February was a challenging but exciting month. No, we didn’t have traditional Mardi Gras but we did have Yardi Gras. That’s right, the people of New Orleans made “house floats” to keep the spirit of Mardi Gras alive in our city. We’re not going to let a pandemic keep us from enjoying the culture and traditions of our city.
In that same spirit, I wanted to highlight some upcoming events and new book releases that help celebrate New Orleans and their writers.
1. Recovered Voices: Black Activism in New Orleans From Reconstruction to the Present Day, March 5–7
The Historic New Orleans Collection will host their twenty-fifth annual symposium to celebrate the voices of Black activists from the era of Reconstruction, as featured in three new publications. The protagonists of these books include journalists, poets, politicians, educators, and ardent champions of civil rights.
2. Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival, March 24–28
The five-day literary arts festival will be held virtually this year. Festival events include panel discussions, interviews, Books & Beignets book club, Tennessee Williams Tribute Reading, theater events, Drummer & Smoke music series, and special events. Their LGBTQ literary festival Saints+Sinners will also be held virtually March 11–14.
3. Elizabeth Miki Brina’s debut memoir, Speak, Okinawa, was published last week by Knopf. Brina lives and teaches in New Orleans, and received an MFA in creative writing from University of New Orleans. You can read more about her writing process and the book in Poets & Writers’ Ten Questions series.
4. Former Louisiana poet laureate Jack Bedell has a new poetry collection, Color All Maps New, published by Mercer University Press.
5. Daniel Jose Older, who lives and writes in New Orleans, speaks about his latest book, Flood City (Scholastic Press, 2021), and the release of the first issue of the Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures comic book series in Gambit.
In New Orleans, come hell or high water or pandemic—we find ways to thrive. The pandemic has changed many things, but our literary events and writers continue to make art and celebrate.Kelly Harris is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in New Orleans. Contact her at NOLA@pw.org or on Twitter, @NOLApworg.