Tennessee, so long

What is probably my favorite weekend in the Quarter is over. I would say that it is all over but the yelling, but that is prolly still going on at the Stella contest that ends the TWLF. (Although I’d like to know when they stopped ending this day with the happy birthday toast to Tennessee?)

I spent the big bucks for the mid-level pass this year, which gave me access to all panels and master classes. Not sure if I’d spring for the master classes next year, as I’ll wait ’til those become more of a class and less of a one-person panel. I did see some great panels, two of which featured my pal Nancy Dixon, editor of N.O. Lit, which in my opinion, was the book that should have been one of the 2015 books of the year. Lauren Cerand, literary publicist was another standout as a thoughtful and prepared presenter, as was Bryant Terry, author of Afro-Vegan and social justice warrior.

My available cash for this event is always limited but I do spend it. I wish the organizers understood how to give great value to the least as well as they do to those who spend the most. I’d suggest creating more focused tracks for a writer or a scholar to follow throughout the weekend, and maybe even offering a special price for those with LA i.d. to get more working writers there. Additionally, I’d recommend a salon room for writers and bloggers with access to internet and maybe some authors stopping by to keep the buzz moving in between the panels.
The highlight of this is usually the theater offerings, which for the first year ever (of around 20 for me) I did not attend any. Funds and scheduling were the issue there.

Having done all that complaining (as my grandmother would say), I urge every working writer to spend a little time at this event in future years, even if it is just to roam the halls or volunteer at an event to get a panel pass. You’ll walk away with a few nuggets and a renewed belief in New Orleans as a destination for readers and writers.

Tennessee Returns

Day 2 of the 2015 Tennessee Williams Festival, which is held all over the French Quarter in what is usually glorious weather of early spring of cool sunny days and little rain. That weather tradition seems to be holding true this year.
Performance, literary instruction, lively banter, music and food are all on tap and the events of this excellent literary festival are getting better and better each year. It always involves well-established writers like Roy Blount Jr (great master class yesterday on sonic words and writing for the ear) to one of New Orleans’ favorite sons from another mother John Waters, to a carful of my favorite regional writers including pals Nancy Dixon and Bill Lavender, Lolis Elie and Poppy Tooker.

The Historic New Orleans Collection is usually one of the sites for the Master Classes and it is so enjoyable to sit in the beautiful room off the courtyard and listen in.
This morning, we get to listen to Lauren Cerand, an independent literary publicist talking about what can be done to create literary buzz. She believes that there is an “an audience for every book” and will offer some practical tips for building publicity.