Pirate's Alley Faulkner SocietyWords & Music

Words & Music 2011: Fabulous Faculty!

Many of the nation's best-known, most-admired, best-loved authors will be in The Big Easy for Words & Music, 2011. Take a closer look at our faculty and you will be convinced that an
unforgettable experience awaits you in New Orleans.

Amazing Authors, Scholars, and Performing Artists

Victor “Red” Atkins' style of piano has been described as "infectious, unconventional, tasteful, and powerful" all at the same time. Hailing from Selma, Alabama, he began playing with Delfeayo Marsalis in 1989 and was an integral part of the seminal work “Pontius Pilate’s Decision.” After receiving a B.A. from Berklee College of Music in Boston and an M.F.A. from the Manhattan School of Music, Victor has toured and performed with an impressive list of artists including Elvin Jones, Freddie Hubbard, Aaron Neville, Nnenna Freelon, Brian Blade, Lalah Hathaway, and Nicholas Payton. One of his most recent projects was collaboration and performing with NEA Jazz Master Delfeayo Marsalis on his re-working of Duke Ellington’s “Such Sweet Thunder,” a tribute to William Shakespeare. He also performs with the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, and is a sought-after arranger. He is also well-known for his work with the Grammy-winning, New Orleans-based Los Hombres Calientes, which produced an innovative brand of Latin jazz that can be heard on their Volumes 1-5. In every musical situation, Victor executes improvisational passages with great dexterity, combined with superior creative artistry. His adaptations of works by Bach and other classical composers are brilliant examples of the fluidity of jazz and the breaking down of musical barriers. He is actively involved in the musical direction of his church, and spends as much time as possible with his wife and three young children, including twins. To hear Atkins playing with Delfayo Marsalis, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5tshpM9c7s

Alex Beard is a painter and author. Vanity Fair magazine singled him out as "an accomplished artist, an adventurer, and an accidental entrepreneur." Beard's first children's book, The Jungle Grapevine, was published by Abrams in 2009. The Wall Street Journal favorably compared its "quirky and original" illustrations to the famous "Babar" books. The New York Times reported on Alex visiting Animal Tales Extravaganza at the Bronx Zoo to read from his newest book, Monkey See, Monkey Draw, and work with children to develop their artistic talent. He was interviewed on the new book for NPR and The San Francisco Chronicle, which in its review of the book, stated, "Some African animalls learn to be more than they thought they were in Monkey See, Monkey Draw...the bold and playful art by Beard, who has traveled extensively in Africa, is stunning." Beard and his family live in his adopted home of New Orleans. For more on Alex and his work, Click Here!

John Biguenet, 2009 winner of the Faulkner Society's Alihot (A Legend in His Own Time ) Award, is a fiction writer, poet, translator, playwright, and Distringuished University Professor at Loyola University of the South in New Orleans. He is author of Oyster, a novel, and The Torturer's Apprentice: Stories, published by Ecco/HarperCollins in the U.S. and by Orion Books in the U.K. His fiction is published in Hebrew translation by Matar Publishing Company in Tel Aviv, in French translation by Éditions Albin Michel in Paris, and in Dutch translation by Uitgeverij Ailantus in Amsterdam. Among his other books are Foreign Fictions (Random House), two volumes on literary translation (The University of Chicago Press), and Strange Harbors, an anthology of international literature in translation (Center for the Art of Translation). Biguenet’s radio play Wundmale, which premiered on Westdeutscher Rundfunk, Germany's largest radio network, was rebroadcast by Österreichischer Rundfunk, the Austrian national radio and television network.Two of his stories have been featured in Selected Shorts at Symphony Space on Broadway. The Vulgar Soul won the 2004 Southern New Plays Festival and was a featured production in 2005 at Southern Rep Theatre; he and the play were profiled in American Theatre magazine. Rising Water was the winner of the 2006 National New Play Network Commission Award, a 2006 National Showcase of New Plays selection, and a 2007 recipient of an Access to Artistic Excellence development and production grant from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as the 2008 Big Easy Theatre Award for Best Original Play. For more on John and his work,Click Here!.

George Bishop is the author of the recently released novel Letter to My Daughter, which at its core is a story of the collateral damage of war. The novel is narrated by a 50-year-old Baton Rouge housewife in a letter to her runaway daughter. The narrator recalls the letters she received from her young boyfriend, Tim, who signs up to fight during the Vietnam War because he's poor and has no other options. Says Bishop, "Though I’d hesitate to say that Letter to My Daughter is about Vietnam, I certainly believe that it is the Vietnam episodes which give the book its moral center." Bishop holds an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. After eight years of acting in commercials, stage plays, and guest starring roles in TV sitcoms, he traveled overseas and spent most of the last decade living and teaching in Slovakia, Turkey, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, India, and Japan. His stories and essays have appeared in publications such as The Oxford American, The Third Coast, Press, and American Writing. He now lives in New Orleans. This year, Bishop judged the Short Story by a High School Category of the William Faulkner - William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition. For more on George and his work, Click Here

Elise Blackwell is the author of the novels The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish, Hunger, and Grub.
Her newest novel, published in 2010, is
An Unfinished Score, which revolves around classical music and performing artists. Her books have been selected for numerous "best of the year" lists, including the Los Angeles Times, Sydney Morning Herald, and Kirkus. Her short stories and criticism have appeared in Witness,Topic, Seed, Global City Review, and Quick Fiction.
A native of Louisiana and a graduate of LSU, Elise lives in
Columbia, SC, where she is director of the MFA/Creative
Writing Program at the University of South Carolina, one of the best MFA programs in the country. Elise judged the Novella
Category of the William Faulkner - William Wisdom Creative
Writing Competition for 2011
For more on Elise and here work, Click Here!

Roy Blount Jr. is the author of 23 books, about a wide range of things, from the first woman president of the United States to what barnyard animals are thinking.  The most recent, Alphabetter Juice (Farrar, Straus), released this year, is a sequel to his popular dictionary Alphabet Juice, now out in paperback and also available as an audiobook. Hail, Hail, Euphoria! -- The Marx Brothers in Duck Soup was his book of the year in 2010 and Long Time Leaving: Dispatches From Up South (Knopf), won the 2007 nonfiction award from the New England Independent Booksellers Association; and AudioFile chose the audio version (HighBridge) as one of the year's top five books read by their authors. The book before that one, Feet on the Street: Rambles Around New Orleans, "delivers the goods," according to The New York Times: "a wild, unpredictable ramble through a wild, unpredictable town." He is a panelist on NPR's Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me, the president of the Authors Guild, a member of PEN and the Fellowship of Southern Authors, a New York Public Library Literary Lion, a Boston Public Library Literary Light, a usage consultant to the American Heritage Dictionary, and an original member of the Rock Bottom Remainders. He comes from Decatur, GA and lives in western Massachusetts. In 2010 he received the Thomas Wolfe Award from the University of North Carolina. Earlier, Roy received the Faulkner Society's ALIHOT (A Legend in His Own Time) Award for Literature. For more on Roy and his impressive body of work, Click Here!

