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The Reading Life with Kalamu ya Salaam and Tena Clark


This week on The Reading Life: Susan talks with Kalamu ya Salaam, whose new book of collected writings from his long career is “Be About Beauty.” We’ll also hear from Tena Clark, songwriter and music producer and author of the new memoir, “Southern Discomfort.”

Here’s what’s on tap in the literary life this week:

  • Shane Bauer discusses and signs “American Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment," Monday, Sept. 24, at 6 p.m. at Octavia Books.
  • The Friends of the Jefferson Public Library meet Wednesday, Sept. 26, at 10 a.m. at the East Bank Regional Library in Metairie. Susan Larson talks about the Tricentennial Reading List and 300 years of great New Orleans books.
  • Kalamu ya Salaam, whose new book of collected writings is "Be About Beauty," presents the Sylvia Frey Lecture Wednesday, September 26, at 7 p.m. at Tulane University’s Freeman Auditorium.
  • The Blood Jet Poetry series begins with Lisa Pasold and Laura Theobald, Wednesday, Sept. 26, at 8 p.m. at its new home at The Dragonfly, 3921 St. Claude Ave.
  • Four local authors – Bryan Camp, author of “The City of Lost Fortunes,” Patty Friedmann, author of “Where Do They All Come From?”, Bernice McFadden, author of "Praise Song for the Butterflies,” and Kent Wascom, author of “The New Inheritors” – discuss their work Thursday, Sept. 27, at 7 p.m. at the East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon, Metairie.
  • Kezia Vida hosts the Dreaming I Dream Journal Launch Party, Thursday, Sept. 27, at 7:30 at the Dragonfly Poetry and Performance Ritual Space, 3921 St. Claude Ave.
  • 100,000 Poets for Change: Northshore presents Kinderpoem! for Kids and HER VOICE, a poetry benefit for The Women's Center for Healing and Transformation, Saturday, Sept. 29, at 71667 Leveson in Abita Springs. HER VOICE features Alex Johnson, aka Poetic Soul, and 8 other local writers.
  • Children's events in Slidell feature readings of classic kid's lit by poets Maggiel Sorrels and Dennis Formento and artist Jane Hill,  noon til 1 p.m. at Counter Culture Frozen Yogurt, 154 E. Hall Avenue. Readings by high school writers follow at 1 pm.
  • In Abita, LeAnn Pinniger Magge, Maggie Sorrels and Eliana Vanessa Gradishar read children's classics and original poems from 5 p.m until 6, on the lawn of the Women's Center. HER VOICE follows at 7 with a sliding scale admission, benefiting the Women's Center.
  • Novelist T.C. Morris signs “A Year of Change,” Saturday Sept. 29, 2018 1:00 PM at Barnes & Noble/Westbank.
  • The Fall 2018 New Orleans Writers Workshop has new classes starting in October. The New Orleans Writers Workshop, an adult creative writing program taught by local authors, offers courses at locations around the city, including NOCCA, the Dragonfly on St. Claude, and the New Orleans Museum of Art. All skill levels welcome. Visit to register.
  • Tena Clark discusses and sings her memoir, “Southern Discomfort,” Thursday, October 4, at 6 p.m. at Garden District Book Shop.
  • The Diana Pinckley Prizes for Crime Fiction will be presented Saturday, October 6, at 6 p.m. at the George and Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center, 1225 N. Rampart Street. The winners this year are Ellen Hart, whose most recent book is “A Whisper of Bones,” who is receiving the prize for Distinguished Body of Work for her long-running Jane Lawless and Sophie Greenway series. The winner of the debut novel prize is Marcie Rendon, author of “Murder on the Red River.”
  • Also coming up:  The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival presents a benefit called “An Evening of Desire,” on Tuesday, October 9, 2018, inspired by the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright’s themes of desire and passion.  The evening begins at 6:30 p.m. with a Cocktail Hour, followed by the performance  at 7:30 p.m. and takes place at the new WYES Kornman Performance Studio at 916 Navarre Ave.  Featured performers include Beth Bartley, Leslie Castay, Brenda Currin, Todd D’Amour, David Hoover, Nell Nolan, Francine Segal, and Anais St. John. Tickets available at or by calling 504-581-1144.
The Reading Life in 2010, Susan Larson was the book editor for The New Orleans Times-Picayune from 1988-2009. She has served on the boards of the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival and the New Orleans Public Library. She is the founder of the New Orleans chapter of the Women's National Book Association, which presents the annual Diana Pinckley Prizes for Crime Fiction.. In 2007, she received the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities lifetime achievement award for her contributions to the literary community. She is also the author of The Booklover's Guide to New Orleans. If you run into her in a local bookstore or library, she'll be happy to suggest something you should read. She thinks New Orleans is the best literary town in the world, and she reads about a book a day.