RM220’s Picks for the Best Panels and Events at the 2018 New Orleans Poetry Festival (April 20-22)


The New Orleans Poetry Festival takes place from April 20-22, primarily at the New Orleans Healing Center (2372 St. Claude).

(Editor’s Note: RM220 Co-Editor Sara Slaughter will be moderating a panel on Antenna/Press Street’s collaborative chapbook series at 10:05 a.m. on Saturday, April 21, and RM220 Co-Editor Christopher Romaguera is one of the festival coordinators. Antenna will also have a table at the small book fair.)

The festival celebrates its third year in 2018, and these are RM220’s picks for best panels and events this year:

Friday, April 20

Friday Night Registration and Opening Feature, 7 p.m., Cafe Istanbul. Opening remarks by Megan Burns and Bill Lavender, a reading by Louisiana Poet Laureate Jack Bedell, performances by members of the nationally recognized Baton Rouge Slam Team (Eskay, Jazmyne Smith, Alejandro, Kyle Beadle, Jolie Gilbert), and music from Kelcy Mae and Ever More Nest.

Comedy Verses Poetry, 10:30 p.m., Mags (940 Elysian Fields)No Good Poetry Podcast presents: Comedy Verses Poetry featuring: Briana Augustus, Bruins Bagneris, Joseph Bienvenu, Xander Bilyk, Chris Champagne, Nkechi Chibueze, JFunny, Adam Higgins, Chris Lane, Ted Orphan, Eritria Pitts, and more!  Co-Hosted by Paul Oswell & J.S. Makkos.

Saturday, April 21

Why Women’s Workshop?, 9 a.m., Healing Center. Why is a women’s workshop vital? How does community sustain the urgency of the writing process? Participants include Cassie Pruyn, Jerika Marchan, Elizabeth Gross, Aran Donovan, Megan Ann McHugh, and Chanel Marie Clarke.

The Escape is the Method: Black Fugitivity, The Outdoors, & (Re)Considering Elsewhere, 10:05 a.m., Healing Center. Poets Taylor Johnson, Sean D. Henry Smith, M’Bilia Meekers, A.H. Jerriod Avant, and Jayson P. Smith will read new poems in response to the idea of “The Black Outdoors” (or, black fugitivity, as defined by Fred Moten and Saidiya Hartman). What does it mean to continue to produce art in the constant threat of state terror / violence?

Unlikely Stories: A 20th Anniversary Reading, 2 p.m., Spotted Cat. On July 1, 1998, UNLIKELY STORIES debuted as an on-line journal of transgressive poetry. In the past twenty years, it has been home to some of the most remarkable voices in experimental and neo-pulp literature, and has expanded its mission to visual art, movies, music, fiction and creative non-fiction, sociopolitical conversations, and criticism of all types. Readers include Larissa Shmailo, Marc Vincenz, and Vincent A. Cellucci and Christopher Shipman. Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Penton hosts.

Dillard University English Club Presents Spoken Word, 4:10 p.m., Spotted Cat. Dillard’s English Club is a group of young writers, urging to craft their works and experiment with the potential to become someone, who have a purpose and desire fulfill their aspirations. Dillard students Des’Trell Banks, Amara Edwards and Aubrey Smith will be joined by poet Quess Moore for the presentation.

Everyday Muses: Poetry Show & Tell, 5:15 p.m., Spotted Cat. This multi-media reading will feature five poets (Chloe Hanson, Stacey Balkun, Michael Quess? More, Tiana Nobile, and Christopher Louis Romaguera) who will present their work along with artifacts of inspiration. Stretching the boundaries of traditional ekphrasis–writing after art–these poets’ influences expand beyond the familiar, including but not limited to music, food, flora, and place.

Lonely Voices: Storytelling, Character, and Place, 5:15 p.m., Healing Center. In very different ways, voice is central to the fiction of the writers on this panel (Tom Andes, George Bishop, Katy Simpson Smith, Kalamu ya Salaam, and Kristina Kay Robinson), which will ask them to consider the role of voice in their work. How central is voice to the composition of fiction?

Sunday, April 22

Black Space: A Reading with Black Poets, 3:05 p.m., Cafe Istanbul. Writers Kalamu ya Salaam, Ashley Jones, Tony Medina, and Rae Paris will be talking to one another, about each other, for each other. They’ll be doing this fully aware they are in New Orleans, in a city whose Black Spaces have been/are under continual threat by cishetero patriarchal White Supremacist systems that devalue Black life at the same time these systems seek to commodify it. This reading and these poets also acknowledge that Black Spaces in the settler colonial nation state known as the United States always exist on Indigenous lands.

Creation and Translation: A Panel of Translator-Poets, 3:05 p.m., Healing Center. This panel of translator-poets (Biljana D. Obradovic, David G. Lanoue, and Petar Tchouhov, and John Gery) will explore from the inside poetic translation compared to original composition. How does one’s experience as a poet inform one’s translations? How does one’s experience as a translator inform one’s poetry?


Dogfish Reading Series presents New Orleans Poetry Festival Poets at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 19, at 2448 N. Villere Street.

The Waves returns at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 24, at Antenna (3718 St. Claude) featuring Alma Mathijsen, Megan McHugh, Sven Davisson, Poets Reading the News, and more.