Robert Olen Butler has published twelve novels—The Alleys of Eden, Sun Dogs, Countrymen of Bones, On Distant Ground, Wabash, The Deuce, They Whisper, The Deep Green Sea, Mr. Spaceman, Fair Warning, Hell and A Small Hotel (2011)—and six volumes of short fiction—Tabloid Dreams, Had a Good Time, Severance, Intercourse, Weegee Stories, and A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, which won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Butler has published a volume of his lectures on the creative process, From Where You Dream, edited with an introduction by Janet Burroway. His works have been translated into nineteen languages, including Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, Polish, Japanese, Serbian, Farsi, Czech, Estonian, and Greek. He was also a charter recipient of the Tu Do Chinh Kien Award given by the Vietnam Veterans of America for “outstanding contributions to American culture by a Vietnam veteran.” Over the past 15 years he has lectured in universities, appeared at conferences, and met with writers groups in 17 countries as a Literary Envoy for the U. S. State Department. Bob is a recipient of the Faulkner Society's annual ALIHOT (A Legend in His Own Time) Award for Literature. For more on Robert Olen Butler and his work, including praise for his new novel, A Small Hotel, Click Here!

Lori Marie Carlson is an author, editor, translator and teacher who has worked to bring Latino literature to an American audience. These four disciplines have been the lens in which she perceives the world and also the vehicles in which she shares her vision of the world. She is the author of two novels, The Sunday Tertulia and The Flamboyant, that explore the roles of women in society and the quest for love and meaningful expression, as well as the mysterious process of artistic creation. Her extensive body of work including her novels, bilingual poetry, short stories,  and young adult and children’s books have allowed her readers to share in her unique vision, one that wades through the many varied cultures in America and surfaces with stories to tell of all that is beautiful and profound within such diversity. Among the numerous anthologies of ethnic work she has translated is Burnt Sugar, a collection of contemporary Cuban poetry, a book she co-authored with her husband, Oscar Hijuelos. Photo by Marion Ettlinger.

Tom Carson, author of the new novel Daisy Buchanan’s Daughter, also is the author of Gilligan’s Wake, a New York Times Notable Book of The Year for 2003. Currently GQ’s “The Critic,” he won two National Magazine Awards for criticism as Esquire magazine’s “Screen” columnist and has been nominated two more times since then. He also won the CRMA criticism award for his book reviews in Los Angeles magazine. Before that, he wrote extensively about pop culture and politics for the LA Weekly and the Village Voice, including an obituary for Richard Nixon in the latter that the late Norman Mailer termed “brilliant.” He has contributed over the years to publications ranging from Rolling Stone to the Atlantic Monthly. His fiction and poetry have appeared in Black Clock. His verse and other random writings can be found at tomcarson.net. In 1979, he was the youngest contributor — with an essay on the Ramones — to Greil Marcus’s celebrated rock anthology, Stranded. With Kit Rachlis and Jeff Salamon, he edited Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough: Essays In Honor of Robert Christgau in 2002. Born in Germany in 1956, he grew up largely abroad “at the hands of the U.S. State Department.” He graduated in 1977 from Princeton University, where he won the Samuel Shellabarger award for creative writing. A former resident of Washington, D.C., New York City, and Los Angeles, he now lives in New Orleans with his wife, Arion Berger, and can be found all too often at Buffa’s Lounge on Saints’ days. For more on Carson and his new novel, Click Here! Photo here by Victoria F.Gaità

Andrei Codrescu (codrescu.com) was born in Sibiu, Transylvania,  Romania. His first book was License to Carry a Gun (1970). Most recent are Whatever Gets You Through the Night: A Story of Sheherezade and the Arabian Entertainments (2011), The Poetry Lesson (2010), and The Posthuman Dada Guide: Tzara and Lenin Play Chess, (2009). Codrescu founded founded Exquisite Corpse: a Journal of Books & Ideas, 1983-2011 (corpse.org), and taught literature and poetry at Johns Hopkins University, University of Baltimore,  and Louisiana State University. In 1989 he covered the fall of the Ceausescu regime for NPR and ABC News, and wrote The Hole in the Flag: an Exile's Story of Return and Revolution. He is a regular commentator on NPR's All Things Considered, and received a Peabody Award for the film Road Scholar. A longtime French Quarter resident, Andrei has collected his writing about the city in New Orleans, Mon Amour: Twenty Years of Writing from the City (Algonquin). He now divides his time between the French Quarter and the Buffalo River National Park wilderness in Arkansas. For more on Andrei and his work, Click Here! Photograph of Andrei by David Gallent.

Nilo Cruz was born in Cuba in 1960. During his early childhood, his father, who was a staunch opponent of the communist government, was imprisoned for trying to flee the country. After his father completed his sentence, when Nilo was nine years old, the family immigrated to the United States and took up residency in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami. He began exploring his interest in theater by acting and directing in the early 1980’s. Before moving to New York City, he studied theater at Miami Dade Community College. In New York, he met fellow Cuban Marìa Irene Fornès, who recommended him to an instructor at Brown University. Eventually he attended Brown and earned his MFA in 1994. He returned to Florida in 2001 and was appointed as the playwright-in-residence for the New Theatre in Coral Gables. In 2002, he wrote his most famous work, Anna in the Tropics. This work was a great success and performed in theaters across the country. After learning that he had won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Cruz said, “By honoring my play Anna in the Tropics, the first Latino play to earn the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, the Pulitzer Prize Board is not only embracing my work as an artist, but is actually acknowledging and securing a place for Latino plays in the North American theater." After winning this award, Anna  in the Tropics opened on Broadway with continuing success and was even nominated for a Tony Award in 2004. In addition to writing  plays, Cruz has taught drama at many universities, including Brown, Yale, and the University of Iowa. Through his work, Cruz has become one of the most revered  playwrights of our time. His introduction of Latino themed plays into mainstream American theater has set the stage for playwrights and authors to come. For more on Cruz and his work, Click Here!

Kirk Curnutt, Ph.D., is a scholar of American literature and Chair of the Department of English at Troy University in Montgomery, AL., the city in which F. Scott Fitzgerald first met Zelda Sayre in July 1918. His essay, The Best Cemetery in the South in Which to Kiss a Woman, won the Faulkner Society's gold medal for Best Essay in 2008 and his novel, Raising Aphrodite, was a finalist in the 2010 novel competition. A passionate devotee of all things Fitzgerald, he is vice-president of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society, managing editor of its annual Fitzgerald Review, and a board member of the Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum in Montgomery. In addition to publishing several critical studies of American fiction—including the Cambridge Introduction to F. Scott Fitzgerald (2007)—he has authored a novel, Breathing Out the Ghost, which the Indiana Center for the Book recently named Best Fiction in this year’s Best Books of Indiana Awards. His other works include Coffee with Hemingway (2007), an entry in Duncan Baird’s series of imaginary conversations with great historical figures prominently featured in Barnes & Noble cafes across the country, and a story collection, Baby, Let’s Make a Baby (2003). 

