Oh, were there a machine that would make it so easy. First and foremost, my thanks to Susan Larson at WWNO 89.9FM for inviting me to join her on The Reading Life last night; the program is an absolute treasure and none of us here in New Orleans can imagine life without it. Thanks to everyone at WWNO. The interview will be rebroadcast this coming Saturday at 12.30pm, and available online thereafter.
For those in the New Orleans area, tonight’s reading (Wednesday), graciously sponsored by the Latter Branch of the New Orleans Public Library, will begin with a reception at 6pm, with the reading and signing to follow at 6.30. Valentine Pierce and I will both be reading new work, so we’ll look forward to sharing it with everyone there.
Following that, I’m looking forward to joining Ingrid Norton, Richard Goodman, Eve Abrams, and Helen Jaksch at the HomeSpace Gallery for the closing reception for the Redheaded Stepchild exhibition this coming Sunday, and the day afterwards, fellow Mississippi and Gulf Coast authors at the 8th annual Author Extravaganza at Main Street Books in Hattiesburg. Further details are available here.
Starting today, I’ll be writing a weekly column for the Uptown Messenger, covering arts and culture, appearing on Sundays. The first one, “Between Poetry and Prose,” is a recap of a few readings in New Orleans over the past week. I’m always open to ideas for stories from anyone in the area; don’t hesitate to get in touch.
In reading Thomas Friedman’s From Beirut to Jerusalem comes an unlikely homage to my friend Scott Huler, who proclaims his love affair with lyrical brevity. Every taxi driver in Beirut, Friedman observes, knows the radio lexicon that developed during the Lebanese civil war: “a road described as amina is totally secured by army or police; a road described as salika is free of snipers or kidnappers, but not policed; hatherah means the road is passable, but with a roughly 30 percent chance of kidnapping or sniping; and finally, ghair amina means the road is unsafe at any speed.”
If only the State Department provided such practical information for travelers.
Today is the 30th annual Day of the Imprisoned Writer, PEN American Center reports, listing a number of disturbing cases of censorship and repression, and noting that “we continue to work towards the time when this sort of day is no longer necessary.”
A whirlwind past few weeks. The same day I finished the residency at A Studio in the Woods — a final update is available here — was the day of the New Orleans Book Fair, which met and exceeded all expectations for a day spent celebrating writing and reading. There’s simply nothing quite like the sight of endless rows of tables of books, pamphlets, zines, and comics swarmed by a crowd that was so obviously enjoying itself — congratulations to the organizers for pulling off such an impressive feat, though next year it may be worth positioning the tables away from the power lines. Death from above; Magda and I found, to our surprise, that the pigeons decided to claim a book or two for themselves.
A few appearances over the next few weeks: first, on The Reading Life hosted by Susan Larson on WWNO, second, a post-Studio reading with Valentine Pierce at the Latter Library, and finally, I’ll join the crowd at the annual author extravaganza at Main Street Books in my hometown of Hattiesburg, MS in early December. Further details here.
In other news, the 17 Poets reading series will be going strong until the holidays, with Trembling Pillow Press sponsoring as well the inaugural Bob Kaufman Book Prize. Both Naomi Shihab Nye and John Jeremiah Sullivan will be in town this next week, and for those who couldn’t make it, Mark Folse at Toulouse Street has been diligently covering the Words and Music Festival — going above and beyond the call to record several sessions.
If you’ve never heard Sandy Denny ask the question, remedy that now.