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Words and Music: A Feast of a Festival in New Orleans

The Faulkner Society’s 2017 Words and Music Festival brings in renowned authors for five days of readings, seminars, and more.

Pirate's Alley in the French Quarter was once home to author, William Faulkner. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Are you a writer? A poet? A troubadour? A book lover, a culture lover, a music lover? Then leave your mind and your calendar open, because the Faulkner Society’s annual festival, Words & Music, a Literary Feast in New Orleans runs December 6-10. 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 most prodigious writers and musicians of the modern age.

Words and Music brings hundreds — literally, hundreds — of authors, poets, writers, commentators, and word lovers to the French Quarter to indulge in a feast of words, wisdom, and of course, delectable New Orleans food and drink. This year’s theme is War & Collateral Damage as Inspiration for the Arts, which “covers a lot of ground from writing about the wars of history to contemporary conflagrations in global hotspots such as the Middle East and the literary art that has been inspired by war and its impacts.” Events include readings, workshops, panels, burlesque lessons, cocktail hours, dinners, and manuscript critiques by editors from across the country, for the up-and-coming writers among you.

Faulkner House Books bookstore is located in Pirate’s Alley in the French Quarter. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Words and Music is produced by the Faulkner Society, the folks behind the fabulous Faulkner House Books shop in Pirate’s Alley, just off Jackson Square, and one of our favorite book shops in town to browse. It is hard to tell if it oozes more charm or books, but either way, both are in grand supply.  Founders Joseph J. DeSalvo Jr. and Rosemary James bring personality, a love of books, and genuine friendliness to make both the bookstore and Words and Music 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 exception. With so many events to attend, it is hard to know where to start, but here are just some of the highlights:

  • Master Class for Writing Students and Teachers featuring creative writing teacher Robert Olen Butler, winner of the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain.
  • High Tea & Cocktails: An Afternoon with Leonardo da Vinci featuring Karen Essex, the bestselling author of the novel Leonardo’s Swans, interviewing New Orleanian and acclaimed biographer Walter Isaacson about his new book Leonardo da Vinci.
  • Aligning with this year’s theme, “War & Collateral Damage as Inspiration for the Arts,” Why Does the Civil War Continue to Haunt Americans features Nancy Isenberg, Ph.D, author of White Trash, an exploration of class in America, and Andrew Burstein, Ph.D, a scholar on Thomas Jefferson whose latest book is Democracy’s Muse.
  • During A Writers Roundtable: Fiction in Conversation with Non-Fiction, Adam Johnson, author of The Orphan Master’s Son and Fortune Smiles, leads a conversation with award-winning Stanford University Stegner Fellows including Gilbert King, who won the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction for Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys and the Dawn of a New America and Scott Hutchins, whose novel A Working Theory of Love  was named a San Francisco Chronicle and Salon Best Book in 2012.
  • Faulkner for All: The Black-tie Annual Meeting of the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society is the ideal way to close out the festival. The first part of the night recognizes the finalists and winners of the William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition. The second part of the evening will include dinner and dancing. This year’s event will be infused with burlesque dancers and lessons.
We could tell you more, but with so many words to come, who wants to read more of mine? Check out the full schedule, and we’ll see you there!

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