Rosemary Daniell's book Secrets of the Zona Rosa: How Writing (and Sisterhood) Can Change Women's Lives, was published by Henry Holt and Company, 2006 to great acclaim. Known as one of the best writing coaches in the country, Rosemary is the founder of Zona Rosa, the series of creative writing workshops she has led for 25 years in Savannah, Atlanta, Charleston, and other cities (including New Orleans), as well as in Europe. Her first book on Zona Rosa, The Woman Who Spilled Words All Over Herself: Writing and Living the Zona Rosa Way, was published by Faber & Faber in 1997. Daniell's revolutionary memoir, Fatal Flowers: On Sin, Sex and Suicide in the Deep South (Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1980; Henry Holt & Company, 1989; Hill Street Press, 1999) won the 1999 Palimpsest Prize for a most-requested out-of-print book, and was re-issued that year. Along with her second memoir, Sleeping with Soldiers (Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1984), Fatal Flowers was a forerunner of the current memoir trend. She is the author of four other books of poetry and prose. Among her many awards are two N.E.A. Fellowships in creative writing, one in in poetry, another in fiction. For more on Ms. Daniell and her work, Click Here!

Pamela Binnings Ewen, who has enjoyed a dual career in writing and law, had her novel Dancing on Glass published in August. She practiced law for 25 years in Houston and is a retired partner in the law firm of Baker Botts, L.L.P. She is the author of the acclaimed non-fiction book Faith On Trial endorsed by her law partner, former Secretary of State, James A. Baker III. While practicing law in Houston, Ewen served on the Board of Directors of Inprint, Inc., a non-profit organization supporting the literary arts in Houston. She now lives just outside New Orleans in Mandeville, LA, writes full time, and along with her husband is a member patron of The Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society. Ewen's first novel, Walk Back The Cat, is the tense story of an embittered and powerful clergyman who learns an ancient secret, confronting him with truth and a choice that may destroy him. Her new novel, The Moon in the Mango Tree, was favorably reviewed by Publishers Weekly. Faith On Trial was chosen as a text for a course on law and religion at Yale Law School. Continuing the apologetics begun in Faith On Trial, Ewen also appears with Gary Habermas, Josh McDowell, Darrell Bock, Lee Stroble, and others in the film Jesus: Fact or Fiction, a Campus Crusade for Christ production. For more on Pam and her illustrious literary family, Click Here!

James P. Farwell is an author, defense consultant, and lawyer. HIs new book is The Pakistan Cauldron, an October release from Potomac Press. Farwell was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. He holds a B.A. from Tulane University, a J.D. in Law from Tulane University, and a D.C.L.S. in Comparative Law from the University of Cambridge (Trinity College). In addition, he is a Senior Research Scholar in Strategic Studies at the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto. A former partner at Chaffe, McCall, Phillips, Toler & Sarpy, Farwell specialized in business law and litigation for major multinationals. He also worked for advocacy groups and business associations such as the Coalition for Affordable Power, Louisiana Lottery, Louisiana Council for Fiscal Reform, North Carolina Citizens for Business & Industry, and the American Insurance Association. He also served as Arbitrator for the NYSE and American Arbitration Association, and as a mediator for the American Arbitration Association. For more on Farwell and his new book, which offers important new insight into one of our problem neighbors of the Global Village, Click Here!

Randy Fertel, Ph.D., A lover of fine wines and fine food, has long been dining out on the stories that make up his debut book, The Gorilla Man and the Empress of Steaks: A New Orleans Family Memoir (University Press of Mississippi, October 2011). His memoir is the tale of two distinctive people, his parents, and their fascinating worlds. His father, the late Rodney Fertel, who can only be described as a total New Orleans eccentric, once ran for
Mayor New Orleans on the single plank, Get a Gorilla for the Zoo. He did not win but the Audubon Park Zoo got not one but two gorillas from Rodney. Randy's mother, the late Ruth Fertel, who created a national restaurant empire based on her highly successful New Orleans bistro, Ruth's Chris Steak House, which in addition to serving great steaks and all the accoutrements, was the most favored castle of cuisine for Louisiana politicians. Pieces of the memoir have been published in Kenyon Review, Creative Nonfiction, and Gastronomica and produced for the stage in Native Tongues (Playwright Carl Walker's theatrical love letter to all things New Orleans). Randy's essay, The Soul of New Orleans: Katrina Five Ways (Kenyon Review), was been named a “notable essay” in the Best American Essays of 2006, edited by Lauren Slater and Robert Atwan, and received "special mention" from the Pushcart Prize (Best of the Small Presses). Fertel also was among contributors to My New Orleans: Ballads to the Big Easy by Her Sons, Daughters, and Lovers, edited by Rosemary James. For more on Randy, his philantropic activities, and his new book,Click Here!

Patty Friedmann author of young adult novel Taken Away (2010) and literary e-novel Too Jewish (2010) were among the debut titles of the new e-publishing venture, booksBnimble, created by New Orleans mystery writer Julie Smith. She also is the author of six darkly comic literary novels set in New Orleans: The Exact Image of Mother, Eleanor Rushing, Odds, Secondhand Smoke, Side Effects, and A Little Bit Ruined as well as the humor book Too Smart to Be Rich. Her novels have been chosen as Discover Great New Writers, Original Voices, and Book Sense 76 selections, and her humor book was syndicated by the New York Times. She has published reviews, essays, and short stories in Publishers Weekly, Newsweek, Oxford American, Speakeasy, Horn Gallery, Short Story, LA LIT, Brightleaf, New Orleans Review, and The Times-Picayune and in anthologies The Great New American Writers Cookbook, Above Ground, Christmas Stories from Louisiana, My New Orleans, New Orleans Noir, Life in the Wake and Something In The Water. Her stage pieces have been part of Native Tongues. Recently Oxford American listed Secondhand Smoke with 29 titles that included Gone With the Wind, Deliverance, and A Lesson Before Dying as one of the Greatest Underrated Southern Books. With interruptions only for education and natural disasters, she always has lived in New Orleans. 

Oscar Hijuelos became the first Latino writer to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1990 with his second novel, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. The novel addresses the struggles of immigrants as they reconcile the contrast between the culture of their past and the culture of their future, a struggle Hijuelos knew only too well. Born in New York to Cuban parents, his own cultural experience was confounded by his light skin and blonde hair due to his Irish great-great-great grandfather. His identity as a Cuban-American was then splintered by his lack of a more traditional Cuban coming of age. Simply put, he just didn’t look or act the part. Hijuelos addresses these experiences and other in his new book, Thoughts Without Cigarettes. In this well universally acclaimed memoir, Hijuelos tell how winning the Pulitzer was both wonderful and terrible and, in fact, continued a theme from his youth where his image, or lack thereof, as a Cuban-American writer was put on a stage for criticism. Hijuelos has written nine major works and in 2000 won the Hispanic Heritage Award for Literature.

