Members enjoyed a fascinating program on Tulane’s Louisiana Research Collection as a resource for authors on January 23. The program was presented by Lee Miller, head of the LaRC.
He provided information on how to use archives in literary and historical research, specifically the materials offered at the LaRC. The collection encompasses almost four linear miles of archival documents, books, maps, and other resources central to the history and culture of Louisiana — from colonial era documents to the LaRC’s renowned Civil War collection, as well as a celebrated Carnival Collection and extensive holdings on Louisiana arts and literature featuring materials from Mark Twain, John Kennedy Toole, and William Faulkner. The LaRC also holds extensive materials on Louisiana politics, women, gender, religion, and New Orleans food culture.
On January 13, WNBA-NOLA presented Words & Society: Women Poets Resist with Louisiana’s former state poet laureate Julie Kane and local poets Stacey Balkun, Gina Ferrara, Andrea Panzeca and Carolyn Hembree as moderator.
National Reading Group Month is an initiative of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA). Founded in 1917, WNBA promotes literacy, a love of reading, and women’s roles in the community of the book.
Our November meeting was well attended, but the below is for those of you who couldn’t make the meeting or would like a record of our Chapter President Marie Breaux’s remarks on the National Meeting/Centennial Celebration held in NYC in October and on the important ways your WNBA membership can work for you.
The WNBA has been an all-volunteer organization for 100 years: no paid staff. It started with a group of female booksellers who marched in the October 1917 suffragette parade: they couldn’t belong or participate in the all-male publishing-industry group, so they started their own organization. Pearl Buck recommended they become an NGO affiliate of the United Nations (as part of the Department of Public Information) and that affiliation (since 1959) holds to this day.
National Benefits for Members
As a New Orleans chapter member, you are a member of WNBA (National) as well and have several benefits you can take advantage of. The newest one is that C&R Press out of North Carolina is interested in a WNBA imprint: the two owners will be visiting the chapters in the hope of publishing books by members. C&R is the publisher of the Centennial publication, Women in the Literacy Landscape. (More on that in the Centennial section below.) Other important benefits for authors can be found at National’s website: http://www.wnba-books.org/benefits/ .
Awards given or administered by WNBA include the WNBA Award http://www.wnba-books.org/wnba-award/, WNBA Parnell Award for Bookstores http://www.wnba-books.org/pannell-award/ and WNBA Eastman Grant http://www.wnba-books.org/wnba-eastman-grant/. And there is the WNBA Writing Contest: $250 cash prize for each category (poetry, fiction, nonfiction/memoir and YA fiction) and publication in The Bookwoman. http://www.wnba-books.org/contest/ Volunteer opportunity: Early contest-entry readers wanted. Check the bottom of the website contest page for contact name.
WNBA activities include: 1) National Reading Group Month (NRGM) and Great Group Reads (GGR). Volunteer opportunity: First readers needed for GGR selections. http://www.wnba-books.org/national-reading-group-month/ (Contacts at bottom of the page.) On a related note, our NRGM event has been rescheduled to January 13. See our calendar and home page for details http://wnba-nola.org/?page_id=15 . 2) Literacy partnerships, such as the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, Library of Congress Reading Promotion Partners, Read Across America Day (initiative of NEA) and chapter initiatives.
National Directory of WNBA members http://www.wnba-books.org/Directory/index.php : As a member, your name is already in the directory, but you need to set up your profile and add to your listing. To get access, click on the Directory Login and then on ‘Retrieve Your Password”. Fill in your email address and a password will be emailed to you. Once you have your password, you can log in and set up your profile. You can add information if you wish (photos, website, professional categories, etc.) to get your name out there. Your information will be public, but you can change it to private if you prefer.
Besides the aforementioned Centennial publication, Women in the Literary Landscape, other Centennial activities https://www.wnba-centennial.org/centennial-programs included Celebrating Women’s Voices: 200 Books to Read and Talk About; WNBA Book-a-Day, Second Century Prize and Bookwomen Speaks programs. Our Chapter founder Susan Larson explained more about Women in the Literary Landscape: WNBA did an assessment at its 50-year mark, and that assessment and the archives (minutes, etc.) were used as the resources for the book. On its cover is Madge Jenison, a NYC bookseller and WNBA co-founder. The book covers WNBA history from its beginning to the present, highlighting influential women in all book areas. Each Chapter gets a chapter. It will be out in March of 2018.
Our Chapter President Marie Breaux ended her remarks by saying she came away from the National Meeting/Centennial Celebrations with the feeling that the WNBA is a gift, a legacy—and we are its stewards.
Next national meeting will be in Charlotte in June.
Teresa Tumminello Brader
Some chapters of the Women’s National Book Association send out monthly newsletters, but that’s never been our style in New Orleans.
Instead, I want to send you a more personal message and invite you to join us as often as you can in this coming year of chapter activities. I want to invite you to become more involved too. So, this message is also about soliciting volunteers…especially for the cocktail party event in May.
Books? Cocktails? Parties? Some of the most interesting women in New Orleans? There is no excuse for holding back!
- We start with our Getting to Know You/Networking/Kick-Off eventfor this year at Pearl Wine Co. @ 6 pm this Saturday, (September 16). RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have not done so already. Pearl has created a special Bluestocking cocktail in our honor. It will be fun. Potential new members welcome.
