The New Orleans book launch of Chapter Member Melinda Palacio‘s new poetry collection, Bird Forgiveness, is Wednesday, July 25, 6 PM, at Octavia Books.



Chapter Member Chris Smith, Manager of Adult Programming for the  Jefferson Parish Library, announces “300 Years of Literature,” the 4th annual Jefferson Parish Library Literary Festival. The literary festival focuses on some of the most prominent authors who have lived in New Orleans and how their books have helped define and shape the city and its culture. It will take place on August 4, starting at 9:30 AM, at the East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon, Metairie. Chapter Member Susan Larson will provide the keynote address.

The event is free of charge and is open to the public. Books by authors will be available for those who would like to purchase them.

9:30 a.m. – Keynote Address, Susan Larson

Susan Larson, host of WWNO Radio’s The Reading Life, and author of Book Lover’s Guide to New Orleans, will discuss books about the literature of the city and region in the past 300 years. 

11 a.m. – Outsiders, Patricia Brady, PhD

Pat Brady, PhD, will discuss literary outsiders who interpreted and popularized New Orleans to the rest of the country, including Lafcadio Hearn and Frances Parkinson Keyes.

12:30 p.m. – Kate Chopin’s Secrets, Emily Toth, PhD

Emily Toth is the world’s authority on the life of Kate Chopin, and her Unveiling Kate Chopin is the definitive biography.

2 p.m. – Ignatius J. Reilly – A Very Lucky Dog, Cynthia Lejeune Nobles

Nobles talks about the fare of Ignatius and his cohorts. Through a narrative and almost 200 recipes, Nobles explores the intersection of food, history and culture found in the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, opening up a new avenue into New Orleans’ culinary traditions.


Chapter Member Chris Smith, Manager of Adult Programming for the  Jefferson Parish Library, announces the reading of four local poets, including Chapter Members Anne Babson and Gina Ferrara. They will discuss and read from their works at 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 16, at the East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon, Metairie. The event is free of charge and is open to the public.

Anne Babson, Polite Occasions

Polite Occasions imagines the future is female, that she is a lady, and if the human race is to survive what evangelical Christians call “end times,” it will be because ladies have decided to make unladylike plans. This collection is largely set in a dystopian near-future world where political structures have become authoritarian and many feel spiritually adrift, all while most people pretend not to notice.

Anne Babson’s first collection, The White Trash Pantheon, won the Colby H. Kullman prize from the Southern Writers Southern Writing Conference in Oxford, Mississippi. She has received residency grants from Yaddo and Vermont Studio Center. Her blog about moving south, The Carpetbaggers Journal, has close to 50,000 hits and has been picked up by Y’all Politics and PBS-related websites. She teaches writing and literature at Southeastern Louisiana University. She writes and lives in New Orleans.

Gina Ferrara, Fitting the Sixth Finger 

Fitting the Sixth Finger is an homage to the paintings of Marc Chagall. Like so many of Chagall’s mysterious paintings, the poems in this chapbook oscillate between memory and dream, images observed and those only imagined, as they draw readers close with their quiet color and vivid music.

Ferrara was born in New Orleans and received an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of New Orleans. She works as an educator and lives in New Orleans near Bayou St. John. Her chapbook, The Size of Sparrows, was published by Finishing Line Press. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals including Poetry East, The Briar Cliff Review, and Callaloo. She was awarded a grant from The Elizabeth George Foundation and was recently published in The Poetry Ireland Review. She coordinates Poetry Buffet, the monthly reading series sponsored by the New Orleans Public Library.


Chapter Member Samantha Downing‘s debut novel My Lovely Wife will be out in March of 2019 and was recently featured in Publishers Weekly

Chapter Member Constance Adler led a session on Guided Meditation and the Creative Process at East Bank Regional Library in Metairie. Constance is the author of the memoir My Bayou, New Orleans Through the Eyes of a Lover.  Her stories have appeared in numerous publications that include Oxford American, Utne Reader, Spy Magazine, Bayou, and Blackbird. Her profile of Mardi Gras float designer Henri Schindler in Gambit Weekly was honored by the Louisiana Press Association with a first place award in feature writing.