Robert Hicks, New York Times bestselling author of The Widow of the South and A Separate Country is the very image of a man who has turned a personal passion into an entire new career as a fiction writer. While a successful author and music promoter in Nashville, Hicks became fascinated with the Civil War battlefiled and history of Franklin, TN. He became a passionate advocate of saving Civil War battlefields not only for their historic value but for the important green spaces they provide all over the country. His dedication to turning his passion for preservation into a reality has provided him with an incredible national platform for promoting his books. Hicks will join with his agent Jeff Kleinman to teach a workshop during Words & Music, 2011 on Turning Your Passions Into Bestselling Fiction: Writing About What You Know and Love. Examples of the coverage Hicks gets for his passion and his books include three appearances on CBS Sunday Morning (shown right in white linen with CBS crew). For more on Robert and his work, Click Here!

W. Kenneth Holditch, Ph.D
., Professor Emeritus of Literature and Writing at the University of New Orleans, is a co-founder of The Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society and was one of the founders of the Tennessee Williams Festivals in New Orleans, Clarksdale, Mississippi, and Columbus, MS. In 1974, he created the Literary Tour of the French Quarter and later a Tennessee Williams Walk. He has lectured on Tennessee Williams and other Southern authors in the United States and Europe and has appeared on BBC radio, NPR radio, and other media. His play about the women in Tennessee Williams’s life and dramas was given a staged reading at Lincoln Center. Dr. Holditch has written numerous articles on Southern literature about such important authors as William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Lillian Hellman, Walker Percy, and Anne Rice.  He edited In Old New Orleans, and is co-author with Richard Freeman Leavitt of Tennessee Williams and the South, both University Press of Mississippi releases; he is co-author with Marda Burton of Galatoire’s: Biography of a Bistro, Hill Street Press; and co-editor with Mel Gussow of the two Library of America volumes devoted to the works of Tennessee Williams. His honors and awards include: Southern Fellowship, 1958-1960; Louisiana Teacher of the Year, 1985; Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, Lifetime Achievement Award, 2001; and The Tennessee Williams Award, 2007.

Rosemary James, shown here at the Society's annual Carnival ball, staged by the Krewe of Libris, has had a dual career in communications and interior design. As a journalist, she started her career writing features for The Charleston News & Courier/Evening Post in her hometown. Her career in New Orleans began in 1964 with the States-Item, where she first covered the maritime and oil and gas industries, then was assigned to cover the courts and politics. With two other reporters at the States-Item, she broke the story that New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison was investigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and his subsequent arrest of businessman Clay Shaw. In 1968 she moved to WWL-TV, where she again covered primarily the courts and politics, including the six-week trial of Clay Shaw, indicted for conspiracy to murder the President. In advance of the trial she co-authored the non-fiction book, Plot or Politics? centering on the investigation. Plot or Politics? was published in 1968 and remains in print. Her political coverage included the administrations of Mayors Victor Schiro and Moon Landrieu and Governors John McKeithen and Edwin Edwards. More recently, she edited a collection of essays in the immediate aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, My New Orleans: Ballads to the Big Easy by Her Sons, Daughters, and Lovers, published by Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, which also remains in print. Concurrently James has owned her own interior design business for 23 years.  Recent projects have included renovation and decoration of an Atlanta residence for novelist Elizabeth Dewberry, renovation and decoration of the French Quarter residence which once was the home of the Mayor of Storyville, and the uptown residence of a prominent surgeon and concert pianist. She has been a frequent contributor to design magazines, such as Southern Accents, Traditional Home, Creative Life, Departures, and Decorating. Her own design work has been featured in Southern Accents, Departures, The New York Times, Traditional Home, Creative Life, Decorating, Metropolitan Home and other journals. A Carolina native, Ms. James has lived and worked in New Orleans since 1964. With her husband, Joseph DeSalvo, Jr., and W. Kenneth Holditch, she is co-founder of the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society and the creator of Words & Music: a Literary Feast in New Orleans. The DeSalvos are recipients of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.

Rodger Kamenetz, poet, essayist, non-fiction author, teacher, and popular lecturer, will judge the poetry category of the 2011 William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition. For the last several years, Rodger has been deeply involved in research and analysis of what our dreams mean, research which produced the compelling book, The History of Last Night's Dream: Discovering the Hidden Path to the Soul. Since this non-fiction work was published Rodger has continued his research and, during Words & Music, he will address The Importance of Last Night's Dreams in the Global Village. Kamenetz is the bestselling author of The Jew in the Lotus, his journey through Bhuddism to recover his faith as a Jew, including lengthy interview sessions with the Dali Llama, Stalking Ellijah, and Terra Infirma, a brilliant memoir about the author's relationship with his mother in his dreams after her death. Last year, he published the non-fiction work, Burnt Books: Rabbi Nachman Of Bratslav and Franz Kafka, the links between two incredible storytellers. For more on Rodger and his work Click Here!

N. M. Kelby is author of the new novel, White Truffles in Winter, which recounts the life and loves of the extraordinary French chef who revolutionized French cuisine and, indeed, changed the the dining habits of Western civilization and raised cooking to the status of culinary art. The book is being launched concurrent with Words & Music, 2011. She also is author of Whale Season (Random House/Shaye Areheart imprint), In the Company of Angels (Theia/Hyperion, 2001), and Theater of the Stars (Theia/Hyperion, 2003). Before turning her hand to fiction, Ncole spent more than 20 years as a print and television journalist She is the recipient of a Bush Artist Fellowship in Literature, the Heekin Group Foundation’s James Fellowship for the Novel, both a Florida and Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship in fiction, two Jerome Travel Study Grants, and a Jewish Arts Endowment Fellowship, and has several times been a finalist in the William Faulkner - William Widsom Creative Writing Competition. For more on Nicole and her entertaining novels, Click Here!

Andrew Lam is a writer and a co-founder of New America Media, an association of over 2000 ethnic media organizations in America. His book, Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora won the Pen American Beyond the Margins Award in 2006, and was short-listed for the Asian American Literature Award. His book, East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres, was published in October 2010 and listed in the top ten indie books by Shelf Unbound Magazine. His collection of short stories, Birds of Paradise, is due out in 2012 and, currently, he is working on a novel. Lam, born in Vietnam, came to the US in 1975 when he was 11 years old. He was featured in the documentary My Journey Home, aired on PBS nationwide in 2004, in which a film crew followed him back to his homeland Vietnam. In 2010 he co-produced a segment for the Jim Lehrer News Hour on Vietnamese Americans in Vietnam. He has a Master in Fine Arts from San Francisco State University in creative writing, and a BA degree in biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. For more on this remarkable young man and his work, Click Here!

