Are you a writer? A poet? A troubadour? A book lover, a culture lover, a lover of music? And are you, perhaps, looking for some post-Presidential Election cultural invigoration? Then leave your mind and your calendar open, because Words and Music starts Nov. 9 and runs through Nov. 13. We can’t think of a better site for the festival (dedicated in part to William Faulkner) than New Orleans, the current and former home of some of the greatest writers and musicians of all time.
Words and Music brings hundreds — literally, hundreds — of authors, commentators, poets, writers, and word lovers to the French Quarter to indulge in a feast of words, wisdom, and of course, winning New Orleans food and drink. This year’s theme is “The Dark Side of Literature & Life,” which includes a wide spectrum of the ominous in fiction and non-fiction writing: “disaster, hypocrisy, racism, violence, misogyny, murder, political smokescreens, and failures.” Events include readings, workshops, panels, cocktail hours, dinners, and manuscript critiques by editors from across the country, for the up-and-coming writers among you.
Words and Music is put on by the Faulkner Society, the folks behind the fabulous Faulkner House Books shop in Pirate’s Alley, just off Jackson Square, and one of my favorite stores in town to browse. It’s hard to tell if it oozes more charm or books, but either way, both are in grand supply, as are folks who love books and know book people. Indeed, its personality, love of books, and genuine friendliness of the founders, Joseph J. DeSalvo Jr. and Rosemary James, make both the bookstore and Words and Music such a success.
Words and Music at a Glance
Every year, DeSalvo and James bring in some of the biggest names of the literary world to visit New Orleans over five days. This year is no different. With so many events to attend, it’s hard to know where to start, but here are some of the ones I’m most looking forward to:
- A free Master Class for Writing Students and Teachers featuring celebrated writer and translator, Jorge F. Hernandez, editor of Sun, Stone and Shadows: 20 Great Mexican Short Stories.
- Faulkner and Friends, an event featuring Dr. Penny Morrill, biographer of William Faulkner’s landlord in New Orleans, William Spratling. During her talk Morrill will discuss 1920s Bohemian New Orleans as well as Spratling and his relationship with Faulkner.
- Chris Baty is founder of NaNoWriMo, the world’s largest writing event, and he’s coming to New Orleans to “lay out the creative benefits and challenges of bashing out a book in 30 days.” Along with providing the origins of NaNoWriMo, Baty will use this Master Class to interact with writers in attendance.
- Dreams As Poetry’s Muse for the Ages, a session led by bestselling poet, non-fiction writer, and dream analyst, Rodger Kamenets, will also feature Loyola University professor and New Orleans Review editor, Mark Yakich. The two will address the place of dreams in poetry and read some of their most recent work.
- Faulkner for All: The Black-tie Annual Meeting of the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society is the ideal way to finish off the festival. The first part of the night, Cocktails & Gold Medals, recognizes the finalists and winners of the William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition.The second part of the evening, Tiaras & Bow Ties, will include dinner, dancing, and humor provided by Queen Kathy Murphy, author of The Pulpwood Queen’s Tiara-Wearing, Book-Sharing Guide to Life.