jump to navigation

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.
Tags: ,
add a comment

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):
& 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.

Odd Words: Best of the Tennessee Williams Fest Part One March 18, 2014

Posted by The Typist in Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
Tags: ,
add a comment

The annual Tennessee Williams literary festival runs this weekend from a gala opening Wednesday night through Sunday’s famous “Stella!” Souting contest. Headquartered at the Hotel Montelone, the festival offers four days of panel dicussions popular and scholarly, masters classes for aspiring writers and a host of other events including Literary Late Nights, walking literary tours and more.

twlogoOnce again Odd Words will be there live blogging selected events across all four days. In addition to the Odd Word’s pick for Best of the Fest, we will post daily event highlights and write-ups of selected panels, appearing here, on the Odd Words Facebook and Google+ pages, and on NOLAVie on NOLA.COM. Also be sure to follow @oddwords on Twitter for real time updates whie taking notes and balancing a cup of coffee on my knee. There is no extra admission charge to watch me do this. Just find the old fart in the young man’s hate.

This is a list of our own picks, but you can find the full schedule at the Festival web site.


Thursday is the annual Master Class mash-up, and Odd Word’s pick for the day is the first of the day. Copyright is a sticky wicket with the emergence of the Internet and changes to the copyright laws. Every aspiring writer who has waded into Social Media or just wants to understand modern copyright law better shouldn’t miss the Master Class at 9 a.m. MARIE BREAUX: COPYRIGHT FOR WRITERS With the growing consensus that the U.S. copyright law needs major revision and the emergence of alternatives to traditional copyrights. Copyright for Writers will sort out the history of authors’ rights (Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo play significant parts) and will try to make sense of a future where open source publishing and the Creative Commons will compete with the traditional copyrights asserted ed by authors and their publishers. The Historic New Orleans Collection, $25 or included in Master Class series registration.

Other Master Classes on Thurday include:

  • ZACHARY LAZAR: DIALOGUE— A BRIEF HISTORY at 11 a.m. This class will start with a discussion of how Ernest Hemingway invented the template for how dialogue in fiction has been written for most of the last century, and cover elements such as the sound of spoken language, the use of indi- rection, subtext, and rhythm. We’ll also look at how other very different writers, from Lorrie Moore to Elmore Leonard, have adapted or tweaked Hemingway’s example; and,
  • Odd Word’s second personal pick at 3 pm ALICIA ANSTEAD: GOING MICRO WITH NARRATIVE. When we write stories and poems, we’re careful to craft each word for a powerful impact. That skill should continue to kick in when we jump onto social media, which is simply another form of creative expres- sion. In this hands-on workshop, editor-in- chief of The Writer magazine Alicia Anstead, will explore narrative technique as it applies to Twitter and Facebook. Show up ready to write. The Historic New Orleans Collection, $25 or included in Master Class series registration. Sponsored by The Writer.
  • </ul?

    Thurday is also a big day for theater with a busy list of shows culminatingn in Thursday evening's Southern Rep production of Night of the Iguana. Others include A Gift of an Orange by award-winning playwright Charlene A. Donaghy, inspired by Tennessee Williams’ short story, “Gift of an Apple” (written in 1936). You can also catch another presentation of HOTEL PLAYS BY TENNESSEE WILLIAMS without the price tag and ironing required for Wednesday night’s gala opeing. The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival brings three short plays by Williams set in such rooms. Gather at the historic Hermann-Grima House and proceed from room to room to experience Williams up-close and person- al. See the Festival Web Site for a full description. Hermann-Grima House, 820 St. Louis Street, $30. Co-produced with the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival.

    You can also check out VIVIEN BY RICK FOSTER. Judith Chapman’s portrayal of two-time Oscar-winning film star Vivien Leigh (A Streetcar Named Desire and Gone With the Wind) is, according to Backstage Magazine, “a bravura performance.”

    Thursday’s theater feature with a bullet is Southern Rep’s presentation of THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA. On stage together for the first time since the award-winning A Streetcar Named Desire, Mike Harkins and Aimée Hayes star with Idella Johnson and Bob Edes, Jr. in the famous confession drama considered to be Tennessee Williams’ last great play. Directed by Phil Karnell. Get tickets at http://www.SouthernRep.com or (504) 522.6545. Produced by Southern Rep Theatre. The Art Klub, 527 Elysian Fields Ave.