Irvin Mayfield will tell you “Jazz is to New Orleans what oil is to Saudi Arabia,” when he explains the prolific jazz history of New Orleans. Underlying this response is Mayfield’s belief that his immense musical talent comes from being a child, not just from, but of New Orleans—a place where preservation meets passion and diversity creates culture, a place of souls and senses. In his new memoir, A Love Letter to New Orleans, a richly illustrated book and accompanying CD, Mayfield reflects on his music, unveiling the many influences that transformed him from just another talented New Orleans kid to one of the most promising young trumpeters of his generation. In this rare glimpse into the evolution of a jazz artist, Mayfield shares the inspirations that led him to create the songs on his ten albums, released by Basin Street Records. And the songs, in turn, cemented his career and life in jazz. In this very personal book, Mayfield writes of many who shaped his life, from the quiet influence of his father Irvin Mayfield Sr., a postal worker and former trumpet player who harbored dreams of a musical career, to the lasting impact of his teacher Ellis Marsalis, the patriarch of the Marsalis family. Mayfield shares the profound impact that the Mardi Gras Indian culture, George Porter Jr. of the Funky Meters, and James Booker had on his music. He writes of the creative genius and sheer integrity demonstrated by musicians like Bill Summers, Kermit Ruffins, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, Rebirth Brass Band, Horacio “El Negro’ Hernandez, and Cyril Neville. For more on Irvin and his work, visit his web site: http://irvinmayfield.com/

La Rumba Buena at the Jazz Fest

Johnny Marcia, leader of La Rumba Buena, was born in New Orleans of Honduran parents. He started his musical career at a very young age, surrounded by music as his father was leader of the popular Latin group that played in Louisiana for more than 35 years, Los Sagitarios. Johnny joined his father’s band when he was 16 and eventual became the band leader, a leader with a new vision. He changed the name of the band to La Rumba Buena and hand-picked the best musicians around town to join the band. Rumba Buena soon expanded to play more genres of music and perform at different and larger venues. Today, this group is one of the most popular local Latin groups specializing in Salsa, Merengue and Bachata rhythms. With his 25 years of experience working in and for the New Orleans Latino community, Johnny felt something was still missing when it came to promoting the Latino culture, especially the musical heritage. With the addition of a local Telemundo affiliate in New Orleans, he saw a good opportunity to put together a television program that would fill the void. With fellow musician and band leader Javier Olondo, he developed the concept for a weekly 30-minute show, Que Pasa New Orleans. Today, Johnny and Javier are co-producers of the popular show. The show, designed to educate and inform the viewer, especially Spanish Speaking viewers, revolves around the many socio-cultural resources of the area, “New Orleans needed a show like this and we believe it will continue to grow in popularity. There’s lots of talent in this city and the culture is so rich here that we never run out of material to spotlight. Que Pasa New Orleans will be around for a long time.” To hear how they sounded at Jazz Fest, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FwFg146AT4. 

Paula McLain, author of the higly acclaimed new novel, The Paris Wife, has published two collections of poetry, Less of Her and Stumble, Gorgeous, both from New Issues Poetry Press, and a memoir entitled Like Family: Growing Up in Other People's Houses (Little, Brown, 2003). A Ticket to Ride was her debut novel from Ecco/HarperCollins. She received her MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan in 1996 and has since been a writer-in-residence at Yaddo, MacDowell Colony, and Ucross Foundation, and received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ohio Arts Council. Her poems and essays have appeared in journals such as the Gettysburg Review, Antioch Review, and The New York Times Sunday Magazine. In addition to teaching at John Carroll University, she is also a core faculty member in the low-residency MFA Program in Poetry at New England College. For more on Ms. McLain and her new novel, Click Here! Photo by: Stephen Cutter.

Ted Mooney, author of The Same River Twice, a recent novel published by Knopf, is
a Dallas-born American novelist, short story writer and author of three previously published novels: Easy Travel to Other Planets (1981), Traffic and Laughter (1990), and Singing into the Piano (1998). The Same River Twice contains elements of a mystery but is basically an existentialist examination of whether a life story is preordained or has possible alternative endings. Mooney is an exceptional writer. His sense of place is impeccable and reading his scenes set in Paris is comparable to reading passages by an incredibly talented literary man making love to a beloved woman. His novel is valuable to writers seeking to improve their scene-setting and character development. All of Mooney's characters are well drawn, believable, and highly engaging, if not always lovable. Mooney also served as the senior editor of Art in America from 1977 to 2008 and currently teaches at the Yale University Graduate School of Art. His understanding of the international art scene and his love of visual art are are obvious throughout the novel. Mooney's first novel, Easy Travel to Other Planets, was awarded the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction by the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, was also a finalist for the American Book Award, and was mentioned in Larry McCaffery's list of the 100 greatest books of the 20th century.This novel introduced the term "information sickness," which has since been used in various contexts as a symptom or result of overexposure to all forms of media. Mooney will address Sense of Place and The Impact of the Information Revolution. For more on Ted Mooney and his work, Click Here!

Anka Muhlstein is author of the fascinating new book, Balzac’s Omelette, which was translated from the French by Adriana Hunter, who has translated some 40 works by well-known French authors. Ms. Muhlstein’s new book is an October, 2011 release by Other Press. The author was born in Paris in 1935. She has published biographies of Queen Victoria, James de Rothschild, Cavelier de La Salle, and Astolphe de Custine, a study on Catherine de Médicis, Marie de Médicis, and Anne of Austria, and a double biography, Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart. She is currently writing a volume on Proust as a reader. She has won two prizes from the Académie Française and the Goncourt Prize for Biography. She was awarded the Goncourt in 1996 for her biography of The Marquis de Custine, Letters from Russia. She and her husband, the well known man of letters Louis Begley, have written a book together on a city they love, Venice for Lovers. They live in New York. For more on Ms. Muhstein and her work, Click Here!   

Laura Mullen is a Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at Louisiana State University. She is the author of four collections of poetry—The Surface, After I Was Dead, Subject, and Dark Archive (University of California Press, 2011)—as well as two hybrid texts, The Tales of Horror, and Murmur. Recognitions for her poetry include Ironwood’s Stanford Prize, and she has been awarded a Board of Regents ATLAS grant, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Rona Jaffe Award, among other honors. She has had several MacDowell Fellowships and is a frequent visitor at the Summer Writing Program at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa. Her work has been widely anthologized and is included in American Hybrid (Norton). Recent prose has been collected in Civil Disobediences: Poetics & Politics in Action, and published in Ploughshares and The Fairytale Review. The composer Jason Eckardt’s setting of The Distance (This) from Subject premiered in New York and Helsinki and is July, 2011 release for Mode Records. New work is out or forthcoming in Action Yes!, Cerise Press, Ghost Town, the Denver Quarterly,Viz Arts, and New American Writing. Mullen was invited to participate in the Taipei International Poetry Festival in 2009 and she is the special interest delegate in Creative Writing for the Modern Language Association for 2012-2014.

