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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Winners, runners-up, and honorable mentions in the 2018 Words and Music Writing Competition

Through our literary journal arm, The Peauxdunque Review, we here in Peauxdunque are excited and proud to help administer the Words and Music Writing Competition for the Words and Music Writers’ Conference in New Orleans (held this year from November 15th through 18th). Last week, we announced on The Peauxdunque Review‘s Twitter and Facebook feeds the winners, runners-up, and honorable mentions in the five categories of the competition (short story, creative nonfiction, poetry, short story by public high school students, and “Beyond the Bars” for incarcerated juveniles). Today we have posted that information to The Peauxdunque Review‘s website, complete with photos and bios of the winners and runners-up and comments about the winning entries by the final-round judges. Check it out!

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More information about specific Peauxdunque involvement in this year’s Words and Music Writers’ Conference will be cross-posted here in the next few days, but you can go to the conference website for a full schedule.

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!

New publications by Zach and Worm; plus a Claudia Gray book release

More publications news from Peauxdunque-land:

  • Larry Wormington has had his short story, “Balloon Animals,” accepted for publication by Elm Leaves Journal, out of Buffalo, New York. ELJ has been in production since 1948 and is edited by Pushcart Prize-winning author, Kim Chinquee.
  • Zach Bartlett‘s story, “Stop Making Your Words Fancy,” will be published in The J.J. Outré Review. It should be out in late April.

Also, Peauxdunquian Amy Vincent, publishing as Claudia Gray, will have her new YA sci-fi adventure, Defy the Stars, released today. A release event will be held tonight at Octavia Books at 513 Octavia Street (NOLA), with a reception from 5 to ~6 and a reading and signing starting close to 6. There will be cupcakes and wine! As Claudia Gray, Amy is the author of the bestselling Evernight series, Fateful, the Spellcaster trilogy, and the Firebird trilogy. She is also the author the young adult Star Wars novels Lost Stars and the forthcoming Bloodline. Kirkus gave Defy the Stars a starred review, calling it a “[n]uanced philosophical discussions of religion, terrorism, and morality advise and direct the high-stakes action, informing the beautiful, realistic ending. Intelligent and thoughtful, a highly relevant far-off speculative adventure.”

Peauxdunque at the Tennessee Williams Festival

The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival will be happening this weekend, March 22-26. Two of Peauxdunque’s own will be among the star-studded cast of writers among the Festival’s packed list of panels. At 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 25, Maurice Carlos Ruffin will moderate “A Conversation About Race: Finding Strength for the Struggle in Great Writing,” a panel featuring Jericho Brown, Kiese Laymon, Bernice McFadden, and Kalamu ya Salaam. At 2:30 p.m. on Friday, March 24, Maurice and Tad Bartlett will join Kia GroomBill Loehfelm, and Trisha Rezende on the panel, “Can You Imagine a Better Place to Write? The Artistic Allure of New Orleans,” moderated by Carolyn Hembree, part of the UNO Panel Series at the Festival.

Tad Bartlett and Maurice Ruffin, Hopedale, La., March 19, 2017

Pruyn wins; Marston publishes; Bartlett reads

Three more great bits of news from Peauxdunque. Foremost, peaux-et Cassie Pruyn has had her poem, “Traveler’s Monologue,” selected as one of only fourteen poems in the 2016 Best of the Net! “Traveler’s Monologue” originally appeared in Issue 5 of Border Crossing. Many congratulations to Cassie.

Next, J.Ed. Marston had his flash fiction piece, “His Face in the Light,” accepted for publication by the great Bayou literary magazine. This is J.Ed.’s print fiction debut, and it’s a wonderful piece; we’re looking forward to publication, which you can keep up with on our Facebook page.

Finally, Tad Bartlett will be one of two featured writers reading from their work in the Monday Nights anthology, along with Casey Lefante, this Thursday, February 9, at the main branch of the Jefferson Parish Public Library (4747 West Napoleon Avenue, Metairie). The reading will start at 7 p.m., featuring introductory comments by anthology editors Rick Barton and Joanna Leake, as well as appearances by other contributors to the anthology. Monday Nights will be available for sale.

J.Ed. (top left), Cassie (second row, left), and Tad (bottom row, middle), at the 2015 Peauxdunque Writers' Camp.

J.Ed. (top left), Cassie (second row, left), and Tad (bottom row, middle), at the 2015 Peauxdunque Writers’ Camp.

Kelly in Cleveland, Maurice on LitHub, Tad with news

Long one of our favorite poets (and now a member of Peauxdunque!), Kelly Harris will be featured by Larchmere Arts and the Nia Coffeehouse Poetry Series in Cleveland next Tuesday night, November 22. She will reunite with Vince Robinson & The Jazz Poets for a special show starting at 8 p.m.

Last week, LitHub ran a pre-election essay it commissioned from Maurice Carlos Ruffin, an incredible meditation on race, language, privilege, and political discourse, “Talking in New Orleans in the Age of Trump.”

Tad Bartlett learned over the weekend that his short story, “Anti-Heroically Yours,” will be published in January by Bird’s Thumb. He also found out that his non-fiction piece, “My Time With You,” which was published in June by Chautauqua Literary Journal, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. This is Tad’s second Pushcart nomination (his non-fiction piece, “Head Space,” was nominated last year by The Writing Disorder).

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