Friday, April 20, 2018

The Day the Book Died

Melinda Palacio

Music is very much alive this festival season in New Orleans. Last weekend, some of the highlights of the French Quarter Festival included Gal Holiday, Papo Y Son Mandao, and The Treme Brass Band, all personal favorites. Next week, the 2018 Jazz Fest begins with two weeks of live music. Should you need a musical fix in between, there's no shortage of great local acts in New Orleans. However, this year's Jazz festival will lack a tradition it's had for several years: books. Books have died at Jazz Fest and there will no longer be a literary haven for music loving bookworms. Volunteering at the book tent and selling books in exchange for a free ticket to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival fest was something I looked forward to year after year. I also took for granted that there would always be a book tent.

It's an extra treat to meet musicians such as Elvis Costello who in addition to "writing the book everyday" also wrote a memoir. Costello was one of many generous authors who patiently signed books as the line snaked across the field and took photos with all his fans, and went on to perform a perfect set. Another perk to working the book tent was its location next to a snowball stand. New Orleans takes a concept like a raspado or shaved ice with sweet syrup and runs with it, adding wild ingredients like sweetened condensed milk, whipped cream or bourbon. The book tent was also close enough to the Gentilly Stage that you didn't have to fight the crowds to hear the music. This year, the New Orleans Gulf South Booksellers Association has decided not to host a book tent at jazz fest. If you were looking forward to finding me at the book tent, you can still find me at the beer tent where I will be volunteering for the local rotary club. 

Good thing this month is Poetry Month and there is no shortage of literature in New Orleans. Last week, I saw my name in lights for my national poetry month reading at the East Jefferson Parish Library. I had the pleasure of reading with Gina Ferrara and Anne Babson. Tomorrow, the New Orleans PoetryFestival kicks off and the New Orleans Museum of Art hosts the sixth annual Edible Book Day, a contest in which your favorite books are recreated in cake form, a fun event, especially if you like to eat your literature.

1 comment:

Daniel Cano said...

Melinda, it seems that books are going the way of the dinosaur. Rapper Kendrick Lamar won a Pulitzer this year, an honor that normally goes to a writer. Not that I fault Lamar. I think he is an exceptional artist and lyricist. Yet, so few people today read. So, maybe, it is the short articles, stories and poems published on various websites that are the future of literature. Quin Sabe. Thanks for the post.