James Nolan, a New Orleans native, is a widely published poet, fiction writer, essayist, and translator. His first novel, Higher Ground, won the Faulkner Society's gold medal for Best Novel. Higher Ground is being released by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press concurrent with Words & Music, 2011. A collection of his short stories, Perpetual Care (Jefferson Press) won the 2007 Jefferson Press Prize. His collections of poetry are Why I Live in the Forest and What Moves Is Not the Wind, both from Wesleyan University Press. A regular contributor to Boulevard, his fiction, poems, and essays have appeared in The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, Poetry, Shenandoah, Utne Reader, The North American Review, New Orleans Noir and The Washington Post. He has translated Pablo Neruda's Stones of the Sky (Copper Canyon Press) and Longing: Selected Poems of Jaime Gil de Biedma. He is the author of Poet-Chief (a study of the Native American poetics of Whitman and Neruda). His poetry and prose have been widely translated, and a collection of his essays, Fumadores en manos de un dios enfurecido, has come out in Spain. He has been the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant and two Fulbright Fellowships to Spain, and has taught literature and creative writing at universities in San Francisco, Florida, Barcelona, Madrid, and Beijing. Recently he was Writer-in-Residence at Tulane and Loyola Universities in New Orleans, where he now directs the Loyola Writing Institute. For more on his novel, Click Here!

Javier Olondo, born in Houston, TX, began his musical studies with Rosa Puertas in Barcelona, Spain in 1977. In 1980 he moved to Havana, Cuba where he continued guitar studies at the Conservatory Manuel Saumell. At the age of 13, he debuted as a soloist in Havana’s First International Guitar Festival. In 1988 he graduated top of his class from the Escuela Nacional de Musica and was the recipient of the Titulo de Oro (Golden Title Award). Upon completion of higher level studies in 1991 from Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, he followed an intense schedule of European concerts and won a scholarship to Hochscule Fur Musik and Darstellende Kunst Monzarteum, in Salzburg, Austria. There he studied guitar under Eliot Fisk, Joaquin Clerch, and harpsichordist Anthony Spiri, earning a Magister in Arts specializing in guitar. Other teachers include: Manuel Barrueco, David Rusell, Flavio Cucci, and Wolfgang Lendle. Olondo belongs to musical ensembles trio Sekwenza, Barcelona Nova Musica , La Renaissance, and duo Cervantes. He is music professor at Cervantes Hispanic School for the Arts, Tulane University, and Concordia University of New Orleans, and teaches at the Escola Professional de Musica Alois Haba in Barcelona, Spain during the summer. In addition to various composers dedicating works to his, he has recorded three critically acclaimed albums and he continues to perform in festivals and concerts throughout Europe and the Americas. On the more relaxed side of his musical career, Javier Olondo, leads the band AsheSon, specializing in Cuban salsa and he dances and teaches salsa. To hear his classical sound, visit: http://www.myspace.com/javierolondomusic. To watch him social dancing, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LECUwJaomVE.

Lee Papa is the fearless political blogger known as the Rude Pundit. His tens of thousands of weekly readers make him one of the most widely-read left-wing bloggers out there, which, as he says, "is like living in an air-conditioned room in Hell." When not proudly lowering political discourse, he is a regular guest on the nationally-syndicated radio program The Stephanie Miller Show. His one-man shows have sold out to audiences in New York and Canada because, to quote Lee, “filthy stories are big in both places.” Warning: Papa's attacks on the right are explicit and explicitly rude. Words & Music presents balanced programming, however, and you can expect to hear from conservatives during Words & Music, too. For more on Lee, who, incidentally, grew up in Louisiana, visit him and get a taste of his attacks on the right wing at http://www.rudepudit.blogspot.com/

Signe Pike left a good career in publishing after her father's death to begin a journey in search of "something more," a journey which culminated with publication of her new memoir
Faery Tale: One Woman's Search for Enchantment in the Modern World
. Ms. Pike worked for Random House, Ballantine Books, and then Penguin/Plume before leaving New York City to write Faery Tale. Some of her most magical acquisitions include Me and Mr. Darcy, by internationally bestselling author Alexandra Potter, Ice Land by Betsy Tobin, and the New York Times bestselling memoir Some Girls by Jillian Lauren. Signe works as a freelance editor and writes full time in Charleston, SC, where she is at work on her next non-fiction memoir. She lives with her husband, Eric Liebetrau, the managing and non-fiction editor of Kirkus Reviews, a mischievous black cat named Willoughby, and of course, their resident faeries. For more on Signe and Faery Tale, Click Here!

Uriel Quesada, Ph.D. is the director of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Loyola University which offers courses on Latin American crime literature, Central American postwar literature, Latin American urban chronicle, Border studies, and Latin American Life Writing. As a scholar, Dr. Quesada has written about Central American detective fiction, Latin American masculinities and travel writing. In 2009 he co-edited a special issue of the academic journal Istmo devoted to the study of gender and sexualities in contemporary Central American literature. A fiction writer himself, Dr. Quesada has published seven books, including El atardecer de los niños (short stories, 1990; Editorial Costa Rica Award and Costa Rica National Book Award 1990), Lejos, tan lejos (short stories, Áncora Award in Literature, 2005), El gato de sí mismo (novel, Costa Rica National Book Award 2006) and Viajero que huye (short stories, 2008).  

Brad Richard’s second collection of poems, Motion Studies, won the 2010 Washington Prize from The Word Works and was published in 2011. He is also the author of Habitations (Portals Press, New Orleans, 2000), and his poems and reviews have appeared in American Letters & Commentary, Assembly, Barrow Street, Guernica, Iowa Review, Literary Imagination, Mississippi Review, New Orleans Review, Prairie Schooner, and other journals. Winner of the 2002 Writers Exchange competition in poetry from Poets & Writers, Inc., and recipient of fellowships from the Surdna Foundation and the Louisiana division of the arts, he has received residencies at the Ragdale Foundation and the Vermont Studio Center. Formerly with New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Riverfront, he is now chair of the creative writing program at Lusher Charter School in New Orleans. For more about Brad and his work, Click Here!

