A scholar, an interviewer, and some BS; and some Yok, too

A lot happens when you neglect your website for too long. While I’ve been derelict in my duties, the citizens of the Peauxdunque nation have been busy out in the writing world.

First up, Emily Choate was named a 2017 Tennessee Williams Scholar for this year’s edition of the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Great recognition for some great writing, including publications in ShenandoahThe Florida ReviewTupelo QuarterlyChapter 16Late Night LibraryYemassee, and elsewhere; and recent residency awards at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts and The Hambidge Center, among others. And even greater recognition for the work that’s coming.

L. Kasimu Harris has been showing up everywhere lately. On the publication front, Kasimu has started a series of food essays at The Bitter Southerner. His first two installments are “The Fried Green Tomatoes” and “How Mentors Season Our Lives.” His photography is also featured in the show, “Race and Revolution: Still Separate – Still Unequal,” which opened at Smack Mellon in New York City on June 24. He was also part of a feature in The New York Times entitled “Hot Links and Red Drinks: The Rich Food Tradition of Juneteenth.” Also one of this year’s Louisianians of the Year, and featured on an almost-uncountable, weekly deluge of articles, podcasts, and shows, Kasimu has been a force!

And y’all know Maurice Carlos Ruffin hasn’t been sitting still, either. On July 12, Maurice has been tapped to interview and moderate a reading by Roxane Gay, and her new memoir, Hunger. Originally set to take place at Octavia Books, the response has been so great that it’s been moved to the JCC at 5342 St. Charles Avenue, at 7 p.m. Buy a book to get in, and you won’t regret it! Details and RSVP here.

Y’all, I know I’m leaving stuff out. These are just the highlights, and there’s already more exciting news in the hopper that I’ll save for next week. But I’ll leave you with this pleasant picture from Oxford, Mississippi, where Peauxdunquians Tad Bartlett, J.Ed. Marston, Emily Choate, April Blevins Pejic, Ben Saxton, Susan Vallee, Andrew Siegrist, Drew Jordan, Larry Wormington, and Amy Conner gathered as part of the 2017 Yokshop Writers’ Conference:

Catching up with Peauxdunque

There have been a ton of great developments for the writers in the land of Peauxdunque over the last couple months, so before we get too far behind, here’s the news:

Emily Choate‘s great short story, “Eufala,” has been accepted for publication by Shenandoah, the sixty-seven-year-old journal that has published the likes of e e cummings, Dylan Thomas, W. H. Auden, James Merrill, Ezra Pound, William Faulkner. and Flannery O’Connor. Emily’s work will fit right in!

Peauxdunque writers have also aimed their pens at the current political times, with topical publications by Kelly Harris (“Resistance Must be Personal,” on after i was dead); Maurice Carlos Ruffin (“Talking in New Orleans in the Age of Trump,” a podcast republication of Maurice’s LitHub essay from last November, on the Racist Sandwich blog; and “The Effects of White Supremacy Are Non-Transferable,” on LitHub); and Alex Johnson (“Election Elegy 2016: A Carpenter’s Prayer on a Walnut Bed in the Woods,” on Flagpole), in addition to Tom Carson‘s regular cultural and political insights, which have moved from his old post at GQ to his new digs at Playboy (see, for example, his most recent essay, “Alternative Facts Will Rule the White House: Let’s Not Take the Bait“).

In other publication news, Maurice’s gentrification essay, “Transition in New Orleans,” has been published by Room 220; and his new critical take on Confederacy of Dunces, his essay “Ignatius in the New New Orleans,” was published by Louisiana Cultural Vistas. Also, Cassie Pruyn had her essay, “Report From the Field: Speaking Into Silences,” published at VIDA Review.

In awards-season news, the slightly old but huge news is that Maurice’s short story, “The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You,” published in 2014 by The Iowa Review, made the list of 100 “Other Distinguished Short Stories” listed at the back of the 2016 Best American Short Stories, guest edited by Junot Diaz. Maurice also has two of his 2016 publications nominated for a Pushcart Prize, his short story “Children of New Orleans,” published in AGNI, and his essay, “Fine Dining in New Orleans.” His two Pushcart nominations join Tad Bartlett‘s nomination for his essay, “My Time With You,” published in 2016 by Chautauqua Literary Journal. AGNI also noted that Maurice’s essay, “Stanislavski in the Ghetto,” was one of its Top 5 blog posts for 2016. And, finally, L. Kasimu Harris‘s photography and writing work has been recognized with his naming as one of eight “Louisianians of the Year” by Louisiana Life.

