Inaugural poetry festival to ignite literary energy

Chloe Christian, Staff Reporter

An underrated facet of New Orleans culture is its rich literary tradition. There has been a prominent poetry scene for many years and, at last, it is being celebrated in the same fashion as all of the other arts the Big Easy is proud to promote: a big festival.

New Orleans will hold its first annual poetry festival from Friday to Sunday. This festival is dedicated to fostering creative growth as well as providing opportunities for collaboration between talented writers and aspiring poets. Not only will the festival showcase published and revered poets, but it will also feature fresh, upcoming “energies” within the program, according to the festival’s mission statement. Organized by publisher and writer Bill Lavender and editor Megan Burns, the festival showcases activities that range from cultural recreation to intellectual discussion.

The festival will be held at the Arts Estuary on Elysian Fields Avenue. Showcasing poets, professors and writers, the festival’s special guests will lead multiple programs pertaining to their specialities. Some poets performing their work include Charles Alexander, Kimberly Aido and Bruce Anders. Ralph Adamo, author of “Ever,” will also be performing. The collection of poems was published by Lavender Ink, the publishing company, which was created by festival founder Bill Lavender.

The “Poets with Bands Show,” a live event featuring bands Skin Verb and Call Girls occurs 6 p.m. Friday at Siberia, following the festival’s opening reception and meet-and-greet.

Events kick off at 10 a.m. Saturday and include a variety of panels and readings. They will focus on poetic collaboration as well as intellectual discussions, such as panel discussions to offer aspiring writers specific literary advice and insight regarding the topic of “Father/Daughter Writing Relationships.” This specific workshop is led by Tulane Director of Creative Writing Peter Cooley, who is Louisiana’s current poet laureate, and his daughter Nicole Cooley.


“I look forward to seeing a big meeting of poets from all of New Orleans as well as around the country and globe,” Lavender said. “To have this new blood of writers contribute will enlarge the community and provide everyone with a chance to learn from each other.”

Additionally, there will be different publishers reading their collected works such as the Dillard University English Club presenting a spoken word showcase. Aside from readings, unique poetry workshops will be held such as the “Dreams and Poetry” seminar led by writer, Roger Quemener. Exploring the variety of poetry workshops available is recommended for any college student interested in pursuing creative writing professionally.

“By attending poetry readings and panel discussions at the festival, collegiates can listen to literary advice and share ideas with veterans of the field,” Lavender said.

Saturday night will include a happy hour and dance party following the readings and performances of selected poets. Offering bookmarking workshops and literary walking tours, Sunday morning will continue with intellectual and literary seminars. The festival closes with a farewell open mic 3 p.m. Sunday at the Maple Leaf Bar.

“As an aspiring writer, these workshops will really help shape my writing,” Tulane freshman Peri Levine said. “I love meeting cool new people, so this is definitely a good opportunity to network while exploring New Orleans.”

Student tickets and weekend passes are online now for $52.24 with student ID. If you are underage or just interested in going for the half day, tickets are only $26.62. For anyone interested in poetry, writing or just a good time, the first annual New Orleans Poetry Festival will capture the literary energy of New Orleans and inspire one to pick up a pencil and write.

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