Words and Music Conference, 2018: Rebirth of a Great Writers’ Conference!

The Peauxdunque Writers Alliance is proud to be a sponsor of the 2018 edition of the annual writers’ conference: Words and Music: A Literary Feast in New Orleans, which will be held this year from Thursday, November 15, through Sunday, November 18!

After twenty years of running the conference, at the end of 2017 the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society transferred the conference to local literacy-advocacy organization, One Book One New Orleans (“OBONO”). Fitting in with OBONO’s mission of increasing access to literacy and literature in under-served populations, OBONO has overhauled Words and Music to put a focus on increasing accessibility to the great conference programming. The first part of this is to change the venue from the Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter, with its difficult and expensive parking situation (and other premium-prices amenities), a few blocks away in New Orleans’ Central Business District at the Pere Marquette Hotel, with easier parking and continued great access to the city in a great set of conference facilities. The second part of this was a complete overhaul of pricing for the conference. Now attendees can peruse the schedule and get access just to individual panels (at $10/panel), individual days of the schedule (at $40/day, or $75 for a two-day pass; Sunday is just $20), all-panel passes for the full conference at only $125, individual Literature & Lunch events at great venues and with stellar panelists from $25 to $50 depending on the event, great evening events and parties from $10 to $50, or an all-inclusive/all-events/all-panels pass of $400. Way more flexible, and far cheaper, than the conference had been in the past. And now, for the first time, all registration and ticketing is available online through Eventbrite.

This is a new edition, a rebirth, for an established literary institution, and should usher in a whole new generation of literary talent and support. This year’s theme is “Voices of New Orleans, Voices of the World,” taking cognizance of New Orleans’ tricentennial this year to celebrate New Orleans’ contributions to literature, music, and food.

And the scheduling approach is all new from the ground-up, too! The lineup includes programming pursuant to a generous grant from PEN America to produce a track of programming called “Black Justice and Joy.” Curated by Kelly Harris DeBerry, this programming will focus on celebrating African-American contributions to the arts in New Orleans and taking an honest look at the problems facing the African-American community from a literary perspective.Throughout the schedule you’ll see some Peauxdunquians, and many friends of Peauxdunque, among the faculty/panelists, which we’re super-stoked about:

Thursday, 11/15: 8:25 a.m., Opening Remarks (Dr. Megan Holt); 8:30-9:45 a.m., Over the Airwaves:  Intersecting Audio, Storytelling, and the Creative Arts in New Orleans (Moderator David Benedetto; Panelists Susan Larson, Hal Clark, Camille Roane, Laine Kaplin-Levenson); 10:00-11:15 a.m., Publishing with a University Press (Moderator Abram Himelstein, UNO Press; Panelists Johnnie Bernard, David Armand, Jack Bedell); 11:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.: Literature & Lunch–The Family Table: Passing on Traditions of Food and Foodways (Venue Dooky Chase) (Moderator Elizabeth Williams; Panelists Leah Chase, Justin Nystrom, Isaac Toups,  Dr. Mona Lisa Saloy); 2:30-4:00 p.m., Altars, Shrines, and Literary Remembrance (Facilitator Kristina K. Robinson); 4:15-5:45 p.m., City of a Million Dreams:  A Conversation with Jason Berry and Dr. Michael White (Interviewer Dr. TR Johnson; Speakers Jason Berry; Dr. Michael White); 7:30-8:30 p.m., Make it Funky and Feminine: A Conversation with DJ Soul Sister (Interviewer Kelly Harris-DeBerry; Speaker Melissa A. Weber, AKA DJ Soul Sister); Late-Night Welcome Party following interview.

