LITERARY FESTIVALS IN 2016: COLUMBIA, CHARLOTTESVILLE, AND NEW ORLEANS
I spoke at three enjoyable literary festivals in the first half of 2016.
In February, I drove down to Columbia, South Carolina, for the inaugural Deckle Edge Literary Festival. On the 20th, I spoke on two panels. In one, “War Stories,” I talked about Purgatory and Salvation, two of my novels that “queer” the Civil War. Then I spoke on a panel composed of contributors to the anthology Crooked Letter i: Coming Out in the South, edited by Connie Griffin. In between conference events, I walked around the grounds of the South Carolina State Capitol and the University of South Carolina, and I visited the grave of Confederate cavalry hero Wade Hampton.
In March, despite suffering from a ferocious cold, I spoke on two panels at the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville, Virginia. On the 17th, I was part of a panel of contributors to Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean: Meditations on the Forbidden from Contemporary Appalachia, edited by Adrian Blevins and Karen Salyer McElmurray. On the 18th, with other contributors to Crooked Letter i, I spoke on a panel about LGBT life in the South. If you get to Charlottesville, check out The Whiskey Jar. It’s a great restaurant on the downtown pedestrian mall that has tasty drinks and Southern food.
At the beginning of April, I participated in the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in the French Quarter of New Orleans. That festival, which I attend annually, is one of the high points of my year. I wouldn’t miss it. The folks at that festival—writers, editors, and publishers—compose pretty much the only literary community I feel part of, and almost all of what I’ve published in the last decade has been due to contacts I’ve made at Saints and Sinners.
Usually my husband John accompanies me to SAS, but this year my wonderful friend Cynthia Burack, a political theorist in the Women’s Studies Department at Ohio State University, went with me. We shared a room at the Hotel Monteleone and both spoke on panels. On Saturday, April 2nd, I appeared on yet another panel of Crooked Letter i contributors and also spoke on a panel called “Let’s Talk About Sex,” which focused on the place of the erotic in literature. On Sunday the 3rd, I was part of a reading featuring contributors to the anthology Not Just Another Pretty Face, edited by Louis Flint Ceci.
Literary events were only part of the pleasures of that New Orleans trip, however. I introduced Cindy to some of my favorite French Quarter restaurants: barbequed shrimp at Mr. B’s Bistro and meat pies at Arnaud’s, plus rich and delicious dinners at the Court of Two Sisters, Desire Oyster Bar, and Galatoire’s. Yum. I can’t wait to get back for the next Saints and Sinners Festival in late March 2017.