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Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival Premieres Virtual Writer’s Retreat

NEW ORLEANS – The 35th annual Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival offers two consecutive weekends of virtual programming in March 2021: a virtual Writer’s Retreat followed by a weekend of traditional events presented online. The Writer’s Retreat, March 19-21, will include online writing workshops, author events, and a writing marathon.

Delivering a keynote inspirational message to writers is Robert Jones, Jr., whose debut novel The Prophets is garnering praise and making top lists across the country. He will be interviewed by NPR’s The Reading Life’s Susan Larson.
Acclaimed and award-winning authors will lead workshops on various topics for writers at every stage of their career. Ethan Brown discusses the nearly decade-long process of reporting on the Jeff Davis 8 case that culminated in the book and documentary series Murder in The Bayou. He is joined by award-winning journalist Pamela Colloff, senior reporter at ProPublica and staff writer at the New York Times Magazine. Performer and poet Sunni Patterson will lead a workshop on the art and act of being present in mind and on the page; Maurice Carlos Ruffin, author of the acclaimed novel We Cast a Shadow and the upcoming short story collection, The Ones Who Say They Love You, leads an exploration of tried and true techniques that will help writers find a good place to begin; Poets & Writers contributing editor Michael Bourne gives a comprehensive look at literary agencies and the process of finding an agent; Leigh Camacho Rourks, author of Moon Trees and Other Orphans, will give a focused craft talk on characterization using the body; The Floating World author C. Morgan Babst and Lily King, author of Writers and Lovers, discuss the pleasures and pitfalls of the writing life; Elizabeth Miki Brina author the debut memoir Speak, Okinawa, leads a workshop on writing from memory; Sharyn Rosenblum and Katy Simpson Smith discuss strategies to find literary success online.
Also included is a session by Kindle Direct Publishing with Goodreads on finding an audience online. The New Orleans Writing Marathon will lead participants on a virtual writing tour of the New Orleans French Quarter with a Tennessee Williams theme.
The keynote is free, and the live Writing Workshops via Zoom are $15 per ticket.
The traditional Festival will open on March 24 with an online evening performance of A Vieux Carré Cabaret with Vinsantos, LadyBeast, and Franky. Other virtual events include the Tennessee Williams Tribute Reading with Alan Cumming, Ann Magnuson, Amy Ryan, Mink Stole, Blair Underwood, and more; An interview with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright John Patrick Shanley; Bryan Batt in conversation with Tennessee Williams scholar Dr. Kenneth Holditch; and a Williams Scholars Session. Panel discussions and interviews include Megan Abbott, Randy Fertel, Alison Gaylin, Ladee Hubbard, Laura Lippman, Lauren Markham, John Cameron Mitchell, John Pope, Alice Quinn, Mo Rocca, Kalamu Ya Salaam, Heather Ann Thompson, M.O. Walsh, and many more. Online music events include Bon Bon Vivant, Sierra Green and the Soul Machine, Arsène DeLay, and a jazz cocktail hour with Joel Dinerstein. Culinary events include a live Jazz Brunch show with Poppy Tooker and cocktails with Tim McNally; plus a full-length film by Lisa Immordino Vreeland, Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation. Virtual Theater offerings include productions from The Tennessee Williams Theatre Co. of New Orleans; Teatro Sin Fronteras / Theater without Borders curated by Jose Torres-Tama; and Williams one-acts presented by Le Petit Théâtre Du Vieux Carré, and The NOLA Project.
Founded in 1986, the Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival is for readers, writers, theater lovers, and anyone who loves New Orleans’ magical culture. TWFest showcases regional, national, and international writers, actors, musicians, and other artists, both acclaimed and emerging. A portion of the programming is devoted to the creative genius of Tennessee Williams, who considered New Orleans his spiritual home. For more information, visit or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @TWFestNOLA.

The Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival is supported by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council. Funding is also provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Literary Arts Emergency Fund. Major backing comes from the New Orleans Theatre Association, which supports performing arts throughout the Greater New Orleans area, along with support from The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc. This program is supported in part by a Community Arts Grant made possible by the City of New Orleans.
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