The Tricentennial Reading List with Chapter Founder Susan Larson airs during NPR’s Morning Edition at 8:44 a.m. and All Things Considered at 5:44 p.m. on WWNO. The first of four episodes talks about food books with Judy Walker.
Chapter Member Dr.Miki Pfeffer spoke with the Southern Nights Book Club about her book, Southern Ladies and Suffragists: Julia Ward Howe and Women’s Rights at the 1884 New Orleans World’s Fair, winner of the 2015 Eudora Welty Prize. Her new book, soon to be published, is Getting to Know Mark Twain through the Eyes of Grace King, A Southern Woman of Letters. In October of 2018 Miki will be speaking at the Mark Twain Center in Elmira, New York.

Congratulations to Chapter Member Eve Brouwer! Her poem “First Ladies, m. 1963—d. 1976” won first place in WNBA’s Sixth Annual Writing Contest. (Click on the first link to read her poem in full.)

Chapter Member Anne Boyd Rioux‘s Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters was chosen as one of the best summer books of 2018 by Newsday. Anne’s book will be published in August by Norton to coincide with the 150th birthday of Little Women, and has been reviewed at Publishers Weekly and Kirkus. See the rest of Anne’s busy schedule here: https://anneboydrioux.com/events/.



Chapter Member and award-winning poet Carolyn Hembree has three poems in The Winter Anthology . Her A Cutter’s Sestina (Prom ’95) — read it here at Contrary — was nominated for the Best of the Net anthology.

Chapter Member Marti Dumas‘s Jupiter Storm is reviewed at Kirkus.
Chapter Member Katherine Nelson-Born is the author of the chapbook When Mockingbirds Sing (Finishing Line Press). Katherine also works as a consultant for K&K Manuscript editing.
Congratulations to Chapter Member Chris Smith! His story “Aloha, Ollie Bell” is a runner-up to the contest winner of this year’s Saints and Sinners Short Fiction Contest. It’s included in the anthology Saints and Sinners 2018: New Fiction from the Festival.
Chapter Member and award-winning poet Laura Mullen is the 2017-18 Arons Poet at Newcomb College Institute. Some of Laura’s work can be found in the journal Lana Turner and her Six Elsie Poems are an online exclusive at Conjunctions. Last summer she visited New Zealand to read (also here) her poetry at the University of Auckland.
Chapter Member Jean Redmann‘s The Girl on the Edge of Summer is a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award in the category of Lesbian Mystery.

Board Members Susan Larson and Dawn Ruth Wilson have written chapters in  New Orleans: The First 300 Years. Susan’s chapter is “Literary Heritage” and Dawn’s is “Education”. Dawn writes a monthly education column for New Orleans magazine. The book is published by Pelican Publishing.
Chapter Member Missy Aleman Couhig‘s bookstore The Conundrum in St. Francisville is one of the nominees for a 2018 Pannell Award in the General Bookstore category. The Conundrum was named one of the 10 best bookstores in Louisiana last year. Missy chairs three book festivals: The Walker Percy Weekend, The Writers and Readers Symposium, and The West Feliciana Children’s Book Festival .
Chapter Member Chris Smith and Manager of Adult Programming at Jefferson Parish Library announces that the Reading Minds will discuss Don Quixote at 7 p.m. on 12 Monday night sessions during 2018 at the East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon, Metairie.This event is free of charge and open to the public. For more info, contact Chris at (504) 889-8143  or wcsmith@jplibrary.net
Chapter Member Stacey Balkun is the winner of the 2017 Faulkner-Wisdom Poetry Prize for Wolf-Girl.
Chapter Member Laura Lane McNeal‘s first published novel Dollbaby, a 2015  Pat Conroy Award Finalist, was recently optioned for film by Alison Eastwood (Clint’s daughter) and Gulfstream Productions. Announcement from the Hollywood Reporter coming soon!
Chapter Member Dr. Nancy Dixon of Dillard University (and Humanities Hero) is the executive editor of New Orleans’ tricentennial book: New Orleans and the World published by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.
Read two poems by Chapter member Alexandra Reisner in the latest issue of Knicknackery.
Chapter Member Andrea Panzeca is the author of poetry chapbooks Rusted Bells and Daisy Baskets and Weird… Joe Pesci.

Listen to Andrea on Susan Larson‘s The Reading Life.




Chapter Member Kathy Schrenk‘s middle-grade novel is A Dog Steals Home.

Co-founding Chapter Member Chris Wiltz‘s The Last Madam is on the Wall Street Journal‘s best seller list.