    Friday brings another line up of Master Classes, including Odd Word’s personal pick (because We the Animals is a fantstic novel)
    JUSTIN TORRES: THE SUPER SLEEK NOVEL. Torres’ debut We the Animals arrived on the literary scene at a slender 144 pages. Seductive and heart-crushing with its incantory style and first person plural gaze, the novel was embraced by critics, such as Michael Cunningham who called it a “dark jewel of a book.” In this master class, Torres will discuss word choice, minimalist crafting methods, and how to live while distilling blood of personal experience on to the page, with writer and Festival programming director, J.R. Ramakrishnan. The Historic New Orleans Collection, $25 or included in Master Class series registration.

    Other Master Classes include ANN HOOD: THE ART OF REVISION,
    DOROTHY ALLISON: A VOICE LIKE THUNDER, A TEXT A WHISPER discussing the performance aspect of reading off the page, and DANI SHAPIRO: SURVIVAL OF THE STORYTELLER.

    Friday presents an almost impossible to pick-and-choose line up of Festival panels, including:

    • READING WITH THE FICTION CONTEST AND POETRY CONTEST WINNERS Queen Anne Ballroom, Festival Panel Pass. 10:00 am
    • THE UNFATHOMABLE CITY SALON Pairing acts of rescue and of sabotage during Hurricane Katrina, migrations of the Houma tribe and erosion of the coast, antebellum plantations and present-day dialysis centers—and much more—Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas, edited by Rebecca Solnit and Rebecca Snedeker, is a reinvention of the traditional atlas that will forever change the way you think about place. Hotel Monteleone, Queen Anne Ballroom, Festival Panel Pass. Sponsored in part by University of California Press, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. 11:30 am
    • THE DEVIL YOU DON’T KNOW: OTHERWORLDLY FORCES IN FICTION This panel will focus on how different writers repre- sent ideas of evil or horror and how the supernatural may be used and blend with realistic events in order to create a force which speaks to the power of evil in the world. Panelists: David Armand, Victor LaValle, and Valerie Martin. Moderator: Mary McCay. Hotel Monteleone, Queen Anne Ballroom, 1 pm
    • And, Odd Word’s pick for the day AN EXAMINED LIFE:
      THE MYSTERIES OF MEMOIR. Memoir writing requires the writer to stare into the abyss of a very personal past. Our panelists have addressed death, illness, familial quirks, and cultural identity within their works, and will discuss how they dealt with the challenges of delving back. Panelists: Blake Bailey, Ann Hood, Lila Quintero Weaver, and Emily Raboteau. Moderator: Nancy Dixon. Hotel Monteleone, Queen Anne Ballroom, Festival Panel Pass. Sponsored by the Collins C. Diboll Foundation. 2:30 pm
      • The highlight of Friday’s theater performances, which include A Gift of an Orange and The Night of the Iguana, for the first time in over a decade, the Tennessee Williams classic Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is brought back to thrilling life on the New Orleans stage by The NOLA Project theatre company. Beau Bratcher (A Truckload of Ink, Night of the Iguana) directs a starry New Orleans cast headed up by James Yeargain, Cecile Monteyne, Randy Cheramie, and Yvette Hargis. This special collaboration between NOLA Project and The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival at Le Petit Theatre is an event no theatre lover will want to miss! The TW/NOLF presents a NOLA Project production. Le Petit Theatre, 616 St. Peter Street, $30.

        You can also choose to finish off Friday with this intriguing Literary Late Night at 8 pm: LITERARY DANCE PARTY featuring SURPRISE INTERROGATION READING Spend Friday evening in the club with our literary dance party featuring a live DJ set and a brand new event of a speculative nature, the Surprise Interrogation Reading. Victor LaValle, author of The Devil in Silver will read a short piece, and take his place in the hot seat for a Q&A like no other. His interrogator will be a mystery (even to Victor himself) until the grilling begins. It could be his high school English teacher, his worst critic, or best literary bro— and the questioner can ask him anything at all. Expect revelations and literary dirt. Hotel Monteleone, Queen Anne Ballroom, $15. Sponsored by Whole Foods Market. Ticket sales support high school outreach programs.

