Here comes the rain again...
Saints & Sinners Literary Festival. For me, it's not so much the event, but the people who make this annual trip worth the seven hour drive. Sadly, I forgot my camera, so I have no incriminating photos to share. I'm hoping others will share some soon so I can post them here and at Facebook.
I must thank my wonderful host Chris Smith, who kindly put me up in his gorgeous guest house, Le Papillon, in the Faubourg Marigny (pictured). The house is well over 140 years old, so you can see and feel the history. I'm actually behind the main house in what was once the slave quarters. I think it might be a bit haunted. On Friday and Saturday morning, I was woken by a gentle shaking of the bed. Things hung up securely -- towels, a jacket -- were mysteriously on the floor. Rugs were turned back. I wasn't scared at all, in fact I felt rather comforted by whoever was here before me.
I read Steven Reigns new collection of poetry, Inheritance, sitting in the lobby of the Bourbon Orleans Hotel waiting to meet folks for dinner on Friday night. I'll be writing a review of it on the blog in the next couple of days, but you absolutely must read this collection. I didn't just read it -- I devoured it. His candid, confessional poems about sexual abuse, friends and lovers lost to AIDS and the maddening mixed signals from lovers is stark and honest. He's my new poetry hero, and just a lovely man in general.
The social media panel I was part of was one of the most well-attended events of the weekend. Since there were five of us, I talked exclusively about how writers can use Twitter. I'll talk more about this panel in another post, because there was lots of good information to share that I think all writers can use.
My reading from Conquering Venus was good, but since we only had 10 minutes to read, I didn't make it all the way through the chapter. It sort of ended on a cliffhanger, but was good encouragement to get folks to buy the book. And buy they did. Barnes & Noble had Venus at the bookfair, but they ran low, so I gave them some of the copies I brought with me.
I sat in on some other panels, including one on how news can influence poetry and writing short fiction, which is something I'd like to try again. I wrote a couple of short stories back in the 90s that I never even bothered to submit anywhere. They just felt like warm-up exercises to me. Hearing Peter Dube, Philip Gambone, Chavisa Woods and G. Winston James talk about it yesterday made me want to try again.
I've done a good bit of eating while I've been here, because New Orleans culture hinges on good eating. I ate at my beloved Clover Grill on Bourbon Street, but the real experience was eating at Chef Paul Prudhomme's K-Paul's on Chartres Street in the Quarter. It was most definitely worth the wait. I had a blackened ribeye and it was spectacular. I don't like my steak blackened (or burned as I usually call it), but I've changed my mind.
Yesterday afternoon and evening, a storm moved into the city. I sat in the lobby for awhile and worked on a new poem. I felt a creeping since of melancholy that hasn't quite departed. Maybe it's because I have such a long history with this town (I once wanted to live here) and while I've been trying not to get overwhelmed by nostalgia these days, it came over me without warning watching the rain fall in the Quarter. I remembered being here after breaking up with Chris, coming here with Billy to party, having laughs with BFF Tina on the streetcar. And maybe there was a little case of misplaced desire. Sometimes it shows up unexpectedly. Just like the rain.