Friday, 11/16: 8:30-10:00 a.m., Keeping the Tradition Alive:  New Orleans Culture Bearers (Moderator Ben Sandmel; Panelists Kim Vaz-Deville, Eric Waters, Rachel Brenulin, Big Chief Victor Harris, Merline Kimble); 10:15-11:15 a.m., Sweet Spots:  In-Between Spaces in New Orleans (Moderator Barbara Ewell; Panelists Beth Willinger, John Klingman, John Clark); 11:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m., Literature and Lunch–Poets and Po’Boys (Venue The Dragonfly Poetry and Performance Ritual Space) (Poets Alison Pelegrin, James Nolan, Christopher Romaguera, Shaina Monet); 1:45-2:50 p.m., It’s a Family Affair:  Intergenerational Connections to the Arts (Panelists Peter Cooley, Nicole Cooley, and others TBA); 3:00-4:15 p.m., Casting a Shadow: Writing while Working My Day Job (Interviewer Kelly Harris; Speaker Maurice Carlos Ruffin); 6:30-9:30 p.m., Words & Music Dinner and Awards Ceremony (Venue Cafe Reconcile), A Tribute to Mrs. Herreast Harrison.

Saturday, 11/17: 8:30-10:30 a.m., Children’s Programming–Free Community Session; 10:00-11:00 a.m., KNOW New Orleans (Speaker Freddi Williams Evans); 9:15-10:30 a.m., How To Write a Query Letter (Author and Editor Johnnie Bernhard walks you through this all-important step in publishing); 10:00-10:45 a.m., New Orleans’ Next Generation of Literary Voices (Speakers Students from 826 NOLA (formerly Big Class)); 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., Literature and Lunch–Don’t Read the Comments Section: NOLA Black Journalist talk Race, Fake News and Surviving the Industry (Venue Drink Lab NOLA (upstairs from Victory)) (Moderator David T. Baker); 1:15 p.m., Short film by Kelly Harris-DeBerry1:30-2:45 p.m., Black Dance in Louisiana: From Africa to Twerking (Speaker Greer Mendy); 3:00-4:15 p.m., Words & Music Writing Competition Reading; 4:30-5:45 p.m., TBA; 9:00 p.m., Late Night Literature:  Poetry Tribute to Aretha Franklin (Venue Whiskey and Sticks).

Sunday, 11/18: 8:30-9:45 a.m., Hot Off the Press (Moderator Alysha Rooks; Panelists Michael Allen Zell, Kalamu Ya Salaam, Rein Fertel, Jerika Marchan); 10:00-11:15 a.m., Literacy as a Tool to Combat Incarceration (Moderator Charmel Gaulden; Panelists Dr. Jerry Ward, Representative from Louisiana Books 2 Prisoners,  Representative from CEEAS, Sarah Omojola); 11:45 a.m. – 1:45 p.m., Literature and Lunch–Vengeance (Venue Ashe Power House), Reading by Zachary Lazar, Performance by The Graduates, Closing Remarks by  Dr. Megan Holt.

We here in Peauxdunque hope we see a lot of old friends and meet a lot of new ones at the conference, in the panels, at the lunches and evening events, and out having drinks in between!

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Two more stellar publications, plus Peauxdunque at the Jambalaya Writers’ Conference

No sooner did we report on the last round of Peauxdunque publication news, than two more wonderful items dropped in. April Blevins Pejic will have her creative non-fiction piece, “Clusters and the Cosmos,” published in Cimarron Review; and Drew Jordan‘s essay, “Pop’s Pocket Knife,” will be published by The Bitter Southerner! Both are beautiful pieces of work, so keep your eyes open for them.

This Saturday, March 3, Peauxdunque will join the list of featured presenters at the Jambalaya Writers’ Conference in Houma, Louisiana, put on by the Terrebonne Parish Library. Peauxdunquians on the roster include Marti Dumas and Maurice Carlos Ruffin. They join a number of luminaries, including Bill Loehfelm, Ladee Hubbard, Tom Piazza, James Nolan, Yuri Herrera, Katy Simpson Smith, Joshilyn Jackson, and R.L. Stine.

