As a boy, having two older sisters was the equivalent of having three mothers; but, one thing about them shaped my life and the person that I have become: they taught me to read and in doing so made reading one of my lifelong obsessions and passions.
When I was too young to go to school and they weren't, my sisters would come home and play 'school' on me. This was when the most electronically advanced units in our house were a Motorola radio and a Westinghouse toaster. They would come home from school, busybodies the two of them and they would sit me down and teach me what they had been taught that day. By the time I got to go to school I was already ahead of the class in reading and was easily bored with the lessons. I was labeled "daydreamer" and a kid that could do better "if only he would apply himself."
Growing up I learned that in the world of literature, music and art there are no boundaries and something new and wondrous is forever able to happen and with any luck at all, does. I also learned that in those areas there are craftspersons that will forever be of time as well as timeless; I have learned to cherish those people. Take Tennessee Williams.
I came upon Mr. Williams later in life and have never since ceased to be amazed at the originality and sheer power of his works; as a platform dedicated to his craft and influence we have The Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival (TWNOLF) March 21-25.
As per tradition, the 26thTWNOLF will be chock full of panel discussions, master classes, theatrical performances (including the not to be missed Streetcar Named Desire), music and food events and the infamous Tennessee Williams walking tour. The days start early, end late and there is hardly time to catch a breath before the ending of one event propels you into a new event's beginning. On the website www.tennesseewilliams.net there are 28 pages of programs and all aspects scream "DON"T MISS ME!!!" like the 'Talking Tennessee' conversation with Amanda Plummer and Piper Laurie; The Breakfast Book Club; Home is where The Heart Is (with Chef John Besh) or the fabulous annual "STELLA!!!" (and STANLEY!!!!") shouting contests. You'll travel from the Hotel Monteleone to Muriel's on Jackson Square, The Williams Research Center, The Historic New Orleans Collection, Palm Court and Southern Rep Theater. You may want to pack a lunch or at least get real with a server at one of our fine local eating establishments, letting them know that you're on a mission to the next presentation and need your food and check without hesitation (tip well to give TWNOLF a good name).
Here's our writers pick, a must see in our opinion worth the trip out of the Quarter:
LITERARY LATE NIGHT:
FRIDAY, MARCH 23, 8 P.M.
2372 St. Claude Avenue, $15.
Think you know New Orleans? Explore the city of yore through a variety show that brings to life the works of Lafcadio Hearn, who in the late 1800s gave New Orleans its provocative reputation for Voodoo mystery, exotic cuisine, and a fecund underbelly. In this choreographed evening of readings, music, and dance, the People Say Project present artists from the burgeoning Bywater/Marigny theater and performance scene in the heart of the St. Claude arts district. Experience the city's resilient literary culture while looking back at a figure who left an indelible mark on the world's image of New Orleans.
I'm taking time off from work to be there and I'll see you, huh?