Chapter Member Gina Ferrara‘s latest poetry collection is Fitting the Sixth Finger: Poems Inspired by the Paintings of Marc Chagall.Gina’s book is the focus of the feature The Whole Story in the latest WNBA Bookwoman newsletter. Chapter members Susan Larson and Melinda Palacio talk about and review Gina’s work in the feature. You can also listen to Susan interview Gina here.


Chapter Member Stacey Balkun‘s chapbooks, Jackalope-Girl Learns to Speak and Lost City Museum, have both been nominated for the 2017 Elgin Award.

Stacey is also the first-place winner of the Poetry Division of WNBA’s 5th Annual Writing Contest. Congratulations, Stacey!

Chapter Member, and one of the founding members, Freddi Williams Evans, award-winning author, independent scholar, arts educator and community activist, is being lauded as a Humanities Hero by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH). Among her many other activities and accomplishments, she currently serves as scholar for the Prime Time Family Time Literacy Program and as dean of Ashé Cultural Arts Center’s Institute of Cultural Education. She is the author of Congo Square: African Roots in New Orleans and an international authority on the topic. She has also authored three historically based children’s books. She is on the editorial board of the city’s tricentennial book, New Orleans & The World: The Tricentennial Anthology.
 Chapter Member Vicky McHenry is an inaugural board member of the New Orleans chapter of Sisters in Crime.
READ Posters from our May 2016 meeting:
Many thanks to Meghan Kelly, Country Day Lower School librarian, and Mary (Meb) Norton, Country Day School Director of Libraries, for hosting our meeting last year and for creating a fun poster-making activity! Each member was asked to bring and pose with a copy of her favorite book.  Pictured below are Membership Chair Sara Woodard with My Reading Life by Pat Conroy and Community Outreach Chair Linda Prout with The Little Free Library Book by Margret Aldrich.  
Member Anne Boyd Riouxs biography,  Constance Fenimore Woolson: Portrait of a Lady Novelist, was chosen as one of the Best Books of 2016 by the Chicago Tribune.
Chapter Members’ Holiday Book Traditions:

from Member Miki Pfeffer: Last year’s Christmas card was fun to create. My book tree is topped with my own Southern Ladies and Suffragists;  Julia Ward Howe and Women’s Rights at the 1884 New Orleans World’s Fair.


from Membership Chair Sara Woodard: Every year, I take out these faded holiday books, hand-written and illustrated by my two sons many years ago, and place them under the tree. (Yeah, they really love that!) I also add some local books, like the Cajun Night Before Christmas!


from Secretary Teresa Tumminello Brader: My Dickens Village started small and has grown (too!) big, but it remains centered around the story of A Christmas Carol (other Dickens’ novels are also represented). Though its details may change from year to year, I strive to keep the display as historically and literarily accurate as possible.


from Treasurer Karen Kersting: We observe the Advent tradition in my house with the Autumn/Winter volume of Phyllis Tickle’s “Divine Hours”. This book includes an entire section specifically arranged for the 4 weeks before Christmas. The selections of songs, prayers and quotes provides an opportunity for some reflective quiet in the midst of all the other preparations and celebrations. In the photo is an image of our Advent wreath & the book. It has become an oddly humorous family tradition that I can NEVER seem to find 3 purple candles of either the same size nor all in the exact same shade of purple. One year, I had no choice but to buy 4 white candles and embellish them with the correct-colored ribbon!

Co-founding Chapter member and Past-President Susan Larson‘s essay about the A Christmas Carol Read-Aloud tradition of the Dickens Fellowship of New Orleans is available near the end of the archived December 20th broadcast of The Reading Life.
Chapter Member Marigny Dupuy is a co-founder and co-leader of the New Orleans Chapter of the Dickens Fellowship.


Our Members Recommend

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

The Alaskan Laundry by Brendan Jones

Hollywood South: Glamour, Gumbo, and Greed by Linda Thurman

Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild

A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

Fairendale series by R.L. Toalson

The Goldfinch by by Donna Tartt

The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks by Terry Tempest Williams

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante


Constance Adler, head of the Bayou Writing Workshop, taught two 2016 WNBA writing contest prize-winners: Nicole Eiden and Rita Juster.

Anne Boyd Rioux’s Constance Fenimore Woolson: Portrait of a Lady Novelist was reviewed in The New York Times Book Review.

Susan Larson has co-written New Orleans’ Literary Landmark: Hotel Monteleone, detailing its role in several famous authors’ lives and works.

Laura Mullen’s widely reviewed and praised eighth book, Complicated Grief, is a hybrid collection of poetry, prose, memoir and essay.



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