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Literary Love Affair

Celebrating writers’ attraction to New Orleans

Published: February 29, 2024
Last Updated: February 29, 2024

Literary Love Affair

Tennessee Williams and New Orleans Literary Festival

Writers are everywhere in New Orleans. You’ll see them in bars and cafes, scribbling in notebooks or tapping on laptops. They’re born here, they make pilgrimages here, and some arrive and can’t seem to leave. This eccentric city is teeming with stories and odd characters and poetry that seems to float in on a river breeze. If you’re a writer, you can’t escape the spirits of famous authors peering over your shoulder, whispering poems in your ear, or pointing out the man on a barstool that you must include in a short story.

New Orleans has other delights, of course, as a gourmand’s dream city and a music lover’s bucket list trip, but it has been a home for writers for centuries, and they’ve all contributed to the city’s mystique through their poems, essays, novels, short stories, and plays.

The Tennessee Williams and New Orleans Literary Festival (TWFest) exists to honor the writers who’ve come before us and celebrate contemporary writers who embody that same spirit. TWFest hosts a long weekend of literary events, some centered on Tennessee Williams, plus culinary, cocktail, music, and theatre events. It welcomes celebrated, successful writers alongside debut authors just beginning their writer’s journey. It even includes two writing marathons for those who want to capture the city on paper. The award-winning festival is a springtime tradition for hundreds of readers, writers, theatre lovers, and those drawn to the bohemian atmosphere of New Orleans.

TWFest will kick off on Sunday, March 17, with the beloved Stella Shouting Contest in conjunction with an online fundraiser for the Family Justice Center of New Orleans. The festival continues with opening night on March 20 with Tennessee Rising: The Dawn of Tennessee Williams, a solo show written and performed by Jacob Storms. Writer’s craft sessions, panel discussions, and interviews will include National Book Award–winner Justin Torres, Pulitzer Prize–winner Michael Cunningham, award-winning author Colm Tóibín, alongside over 100 writers, including many who call New Orleans home. The weekend includes a Tennessee Williams tribute reading and scholars conference.

The newest addition to TWFest’s programming, the Last Bohemia Fringe Festival, will feature nightly productions at the Allways Lounge, March 21–23, providing a stage for non-traditional writers and performers. In addition, the Saints and Sinners (SAS) LGBTQ+ Literary Festival will feature panel discussions, writer’s craft sessions, readings, book launches, and social events March 22–24, giving LGBTQ+ readers, writers, and literary professionals vital time as a community.

TWFest, SASFest, and the Last Bohemia will combine to make March 17–24 a week of literary revelry and celebration of the written word not to be missed. Come absorb the literary spirit that permeates the entire city of New Orleans. Full details and tickets at tennesseewilliams.net and sasfest.org.