I spent the week in New Orleans, for the Words and Music writing festival, and had a great time. New Orleans is so architecturally beautiful that I wondered if the US made a mistake letting Englishness take over: the French and Spanish do city-making so prettily.
The festival's focus was the honouring of Ernest Gaines. I watched Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra perform a tribute of original compositions to Gaines, as well as Soledad O'Brien reading from A Prayer Before Dying, and Cicely Tyson resuming, live on stage, her role as Miss Jane Pittman from the film of Gaines's novel.
This was me on the way to the concert, on Bourbon Street, about to eat a slice of pizza.
That slice was the only thing I ate in the city that was not incredible. This dish, below, served at the up town restaurant Jacquismo's, comprised a whole deepfried flounder, stuffed with crab, shrimp, and crawfish (“crayfish” for the English), then topped with hollandaise sauce. Yes, you read that correctly.
The conference itself was excellent. I heard Ernest Gaines discuss his novel-writing process, gave, with Jeni Stewart, director of Burlesque Press, a very successful talk on romantic villains in literature, and was able to meet up with my MFA director / mentor, Lisa Zeidner, for more career advice. I also attended a reading of the finale of John Biguenet's Hurricane Katrina trilogy, Mold: excellent.
Really, New Orleans is pretty amazing. I may have to write a second post about it (the semester is ending, and next week, my blogging energies should have been refreshed…)
(photographs of me and food by Jeni Stewart)