Friday, December 06, 2013

Words & Music Festival, New Orleans

Melinda Palacio

The Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society presents its annual Words & Music Festival this week, December 4-8. This is the second time La Bloga has represented in the New Orleans literary festival. Seven years ago, after a year's hiatus for the recovery from hurricane Katrina, Bloguero Manuel Ramos joined the festival along with Chicano authors Sergio Troncoso, Luis Rodriguez, and musician Dr. Loco. What a line-up, I remember wishing I could attend that fabled session. Ramos wrote about his experience for La Bloga in 2006.

Recently, I've spent more time in New Orleans and have gotten to know Mary Helen Lagasse, author of the Fifth Sun and past winner of the Premio Aztlan, the Marmol Prize, and the IPPY (Independent Publishers) Book Award for Multicultural Fiction. Mary Helen often assists Rosemary James with the Words & Music Festival and is responsible for contacting my Manuel Ramos.
Mary Helen Lagasse and Rosemary James

Today, December 6, La Bloga represents once more in the pan american connections and tribute to Oscar Hijuelos, featuring George Fowler, Humberto Fontova, Melinda Palacio, and Raul Fonte of the New Orleans Hispanic Heritage Foundation.

Last November, I had the pleasure of visiting Cuba. I wrote several poems, but one of them, "Maria Cristina," was recently published by Rosemary James in the Double Dealer. This year's festival is dedicated to Oscar Hijuelos, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his second novel in 1990, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. Hijuelos was a friend of the Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society. When I visited Cuba for the first time last year, I was struck by how similar old Havana was to both the French Quarter in New Orleans and Panama Vieja in Panama. In 2011, the Faulkner Society in New Orleans awarded Oscar Hijuelos the ALIHOT (A Legend in His/Her Own Time) Award for Literature. Last month, three days after Hijuelos's unexpected death, La Bloga offered a floricanto in memory of Hijuelos, the tribute featured work of La Bloga friend, Luivette Resto.

Rosemary James said that her favorite part of putting on the festival is when all the pieces fall into place, the badges are distributed and everyone is signed in and she can relax and enjoy the festival.
Tish Mosvold, finalist in the poetry and novel-in-progress competition

The Words & Music Festival started on the 100th Anniversary of Faulkner's Birthday in 1997. In addition to musicians, including and literature, the centerpiece of the program features the winners of the annual contests. Last year, Justin Torres judged the novella competition. Agents and editors are on hand to meet with potential clients. This year, Tish Mosvold, came prepared with samples of her novel-in-progress, Blues for Sarah, a category that she was a finalist for, along with poetry, to hand to literary agent, April Eberhardt.

If it's too late for you to fly to New Orleans and join the festival this week, you can start thinking ahead and possibly enter one of next year's contests.

Getting Ready for the Panel on 21st Century Publishing Alternatives
Bill Coles, Sharon Thatcher, agent April Eberhardt and Sheri Stauch/

On Monday, December 9 at 6pm, La Bloga amigo Daniel Chacon joins New Orleans local author Jonathan Kline for a joint reading at Octavia Books.

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