Friday, March 14, 2014

Carnival Rambling and Readings in New Orleans

Melinda Palacio

Peter Nu accompanies hostess, singer, and poet Delia Tomino Nakayama

Three days after Mardi Gras, I participated in an International Women's Day Celebration, make that two. The first took place at the National Jazz Park in the French Quarter. The five-minute radio plug at WWOZ sure helped bring in a last-minute audience at 3pm on a Friday. Also, the fact that the auditorium was a stone's throw away from Cafe du Monde probably helped as well as the wonderful talent of women singing, playing the piano like nobody's business, and reading poetry. Most people who have never been to New Orleans might know of Cafe du Monde's beignets, fried donuts with fluffy powdered sugar to make you think you are eating a taste of heaven, a cloud with your chicory coffee. 
Cafe Du Monde, where locals and tourists stop for beignets and chicory coffee.

Delia Tomino Nakayama put together a stellar last-minute celebration. I was especially impressed with Kanako Fuwa who is blessed with the ability to sing the blues and performed a perfect rendition of a Nina Simone song. It's great fun to hear her sing jazz standards intermixed with Japanese and traditional Japanese songs reinterpreted with New Orleans Second Line rhythms.
Poet Amanda Emily Smith

Singer and Pianist Kanako Fuwa

The following Saturday, March 8 at 2pm, I read with the Poetry Buffet. Unlike the impromptu reading at the Jazz Park, I've had the Poetry Buffet on my calendar since late last year. Hostess Gina Ferrara (Amber Porch Light, Word Tech Press 2013), originally had included Tulane Professor and Poet Peter Cooley. However, with Peter Cooley out sick (apparently he overdid it at AWP in Seattle and was already not feeling well when he got to the conference) that left Gina, myself, and Louisiana State Poet Laureate Ava Leavell-Haymon. Our material worked so well together, we couldn't have planned a more synchronous program. We dedicated our reading to International Women's Day and we were graced by a new generation of women, twin baby girls attended our reading at the Latter Library on St. Charles Avenue. The Latter Library is a special place to read. The old mansion has been restored but there's no question that the ghosts and old world charm remain.
Gina Ferrara, Ava Leavell-Haymon, Melinda Palacio at the Latter Library on St. Charles

While I missed all the gente at AWP, having front row viewing seats to the Thoth Parade a few days before Mardi Gras was worth missing a year of the Associative Writers Program and Writers Conference. Even with Mardi Gras being the coldest in over a hundred years, the weather for the parade passing in front of my house was perfect. While I chose to revel in carnival over AWP, I'm glad I will get to see many friends at the July International Latino/a Studies Conference in Chicago, where la Bloga will be on a panel and celebrate its 10-year anniversary. 

Some Mardi Gras Photos...
I caught the first of three coconuts at the Mardi Gras Indian celebration at Woldenberg Park.

My King Cake turned out crescent shaped rather than round, but delicious. 

This is what a round, store-bought King Cake looks like.

People watching is so much fun during carnival.

Marilyn Monroe came to watch the parade with us.
Photo by Anthony Posey

Photo by Anthony Posey.
I caught a rose with a broken stem, so I blew the petals to the wind. 

April is National Poetry Month.  Upcoming Readings
April 2, I will read with Fleur de Lit's Reading Between the Wines at Pearl River Winery.
April 5, I have the honor of reading with Richard Blanco and finalists Joseph Millar, Aaron Smith and Richard Silberg at the Patterson Poetry Prize Reading.
April 19, the Santa Barbara Sunday Poets, TBA
April 30, I will read at the Little Theatre at UCSB in the College of Creative Studies.


Montserrat said...

2Melinda your posts about New Orleans are needed after the vision of NO that the TV show TRUE DETECTIVE showed. NO needs all the pluses we can muster up. Congratulations Monsy

Thelma T. Reyna said...

Sounds like great fun, Melinda. So glad to see you still reading your poetry and staying busy as always! Continued successes to you! Adelante.