Arts & Letters

An author, editor, and book critic, Susan Larson knows a thing or two about the literary world. Luckily for us, she’s also our literary programming chair. Here you’ll find her Festival reading recommendations, interviews, and news.


2015 Poetry Contest Announcements!

Posted on June 12, 2014 in Arts & Letters, Enews, News, Year-Round Programming

“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

Though this line, Blanche’s final utterance in A Streetcar Named Desire, is iconic, it found an earlier voice in the following plea from a young Tennessee Williams to the editor of Poetry magazine:

“Will you do a total stranger the kindness of reading his verse?”

In honor of Williams and his desire to have his voice heard and celebrated, we are here to do YOU the kindness of soliciting YOUR verse! We are pleased to announce that The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival’s Poetry Contest is now open for submissions! Vijay Seshadri, the 2014 Pulitzer Prize winner for his 3 Sections collection, will judge.

Full details about the contest (including online submission process) are available on our website:http://con13.tennesseewilliams.net/poetry-contest/

The winner will receive prize money, publication, and access to countless great panels and events at the next …


Overview of Saints and Sinners Festival (May 15th – 18th)

Posted on May 6, 2014 in Arts & Letters, Enews

As loyal Tennessee Williams Festival supporers, we thought you might be interested in checking out our affiliated Saints and Sinners Festival,  an internationally-recognized event that brings together a who’s who of LGBT publishers, writers and readers from throughout the United States and beyond!

Tickets to all events listed below can be found here.

Be sure to use the discount code SAS2014 to recieve 20% off of your on-line ticket purchases!

THURSDAY MAY 15, 2014

Book launch/Fundraiser   7 P.M.
Beauregard-Keyes House: 1113 Chartres St, New Orleans, Louisiana 70116

This event is a fundraiser for the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival and the NO/AIDS Task Force. This book launch will feature readings from the Saints and Sinners Anthology from the finalists of our short fiction contest.

FRIDAY MAY 16, 2014

Master Classes
Hotel Monteleone: 214 Royal St, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
Times listed with individual writers below

Jeff Mann 10am

Wilson and Sternglantz 10am

Felice Picano 11:30am

Edmund White 1:30pm

Carol Anshaw 1:30pm

Michele Karlsberg 3pm

Accomplished writers will teach classes on a number …



Save The Date for 2015

Posted on March 15, 2014 in Arts & Letters, Enews, Home Page, News

Join us for our 29th annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival March 25-29, 2015.



The Best of the Fest

Posted on March 10, 2014 in Arts & Letters, Enews, News

Author and longtime Festival board member Bev Marshall reminisces on her best memories of our past Festivals. We’re excited to unveil our 28th Festival (March 19-23, 2014). The full program is online here.

“I don’t want realism, I want magic.” -Tennessee Williams.

George Plimpton was just that: magical. Silver-haired, elegant George Plimpton spoke eloquently and intimately about his life and his career, delighting his audience with his bonhomie. From wrestling Sirhan Sirhan, Bobby Kennedy’s assassin, to editing The Paris Review to his unsuccessful foray into sports, he revealed his fascinating, colorful life.

Who could forget the first time actor/playwright Jeremy Lawrence took the stage and performed his critically acclaimed “Talking Tennessee”? Each year that I’ve seen him in his dapper suit with floral shirt hurrying to take the stage has been sheer joy.

Then there was the incredible thrill of listening to Yusef Komunyakaa  recite …



Must Go Master Classes

Author Bev Marshall offers her best Master Class memories.

“Enthusiasm is the most important thing in life.”- Tennessee Williams.

My enthusiasm for the Master Classes is boundless. Maybe it’s because they take place in the elegant Historic New Orleans Collection. The first time I walked through the entryway and into the courtyard, I knew only very special things happened here.  The room where the classes are held is one of the most beautiful rooms in all of the French Quarter. Here is where I’ve listened to more Pulitzer Prize winners than I ever dreamed. Here is where I met my first editor,  along with agents who guided me to publication. Here is where I learned from some of my favorite authors like Michael Cunningham, Mary Gordon, Robert Olen Butler, Jill McCorkle, Dave Eggers, playwright John Patrick Shanley, and those are just a …



Historic Surroundings of #TWF14

Posted on March 9, 2014 in Arts & Letters, Enews

The Festival, now in its 28th year, takes places at some truly historic locations, writes board member, Tracy Ferrington.

If along with your love for literature and writing, you are also intrigued by history and architecture, the Festival has something special for you.

We are fortunate to count among our festival venues two historic New Orleans homes.  The Hermann-Grima House will host “The Hotel Plays,” in which the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival will showcase three short plays by Williams, including “Green Eyes,” “Mr. Paradise,” and “The Traveling Companion.”

Built in 1831 by German Jewish immigrant, Samuel Hermann, who amassed his fortune in the cotton market, the Hermann-Grima House is an historically important residence. The Hermann family flourished during New Orleans’ Golden Age of prosperity and lavish lifestyles, but lost their property during a financial crisis.  Judge Felix Grima …



Eat Dat And Foodie Spreads At #TWF14

Posted on March 6, 2014 in Arts & Letters, Enews

Festival Board Member Tracy Ferrington offers food suggestions.

One of the big draws for Festival attendees is the food. New Orleans is famous for its cuisine:  beignets, poboys, crawfish, muffalettas, andouille and boudin; so many flavors, so many dishes, so many hard-to-pronounce ingredients! The city has hundreds of restaurants.  One local food critic, Tom Fitzmorris, keeps a running count on his website of current restaurants.  It’s nearly 1,400.  But that’s today. New restaurants, pop ups, and food trucks appear weekly.