Peaux-ets at the 2017 New Orleans Poetry Festival

The New Orleans Poetry Festival will take place from April 20 through 23, at the New Orleans Healing Center and Cafe Istanbul (2372 St. Claude Avenue, NOLA), and Peauxdunque poets will be featured among the poets and presenters. (Indeed, unrequited Peauxdunquian Benjamin Morris is a coordinator of the 2017 NOPF).

Kelly Harris will be featured twice during the NOPF. On Friday, April 21, at 3:30 p.m., she will be on the “Mystic Female: Black Women Poets Read” panel, along with Kwoya Fagin Maples and Jacqueline Allen Trimble. Then at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 22, Kelly will be in the lineup for the Saturday Night Feature Reading at Cafe Istanbul, along with Rodrigo Toscano and Lee Herrick. (Kelly will also be on the faculty of the Saturday workshop at the New Orleans Youth Poetry Festival on April 22).

Cassie Pruyn will be part of the “Small Press Readings III” presentation at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 22, in Cafe Istanbul, along with Sarah Anne Cox, Jeff Grieneisen, and Biljana D. Obradović.

Come out and celebrate poetry and small presses for the whole festival!

Words for Terri Sue: Wrap-up and photos

After the show: Nick Fox, Maurice Carlos Ruffin, Terri Shrum, Tad Bartlett, Kelly Harris, Nicholas Mainieri, and April Blevins Pejic. Photo by L. Kasimu Harris.

After the show: Nick Fox, Maurice Carlos Ruffin, Terri Shrum, Tad Bartlett, Kelly Harris, Nicholas Mainieri, and April Blevins Pejic. Photo by L. Kasimu Harris.

Peauxdunque shared a beautiful evening of love and generosity and art (so much wonderful art) with its founding member, Terri Sue Shrum, and with a large cross-section of the New Orleans writing and reading community on August 30, at Three Keys at the Ace Hotel. The event was our “Words for Terri Sue” benefit reading, to raise funds for Terri’s out-of-pocket cancer treatment expenses, and featured DJ’ing by DJ Sep (Giuseppe Catania); the New Orleans premier of Gian Smith‘s award-winning short film, “The Adulterer”; brilliant, touching, thought-provoking, and energetic readings by best-selling and award-winning writers M.O. Walsh, Kelly Harris, Bill Loehfelm, Nicholas Mainieri, and Maurice Carlos Ruffin; with the emcee duties handled with great spirit and skill by Nick Fox. The stage was also graced by Terri herself, with a tribute to all those who came out to make the night possible. We raised approximately $2,000 on the night, bringing our total fundraising for Terri over $11,000 in the past three months! And we’re not done, yet. Please visit our gofundme page for Terri, and keep your eye out for another fundraising effort in conjunction with the Words & Music Conference in November.

If you couldn’t make it (and even if you did), here’s a slideshow of photos taken by Peauxdunquian writer/photographer/renaissance-man, L. Kasimu Harris:

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Words for Terri Sue: Featuring Terri herself!

Terri side by sideTomorrow night, August 30, at Three Keys (Ace Hotel, 600 Carondelet, 7 to 9 p.m.)! We’ll have music by DJ Sep, emcee’ing by Nick Fox, and readings by a star-studded writer cast of M.O. WalshKelly Harris-DeBerryBill LoehfelmGian SmithNicholas Mainieri, and Maurice Carlos Ruffin. And now I can announce it officially that Terri Sue Shrum will be with us, too! She made a flight down from Atlanta, where she’s been undergoing chemotherapy treatments, and will join us for the benefit reading as we raise funds to assist with her out-of-pocket treatment expenses. Come early, stay late, and donate whatever you can. She’s a fantastic writer and fantastic friend, and tomorrow will be a good night. Three Keys asks that people RSVP here if they’re thinking of coming, so click that link and come join us!

