Room 220 is delighted to host a Happy Hour Salon honoring the winners of the 2015 Tennessee Williams Literary Festival’s fiction and poetry contests from 6 – 9 p.m. on Thursday, March 26, at the Press Street HQ (3718 St. Claude Ave.).
This official TWF event will feature readings by the fiction and poetry contest winners—Carrie Cogan and Emily Leithauser, respectively—as well as other titillating literary enticements involving this year’s poetry judge, Vijay Seshadri, past TWF contest winner Kent Wascom and past finalist Maurice Carlos Ruffin, and Zachary Lazar, who will sit in for this year’s fiction contest judge, Molly Antopol. Seshadri will talk with Leithauser about her work, and Lazar will moderate a discussion on the weird world of literary contests with Cogan, Wascom, and Ruffin.
Poetry judge Vijay Seshadri praised winner Emily Leithauser’s work for its “delicacy and accuracy of the perceptions, both physical and emotional, and the beautiful way in which they are counterpoised to the large-scale narrative and dramatic interactions, and to the musical development.”
Fiction judge Molly Antopol, who will be unable to attend the event, said of Carrie Cogan’s winning story, “Birds of Paradise,” “the voice is electric and immediate, the setting beautifully and vividly rendered, and the writing itself is tight and lyrical without ever calling attention to itself. A tremendously smart and evocative story by a writer who appears to have talent in spades.”
As always, this event is free and open to the public.
About the winners, judges, and presenters:
Carrie Cogan attended Vassar College and holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is a past recipient of Nimrod‘s Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction. Her work has also appeared in Gulf Coast and Numero Cinq. She lives on an island in Canada with her husband and two young sons and is at work on a novel.
Emily Leithauser is a poet and translator whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in New Ohio Review, Literary Imagination, Blackbird, Southwest Review, and Able Muse, among other places. She earned an MFA from Boston University and her A.B. in History and Literature from Harvard. She is a visiting lecturer at Emory University, where she is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English. She lives in Atlanta.
Vijay Seshadri won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for his collection 3 Sections. He is the author of two other collections: Wild Kingdom and The Long Meadow, winner of the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets. His writing has appeared in the American Scholar, The Nation, New Yorker, Paris Review, New York Times Book Review, BOMB, and other places. He is the Myers professor of writing at Sarah Lawrene College. He was born in Bangalore, India, and lives in Brooklyn.
Zachary Lazar is the author most recently of I Pity the Poor Immigrant, a New York Times Notable Book of 2014, as well as the novel Sway, and Evening’s Empire: The Story of My Father’s Murder. His work has appeared in New York Times Magazine, NPR’s All Things Considered, Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere. Lazar is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Hodder Fellowship. He lives in New Orleans and teaches at Tulane.
Kent Wascom’s first novel, The Blood of Heaven, was named a 2013 notable book by Washington Post, Esquire, NPR, and Publisher’s Weekly. He won the 2012 Tennessee Williams Festival Prize for Fiction. His second novel, Secessia, will appear in July 2015. He currently lives on a wildlife sanctuary in Louisiana.
Maurice Carlos Ruffin is a graduate of the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop and a member of the Peauxdunque Writers Alliance and the Melanated Writers Collective. His work has appeared in Redivider, the Apalachee Review, and Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas edited by Rebecca Solnit and Rebecca Snedecker. He is the winner of the 2014 Iowa Review Fiction Award, the 2014 So to Speak Journal Short Story Award, and the 2014 William Faulkner Competition for Novel in Progress. He was a finalist for the 2012 Tennessee Williams Festival Fiction Prize.