One way to ensure a great sampling of New Orleans cuisine is to eat three meals each day during your stay at three different spots. Breakfast (or brunch on the weekends) is a city pastime.  We have found more ways to serve eggs than you can imagine. And there’s something called Bananas Foster French Toast that is too decadent to speak about. Lunch can …



Drinking Up #TWF14

Posted on March 5, 2014 in Arts & Letters, Enews

Board member Tracy Ferrington offers thoughts on libations at the Festival

The Festival can have quite an impact on attendees, so you might need a cocktail after a long day of deep literary thoughts. Or during your lunch break. Or maybe, even upon first waking up!

So if you find yourself in need of a libation, whatever the time of day, step out of any of the Festival venues and walk twenty steps in any direction. You are likely to walk right into one of the French Quarter’s over 150 bars.

It can be daunting navigating the brew pubs, dive bars, Irish pubs, swanky hotel bars, craft cocktail bars, wine bars, piano bars, and whatever other kind of drinking establishment you can think of.  New Orleans has different ideas about drinking than most cities, including bars that never legally have to close, and …



Sing Me A Story, Tell Me A Song: When Writing Demands Melody (Drummer And Smoke Series)

Posted on February 25, 2014 in Arts & Letters, Enews

Don’t miss out on the 11:30 AM, Sunday March 23rd Drummer and Smoke session called, “Sing Me a Story, Tell me a Song: When Writing Demands Melody.”

There’s a reason why the best writing is easy on the ears. Language began as an aural tradition. In Western literature, the relationship between storytelling and melody dates back to the lyric poems of antiquity. That may be why Bob Dylan — who has won nearly every music award on the planet — appears to have a chance to win a Nobel Prize for Literature. But when do popular songs rate as literature? Storytellers David Simon, Tom Piazza and Luke Winslow-King consider the literary power of songwriting with journalist and host of WWNO’s “Music Inside Out,” Gwen Thompkins.

This event will be held at the Palm Court Jazz Cafe  at 1204 Decatur Street and is part of the Day of Music at …



The Jazz Revival Revisited (Drummer and Smoke Series)

Posted on February 20, 2014 in Arts & Letters, Enews, News

As part of our Drummer and Smoke series, we are proud to present “The Jazz Revival Revisited” featuring Tom Sancton and Dr. Michael White. This event is part of our Sunday Panel Series and will happen at 2:30 P.M. March 23 at the Palm Court Jazz Cafe.  Get your tickets here by purchasing a panel pass for that day.

These two leading exponents of the traditional New Orleans clarinet style will celebrate the music of George Lewis. After his first recordings with trumpeter Bunk Johnson in the 1940’s, Lewis spearheaded the so-called jazz revival of the 1950’s and 60’s. With his lyrical tone and pulsing drive, he won fans around the world, touring widely in the U.S., Europe and Japan, making more than a hundred recordings, and inspiring generations of younger musicians to take up the banner of traditional jazz. Among them: …



Susan Larson’s Blog: Q&A with Chris Hannan, 2012 Poetry Contest Winner

Posted on May 7, 2012 in Arts & Letters, Enews, News

Chris shares the inspiration behind his winning work, ‘”The Nephilim,” and more.



Susan Larson’s Blog: The Kindness of Writers, Part Deux

Posted on March 19, 2012 in Arts & Letters, Enews, Updates

Alex Cook takes readers on a whirlwind tour of good times in south Louisiana.



Susan Larson’s Blog: Piper Laurie’s Got Tales to Tell

Posted on March 15, 2012 in Arts & Letters, Enews, News, Updates

And in Learning to Live Out Loud, her own is the most interesting of all.

Every fan of movies and plays and television has a favorite version of Piper Laurie — in The Hustler, The Glass Menagerie, Twin Peaks, The Grass Harp or Rich in Love, the list just goes on and on — but after reading Learning to Live Out Loud, you may find that your favorite version of her is the true, complex woman behind all those well-known roles. Piper Laurie is a truth-teller, that’s for sure.



Susan Larson’s Blog: “Broomstick” Will Sweep You Away

Posted on March 12, 2012 in Arts & Letters, Enews

John Biguenet’s new play makes its local debut in a staged reading at the festival.



Susan Larson’s Blog: For the Aspiring Writers

Posted on March 9, 2012 in Arts & Letters, Enews, Updates

We know that readers love the Tennessee Williams Festival. But writers love it too! They enter our contests in fiction and poetry, they gain inspiration from master classes, and this year, we’ve added two events that are designed for aspiring writers: the New Orleans Writing Marathon and Pitchapalooza.



Susan Larson’s Blog: Late Night with Lafcadio!

Posted on March 6, 2012 in Arts & Letters, Enews, News, Updates

A Q&A with the People Say Project’s Brian Boyles and Jarret Lofstead. We’re teaming up with these innovative minds to bring you the Literary Late Night: Lafcadio Hearn Revue.



Susan Larson’s Blog: The Kindness of Writers

Posted on February 29, 2012 in Arts & Letters, Enews

An chat with New Orleans writer Candice Proctor (aka C.S. Harris), who joined the panel “Bet You Can’t Read Just One: Mysteries for Fun.”



Susan Larson’s Q&A with Tom Sancton

Posted on February 14, 2012 in Arts & Letters, Enews

Get a glimpse into the life of the “Song for My Fathers: A New Orleans Story in Black and White” author and Festival performer.



Reading up for the Fest!

Posted on January 4, 2012 in Arts & Letters

A sneak peek at some of the books we’ll be talking about at the Festival: Peggy Scott Laborde and Tom Fitzmorris’s Lost Restaurants of New Orleans will make you forsake that January diet, and John Barry’s Roger Williams and the Birth of the American Soul will give you something to think about during this election year.