Words for Terri Sue: Meet the writers, part 6

This Tuesday, August 30, a special coming together of the writing tribes (and those who love them, or at least dig them) will occur at Three Keys (at the Ace Hotel, 600 Carondelet Street, NOLA), as six best-selling and award-winning writers will present work at a benefit reading for Peauxdunque founding member Terri Sue Shrum. In May, Terri was diagnosed with inoperable stage-4 pancreatic cancer. Since then, Terri has begun chemotherapy treatments at the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University in Atlanta, and writers nationwide have come together to help with an active fund-raising campaign to help Terri with her out-of-pocket treatment-related expenses. From 7 to 9 p.m. on August 30, we’ll continue that, with tunes spun by DJ Sep (Giuseppe Catania) and an evening emcee’d by Nick Fox. Admission is free, and donations will be accepted at the door and throughout the evening; RSVP here.

Our sixth featured writer is M.O. (“Neal”) Walsh. M.O. Walsh was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He is the author of the story collection, The Prospect of Magic, and the novel, My Sunshine Away, which was a New York Times bestseller and won the Pat Conroy Book Award for Fiction. His stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Oxford American, The Southern Review, and others. He currently directs the Creative Writing Workshop at the University of New Orleans. Many thanks to Neal for joining our line-up Tuesday, along with Maurice Carlos RuffinBill LoehfelmKelly Harris-DeBerryNick Mainieri, and Gian Smith.

M.O. Walsh

M.O. Walsh

Words for Terri Sue: Meet the writers, part 5

This Tuesday, August 30, a special coming together of the writing tribes (and those who love them, or at least dig them) will occur at Three Keys (at the Ace Hotel, 600 Carondelet Street, NOLA), as six best-selling and award-winning writers will present work at a benefit reading for Peauxdunque founding member Terri Sue Shrum. In May, Terri was diagnosed with inoperable stage-4 pancreatic cancer. Since then, Terri has begun chemotherapy treatments at the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University in Atlanta, and writers nationwide have come together to help with an active fund-raising campaign to help Terri with her out-of-pocket treatment-related expenses. From 7 to 9 p.m. on August 30, we’ll continue that, with tunes spun by DJ Sep (Giuseppe Catania) and an evening emcee’d by Nick Fox. Admission is free, and donations will be accepted at the door and throughout the evening; RSVP here.

Our fifth featured writer is Kelly Harris-DeBerry, poet, teacher, Artrepreneur, and founder of BrassyBrown.com. Most recently, her multi-media poetic essay, “Dear Naomi (and Black Girls Everywhere),” received national attention when it attracted more than 3,000 views. Kelly has poems in the current issue of Torch literary magazine and a podcast on About Place Journal‘s website on Congo Square: Sustaining the Sacred Post-Katrina. She has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and Cave Canem. Kelly’s performance background and MFA degree in creative writing/arts therapy places her on the stage and page. Check her out next month at the Black Arts Movement Conference at Dillard University. Kelly will be joined onstage on August 30 by M.O. WalshBill LoehfelmGian SmithNick Mainieri, and Maurice Carlos Ruffin.

Kelly Harris-D

Words for Terri Sue: Meet the writers, part 4

Next Tuesday, August 30, a special coming together of the writing tribes (and those who love them, or at least dig them) will occur at Three Keys (at the Ace Hotel, 600 Carondelet Street, NOLA), as six best-selling and award-winning writers will present work at a benefit reading for Peauxdunque founding member Terri Sue Shrum. In May, Terri was diagnosed with inoperable stage-4 pancreatic cancer. Since then, Terri has begun chemotherapy treatments at the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University in Atlanta, and writers nationwide have come together to help with an active fund-raising campaign to help Terri with her out-of-pocket treatment-related expenses. From 7 to 9 p.m. on August 30, we’ll continue that, with tunes spun by DJ Sep (Giuseppe Catania) and an evening emcee’d by Nick Fox. Admission is free, and donations will be accepted at the door and throughout the evening; RSVP here.

