMEN OF THE SOUTH Southern women in fiction have faced and overcome seemingly insurmountable adversity, Margaret Mitchell’s Scarlet O’Hara and Alice Walker’s long-suffering Celie come to mind. In this region of sweet tea and magnolias, lynching and the Klan, female characters have long had to be less than genteel, perhaps at times even savage, in order to live their lives and protect those around them, as we see
    depicted in the works of the writers on this panel. Panelists: Natalie Baszile, LaShonda Katrice Barnett, Katy Simpson Smith, and John Warley. Moderator: Nancy Dixon
  • GOOD MORNING, BALTIMORE: LAURA LIPPMAN INTERVIEWS JOHN WATERS John Waters’ wry eye on pop culture has resulted in some of America’s most beloved cult films. The Pope of Trash decided to put his finger on the pulse
    of contemporary culture by hitchhiking across America, from his home in Baltimore to his home in San Francisco, armed with no more than his sardonic wit and a sign saying “I’M NOT A PSYCHO.” The book Carsick is an account
    of what he found. Another Baltimore icon, award-winning bestseller Laura Lippman, sits down with him to talk about what he found on his trip, the experience, and get some insights on America.

& More events the first two days include Southern Rep’s production of Suddenly Last Summer, matinee shows of HOTEL PLAYS BY TENNESSEE WILLIAMS (THEATER), in which The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival brings short plays by Williams including The Last of My Solid Gold Watches and Lord Byron’s Love Letter set in such rooms. At the Hermann-Grima House, 820 St. Louis Street, $30; and, BLUE DEVILS AND BETTER ANGELS: TENNESSEE WILLIAMS TRIBUTE READING These luminous readings will be comprised of scenes, monologues, poetry, and correspondence of Williams that relate to the struggles and triumphs of the spirit. Readers include author and cult filmmaker John Waters; playwright Martin Sherman; veteran stage and screen actors Keir Dullea and Mia Dillon; and John Patrick Shanley, who will read excerpts from his Pulitzer Prize-winning play Doubt. Also joining our cast are author/columnist “Ask” Amy Dickinson, and glamorous thriller writer Rebecca Chance. Curated by Paul J. Willis and Thomas Keith, and hosted by Keith. The Old Ursuline Convent, 1112 Chartres Street, $35.

Look for another listing Friday of the weekend’s events here on Odd Words, or visit the website for the complete program.

Fearlessly the idiot faced the crowd March 21, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, Shield of Beauty, The Narrative, The Pointless, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Smiling.

IN-A-GADDA-DE-DOLCE-VITA March 20, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Pointless, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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It is Friday. Innocence is not an option.

dolcevita6 (1)

I hear the singing of the undertow
where the anxious waves come and go.

I watch it greedily leach
away the sand beneath
Fellini’s beached monster.

The tide has drowned the beach.
The cafe angel waves. I cannot reach
her distant innocence from here.

I turn my back on the fantastic
and light another cigarette.

Let Sleeping Camels Lie? March 19, 2015

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, The Narrative, The Pointless, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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I walk into Canseco’s and It’s Midnight at the Oasis on the ceiling speakers. It’s Day 4 of red beans, day 4 of late night meetings with our colleagues in that huge swath of the earth on China Standard Time. I’m eating a salad, again, to relieve the tedium of just red beans.

The best I can say about this week is last night a line came to me, and I forced myself out of bed in spite of my exhaustion and managed three draft strophes for a long poem I’m working on, a break-through, really, another approach to telling history through poetry without hitting a false note: typing, not writing.

Come Friday night at midnight, I am the camel. Coo coo ka choo. OK, maybe you weren’t born when that song came out or were waiting for Saturday night and the Lawrence Welk Show, but this is not a happy thought. Maria Muldaur was a pop pin up girl in my day, with Cher’s looks locks but a real woman’s body, not a stick figure. And a come hither voice in that song that sent chills up and down the spine.

