WNBA-NOLA Names New President at Annual Business Meeting May 21

Andrea Panzeca was named WNBA-NOLA president at our Annual Business Meeting held May 21, Tuesday, at Mid-City Library.  Andrea is the author of poetry chapbooks Rusted Bells and Daisy Baskets and Weird… Joe Pesci. She earned an MFA in creative nonfiction at the University of New Orleans, where she was associate nonfiction editor of Bayou Magazine. Her awards include the Carol Gelderman Award for Nonfiction Thesis, the Andrea Saunders Gereighty/Academy of American Poets Award, and two Pabst Cultural Endowment Scholarships. Her poetry and prose has appeared in Ellipsis and her scholarly essay “Naturalism and the Florida Setting in Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston” appeared in Excavatio. She grew up in Merritt Island, Florida, and lives in New Orleans. She’s taught with arts organizations including KID smART, the Contemporary Arts Center, and Lelia Haller Ballet Classique.  http://www.andreapanzeca.com/about

At the meeting we thanked outgoing president Nina Calvo for her great ideas, energy and access to her beautiful home for chapter events! Participants at the meeting also welcomed new members and brainstormed plans for an exciting year of meetings and events.  Stay tuned for more info!


Highlights of our April 9 Chapter Meeting

We were wowed by the book presentation by Dr. Jane Pinzino, Coordinator for Scholarly Resources for the Humanities at Howard-Tilton Memorial Library. Dr. Pinzino gave us a behind-the-scenes look at Tulane’s Rare Books Collection.

Special Collections’ Rare Books unit preserves approximately 100,000 titles dating from a leaf of the Gutenberg Bible (ca. 1456) to recent first editions. These include a wide range of formats, from miniatures no larger than one inch high, to volumes forty inches tall; from five-hundred year-old books in as fine a condition as the day they were printed to twentieth-century first editions crumbing from the acidity of their paper.  https://library.tulane.edu/libraries/rare-books


Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival March 27-31!

Schedule here: http://tennesseewilliams.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/TWF19-Program-UPDATED-2.20.19.pdf

Tickets to events are available here: https://tennesseewilliams.secure.force.com/ticket/

Join the WNBA-NOLA now and get a discount code when you’re registering to attend any of the 5-day Festival’s events.  Keep in mind that the discount is tied to only Festival-run events and not to outside ticket sites (Le Petit Theatre, Southern Rep, etc.).

WNBA-NOLA members (present and past) participating in the Festival this year are: Constance Adler, Anne Babson, Tracy Cunningham, Nancy Dixon, Samantha Downing, Gina Ferrara, Laura D. Kelley, Susan Larson, Kathleen Calhoun Nettleton, and Anne Boyd Rioux.

See you at the Festival!

Chapter Holiday Party 

Our Chapter Holiday Party was on Saturday, December 8 at the home of President Nina Calvo


National Reading Group Month


Blanche Wiesen Cook (historian and notably the author of the 3-volume Eleanor Roosevelt biography) and Clare Coss (playwright, librettist for Emmett Till, the Opera) highlighted WNBA-NOLA’s National Reading Group Month event on November 3.  The authors spoke on the many forms and aspects of biography at Xavier University Library.



President’s Report on two memorable events

October 7, 2018

Dear all,

It’s been a whirlwind two weeks of great WNBA-NOLA programming!  A belated thank you to all who attended our very successful Banned Books Week event at my house last Saturday, September 29.  Despite the rain, we had a good turnout, enjoyed great food catered by Chez Nous, and connected with new and old friends at this, our first meeting of the year.  I was thrilled to see some new members and first-time guests.  Equally important is that we all shared some very special moments.  The highlight of the evening was sitting around the living room reading aloud passages from favorite books that have been banned through history.  But it was guest of honor and incomparable interviewer Gwen Thompkins who turned the conversation through and past the books and authors at hand and into unexpected territories to discuss our personal experiences reading banned books and whether we had ever wished a book were banned.  The result was a very intense, engaging and often hilarious discussion that I won’t soon forget.  It was one more example of why I love being a part of this extraordinary group of accomplished women.  As if that weren’t enough, we had a lot of fun with a silent auction that included a pair of banned book socks (yes, socks) and even a personal voicemail message recorded by Gwen with her inimitable voice, in addition to many other fantastic items.  We even raised a bit of funds for WNBA-NOLA programming in the process!  Many thanks to all who helped with set up and clean-up, to the generous donors who provided such great items for the auction, and to Pam Ebel and Serena Jones for donating champagne and prosecco which were thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated—and consumed.  I have only one regret from that evening:  I would have wished that every single member of WNBA-NOLA had been there to share in this truly memorable night.  It was truly special.  We missed you.

Then last night, we held the Diana Pinckley Prizes for Crime Fiction award ceremony at The George and Joyce Wein Jazz and Heritage Center.  This year, author Ellen Hart was awarded the prize for Distinguished Body of Work, and Marcie Rendon won for best Debut Novel.  Jean Redmann presented the prize to Ellen Hart, emphasizing the political importance of her work in paving the way for recognition of LGBTQ writers within mainstream publishing and by broader audiences.  Ellen Hart was not able to attend in person, but she spoke eloquently via Skype of her trajectory as a writer as well as her appreciation for this recognition.  Alison Fensterstock presented the award to Marcie Rendon and led a lively conversation with the author and the audience on matters that ranged from readers’ perceptions of her characters to her experiences as a Native American writer focusing on indigenous communities in the United States.  The program was bittersweet.  We not only celebrated the joys of writing with the two authors, but also paid tribute to the work of the late Sue Grafton, as commemorated by John Pope.  We were also honored to have with us the benefactors of the Pinckley Prizes, Anne and Bill Newton, who flew in from Atlanta as they do every year.  Anne had fond words for her lifelong friend, Diana Pinckley, and announced that she and Bill would endow the Pinckley Prizes.  This is a most generous gesture ensuring that the legacy of Diana Pinckley will live on in the form of these prestigious national awards for decades to come.  There was not a dry eye in the room.  Another special evening via WNBA-NOLA, this time spearheaded by Susan Larson.  Another testament to the collaborative and creative spirit that is our organization.

Nina Calvo, President


2018 Pinckley Prize Winners Celebrated!

Ellen Hart and Marcie Rendon received the 2018 Pinckley Prizes for Crime Fiction on October 6 at The George and Joyce Wein New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Center in New Orleans.  The Pinckley Prizes partner with the Women’s National Book Association of New Orleans, of which Diana Pinckley was a founding member.  http://pinckleyprizes.org/


Annual Chapter Recruitment Social and Silent Auction Fundraiser

Putting the Banned Back Together: Celebrating National Banned Book Week

Nearly 30 chapter members and friends joined together at our annual Chapter Recruitment Social and Silent Auction. The gathering was titled Putting the Banned Back Together in honor of Banned Books Week and was held on the last day of that week, Saturday, September 29, from 6 to 9 PM.  Our guest of honor was nationally acclaimed New Orleans journalist and host of WWNO’s Music Inside Out, Gwen Thompkins.