        I think that’s enough to digest at one sitting. Check Thursday’s regular Odd Words post which will lead off with Saturday and Sunday’s Best of the Fest. Be sure to follow @odd_words on Twitter for instant update, pictures, and the latest reports from the festival, or check the Odd Words pages on Facebook and Google+

Odd Words March 25, 2010

Posted by The Typist in Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

If you’re bothering to read this you certainly already know this is the weekend of the Tennessee Williams Festival in New Orleans. My own first experience I summarized here:

I hunched in the back with a tattered dimestore notebook balanced on my lap, an Oddity in the mostly female crowd dressed to meet for lunch under the clock at D.H. Homes. I had surrendered my cafe au lait at the door and as I sat damp from the steady spring drizzle outside, I waited for someone to announce that tea would be served, and hoped they would serve me.

At 51 I was one of the youngest people in the room and the most ill dressed, until that spot was taken by a guy in a ball cap who arrived and sat two rows up. One of the older book clubbers who filled the seats asked him to remove it, and I felt instantly more comfortable in my own shabby jeans and t-shirt. I had taken off my own driving cap when I sat down.

I find the program to be a bit heavy on Best Selling Authors and Notable Editors/Agents sharing their secrets it was an interesting experience, and I plan to try to get their on Friday to hear author/publisher/screenwriter/activist/educator Dave Eggers’ two presentations on this work. On Saturday the historic presentation on The Vieux Carre in the 1930s sounds interesting : “…a slide presentation on the literary milieu that so attracted the young Tennessee Williams to the French Quarter [along with] Sherwood Anderson, Lyle Saxon, William Faulkner, Caroline Dureiux and Roark Bradford.”

A 2:30 on Saturday “New Angles in New Orleans Writing” also sounds very good, with panelists Rick Barton, Andrea Boll, Bill Loehfelm and Paula Morris. Toulouse Street neighbor and author of a fine short story debut Barb Johnson will join Jill McCorkle and N.M. Kelly in a short story panel titled The Long and the Short of It at 11:30 AM Saturday.

The sole poetry event is 1 p.m. Sunday and features Peter Cooley, Louisiana Poet Laureate Darrell Bourque and Allison Pelegrin. I don’t know why the TWF cut out the poetry contest, which I think is a big mistake. I guess the books-and-tea club types I find at a lot of these events don’t read much poetry anymore, except maybe a little Tennyson or Frost (if they’re feeling daring) now and again. Also on Sunday at 11:30 am is a panel on the HBO Series Treme “All that Jazz…and Beyond: The Making of Treme” with the writing team of Lolis Eric Elie, David Mills, Eric Overmayer, Tom Piazza and David Simon.

Finally, there is the Stella shouting contest late Sunday, and a performance of Ignatius On Stage.

§ This Thursday 17 Poets! Literary & Performance Series hosts a reading & book signing featuring Manhattan poet, editor, publisher, and translator BILL ZAVATSKY. The featured poet will be followed by Open Mic hosted by Jimmy Ross. Bill Zavatsky is an American poet, teacher, translator, jazz pianist, and former publisher, editor-in-chief of SUN press and SUN magazine. He currently lives in New York City, where he teaches English at the Trinity School. Zavatsky’s co-translation, with Zack Rogow, of Earthlight: Poems by André Breton (Green Integer), won the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize. His translation of The Poems of A.O. Barnabooth by Valery Larbaud (Black Widow Press) with Ron Padgett was republished in 2009. Zavatsky has written poems for twelve CDs by the jazz pianist Marc Copland. His recent full-length book of poems Where X Marks the Spot was published by Hanging Loose Press. Zavatsky recently received the prestigious John Simon Guggenheim fellowship for his poetry.

§ On Sunday the Maple Leaf Poetry Series, the longest running reading in the South, will host local poet Poet Sulla reading from and signs his new chapbook followed by an open mike. As Spring comes on and the Saints season behind us, what better place to spend a Sunday afternoon than in the patio Everette Maddox made famous.

§ — Missed a Good One for Tonite The Jazz & Heritage Foundation’s Tom Dent Congo Square Lecture Series will present poet, author and activist Amiri Baraka at Dillard University’s Lawless Memorial Chapel Thursday, March 25, 7pm. Baraka, perhaps best known for his 1963 book “Blues People: Negro Music in White America,” will speak as part of the lecture series’ current theme of presentations, “Jazz in Black & White.” Contact (504)558-6100

§ Missed another one: Dave Eggers returns to Octavia Books to sign ZEITOUN Friday, March 26, 5:00pm – 6:30pm at Octavia Books, 513 Octavia Street. I’m going to have to try to get one signed at the TWF as I won’t be able to get away and back uptown by then.