Mardi Gras is over, as is Tipping Point — recaps of the former and the latter are available here and here, for those who couldn’t make it — but the festival season has only just begun, both here in New Orleans and abroad. The Tennessee Williams Festival is just a few weeks away, and later this summer, I’m honored to participate in a handful of festivals back in the UK, including the London Green Fair, Secret Garden Party, and Wilderness, appearing alongside writers whom I admire and respect more than I can say. Details on each one are forthcoming, but even now, it looks like things are only going to get more interesting from here.
Let no one ever say otherwise: the reputation that the riders of the Krewe of Thoth have earned for their throwing skills remains utterly intact. Most of the fingers, house windows, beer bottles, and tree limbs along Magazine Street may not be, but in war zones, that’s called collateral damage. Should the MLB find itself in need of a new feeder team, look past the New Orleans Zephyrs. These guys are it.
Surrounded by swathes of wanton destruction today, and laughing, delirious crowds celebrating it all, my Mardi Gras draws to a close. After a slew of phenomenal parades and parties, I’m sorry to miss the further revelry of Lundi Gras, tomorrow, and Fat Tuesday itself, but I’m looking forward to attending Tipping Point in Newcastle later this week. For anyone in the UK and Europe with an interest in climate and the arts, Tipping Point is a pivotal gathering of minds. Reuniting with old friends and meeting new ones as well — hardly a better way to spend the week.
Needless to say, I’ve packed a few beads. Just in case.
Anthony Shadid has died. A brilliant, insightful reporter, whose work illuminated so much of the complexity of the Middle East — and who, at times, was subject to it, as during his capture and imprisonment with three other journalists during the Libyan revolution — he will be much missed, and our understanding will be poorer for his passing.
For those interested in the politics of the region, Shadid gave a moving lecture at the American University of Beirut several years ago, a talk entitled “Loss and Nostalgia in the Middle East.” It’s available for view on the AUB website. Well worth watching.
The news came, coincidentally, as I was in the middle of Jared Stanley’s excellent Book Made of Forest, winner of the prize three years ago. I’m humbled to learn that I’ve just been shortlisted for the Crashaw Prize at Salt Publishing — having been reading Salt poets and writers for years, it’s an incredible honor, most of all for the time spent alongside poets whose work I admire so much, such as Luke Heeley and Caleb Klaces. I’m excited to get to know these new voices, too– even from just this first look, the list runs deep with talent, and the pleasure of discovery, no matter how the process ultimately turns out, will be ripe.
My thanks to Salt.
Pelican Bomb have just published a new essay, about Roy Staab’s latest work here in New Orleans.
Looking forward to seeing everyone in the area tonight at the Artfully Aware event at NOMA — the lineup has just been confirmed. I’ll be reading with Helen Krieger, John Biguenet, M’Bilia Meekers, Randy Fertel, and Moira Crone. The event starts around 5; the readings, about 7.30pm.