Two days of Tennessee

In no particular order:

  1. I go to the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival every year, except when there is a cruel twist of fate and one of my work trips must come then. I think that has only happened once or twice in the last 20 years, but it seemed like a betrayal to my own spring routine. Clearly I never forgot it.
  2. I often pay for a panel pass but just as often I volunteer (and know to expect excellent volunteer supervision from Karissa) which means I get that pass for my (few) hours of work, which is so very much appreciated. I’d like to see the volunteer numbers beefed up a bit and some experienced folks given titled jobs ( I see some of the same people each year). And maybe volunteers can get free theater tickets or a panel pass to encourage those with different interests?
  3. One time I purchased a more expensive  pass that gave me access to the Master Classes which just seemed like more panels, except held on Thursday. However, I often also purchase a single ticket to a theater offering or a special event; this year, I would have gone to see Poppy Tooker, but her event sold out early. Honestly, I think getting the panel pass and individual tickets  is the only way to go, unless you rich or need to get your name on the thank you list.
  4. I often skip the Stella Yella (think its actually called the Stella Yell Off) on Jackson Square ‘cuz the crowd is HUGE now and unless you are on a balcony or camped out for hours, you cannot see it. And also,  sometimes the yelling intensity is frightening and I start to get concerned for the actors. (Is there an ambulance nearby in case someone pops a vessel?)
  5. When I first started to attend the Fest (around 2000), I knew no one and happily sat there invisibly, listening, daydreaming and taking notes. Now, I know many of the attendees as my neighbors, and others from doing civic work around the city. I’m not sure I prefer one mode over the other; my time as a observer was sweet and now my time as a chatterer in the hallways is fine too. I just never want to be one of those people who only talk to each other. You know who they are.
  6. Williams Center @ HNOC has been a great addition to the venues. I think Kenneth Holditch’s Walking Tours have attracted new people to the Fest.
  7. Over the years, the effort to add new voices and different perspectives has worked reasonably well. The attention to POC and gender-fluid writers and performers has definitely grown and is treated with dignity and thoughtfulness. However,  some panel topics have worn a bit thin (isn’t there a better way of offering indy publishing perspective than that one 3-person panel?) and yet the stuff about Tennessee and his work seem to be constantly updating and offering some new perspectives.
  8. What happened to the literary world panels? Am I wrong in thinking there used to be more literary agents, editors etc discussing the book publishing world?
  9. Why not more on simply the world of theater, either here in New Orleans or across the US?
  10. I do like the contests (one-act, poetry etc) , but think we can learn hear more about the process and the contestants during the regular panels.
  11. The Saints and Sinners programming is a welcome addition to supporting writers of more genres.
  12. Suggestions: I’d like to see some more (gasp!) TWO person panels or even straight interviews with one author/playwright. And why not show Streetcar each year in the Quarter on the last night, maybe projected in the Square?
  13. Master Class as actual classes? More programming outside of this weekend? theater offerings at schools? TW short story book club at area libraries? (although a shout out to the WriteNow program held during the fest is necessary…)
  14. More used books for sale? How about giving our front line folks (i.e. booksellers at the bookshops around town) a few free tickets to a single panel? so many of them are working writers and of course talk to many literate folks every day and so can spread the word about TWLF.
  15. and this is sort of self-serving, but I think TWLF should encourage more bloggers, tweeters, occasional writers to participate and to write about those on the panels, their works and the entire deal.

Still, in a hurried world of shouting candidates and Kardashians, Tennessee reminds us to care for our sensitive souls. So, knowing there is one more day is a pleasant way to end today:


About DW

New Orleans resident, writer, activist. Public market consultant.

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