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The Reading Life with Lisa Herrington and Brad Vogel


This week on The Reading Life: Susan talks with Lisa Herrington, director of the Bayou Writer’s Club, which has more than 300 members. We’ll also hear from Brad Vogel of the Walt Whitman Initiative; he's coming to town as part of the Whitman Bicentennial to present a lecture on the poet's transformative time in Louisiana at the Louisiana Landmarks Society.

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

Here in New Orleans:

  • Political Strategist Donna Brazile presents the Charles Frye Memorial Lecture Monday, Feb. 11, at 11 a.m. at Southern University at New Orleans; SUNO’s Center for African and African American Studies (in the new Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences Auditorium, 6400 Press Drive.. The topic is “Can the Democratic Party Continue to Usher African Americans into the American Mainstream?”
  • Diana Watson, a local writer and editor, will lead a newly created writers’ group that will be headquartered at the River Ridge Library, 8825 Jefferson Highway, River Ridge. It begins Tuesday, February 12, at 7 p.m. at the East Bank Regional Library in Metairie, then moves to River Ridge with the fifth session.
  • Nancy Penrose signs “A Dream and a Chisel: Louisiana Sculptor Angela Gregory in Paris, 1925-1928,” Tuesday February 12, at 6 p.m. Octavia Books, in New Orleans; Tuesday, February 19, 2019, at 6:30 p.m. at the Woldenberg Art Center, Freeman Auditorium, Tulane University, and Thursday, February 21, 2019, at 6 p.m. Dominican High School.
  • Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will be the featured speaker in the next Tulane-Aspen Institute Values in America Speaker series Tuesday, February 12 from 6-7 p.m. in Dixon Hall on the Tulane University campus. Tulane professor of history Walter Isaacson will moderate the discussion, which will center on nationalism, populism and Albright’s new book, “Fascism: A Warning.” A question and answer session will follow the discussion, and there will be a post-event book signing by Albright.
  • Poppy Tooker discusses and signs “Pascal's Manale Cookbook- A Family Tradition,” Tuesday, February 12, at the Hubbell Library in Algiers.
  • Cathy Barron signs her new cookbook, “Pie Squared: Irresistibly Sweet and Savory Slab Pies," Tuesday February 12, at 7 p.m. at the New Orleans Jewish Community Center, 5342 St. Charles Ave.
  • Maurice Carlos Ruffin signs “We Cast a Shadow,” Wednesday, February 13, at 6 p.m. at Octavia Books.
  • Brad Vogel of the Walt Whitman Initiative presents a lecture, “Walt Whitman in Louisiana,”  Sunday, February, 17, at 5 p.m. at 6330 St. Charles Ave. Free to Louisiana Landmarks Society members, by admission for others. For more information about the Whitman bicentennial, go to

In Mandeville

  • Mike Fawer signs “From the Bronx to the Bayou: A Defense Attorney’s Odyssey, from Charles Evers to Edwin Edwards and Beyond,” Saturday, February 16, at noon at Barnes & Noble/Mandeville.

In Baton Rouge:

  • Nancy Penrose discusses and signs “A Dream and a Chisel: Louisiana Sculptor Angela Gregory in Paris, 1925-1928,” Rouge Sunday, February 10, at 3 p.m., East Baton Rouge Parish Library; Thursday, February 14, at Noon at the West Baton Rouge Museum in Port Allen.

In St. Francisville:

  • Conundrum Books presents The 2019 Writers and Readers symposium, which  takes place Saturday, February 16, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Hemingbough Convention Center in St. Francisville. The featured speakers are state poet laureate Jack Bedell, Jason Berry, Alysson Foti Bourque, Dima Ghawi, C.H. Lawler and Erica Spindler.  Includes a day of presentations and lunch with authors. Tickets are available at

And looking forward:

  • The Terrebonne Parish Library hosts its 16th Jambalaya Writers Festival March 9, from 7:30-6 p.m. at the Terrebonne Parish Library, 1515 Library Dr., in Houma featuring NYT bestselling author Beatriz Williams, Carolyn Brown, Alys Arden, Dacre Stoker, Nathaniel Rich, Laura Cayouette, Erica Spindler, Sheba Turk and others. There will be a pre-Festival Event Friday, March 8, at 6 p.m. at the Library, featuring Ken Wells, author of “Gumbo Life: Tales from the Roux Bayou.” For tickets, go to
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.