George Rodrigue, born and raised in New Iberia, LA, is best known for his Blue Dog paintings, which catapulted him to worldwide fame in the early 1990s. His art studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette followed by the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA gave him a foundation that has spawned one of the greatest success stories in southern art. Rodrigue and his art have been the subject of 12 books, published nationally and internationally, as well as numerous museum exhibitions, including 40-year career retrospectives at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens Museum in Memphis, TN (2007) and the New Orleans Museum of Art (2008), both of which broke all attendance records for living artists or contemporary shows. The artist began painting in the third grade while bedridden with polio. He already had won statewide acclaim for his rich portrayals of the landscape and people of South Louisiana when his Blue Dog transformed the image of the original Cajun werewolf dog or the loup-garou into an international pop icon. Rodrigue exhibits his original paintings and silkscreens in his own galleries in Carmel, CA and New Orleans, where, after 20 years in the same location, he recently purchased and renovated a 200 year old building adjacent to St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter, providing him with more than 4,000 square feet of exhibition space. Through the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts, Rodrigue raised $2.5 million benefiting post-Katrina New Orleans through sales of his relief prints, and in 2010 he held his first statewide art contest for seniors in the state of Louisiana, attracting four hundred applicants and granting scholarships, art supplies, and other assistance. For more information on the art of George Rodrigue, including recent work, visit www.georgerodrigue.com.

Chris Ruen is an author from Brooklyn whose essays and criticism have appeared in The New York Times, Slate and The New York Press. He is a former Contributing Editor for the internationally-distributed Cool ‘Eh Magazine and has covered music culture for Tiny Mix Tapes, a Minneapolis-based online music magazine. While studying at the University of Minnesota, he founded The Wake, a student magazine that went on to earn national recognition in 2006 as “Best Campus Publication” by the Independent Press Association. Ruen’s authorial debut, Freeloading: How Our Insatiable Appetite For Free Content Is Starving Creativity, will be released later this year by OR Books in the United States and Scribe Publications in Australia. Aided by the participation of musicians and professionals from Brooklyn’s independent music scene, Freeloading, re-examines the music industry’s travails with digital piracy over the past decade as a means of exploring why it matters whether consumers pay for their creative content in the digital age. Ruen’s work is animated by his desire to better understand what it means to be an engaged individual citizen-consumer in our time, as humanity begins to wrestle with this exponentially more technological, “connected” and dynamic new century.

Joséphine Sacabo lives and works in New Orleans,where she has been strongly influenced by the unique ambience of the city, and also in San Miguel Allende, Mexico. She is a native of Laredo, TX, and was educated at Bard College in NY. Before moving to New Orleans, she lived and worked extensively in France and England. Her earlier work was in the photo-journalisitic tradition, influenced by Robert Frank, Josef Koudelka, and Henri Cartier-Bresson. She now works in a very subjective, introspective style, using poetry as the genesis of her work. Her most important influences include Rilke, Baudelaire, Pedro Salinas, Vincente Huiobro, Juan Rulfo, Mallarmé, and Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz. Sacabo, has published four books of her work including Une Femme Habitée in Paris in 1991 (Editions Marval); award winning Pedro Paramo in 2002 (University of Texas Press); Cante Jondo in 2002 and Duino Elegie in 2005 (both 21st Publishing). Sacabo has shown solo in Paris, London, Madrid, Toulouse, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and other major U.S. cities. Her work has been widely published in magazines in the U.S. and Europe and is collected by museums such as the Whitney Museum of American Art; Museum of Modern Art - N.Y.; Smithsonian - Washington D.C.; and Library of Congress. Joséphine Sacabo has taught highly acclaimed workshops at the Center for Photography at Woodstock, the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie in Arles - France and at the Santa Fe Workshops. Her new collection of photographs, Óyeme con los Ojos (Hear Me With Your Eyes), is on exhibit at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and The Gallery of Fine Photography. For more on Joséphine and her work, Click Here!

Amy Serrano, Chairman of the new Pan American Connections Committee of the Faulkner Society is a New Orleans based, award-winning documentary filmmaker, whose film, The Sugar Babies, about Haitian children abducted by sugar companies for use as slave labor in the sugar industry across the border in the Dominican Republic, was screened at Words & Music in 2007. Amy also is a published poet, public speaker, and respected human rights activist who currently is working on her first book,  This is Who We Are. She also serves on the Advisory Council of the Faulkner Society and heads Amy Serrano & Associates | Creative Media, Communications and Consulting. For more on Amy and her work as a writer and filmmaker, Click Here!. For mor on her consulting business, visit: www.amyserrano.com

Julie Smith, the well-known creator of the dectectives Skip Langdon and Talba Wallace in her mystery series which includes the Edgar-winning New Orleans Mourning, is now turning her hand to a different kind of character, an engaging one at that, a cat. He's named A.B., advisor to budding psychic Reeno, ace teen burglar, tough and wiley like Julie's other female protagonists, just younger. Taking a cue from all of the resarch for her long series of mystery novels for adults, Reeno is a well drawn crime figure who describes her friend A. B. as the "mutant cat from Hell." The book, Cursebusters, a YA paranormal adventure, was released this summer. After editing a successful anthology by New Orleans authors, New Orleans Noir, she created an e-publishing company, launched in 2010 with a book by Patty Friedmann, and will have published 11 by the end of the year. Julie, who also has been a writing coach, is author of Writing Your Way, a no-nonsense, jam-packed book on writing fiction. The book came directly out of the author’s belief that most teachers need to cut their students a little slack and help them find their own writing method. As a result of her own explorations for e-publishing, she has posted a blog dealing with The Secret i-Book Strategy.  “Here’s the great thing about i-Books,” says Julie, “you can actually watch little movies in your book—right on your iPad or phone–like Harry Potter and his buddies did in the Hogwarts library. The pages turn just like real ones.” Find out more about Julie and her work at: http//www.booksBnimble.com, http://cursebustersbook.com/, and http://www.casamysterioso.com. She also blogs, Facebooks, and she, we assume, tweets up a storm, a totally modern Millie of a writer!

Shari Stauch has been involved in publishing, marketing and PR for 30 years. She is the co-creator of Pool & Billiard Magazine, celebrating 27 years as the sport’s oldest monthly magazine. In 2004 she retired from the Women’s Pro Billiard Tour after a 20 year career as a top player and marketer/co-creator of the tour (inducted into the WPBA Hall of Fame in 2007) to pursue development of Shark Marketing Co. and serve a growing community of writers and authors. Stauch and fellow author Brenda McClain produced the South Carolina Writer’s Conference in 2004, setting new attendance/income records. As an executive board member of Charleston, South Carolina’s Center for Women, she heads the Center’s Women's Writer Series. In 2008, Stauch signed on as Co-Director of Programming for Words & Music: A Literary Feast in New Orleans, and worked with team member Kendra Haskins to re-launch the organization’s website. Stauch continues to work with the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society as well as with agents, editors, writers and aspiring authors throughout the U.S., using her marketing and PR talents to help authors broaden their audiences. Stauch is a certified coach, an award-winning essayist and fiction writer, and four-time Faulkner-Wisdom finalist, including twice as an Essay finalist. In 2010 Ms. Stauch was First Runner-up in 2010. She was First Runner-up in the novel-in progress category in 2007 as well. She is the author of four non-fiction books and is working on completion of a novel set in her hometown, Chicago, IL. For more on Shari, Click Here!

