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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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

A Peaux/Real World!

PeauxRealThe New Orleans Fringe Fest has grown and evolved into the Faux/Real Festival, two and a half weeks of theater, music, dance, art, and writings on the edge. And this year they have given over their writers’ space, the Faux/Real Cafe, to the Peauxdunque Writers Alliance, on Wednesday night, November 11, from 6:30 to 9:30.

What happens when eight writers leave their personal podunks and come to New Orleans and start getting fo’ real? Come to the Faux/Real Cafe to find out! Maurice Carlos Ruffin, Cassie Pruyn, Zach Bartlett, Terri Shrum, Andrew Kooy, Emilie Staat, Tad Bartlett, and Caroline Goetze take the stage at 6:30 (along with a special spectral appearance by Susan Kagan), and the verbal slings and arrows don’t stop flying until 9:30. Cafe Faux/Real is a venue set up just for the Faux/Real Festival, where coffee and drinks and books will be for sale while the readings go. THIS READING IS FREE, though all Faux/Real events can be attended with a Faux/Real Button ($5 gets you an awesome collectors’ button that also happens to get you into more than two weeks of premier art out beyond the boundaries).

See you there! (At 2161 N. Rampart)

The return of ‘Yeah, You Write!’

We’re excited to announce that our original event series, Yeah, You Write,” is back! Last time we billed it as a “literary concert”; this time it’s a full-on “word rebellion.” Back in October 2011, Peauxdunque launched its series of putting top writers on top stages, with our original event at Tipitina’s. This time around, on the night of April 18, 2014, we’ll feature writers, images, and music on the stage at Cafe Istanbul, at 2372 St. Claude Avenue.

MC Nick Fox, with Amanda Boyden, Gian Smith, Terri Stoor, Kelly Harris-DeBerry, Mat Johnson, and Bill Loehfelm, October 2011

MC Nick Fox, with Amanda Boyden, Gian Smith, Terri Stoor, Kelly Harris-DeBerry, Mat Johnson, and Bill Loehfelm, October 2011

This year’s slate of writers includes best-selling and prize-winning authors Beth Ann Fennelly and Tom Franklin, who will be reading from their new collaborative work, The Tilted World; Joseph Boyden, winner of the Giller Prize, whose new novel, The Orenda, has already been winning awards and praise in Canada and which will be released in the United States in May; John Barry, whose seminal work on the great 1927 flood, Rising Tide, informed much of The Tilted World, and who is currently front and center in a fight to stop a new great flood as southeast Louisiana washes away; Benjamin Percy, whose most recent novel, Red Moon, was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, IndieNext Pick, Amazon “Top Ten Best Books of May,” CNN’s Top Ten Books of May, iBookstore Editor’s Choice, and an Entertainment Weekly “Must List” selection; insightful local essayist and writer jewel bush, founder of the MelaNated Writers Collective; Emilie Staat, winner of the 2012 Faulkner-Wisdom Gold Medal for the essay; and stellar local poet Cassie Pruyn, finalist in the most recent Indiana Review 1/2K Prize.

Music for the event will be provided by DJ Sep, and the event will feature the projected images of writer/photographer L. Kasimu Harris. Doors open at 7:00 p.m., with the words set to start flowing at 7:30. $5 cover charge at the door.

April’s meeting at Krewe du Brew featuring James Nolan

Peauxdunque’s April meeting was hosted by Terri and myself at Krewe du Brew, a new coffee shop on St. Charles. The lovely owners were kind enough to stay open late for us and we enjoyed KdB’s mixed berry juice, peach tea and delicious scones, tea breads and pecan bars. The folks at Krewe du Brew are some of the nicest you’ll meet, so you should definitely check them out.

James Nolan graced us with his presence, not only reading from his novel Higher Ground, but sharing one of the craft lessons from the writing course that he teaches. The lesson synched particularly well with the work that was being critiqued and is sure to help many of us with our projects.

It was a very successful meeting all around and our thanks to the crew at Krewe du Brew and to James Nolan for enriching the experience! Check out a few pictures from the meeting below.

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Publications and more! By Peauxdunqians and Friends of Peauxdunque

Another month, another set of publications and other writing recognition for the fine folks of Peauxdunque and their good friends …

Terri Stoor and Maurice Ruffin have had work selected for the upcoming New Orleans By New Orleans book project, which should come out at the end of this month. Joselyn Takacs, currently in Baltimore working on her MFA at Johns Hopkins, has the Story of the Week at Narrative, “Flares of Little Warning.” Also, Arion Berger and Tom Carson both have stories in the latest issue of Black ClockTad Bartlett has been admitted to the MFA program in fiction at UNO’s Creative Writing Workshop, where he will begin this fall.

Friend of Peauxdunque L. Kasimu Harris has launched a new column, Parish Chic, at The Oxford American’s online site, using fashion as a lens to illuminate the human condition.

Readings, seminars, and another Peauxdunque publication

More news on Peauxdunquians in the world: Foremost, another Peauxdunque publication, as Kimberly Clouse’s short story, “Hector Gets Taken,” is in Volume 1, Issue 9 of Fortyouncebachelors. Kimberly joined Peauxdunque in 2011, and is currently working on a collection of short stories for her thesis project in the UNO Creative Writing Workshop MFA program.

In readings news, TODAY, February 3, Peauxdunqian Helen Krieger will be reading at the Artfully Aware event at the New Orleans Museum of Art, which takes place from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Also reading at the event are friend-of-Peauxdunque and fellow Oxford American Summit alum Benjamin Morris, as well as New Orleans literary renaissance man extraordinaire, John Biguenet; Moira Crone; and M’Bilia Meekers. A number of other musical and visual art components will take place in conjunction with the readings.