2016 “Bests”: Maurice Carlos Ruffin and L. Kasimu Harris

Two Peauxdunquians have work honored in compilations of “Best” writing from 2015. L. Kasimu Harris‘s essay, “Ya-ka-mein: Old Sober,” which originally appeared on Edible New Orleans, will be reprinted in Best Food Writing 2016, edited by Holly Hughes. And Maurice Carlos Ruffin‘s short story, “The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You,” which appeared originally in volume 44, no. 3 of the Iowa Review (and won the 2014 Iowa Review Fiction Prize), is noted on the list of “Notable Fiction” in Best American Short Stories 2016!

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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Another “Yeah, You Write” in the books

The second installment in the “Yeah, You Write” word rebellion series let loose at Cafe Istanbul last night. Many people came together to fill the room and make the night a success, with readings and remarks from John M. BarryCassie Pruynjewel bushBenjamin PercyJoseph BoydenEmilie Staat, and Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly. Emcee Nick Fox moved the night along, regaling the audience with the exploits of the readers, while the photographs of L. Kasimu Harris and the innovative turntable work of DJ Seppe punctuated every point of the show.

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Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly came bearing gifts of moonshine, and read from the dramatic inundation scene from The Tilted World. Ben Percy’s dynamic reading from Red Moon was preceded appropriately enough by his horror-rendition of a line from the childhood classic, Good Night, Moon. Joseph Boyden came in from far travels and despite illness to utterly transfix the room with a chapter from his soon-to-be-released-in-the-U.S.-novel, The Orenda. jewel bush punched the lights out with her boxing-themed, coming-of-age-in-a-rough-world short story. And Peauxdunque’s own Emilie Staat and Cassie Pruyn brought intense and passionate memoir and poetry to the stage.

Leading them all off was John Barry and his reading from Rising Tide, followed by his remarks on the attempts of the oil and gas industry to rise above the law in Louisiana’s fight to protect itself from the increased storm risks caused by the industry’s destruction of wetlands (everyone, that message for the legislators was “Don’t let politics kill the flood authority’s independence,” and “Let the courts decide the fate of the levees lawsuit, not the legislature, because no one should be above the law,” and those legislators were Raymond Garofalo, Christopher Leopold, Neil Abramson, and Nick Lorusso).

A huge shout-out to the folks at Cafe Istanbul, without whom the night would not have been a success. Cafe Istanbul is clearly a vital heartbeat in the revival of New Orleans’ many communities, including its artists and writers. Also, many thanks to the good folks at Garden District Book Shop, who came through on short notice with the books that sold to the enthusiastic audience, making the night a further success.

Tonight

Can you believe it? Tonight. The Second coming of the original “Yeah, You Write!” event. It’s more than a reading, more than a photo exhibit, more than a dance party, more than a night out on the most incredible town this side of the moon. It’s all of that.

It started as a vision, something slightly more than a whim. One night in late summer in 2011, Maurice and Emilie and Terri and I sat around and talked about it, put it into words: To put great writers on great stages, put them on the pedestals on which we put our musicians and other artists, take them out of the usual context, fete them. When it first translated into something real two and a half years ago, I was a bit in disbelief we pulled it off. And now we have the audacity to do it a second time, with the help and guidance of a host of new Peauxdunquians (April, Denise, Sabrina, and Kasimu) with another slate of amazing writers and artists. I’m still flabbergasted, and extremely grateful that all these great folks said “Yes,” then and now. These are my literary heroes, and many of them I feel lucky to call my friends now, too. We’re so happy to share them with you. Beth Ann Fennelly,Tom Franklin, John BarryJoseph Boyden, Ben Percyjewel bushEmilie StaatCassie Pruyn. Photos by the always amazing L Kasimu Harris. Tunes by the gifted DJ Seppe. Emcee’d by the extraordinary Nick Fox. We’ll see you tonight. 7:00 at Cafe Istanbul.

peauxdunque postcard final

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.