Now I hear it and I remember the card I saw once in the same store, before the changed the racks. Over what hill? When? Where? I don’t remember any hil1!. (I add here my own: harrumph!) I don’t want to be the Camel. I want to be Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif, both terrified to ride in a camel charge, finishing off a pint of scotch whiskey and milk before they took Aqabah from the land side. To paraphrase another song of long ago, I want to up get on my camel and ride before I’m so old no amount of extras and crew and scotch and milk can get me up in that saddle. I want to stop collapsing on Friday night like Welk’s dead accordion.

I better run. I think my sausage is about done. Wait, can I rephra…oh, never mind.

Good Night. Safe Home. March 17, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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NO. I am NOT going to the Holy Ground. (Write on the blackboard 100 times). I’ve had a 12 hour day and more to come this week.

The last little bit of Jameson is gone, and I’ve got a few bottles of Guinness and Altan for company.

When I die, after you leave my marker or scatter my ashes, I don’t ask for a brass band and Didn’t He Ramble. I ask every friend I’ve known (and one I haven’t met yet who can play the fiddle, or at least the penny whistle), to lead everyone away from the sad moment to the party to follow playing this, the one song I’ve heard in fifty plus years that marries sorrow and joy perfectly, that echoes the music of the Acadians whom my German ancestors were assimilated into.

Long ago, halfway into my exile, the Scottish host of The Thistle and Shamrock Fiona Ritche had Micheal Doucet on her show, and pronounced the Acadians the Lost Tribe of the Celtic Race. I felt this on my one visit to Ireland, especially the nights spent in small town inns. And I’ve taken that as license to drink a bit on this day, as I am right now, even though I am but 1/32nd Irish (and thank my sister whose Mormon genealogy, if I can lay hands on it, can give me the name and the county.

(NO. I WILL NOT go &c.)

(Echoes of drunken Welshmen abound in that last statement. But dammit, I shall not go. NO)

If you can talk Doucet into playing my funeral, I’ll promise to arrange for someone to return the ankle bells I drunkenly stole off the stage at the Mardi Gras Party at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, VA one long-ago carnival season early in my long exile. If he preceeds me, I will make arrangements for return of the bells myself.

A penny whistle would be just fine. I hear it in my head that way. May this tune carry you safe home tonight is my prayer.

Tommy Bhetty’s Waltz by Altan:

Redemption Songs March 17, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Now at the annual collision of our African, Celtic and Sicilian cultures, in this town where the African’s ripped from their villages and put into bondage were too valuable a property to risk so the hungry Irish were set to work and die digging the New Basin Canal, where the Sicilian residents of the French Quarter were lynched by practiced hands, the Mardi Gras Indians will come out even as the Irish and Italians stage their parades and the green beer and red wine will flow, and the streets will be lined with rotted cabbage heads, pork chop sandwiches and loose feathers, a celebration in the way only our entirely Creolized culture knows how to do best. In this one place God set aside like Nod for the rejects of Anglo culture and in which we have established (with a wink and a blind eye from God) all that the propaganda of the north promised in their lies, the true melting pot. It is time to to sing Redemption Songs.

Impacts of Fuzz Effect Guitar on Dopamine Uptake and Recycling Rates in the Brain of the Typist March 13, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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ABSTRACT: A study of the Fripp Effect, in combination with mellotron, in reducing states of oppositional misbehavior and inducing a state of exhilarated calm by the end of the second side.

Klaatu barada nikto mofo March 13, 2015

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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What Tumblr’s email robot thinks I should be doing with my life. Banking is not one of the choices. Wise, wise robot:

college versus gardening. You decide

I thought the other day, for a moment, how happy I was working my ass off trying to cram six credit hours of graduate school into four weeks: eating well, not smoking or drinking much, climbing that damn hill every day, brain fully engaged in poetry.

A castle helped. As did lunch. As did Venice.

Then again, I”m watching three people go through the end of their MFA on Facebook. Not a pretty picture, at least for two of them. Not naming names. You know who you are.

Gardening. I used to do that.

“The Lake Isle of Innisfree”
By Wm. B. Yeats.

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping
slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket
sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

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