In a final bit of Peauxdunqian-in-the-world programming news, beginning February 26, 2012, Hatchery Media‘s (and Peauxdunque’s) Helen Krieger and Joseph Meissner will conduct an eight-week master class in acting and directing actors for the screen, bringing together actors, writers, and directors to develop and hone their material in a hands-on workshop. The class will meet Sundays from 1-4 p.m., until April 22. Contact Joseph at Hatchery Media for information or registration.

New Orleans word scene getting noticed

Undeniably, the New Orleans word world is a vital part of our culture, contributing to the rebirth of a great American city and adding its flavor to a national literary mix. Peauxdunque strives to be a dynamic part of that role, from our support and encouragement of our member writers to our production of the Yeah You Write reading series. New Orleans poet Kelly Harris recently published an excellent post to the Poets & Writers blog on the many doings in the New Orleans literary universe, including our own.

An inextricably intertwined adjunct of the New Orleans writing world is the innovative and burgeoning filmmaking scene here. Peauxdunque is lucky to count two of the best filmmakers in New Orleans among our ranks, Amy Serrano and Helen Krieger. At the recently concluded New Orleans Film Festival, Helen‘s award-winning feature film, Flood Streets, garnered critical and popular raves, and was chosen for the premier encore screening slot at the end of the festival.

Last week’s Words and Music Conference, hosted by the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society and with the guiding hand of Peauxdunque’s Amy Serrano in her role as Chairperson of the Pan American Connections Committee, brought international human rights advocate and former Ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission Armando Valladares to provide a keynote speech on the power of writers and words to be the vanguard in the fight against global oppression and inequity. Words and Music also brought in national literary lights Nilo Cruz, Justin Torres, Robert Olen Butler, Oscar Hijuelos, Andrew Lam, Elise Blackwell, Roy Blount, Jr., Tom Carson, and Paula McLain, along with our own New Orleans greats, John Biguenet, Rodger Kamenetz, James NolanMoira Crone, and others. Joined by a faculty of nationally prominent agents and publishers ranging from Bix Six publishers through the agile and innovative crop of new generation publishers, brilliant discussions and readings ensued, probing the current and future states of writing, storytelling, and publishing. New Orleans literary crusader Mark Folse captured the vibe well in his posts on Odd Words and on the nola.com NOLA Vie report.

As covered in Mark’s reports, the Peauxdunque gang was glad to play a part in Words and Music. Terri Stoor, Maurice Carlos Ruffin, J.Ed. Marston, and Tad Bartlett presented poetry, fiction, and essays on the conference theme during the Wednesday afternoon session in the Cabildo. Also, Terri Stoor was the winner of the gold medal in the Faulkner-Wisdom Competition’s short story category, while Maurice Carlos Ruffin was a finalist in the short story category and Tad Bartlett and J.Ed. Marston were semi-finalists in that category. In the novel category, Sabrina Canfield had a manuscript on the long list for finalists, and Tad and J.Ed. had a co-authored manuscript on the long list for finalists. In the novel-in-progress cateogry, Sabrina had a manuscript make the short list for finalists. In the essay category, Terri was the second runner-up, and Sabrina had an essay on the short list for finalists. Tad and J.Ed. each also had poems make the finalist list in the poetry category. In addition, a gang of Peauxdunquians volunteered to help staff several conference events, including Bryan Block, Dana Glass, Susan Kagan, Emilie Staat, Sabrina Canfield, Janis Turk, and Helen Krieger.

Peauxdunquians read at Words and Music

On November 9, the Peauxdunque Writers Alliance helped kick off the 2011 Words and Music Conference in New Orleans, with four Peauxdunquians invited to read at the Words and Music Writers Alliance annual meeting in the Cabildo, which fellow Peauxdunquian (and award-winning filmmaker) Helen Krieger caught on video.

First up was Terri Stoor, gold medal winner in the short story category of the 2011 William Faulkner-William Wisdom writing competition, who read “Bird Dog,” her second-runner-up entry in the Faulkner-Wisdom competition’s essay category:

Following Terri, Tad Bartlett read his poem, “new century/old century, three acts,” which was a finalist for the 2011 Marble Faun Poetry Prize:

J.Ed. Marston then read a trio of poems, “Mangy Brown Dog,” “Limit-Perfected Fish,” and “Steel on Wood.” “Limit-Perfected Fish” was also a finalist for the 2011 Marble Faun Poetry Prize:

Finally, Maurice Carlos Ruffin read two flash fiction pieces, “Cocoons” and “Mercury Forges.” “Mercury Forges” will be published in the upcoming Apalachee Review:

Words and Music will continue through November 13, with most events happening at the Hotel Monteleone.

Upcoming publications and readings

From time to time, we will update the site with upcoming publications and readings by Peauxdunquians (so come on, y’all, let’s get to work!).

Coming up in less than two weeks, four Peauxdunquians have been invited to read from recent work at the Words and Music Conference put on by the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society in New Orleans. On Wednesday, November 9, beginning at 4:00 p.m., Words and Music will host an event of readings on the conference theme, “Life & Literature in the Global Village,” in the second floor gallery of the Cabildo. The event will be led by nationally acclaimed poet and LSU writer-in-residence Laura Mullen, and will feature new work by New Orleans poet Brad Richard. Also reading from new and recent work will be Peauxdunquians Maurice Carlos Ruffin, Terri Stoor, J.Ed. Marston, and Tad Bartlett. Also scheduled to read will be New Orleans poet (and gold medal winner in the poetry category of the William Faulkner-William Wisdom competition) M’Bilia Meeker.

In publication news, Maurice will see his story, “Mercury Forges,” published in issue 36.2 of REAL: Regarding Arts & Letters, and his essay, “Cheating the Muse,” published in issue 62 of The Apalachee Review.