- We’re getting creative with the WNBA National Reading Group Month event in New Orleans this year: we’re highlighting poets outside of the national poetry month of April. This event will take place from 11:30 – 2:00, Saturday, October 7th at the Mid-City Branch of the New Orleans Public Library. In the past, we’ve not had good attendance at our NRGM events. Please show our poets some love. We have a fantastic line-up: chapter member Carolyn Hembree is moderating; members Stacey Balkun, Gina Ferrara, Andrea Panzeca, Melinda Palacio, plus Julie Kane (former Louisiana Poet Laureate), are the panelists. We’re going to adjourn to a nearby place for libations (Hey! poets get thirsty, just like everyone else) and further discussion. Public.
- The New Orleans chapter celebrates the WNBA Centennial at NOMA on Friday, November 10th. Bluestockings preferred, but not required. Check for details on the http://wnba-nola.org/ website. We’re going to discuss the benefits of your membership in the national organization at this meeting. Announced to public.
- A holiday party will take place on a weekend night in early December. Potluck, per tradition. We’ll send out email invitations closer to the event. Members only.
- We’ll have a pop-up get-together of some type for the Krewe of Joan of Arc Parade on Twelfth Night, January 6th. We’ll email details closer to the event. Members only.
- We have a skills program at the Louisiana Research Collection on the campus of Tulane University on January 23rd. Check for details on the http://wnba-nola.org/ website. Public.
- February 20th we learn about Literacy Advocacy. We’ll have details on the time and place posted on http://wnba-nola.org/ . Public.
- On March 20th, chapter Vice-President Nina Calvo has invited us to the Latin American Library event for the Renaissance Society meeting being held in New Orleans this year. Details will be emailed to members in the new year. We’ll also be getting together to attend events at the Tennessee Williams Festival. Members only.
- April 7th is Books with Bubbles – our own Susan Larson will lead a read-in at Effervescence champagne bar. Potential new members welcome.
- May 9th is the Annual meeting and our second story circle – featuring our members who have been writing on the New Orleans Tricentennial: Nancy Dixon, Freddi Evans, and Dawn Wilson. This will be at one of the library branches TBD (it’s too early to book a room now). Public.
- May 19th we’re Putting the Banned Back Together. This is a fundraising cocktail party celebrating women authors of banned/censored books. We’re planning to have celebrity readers of banned works and some silent auction items. We need volunteers for this: researchers to compile lists of women writers whose works have been banned; organizers of auction items; people to work on invitations, decorations, and party food – and “night of” helpers. This sounds like too much fun to use the verb “work,” so I’ll just say: email us if you want to help. Bring friends – lots and lots of friends. We have a modest fundraising goal for this event!
- By tradition, we’ll hold a pot luck get-together in June to celebrate our chapter’s founding. Details will be emailed closer to the event. Members only.
As we learn about other book and literary/literacy events, we will send out emails for other pop-up events. Send in suggestions for these. Last year’s Emily Dickinson movie pop-up was particularly successful. Also, our board meetings are open to all members. Come when you can. If you cannot make a board meeting, email or call any of our board members. We want to hear from you. You are New Orleans women, so I know you can’t be shy. If you were shy, you would have to move to someplace else.
We also have generous offers from members to organize workshops on meditation and writing and manuscript review. We’ll be sending out further details later this fall. We want to call for other volunteers on a project that will take our chapter some time to organize: A NOLA version of the New York City Chapter’s Pitch-a-Palooza. The idea would be to organize an event where authors pitch their works to agents. NYC already has a solid group of agents, including chapter members, who make this easier to organize. In New Orleans, agents are scarcer. I don’t want to call them unicorns, but ……… Some of the fundraising that we’re doing is to go towards the expense of putting this type of event together. To make this happen we need a committee to work on organizing this. Email us if you can help. All assistance on this is deeply appreciated! Last, we always appreciate people who volunteer to spread the word about WNBA events via social media. Yes, liking, sharing, and re-tweeting are ways to contribute to the success of WNBA-NOLA.
It is the culture of our city for people to participate. We don’t sit down for music. We dance. We wave handkerchiefs. We shake assorted body parts. We parade. We make costumes out of anything, everything — even loud, flowered tablecloths (I’ve seen it with my own eyes, and they survived to tell the story!). We throw parties, and, as someone once observed, we are the only place where people barbeque in the front yard. Our careless city knows only one sin: not sharing a good time. There is something for every member this year. I hope to see you at a lot of our WNBA-NOLA events.
Celebrating books with the best women I know, I am
Very truly yours,
Marie Breaux, WNBA-New Orleans Chapter President 2017-18
Our chapter has submitted the recipe for The Bluestocking, the cocktail we enjoyed last month at our kick-off meeting, for National’s Centennial Celebration in NYC (coming up in a few weeks). The Bluestocking, a creation of Dréa and Stephen, rock-star bartenders at Pearl Wine Co., features Stoli® Blueberi™, simple syrup, Campari® and Besk , a bitter Swedish liquor. The Virgin Bluestocking stars cinnamon syrup and rosemary syrup. Both versions include lemon juice, are shaken with soda and use fresh blueberries as a garnish. How appropriate that the New Orleans chapter will be helping to slake the thirst of other WNBA members! Thank you to our Treasurer Karen Kersting and President Marie Breaux for all their efforts in getting our cocktail created and highlighted for the Centennial. Way to represent!