Our fourth featured writer is Bill Loehfelm. Bill is the author of the New Orleans-set crime fiction series featuring rookie cop Maureen Coughlin. The latest book in the series, Let the Devil Out, was published this summer. His other novels include Doing the Devil’s WorkThe Devil in Her WayThe Devil She Knows, and the stand alone novels, Bloodroot and Fresh Kills. He lives in New Orleans with his wife, AC Lambeth, a writer and yoga instructor. He also plays drums in a rock-n-roll band. Bill will be joined Tuesday night by Kelly Harris-DeBerry, M.O. Walsh, Gian Smith, Maurice Carlos Ruffin, and Nick Mainieri. See you there!
Bill Loehfelm onstage at Tipitina's, at the first Peauxdunque Yeah You Write event in 2011

Bill Loehfelm onstage at Tipitina’s, at the first Peauxdunque Yeah You Write event in 2011

Words for Terri Sue: Meet the writers, part 3

Next week, on August 30, a special coming together of the writing tribes (and those who love them, or at least dig them) will occur at Three Keys (at the Ace Hotel, 600 Carondelet Street, NOLA), as six best-selling and award-winning writers will present work at a benefit reading for Peauxdunque founding member Terri Sue Shrum. In May, Terri was diagnosed with inoperable stage-4 pancreatic cancer. Since then, Terri has begun chemotherapy treatments at the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University in Atlanta, and writers nationwide have come together to help with an active fund-raising campaign to help Terri with her out-of-pocket treatment-related expenses. From 7 to 9 p.m. on August 30, we’ll continue that, with tunes spun by DJ Sep (Giuseppe Catania) and an evening emcee’d by Nick Fox. Admission is free, and donations will be accepted at the door and throughout the evening; RSVP here.

Our third featured writer is Gian Francisco Smith. Gian is an artist local to New Orleans. Although most notable as a poet due to his work with the second season of Treme, Gian is talented at many crafts. He is a promising film maker. His short film, “The Adulterer,” which is currently in development as a series, has been screened at almost a dozen film festivals including winning the prestigious Remi Award at Worldfest-Houston International Film Festival, a distinction shared with Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Ang Lee. Gian was featured at Peauxdunque’s first “Yeah You Write” event in 2011, and we’re grateful to have him back on the line-up next week, alongside M.O. Walsh, Bill Loehfelm, Kelly Harris-DeBerry, Nick Mainieri, and Maurice Carlos Ruffin.

Gian "The G-Perspective" Smith, Oct. 2011

Gian “The G-Perspective” Smith, Oct. 2011

Words for Terri Sue: Meet the writers, part 1

In one week, on August 30, a special coming together of the writing tribes (and those who love them, or at least dig them) will occur at Three Keys (at the Ace Hotel, 600 Carondelet Street, NOLA), as six best-selling and award-winning writers will present work at a benefit reading for Peauxdunque founding member Terri Sue Shrum. In May, Terri was diagnosed with inoperable stage-4 pancreatic cancer. Since then, Terri has begun chemotherapy treatments at the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University in Atlanta, and writers nationwide have come together to help with an active fund-raising campaign to help Terri with her out-of-pocket treatment-related expenses. From 7 to 9 p.m. on August 30, we’ll continue that, with tunes spun by DJ Sep (Giuseppe Catania) and an evening emcee’d by Nick Fox. Admission is free, and donations will be accepted at the door and throughout the evening; RSVP here.

The first of our six featured readers is Nicholas Mainieri. His debut novel, The Infinite, will be published by Harper Perennial in November of 2016. Born in Miami, Florida, Nicholas has also lived in Colorado and Indiana. After graduating from the University of Notre Dame, he earned his MFA from the Creative Writing Workshop at the University of New Orleans. His short stories have appeared in the Southern Review, the Southern Humanities Review, and Salamander, among other literary magazines. He currently teaches writing and literature at Nicholls State University. He resides in New Orleans with his wife and son. Nick will be joined at Words for Terri Sue by writers M.O. Walsh, Kelly Harris-DeBerry, Bill Loehfelm, Gian Francisco Smith, and Maurice Carlos Ruffin.

Nicholas Manieri

Nicholas Mainieri