Steve Striffler, Ph.D. is the Doris Zemurray Stone Chair of Latin American Studies, Professor of Anthropology and Geography, and Director of Latin American Studies at the University of New Orleans.  Steve received his Ph.D. at the New School for Social Research and has held postdoctoral fellowships at Yale, UNC, and Northwestern Universities. Dr. Striffler writes on Latin American food, labor, and politics. His first book, In the Shadows of State and Capital (Duke University Press) explored the history of banana production in South America. His second book, Chicken: The Dangerous Transformation of America's Favorite Food (Yale University Press) explores interrelated histories of chicken and Mexican immigration into the U.S. South. He currently is working on a book that explores the history of international solidarity between the U.S. and Latin America. Steve also enjoys learning and teaching about Latin American art, music, writing, culture, and food. He will be Master of Ceremonies for the gala evening at the Old U. S. Mint, setting the stage for a performance reading by Cuban-American playwright, director, and actor Nilo Cruz, the first Latino to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Justin Torres's debut novel, We The Animals (released in September, 2011), has released a firestorm of critical praise. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Granta, Tin House, Glimmer Train, and other publications. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he is a recipient of the Rolón United States Artist Fellowship in Literature, and is now a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford. He has worked as a farmhand, a dog-walker, a creative writing teacher, and a bookseller, and grew up in upstate New York. Now he has captured the hearts and minds of America's most important journals:

…a strobe light of a story...I wanted more of Torres's haunting word-torn world...New York Times Book Review

Justin Torres' debut novel is a welterweight champ of a book. It's short but it's also taut, elegant, lean — and it delivers a knockout.
NPR's Weekend Edition

Torres is precisely the kind of young talent, our namesake, Nobel Laureate William Faulkner, would have applauded: a fiercely talented writer, bravely experimenting with form, not unlike the master himself. For more on Justin and his work, Click Here!

Armando Valladares, who will deliver a keynote address during Words & Music, 2011, was a Cuban Postal Bank employee supporting himself in Havana as a college student, when he was arrested by Fidel Castro’s forces for refusing to remove a religious symbol from his desk and display instead a sign promoting communism. Valladares was jailed in 1960 at age 23 by new Castro government on charges of counter-revolutionary activity where he spent 22 years in prison. He was adopted by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience, and an international campaign for his release was led by his wife Marta. Many artists worldwide joined the campaign, which culminated in French President François Mitterrand’s personal appeal to Fidel Castro to free Valladares. Following his release, Valladares immigrated to the U.S. Amnesty International described him as the "embodiment" of a "prisoner of conscience" and referred to him as "arrested and sentenced for years in prison not for something he did but for something he refused to do, becoming  a martyr to Fidel Castro's propaganda machine."  His memoir, Against All Hopewhich details his incarceration in Cuban prisons—became an international bestseller. Maureen Reagan brought the Valladares case to the attention of her father, President Ronald Reagan, who appointed Valladares to serve as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. He served in that capacity from 1988 to 1990. As head of the U.S. Delegation, he successfully brought Cuba before the Commission for human rights violations. President Reagan later awarded Valladares the nation’s second-highest civil honor, the Presidential  Citizens Medal.  He continues to work for human rights all over the world and for projects to bolster the arts. For more on this remarkable man and founder of the Valladares Project in support of childrens’ rights, Click Here!

Ken Wells, acclaimed journalist and novelist, grew up deep in Cajun bayou country on the banks of Bayou Black about 60 miles southwest of New Orleans. He began his journalism career covering car wrecks and gator sightings for the weekly Houma Courier newspaper. He has gone on to an illustrious career: a Pulitzer Prize finalist for the Miami Herald; editor of two Pulitzer-Prize-winning projects for Page One of The Wall Street Journal where, over a 24-year period, he also roamed the globe covering the first Persian Gulf War, South Africa’s transition to a multiracial democracy and many other stories. He helped to launch Conde Nast Portfolio magazine in 2006 and is now is a senior writer for Bloomberg News Service's Projects & Investigations Team and a frequent contributor to Businessweek magazine, where he recently penned cover stories on South Africa's hosting of the World Cup and the BP Gulf Spill. Rascal, a Boy and His Dog, is Ken's fifth novel and his first venture into Young Adult publishing, though his first novel, Meely LaBauve, crossed over into the YA genre on its own and remains in print after ten years. He has also penned two non-fiction books: Travels with Barley, the Quest for the Perfect Beer Joint, a travelogue through America’s $75 billion beer industry, andThe Good Pirates of the Forgotten Bayous, a story of blue-collar heroism in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The Pirates won the 2009 Harry Chapin Book Award. He is currently working on a memoir and a sixth novel. Wells lives on Manhattan's Upper East Side in a tiny apartment with a view of the East River. When he's not at his day job or writing books, he dabbles in song writing and still is in the hunt for that perfect beer joint. With another bayou expatriate, he recently became the proud owner of the Bayou Belle, a 17-foot sports fishing boat that he uses to terrorize striped bass and bluefish in Long Island Sound.

Lawrence Wells, Ph.D. is the author of Rommel and the Rebel and Let the Band Play Dixie (Doubleday & Co.) and Rommel’s Peace (Sanctuary Editions). He edited the football yearbook, Football Powers of the South, and is currently working on a new historical novel, All in a Name. He is co-founder and publisher of Yoknapatawpha Press, an independent press since 1976 in Oxford, MS; co-founder and publisher of The Faulkner Newsletter; co-founder of the Faux Faulkner Contest. Wells has written the script for an Emmy-winning PBS documentary Return to the River. He has contributed articles to American Way, Southwest Spirit, Art and Antiques, and the New York Times Syndicate. Wells holds a B.A and M.A. in English from University of Alabama and a Ph.D.from the University of Mississippi. He lives in Oxford, MS. His wife, Dean Faulkner Wells, passed away in 2011. For more on Larry Wells and his work, Click Here!

Mark Yakich's first novel, A Meaning for Wife, will be released concurrent with Words & Music 2011. Mark is the author of Unrelated Individuals Forming a Group Waiting to Cross (a winner of the National Poetry Series, Penguin, 2004), The Making of Collateral Beauty (Snowbound Chapbook Award, Tupelo 2006), and The Importance of Peeling Potatoes in Ukraine (Penguin Poets, 2008). He is an associate professor of English at Loyola University New Orleans. A Meaning for Wife is the story of a man trying to come to terms with the sudden death of his wife, the aging parents he has long avoided, and the tribulations of single parenthood. For more on Mark and his novel, Click Here! Or, visit his website his www.markyakich.com.


Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society
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